As a born and raised Miamian I hate when people say, "Oh I love South Beach!"
No disrespect to South Beach, but Miami is a thriving metropolis that is more than buns, beaches and art deco. The New York Times recently wrote an article “36 Hours in Miami and Miami Beach,” stating Miami is reinventing itself as a culinary and cultural hotspot. As I headed home for the holidays this led me to wonder if this statement holds true. I toured some up-and-coming spots and new culinary delights to find the best things to do in Miami and if it’s really reinventing itself.
Best Things to Do in Miami
With the rise in popularity of Art Basel, this once forlorn neighborhood is now a thriving area with thousands of people, both locals and tourists alike, flocking to its galleries, bars and beautiful walls daily.
Much like Bushwick and Williamsburg in Brooklyn, Wynwood was once home to a predominantly Puerto Rican community and wasn’t the safest of places to be in. Years ago, when I was a sophomore in high school, I cleaned up Wynwood alleyways near my mothers interior design showroom as part of my community service initiative. Whether we decide to blame it on gentrification or just developers naturally choosing to exploit and develop in the areas where land value is cheapest, I don’t think the Wynwood area has hindered Miami at all.
It’s one of my favorite locations because it presents a rare opportunity for the different areas of Miami to come together and truly blend, allowing the city to reinvent itself as the cultural epicenter it craves to be.
Where to Eat.
As a native, it’s hard to consider Miami a culinary “hot spot” when the reality is the majority of food is typically very Latin. What’s more, a lot of places with food from other cultures aren’t necessarily authentic. When I asked a born and raised local if he would consider Miami a culinary epicenter, he stated, “There’s not enough variety of cultures to make it so.” Wynwood has allowed Miami to have a chance to change that. My top spots to check out are:
Miami Design District
Miami Design District is on the list of the best things to do in Miami because aside from shop, you can entertain yourself with all the art and architecture within the area.
Growing up, my mom used to drag me to the depths of South Florida for all of her interior design jobs. This would lead to many trips to Design District showrooms where I fell in love with modern design and beautiful finishes and fixtures. Centrally located in the heart of Miami, top designer showrooms flocked to the area blazing the way for architecture firms and photography studios to follow suit.
It’s the strangest feeling going back and seeing an area I once frequented change and thrive so much. The Design District is now a luxury shopping destination but aside from nostalgia I love it because of its acceptance and history of art and architecture.
Where to Take Pictures.
Since I started blogging I see the world differently. I view a lot of things in 3×5’s (and 1×1’s). These are the places I recommend for all the Insta-love your gram deserves:
- The Louis Vuitton Storefront
- Fendi Colonnade
- Fly’s Eye Dome
- Vortex Wall Mural
- Netscape Installation
Perez Art Museum
I have been wanting to visit the Perez Art Museum since construction was reported. The architectural milestone this museum brings to the city of Miami is amazing. Completely unprecedented, the building blends landscape design, architecture and art to create a visual masterpiece.
In a lot of ways, the importance of places such as the Perez Art Museum to Miami are a lot bigger than many imagine. Regardless of the museums arrival, museums in Miami are still too few and far between to really consider Miami a connoisseur of art and architecture.
With the exception of Art Basel, most people don’t vacation in Miami for anything other than the beach, especially not to learn its history as they would for New York, London or Paris. Even Los Angeles has a historical component many like to know of. Miami is filled with so much history it should be shared and noted. Some other museums you should visit are:
- Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
- The Ancient Spanish Monastery
- Miami Children’s Museum
- Patricia and Phillip Frost Science Museum
- Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
Downtown Miami has undergone a major transformation. Within the depths of luxury sky rises that mirror one another through their perfectly glassed windows emerges Brickell City Centre like an oasis through Downtown Miami’s architecturally deficient desert.
An open-air luxury shopping destination that also includes a hotel, residential tower and office building, this is 4.9 million square feet of new possibilities being brought to Downtown Miami. What was once known to me as the area where I can watch a Heat game, go to Club Space and Mecca and avoid Overtown has now flourished into a full-scale destination.
Areas such as Brickell City Centre offer Miamians more than what we’ve had previously; aside from an economic boost, what I hope developments like this brings to the city is people like me back: young professionals who migrated elsewhere for a chance to grow professionally and fully immerse themselves in culture. For a city that cries “cultural destination” why do so many millennials feel Miami is a big city with a small town feel?
Don’t get me wrong, South Beach and Miami Beach are great, but I’d take Sunny Isles beach over them any day. Just 20 minutes north of both, Sunny Isles is quieter, cleaner and easier to get to.
I could have a soft spot for Sunny Isles because it was the beach I would go to after school back in high school. Most of my friends lived in that area and my school was about a 10 minute drive (I know, I’m rolling my eyes at myself, too). The area comes with its own set of luxury, being just minutes away from Bal Harbour, the city of Aventura and Collins Avenue.
The beach is so significant in Miami culture – we are a city truly built upon water (and swamp). Miami and South Beaches are places to see and be seen, but for reasons such as relaxation and fun in the sun Sunny Isles is always the place to be.
So, Is Miami a Cultural and Culinary Epicenter?
Honestly…no. Not yet, at least! Like I said, Miami has so much to offer, but it still has a long way to go to get to the cultural and culinary level it wants to achieve. It’s not that Miami has a lack of culture, but rather it has a main culture that dominates which is Latin culture. We cannot claim to be as diverse as we think we are because the reality is the city isn’t really as open to learning of other cultures as I know it can and should be.
To add, Miami has always been a port of sorts for many entering the United States. On average, Miami see its huge immigrant population migrate within the first 5 years – 5 years! That’s nowhere near enough to fully establish roots and set traditions in a city.
I hope the New York Times is right. I hope Miami is under a current reinvention and that it continues to grow, develop and thrive. I love my hometown and I sometimes can’t believe I was fortunate to grow up in a city as beautiful as Miami. Take a trip, explore and enjoy. Don’t forget to try my recommendations! I don’t get paid to advertise, I just love food that much and when something is of amazing quality it deserves to be shared. Until next time.