The first time I "visited" Miami - it was a passthrough to get on the cruise ship to the Bahamas. I arrived at 10 a.m. and with just enough for a quick bit before heading off to the docks. The drive from the airport to the docks left an impression and I promised myself a return trip. That trip happened several months ago and although it started off terribly with a nine hour delay getting from Orlando to Miami and lost luggage, I still had an incredible time and will not mind a return trip. There were a lot of things I could not get to on the itinerary.
GETTING AROUND. We rented a car for the weekend. Our flight back home was scheduled for late sunday which allowed us sometime to make up for the nine hour delay we experienced on Friday. To make the most of our time, we decided to go with the tour bus option. We were able to cover more ground in a short amount of time that way. As such, we did not use our rental car much besides an excursion to little havana on Saturday afternoon. We drove around almost 25 minutes before finding parking. Considering that, I think we would have been better off taking cabs or Ubers.
WHERE TO STAY. If you can find a good deal nothing beats staying on South Beach and if you find a hotel right on the beach even better. Using the Hotel Tonight app, we booked the Sherry Frontenac. The rate was decent and the location was perfect. The hotel is quite old and the interior needs some TLC but getting to watch the sunrise above the ocean from our window and getting to the beach in under five minutes made up for outdated decor and amenities.
WHERE TO EAT. Whilst planning the trip, one thing we had an abundance of was food recommendations. Unfortunately, we did not really get to explore the food scene like we wanted. Notwithstanding, we still found some gems that are worth checking out if you find yourself in these parts. We arrived too late on Friday to bother with food and the stress of missed luggage and delayed flights meant we slept in on Saturday. When our luggage eventually arrived, we made our way to Little Havana for lunch at Versailles restaurant. The restaurant was packed, and instead of waiting around for a seat, we chose to have a wander around Little Havana. We made our first stop at Cafe La Llave for a shot of Cuban coffee. It was really good (and very strong). Next, we found Yisell Bakery Cafeteria, a classic Cuban bakery famous for its guava filled pastry (ooh la la) and then on to Los Pinarenos Fruteria - the over 120-year-old fruit stand/shop around the corner where we got freshly made to order coconut water. We wrapped up our food excursion in Little Havana with a visit to Azucar ice cream factory serving the most incredible ice cream with authentic Cuban flavors like plantain, rum raisin, and guava. I had two scoops of the plantain and guava flavors.
For Dinner, we found an Italian spot close to our hotel on South Beach. Our dinner at Cafe prima pasta was incredible. The linguine seafood from the discount menu was amazing. We spent most of Sunday sight-seeing before winding up at Coconut Grove. We had the most incredible ceviche at Bice Bistro and a post-lunch dessert runs at Bianco Gelato.
WHERE TO EXPLORE. Full disclosure - we spent most of our time exploring Little Havana and laying on the beach (South Beach). If that was all we did with our time - we will have been fully satisfied. If there is one thing (maybe two) things I insist you do in Miami - watch the sunrise and sunset - Miami was where I fell in love with watching sunrise and sunset - something about the sun peaking above the waves - I cannot describe it - simply magical. We spent a lot of time watching the sunrise and set. Then we explored Little Havana - read all about that here. There is so much culture in Little Havana. After having a lazy Saturday on the beach and in Little Havana - we spent our last day as proper tourist. We got tickets on one of those tour buses - it was a perfect way to see and explore the city in a short time frame. We did not spend a lot of time exploring any one place, but I definitely built a list of places I will like to explore more if I have the opportunity to return to Miami in future. The arts districts are at the top of the list - the Wynwood Arts District in Miami is swoon and Instagram-worthy; Vizcaya Museum & Gardens; Coconut Grove. We also spent sometime on Ocean drive - we did not buy anything, but we window shopped to our heart's content.