Spending a weekend in Miami: Full Miami Guide

Turning a quarter of a century is a big deal, so why wouldn’t I go to Miami? I booked a flight about a month in advance so the flight was $350.00 round trip from NYC to Miami. We chose to stay 3 nights at the Red South Beach Hotel. I read mixed reviews about Red South Beach, but decided to go ahead with it. The hotel was nice but nothing spectacular, the walls were paper thin and the free breakfast was not even worth going to. However, if you want to be right by the beach and aren’t looking for anything super luxurious, it does the job.

We got there on a Sunday afternoon and we headed to Wyndwood walls, because I was in need of a new instagram photo…and because I appreciate art, of course ???? ! The Wyndwood walls are as cool as everyone claims they are. It is a whole section of murals and there is a gallery which is free and open to the public.

At night, we went to Story Nightclub. I am not as keen on clubbing as I was from ages 17-23 (thank God), but I still go occasionally and wanted to check out Miami’s party scene. Story is like any other lavish club, $30 to get in for pre-sale tickets and $50 at the door. We went on a Sunday night and Sundays are their latin nights. It had all the frills of a glamorous night club; half naked dancing women on stage, creepy agressive men, and $17 cuba libres. It was definitely a good time, but that may have been due to the 4 rum and cokes I had before getting there. If you are interested in Miami’s nightlife, check it out, it is one of their most popular clubs and definitely lived up to all the hype.

The next day we went to Little Havana, to a restaurant called Ball & Chain. The inside decore was amazing, as someone who has been to Cuba, they nailed the ambiance. It was around 4 pm so they had a happy hour going on with live cuban music. I was ready to sign into yelp and give the place 5 stars, and we didn’t get to the food yet. It was happy hour so we ordered appetizers; sliders, and steak quesadillas, these were probably some of the best appetizers I’ve had! The burgers were super juicy for being sliders. A group of older Cuban gentlemen were in the corer playing live music. There was a beautiful Cuban woman in an off the shoulder green dress and a flower in her long dark hair, dancing in the walkway trying to reel people in, and it worked! People walking by were stopping to listen to the band and dance with the woman. The ones who who walked by, foolishly missed out on one of the best happy hours in town.

The following day we spent the day at the beach. We went to Atrio Restaurant & Wine Room for my birthday dinner which is a pretty fancy restaurant on top of a hotel with a spectacular view of the city.

I got the Seafood platter fresh cold seafood such as: Lobster, Shrimp Cocktail, Oyster, Tuna, Scallop, Foie Gras, and Mango Poke. The mango poke was delicious with the succulent seafood. I paired this platter with a M de Minuty glass of fresh Rose because summer is #RoseSeason and it was amazing.

The final day we were really touristy and went to an alligator swamp tour. We did research but determined all of the deals were pretty much the same. Some offered pick up and drop off to and from your hotel but the shuttle did not run very often so we decided to take an Uber which was $30.00 each way. We decided on Buffalo Tiger’s Airboat Tour which was $23.00 per person. We had to wait a bit for an open airboat when we first got there. Buffalo Tiger  in the middle of nowhere, the only thing there is a little “deli” and a gift shop. The deli sells alligator hamburgers and alligator hot dogs which I found to be very odd. To make matters even more strange, the gift shop sells stuffed dead alligator, alligator tails, and skin as “souvenirs”. It was like seeing a zebras head in the gift shop at the zoo. I am obviously aware that these types of places exploit the animals, but I don’t want to know that they kill them and then sell their body parts.

I tried to move past the weirdness as we had already spent $50.00 thusfar. We got on the airboat and rode along for about 5-10 minutes. That thing moves fast, and it was actually a lot of fun! Eventually, the guide stopped the boat and started teaching us a bit about alligators. He started throwing bread into the water and as he did, a tiny alligator swam out from behind the bushes and right up to our boat. The little guy hung around but as soon as the bread was gone he was out.

We stopped at 2-3 other locations throughout the swamp to see if the gators would come out. In one of the locations, no alligators came out so we moved onto the next one. There were mostly baby gators, only one larger one, but I don’t even think it was a “full sized” one. The entire journey lasted about 30-45 minutes. Afterwards, a different guide brought you to a stage like setting on land and brought out a full sized alligator. They taught us even more information about the gator and fed it. I could have done without the “show” on land.  Overall, it was a fun experience and something I’ve always wanted to do and I’m glad I did.

I had an amazing time in Miami. Miami is notoriously known as a party town, where people are walking around in bikinis and drinking margaritas all day which is why I always kind of shied away it from. I had been to Vegas, and plenty of other places and was at an age where I no longer wanted to travel to simply party. However, I was completely wrong; there is so much more to Miami than partying. I’ve had some of my favorite food of all time in Miami, the beach is beautiful and relaxing, and there is a rich, laid back culture which I love.

Miami Quick tips

  • If you dont plan on staying in the beach the whole time, stay in downtown miami, or rent a car or take public transportation. I wound up spending $150 on uber rides
  • It rains almost every day so pack an umbrella
  • Hit an exclusive nightclub at least once (Story, LIV, Sobe, Blume)
  • Go to Little Havana
  • Go to a swamp tour in NOLA. If you have no plans to go to NOLA, do it Miami
  • Try an excursion like jet skiing


Finding Francesca

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