I’d really like to show you around a bit, and I thought the easiest way to do this would be to take you on a tour of one of the main corridors in the Eastern part of Miami: Biscayne Boulevard.
A mere 7-8 minutes’ walk from the Hyatt, 5 minutes from the JW Marriott, and 2 minutes from the Intercontinental, the Biscayne Corridor offers a lot of options, either within walking distance or by hopping a cab.
If you choose the infantry route, I’d suggest you begin by walking in Bayfront Park, a lovely, quiet place to go for a stroll on any given day, with great views of Biscayne Bay, and a balmy, cool sea breeze (this would be a good opportunity to break out your sweater). Aside from the lovely scenery, the park always has a lot going on. They currently have a Botero exhibit; there are free yoga classes on Mondays and Wednesdays at 6:00 pm, and there is yoga by donation most days. On Saturday, November 8 at 10:30 am there will be a free Capoeira class. Check out the park’s schedule for a complete list of offerings and times. And of course, there is the newly opened Feria del Mercado de San Miguel, modeled after the famous traditional market in Madrid, where one can have a taste of Spain in the heart of Miami.
Just north of the Bayfront is Bayside Marketplace, a true epitome of Miami and South Florida. It is located on Biscayne Bay and its undeniable tropical flavor makes it a great place to experience the Miami postcard flavor at its best. This is the place where you will be able to book city tours by bus, or cruises along Biscayne Bay. You will also find souvenir shops, restaurants, and even photo ops with macaws.
Next door to Bayside Marketplace is the famous American Airlines Arena. On November 7 there will be an event at this venue (iHeartRadio Fiesta Latina) with celebrities such as Jennifer Lopez, Pitbull, Don Omar, and Marco Antonio Solis (wait, what?) among others, so watch for the traffic madness that will surround this event. Plan accordingly, because Biscayne Boulevard will be a very, very busy street. Or just buy tickets and dance your feathers off. Whatever floats your boat.
Beyond this point you should probably get a cab, but the following areas are definitely a must-see, if you’re into exploring off the beaten paths.
Wynwood (10-15 min by car): A new and upcoming neighborhood, this area is teeming with art galleries, exhibits, small trendy restaurants, and of course, the famous Wynwood Walls, an open-air gallery where graffiti artists showcase their work. In the edibles department, there is Panther Coffee (http://www.panthercoffee.com/), a completely different coffee experience (did you know there’s a difference between East and West coast roast? A big one!), where you will be able to see coffee being roasted in situ, as well as get a crash course on all things coffee. Forget about Starbucks!
Another interesting place is The Annex restaurant. The ambiance is extremely cool. I could just walk around looking at all the antique artifacts that decorate the place while my kids play with the bucket of Jenga blocks that sits at each table. It is the perfect place to sit and relax with friends. Food is decent, not a foodie’s paradise, but the novelty of the place makes up for any gastronomic shortcomings.
Midtown is the intertidal zone where the artistic feeling and coolness of Wynwood meets the sophistication and trendiness of The Design District, a 10-15 minute drive from the Hyatt. As is normal around Miami, there is a lot to do here. From visiting the ultra-modern designer stores, to dining at one of its many interesting and unique restaurants –a foodie’s paradise! Some of my favorites are:
Prohibition Restaurant and Speakeasy –Delicious food and a cool Prohibition-era ambiance. Requires business-casual attire.
Sugarcane –Gourmet Latin fare.
Lagniappe –The charm of this place is its outdoor seating with cool, mismatched tables and chairs, a very relaxed ambiance. Grab the cheese of your choice from the fridge and hand it to the chef, who will turn it into a great cheese board to share. Same with the wine: grab a bottle and pay at the cashier. Live music on Fridays and Saturdays.
Of course, there is great shopping at The Shops at Midtown Miami as well as tried and true restaurants (by yours truly) like the Spanish chain, 100 Montaditos, the Brazilian chain Giraffas, and the Argentinean-Italian fusion Novecento.
And when in doubt… Yelp it!
Phew! What a great tour, Florencio! Time to head back to the hotel now.