It’s been long overdue but I finally made it to and spent 3 days in Miami. Now that I know the area, I almost want to start watching the Real Housewives of Miami so I can be like “oh, I went there!”. I drove down from Kissimmee with my mom in our rental car (from Sixt, who FYI charged us crazy amounts for the tolls) and it took about 3 hours I think. Next time I come to Florida, I’ll get the Sunpass for the tolls.
3 Days in Miami: how my mom and I spent our time
Where to Stay Near South Beach
We checked in at a super cute hotel called Sense Beach House which was right next to South Beach. I was a little overwhelmed at first as it was their Sunday brunch and we weren’t sure where the actual hotel entrance was – and we had the car pulled over in a no-park zone. But, they told us to unload and the valet would come. Valet was $29 a night but the nearby lot was charging $31 per night and it was just a dude packing cars in as tight as they’d fit so valet was the best choice there. When getting around we just did Uber as parking is kind of stressful around Miami and isn’t free.
Our room was really nice, large, and had a wrap around balcony that you could see the ocean from. Each of the 18 rooms are different in this boutique hotel. There is a rooftop pool here as well which we did use since the beach was really crowded for the weekend. There was even a surf board shower up there!
We had brunch at their restaurant, The Local House, and it was the bomb. My mom was in love with her eggs benedict.
South Beach & Ocean Drive
We spent Sunday walking around South Beach and Ocean Drive (the road that runs parallel to the beach). You can walk up from 5th to 13th street to see all the famous Art Deco buildings. We didn’t have time to check out what was on Lincoln Road that night, but apparently it’s a don’t miss for nightlife and designer shops so I’ll have to go there next time.
So-Fi (South of Fifth)
For dinner, we did a restaurant hop around the area our hotel was in called So-Fi (South of Fifth). I was told this is a really cool up and coming spot that will be getting even more cool restaurants in bars in the next year or two.
We first went to Cibo, a fancy Italian wine bar. There was a wine cellar in the middle of the room with glass walls and you can see the wine tastings going on inside. We got to have one which was set up by the tourism board. Whenever they need a bottle from the top, the woman in there puts on a harness and goes up to get the wine! She does little tricks and everyone in the restaurant started taking pictures. It was really cool. I think we let the girl doing the wine tasting down when the only smells we could guess where “winey” and the taste was “grape” haha, okay we weren’t THAT bad, but we were pretty bad. Their bread was the best bread I think I’ve ever had though – but we were off to our next stop for dinner.
For dinner, we ate at the popular restaurant, Red, the Steakhouse. THIS PLACE WAS AMAZING. You have to eat here when you come to Miami! By the way, all of these places I’m mentioning have been walkable from our hotel. Mom had a steak and I had the veal parmigiana (kicking myself that I chose steak & eggs at breakfast and was steak’d out!) Turns out, the veal was out of this world and as big as my head. Everything was so so tasty here. It was expensive, like $50 for a steak but that’s the same price as a chain like Ruth’s Chris (only way better).
As we walked back to our hotel, we stopped in at South Pointe Tavern. The menu had really unique drinks on it. I got the Miami State of Mind because it had jalapenos in it and mom got one with Pimms.
Our second day in Miami, we had two tours scheduled which are the top two tours in Miami and you wouldn’t want to miss them: a graffiti tour of Wynwood and a culinary tour of Little Havana.
But, we didn’t have anything until noon so since we were headed out that way via Uber, we got dropped off at the Brickell City Centre because it’s a new mall there. It was mostly really fancy brands but some affordable things like Zara and Bath & Body Works.
I went into Caudalie and had a fantastic massage. I think was going through withdrawal since I have them almost weekly in Asia!
Little Havana Food Tour – Don’t Miss This!
I showed up to this tour hungry like they said to which wasn’t hard because I show up to everything hungry. I’m just always ready to eat (it’s a skill). Our tour was with Miami Culinary Tours (the #1 company there) and we met for the start at Agustin Gainza Arts And Tavern which was part of the tour. Go early and get a coffee there!
I was surprised how small Little Havana is. It was hardly any walking to hit up all the famous places. I feel like I shouldn’t give them all away as then they might lose business, but I sort of already tagged each place on Instagram Stories (whoops).
But, we went to all the top spots to try empanadas, their unique coffee, a REAL mojito where Billy Holiday used to play, the best Cuban sandwich, a guava pastry, and a local ice cream shop that does Cuban flavors. But we also learned about the culture and their past with America and, of course, stopped into a Cuban cigar shop (where they were making them in front of us). At one point we went to a fruit stall which was funny because we tried sugar cane juice (a key drink in India!).
My mom and I liked this best of everything we did in Miami.
Grafitti Tour in Wynwood Art District
You can’t do a graffiti tour with anyone except Miami’s Best Graffiti Guide if you want a truly authentic tour. Our guide Ryan “the wheelbarrow” is a graffiti artist himself and knows the other artists personally. It was a unique tour and it was a time to finally understand how these artists actually make a living doing this (as it’s not actually just kids scribbling – it’s serious).
… but it was also a good time for me to get some cool pictures for Instagram and by the looks of it that is what other people were doing, too!
Little Havana is very close to Wynwood so if you go to both I recommend using Uber and not worrying about parking. For short distances like this we did the Uber Carpool and since the distance was so short no one else needed a ride at the same time + it was like 1/4 of the price.
That night we checked out the Design District but were so stuffed we didn’t even have dinner and crashed out early since we were going to do stand up paddle board the next morning. The Design District has luxury shops, boutique local shops and of course artist’s galleries. Whenever I see famous people on Instagram in Miami, they always tag this area so it must be the “cool place”.
The last thing we did in Miami was SUP before driving down to the keys. We went to Sailboards Miami to do this but they don’t just do SUP, they actually do windsurfing classes here! I’d love to learn that one day, too. You can park here for free and that was lucky since we drove straight from here to the Keys!
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This post is in collaboration with Visit Florida. I was compensated for my time in being in Miami and writing this article.
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