As fall arrives to DC temperatures become erratic and I start fantasizing about beach destinations. Although there’s a risk of tropical storms, I love fall and early winter travels to Florida and the Caribbean. There are great deals to be found and you get to avoid the masses of tourists. I recently headed to Florida for TBEX Travel Blogger Conference and decided to spend three days in Miami for a small break before the conference madness began.
Enjoying the beach at Sunny Isles
Although Miami has a party city reputation (and it truly is), it can also be very relaxing with its beautiful beaches, great spas, and delicious Latin food. It’s the perfect long weekend escape destination and it’s only a two hour trip from most cities on the East Coast. With so many cultures in South Florida, you truly feel like you are in a foreign country even if you don’t need a passport.
Dining Traveler’s Three Days in Miami
Where I stayed: I arrived late on a Saturday and left early on a Wednesday so technically I only had three full days. I wanted to experience two radically different neighborhoods so I spent two nights at South Beach at Sense Beach House and the last two in Sunny Isles at Acqualina Resort & Spa. (More about these properties soon).
Dining Traveler Tip: Miami’s attractions are pretty spread out. I highly recommend renting a car if you are the explorer type like me.
South Beach: Sometimes South Beach gets a bad reputation. People tend think of crazy parties and Jersey Shore type tourists on Ocean Drive. Although those types do exist, there’s also a pretty zen vibe to the area. I lived in South Beach in 2011 for three months and loved the scene. On this most recent trip, I found many improvements to the area. If your agenda is to relax, I recommend the most southern point of South Beach, 4th Street and below for less crowded beaches with a local vibe. You can catch free yoga classes on the beach almost every morning and sunset. One of my favorite brunch spots is Books and Books with is eclectic menu and wide selection of coffee table books. On this trip, my South Beach food highlight was the brunch at Europa Delicatessen. This inconspicuous spot off of Washington Ave has a delicious European menu that ranges from smoked salmon to a Turkish breakfast platter. If you’re craving some European goodies like Milka chocolate or eastern European cured meats, it’s all available at their retail area.
Brickell: When I used to travel to Miami on short business trips, I stayed at the Conrad Miami. The view of Biscayne Bay from the modern high-rise building is stunning. Although Brickell has a more business vibe, there’s a lively nightlife scene at Brickell Center. It’s the perfect cross between business and pleasure. One of my favorite things to do in that area is go for an early morning run. The sunrise against the water is enough motivation to wake up early. One of my foodie highlights of my three days in Miami was lunch at La Mar at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, which is located on Key Biscayne off of Brickell Rd. This acclaimed restaurant by Gaston Acurio has a delicious three-course lunch menu for $25. The tucked away location of property feels like an oasis in the busy streets of Brickell.
Wynwood and the Arts & Entertainment District: I always pay a visit to Wynwood during my trips to Miami. It’s an escape from the glitzy waterfront neighborhoods of the area. The area has grown quite a bit since I lived there in 2011. It’s filled with hip art galleries and restaurants. Not to miss: the monthly Wynwood art walk. While in Wynwood, I headed to its new hip neighbor, the Arts and Entertainment district. This up and coming area is focusing on art and design. The area is currently hosting some fun events for the fall. What to eat in Wynwood: an acai bowl topped with coconut and cocoa nibs at Jugo Fresh.
Sunny Isles: My last two nights in Miami, I stayed at the gorgeous Acqualina Resort at Sunny Isles, located in the north of Miami. This area is perfect for relaxation. It is not as busy as South Beach as it has plenty of high-rise residential properties with a more mature yet glamourous crowd. You can catch locals walking their dogs early in morning or on their evening runs. I was fortunate enough to catch a free moonrise yoga class offered by Sunny Isles. I am not big into yoga but the instructor was awesome, she made it very easy for non-yogi’s like myself to follow along. For luxury lovers: head to Bal Harbor if power shopping is your workout. Even if you are just window shopping (like me), I must say that it is one of the most beautiful outdoor shopping areas I’ve seen in the United States. My foodie highlight: breakfast at Acqualina Resort. The breakfast buffet has everything your breakfast loving heart desires- an extensive selection of cheese, made to order omelets, and fresh fruit.
The verdict: Regardless of your taste, Miami has something for every taste. Three days in Miami is the perfect escape from the madness of the cold city. This trip was very relaxing for me. Writing comes so much more fluidly to me when I have the warm ocean breeze on my skin. If you book ahead, you can find fall and early winter deals to Miami as cheap as $200 from DCA. American Airlines has really stepped up their game with their fares to compete with low-cost carriers. I must admit, this airline has been on the bottom of my list for a while, but I have been very impressed with my flights to Miami and Puerto Rico this fall. What are your favorite Miami highlights?