Just over a century ago Miami’s founder, Julia Tuttle (the only woman to found a US city), convinced her friend and railway tycoon Henry Flagler to extend his new Florida East Coast Railway to her still crude and undeveloped southern region. Once built, Flagler began promoting the destination as “The Magic City,” and although no one can prove that witchcraft was not involved the city sprung up seemingly overnight and the moniker stuck. Now more than 14 million visitors explore its diverse neighbourhoods every year.
With sub-tropical climate, gorgeous beaches, eclectic dining, a thriving art community and a vibrant nightlife, it’s hard not to be captivated by the allure of Miami. In as little as one day you can discover why millions of people still flock to this ever growing and evolving city.
Coffee in Little Havana
Window service at the iconic Cafe Versailles.
The population of Miami is approximately 70% Hispanic, and the best place to get immersed in the culture is in the heart of Miami’s Cuban community, Little Havana. Centred around Calle Ocho on Southwest 8th Street you’ll find Latin-inspired restaurants, cigar shops, galleries and music venues. If you’re a coffee drinker you absolutely must start your day with an authentic Cuban coffee from the now iconic Café Versailles while you wait for the regulars to gather at Máximo Gómez Park known as Domino Park where locals discuss the topics of the day and ponder life.
Tour Wynwood Walls
Tony Goldman mural by Shepard Fairey, USA, 2012
Located between Downtown Miami and the Design District, Wynwood is a thriving neighbourhood and a source of inspiration for aspiring painters, graffiti artists, designers and other creative souls. In the 1970s, Wynwood was a neglected area of Miami with tired and run-down warehouses with little to offer. However, in the early 2000s Tony Goldman an entrepreneur, historic preservationist and patron of the arts, saw its potential to become a cultural hub and had a vision to create an open-air art gallery. Founded in 2009, Wynwood Walls is now the epicentre of the community and is an outdoor art museum spanning more than 80,000 square feet. The walls of six abandoned warehouses have become the primary canvas for giant murals often created by famed international artists whose art may be whimsical, abstract or even bizarre, but always thought provoking.
Down to Earth by Deih, Spain, 2018
While Wynwood Walls are carefully managed and preserved, the building walls within the greater Wynwood neighbourhood are covered in murals that are constantly changing, encouraging visitors to come by often and discover new and interesting artists.
Lunch at Bakan
Only minutes from Wynwood Walls, Bakan transports you to Mexico with its modern and artsy décor. Before you even step inside you’ll be drawn in by the restaurant’s cacti-lined outdoor bar and terrace covered by inverted pyramid canopies, and illuminated brown and green hanging baskets. You’ll want to linger at the door and enjoy the cascade of bright red bougainvilleas before stepping into the 6,000 square-foot indoor and outdoor restaurant-bar. Once inside you must take a moment to appreciate the detailed multi-coloured beadwork put into the life-sized cactus in its main dining space.
Bakan’s dining experience revolves around three key elements that date back to pre-Hispanic times: nixtamal, mezcal and wood fire. Nixtamal is the partially cooked corn key to their great-tasting and authentic tortillas, which are freshly hand-made for each dish they accompany. They offer a large selection of Mezcal (any agave-based spirit) to complement the meal. Prepared on a wood fire grill their tortilla chips, fish and meats are enhanced by a smoky flavor that pairs perfectly with mescal and fresh salsa.
Ceviche Bakan: Fresh local caught fish, lime, habanero, red onion, cilantro & avocado.
Discover Bayside Marketplace
For over 30 years Bayside Marketplace has been a must-visit destination for visitors of all ages. Overlooking Biscayne Bay and in the heart of Downtown Miami, Bayside Marketplace is a shopping, entertainment and dining mecca where you’ll find nearly 70 shops, 30 restaurants and features the Sky Views Miami observation wheel, which rises 180 feet above Downtown Miami’s sparkling skyline.
Tour on Thriller Miami Speedboat Adventures
After a full morning and early afternoon of exploring on foot, this is a chance to sit back and enjoy the Miami skyline from Biscayne Bay. For over 16 years Thriller Miami Speedboat Adventures has been providing daily public tours and private charters that offer a different way to enjoy the character, charm and local culture of Miami.
The 45-minute speedboat tour allows you to experience views of Biscayne Bay, City of Miami Beach, and a tour of Millionaire’s Row where you’ll see mansions that belong to A-List celebs like Will Smith, Shakira and Jennifer Lopez. As you head back to Bayside Marketplace to disembark you’ll get a spectacular view of the Downtown Miami Skyline, so make sure you have your camera ready and in panorama mode.
Dinner at Mila
If you aspire to be a foodie then dining at Mila is a must. In a city that caters to the most discerning of pallets, Mila is a standout. Since opening its doors in 2020, dining at Mila has become one of Miami’s most sought-after experiences, so reservations are a must. The elegant and minimalistic interior pays homage to the simple spirit of Cycladic design infused with warm and natural materials seen in wabi-sabi design principals.
While the décor is inviting, the star here, as it should be, is the food. Your dining experience of “MediterrAsian” fare is led by 26 Michelin-star chef Michael Michaelidis. Dishes are served in the informal izakaya dining style, which means they are shared at the table and are served in no particular order. Prepare to be wowed!
Evening drinks at Sugar Rooftop Bar & Lounge
An award-winning rooftop bar and lounge, Sugar is the ultimate destination to end your day in Miami. Perched on the 40th floor of EAST Miami Hotel, Sugar is one of the highest rooftop lounges in the city and the perfect spot to experience a bird’s eye view of Downtown Miami.
If you time it right you can enjoy their imaginative menu of signature crafted cocktails and culinary delights while you soak up the last rays of the setting sun and reflect on your unforgettable Miami adventure.