As a native Floridian, I am lucky enough to be familiar with much that the state has to offer. While I am not from Miami, I have been there enough times to know which experiences are worth revisiting. South Florida is one of the most culturally-rich regions of the US and can be overwhelming to the rookie spring breaker or vacation-goer. To make things easier, here are some of the best things SoFlo has to offer.
Wynwood Art District
A formerly rundown, industrial part of the city, local artists decided to transform the streets of Wynwood to be their outdoor gallery. With its large and vibrant geometric murals, the Wynwood Walls take graffiti to a new level. Located in the heart of the Art District, the Wynwood Walls are surrounded by multiple new art galleries, restaurants, and boutiques which all stand in revamped warehouses.
The area’s businesses frequently host events throughout the week that draw more and more people out to explore what Wynwood has to offer. My personal favorites are Murk Mondays at Coyo Taco and Reggae Sundays at Wynwood Yard. Both events are free and feature live music, dancing, and food.
Pro tip: On every second Saturday of the month, the entire Art District is open until midnight for the largest block party in the city––the Art Walk. Food trucks and DJs line up along the blocks for quick bites and a dance party that continues into the night.
Recently declared as a national treasure by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Little Havana is the central hotspot for Latin American culture in Miami. It started out as a place for Cuban exiles to settle and is now a vital middleground for Latin American and American culture.
One of Little Havana’s best treasures is Calle Ocho, an avenue which features food, parks, and Paseo de las Estrellas, Little Havana’s own version of the Hollywood Walk of Fame for Latin American artists such as Gloria Estafan and Thalia.
Alongside it is Domino Park, a place for elderly Cuban residents to play dominoes and socialize. It is a major aspect of life in Little Havana for many of its residents. Not only is Domino Park a place for them to interact, it sits in the center of different memorials that commemorate the heroes and leaders of Cuban culture.
Also in the neighborhood is the Versailles Restaurant that has been voted the best Cuban cuisine in Miami. Some of the restaurant’s top dishes include: cuban sandwiches, croquetas, palomillas, and ventanitas.
Pro tip: Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays) is a festival that takes place on the last Friday of every month in Calle Ocho. Similar to the Art Walk, this is an event full of musical performances, art displays, and food.
Museum of Ice Cream
Decked out in bright colors and cute props, the Museum of Ice Cream is a pop-up event that gives its attendees the perfect Instagram photo ops. Whether it’s the pool of sprinkles, the graphic wall designs, or the glittery dance floors, the MOIC is guaranteed to give anyone the quality content their feed has been needing.
There is also free ice cream on each floor of the museum, varying in flavors and forms. From mochi to melted, and with flavors as generic as vanilla to as exotic as mango, the museum has a wide selection of treats. Since the museum is a pop-up event, subscribe to the MOIC’s emails at www.museumoficecream.com for information on the next location near you.
Club Space is a never-ending party located in the heart of downtown Miami. The rooftop club frequently features world-renowned DJs, as well as local talents. This is the place to be for those who are looking for a stereotypical Miami Spring Break experience full of loud music, dancing, and many opportunities to make mistakes with zero regrets. (Age requirement is 18+ for ladies and 21+ for guys)
As the Newbury Street of South Beach, Lincoln Road boasts numerous restaurants, cafes, and retail shops that stretch for a mile between 16th and 17th Street. However, Lincoln Road is the complete opposite of Newbury in terms of design. While Newbury is characterized by its historic brownstones along the street, Lincoln Road’s shops stand in modern, crisp, white buildings along a promenade that is closed off to vehicles.
The promenade also opens up opportunity for performances by local musical and acting talents. “Live on Lincoln” is a series that features performers at the 1100 Lincoln Road stage on the weekends between 1pm to 4pm.
Zoological Wildlife Foundation
Word on the street is the rare, exotic animals that are part of the Zoological Wildlife Foundation were originally used to smuggle in drugs to the US. The owner and former kingpin of Miami’s cocaine market, Mario Tabraue, had a change of heart (and career path) after his stint in prison and opened up Florida’s most interactive zoo. Unlike traditional zoos, visitors to ZWF are encouraged to not only watch, but actually interact with the animals on the sanctuary.
The ZWF offers the opportunity to learn about, feed, and pet tigers, grizzly bears, alligators, monkeys, birds, anteaters, and other exotic creatures. Portions of proceeds go towards supporting wildlife organizations with goals of preserving endangered creatures like rhinos, cheetahs, and others.
While Miami is full of adventure and excitement, a short drive away is Homestead. The rural town of Homestead offers many activities that are a calm amongst the fast-paced lifestyle of Miami Beach.
Knaus Berry Farm
Knaus Berry Farm is a family-owned farm that has been around for decades. The roadside market is known for strawberry picking and their famous cinnamon rolls. Locals say that it is not uncommon for the line to stretch for “miles” on holiday weekends for a few dozen of their cinnamon rolls, homemade key-lime pie, and milkshakes.
Schnebly’s is known for its handcrafted wine to tourists and locals. More importantly, the winery plays a major role in the community with its weekly events that bring the neighborhood together.
The most popular one? Country nights on Friday evenings beginning at 7pm, where many of Homestead and its surrounding towns’ residents come out to enjoy glasses of wine and country line dancing.
South Florida is home to 1.5 million acres of wetland preserve that is rich in both plant and animal species, ranging from little subtropical plants to the majestic Florida panther. Daily airboat tours are not only fun to ride, but visitors have the chance to see iconic Florida flora and fauna like mangroves and gators in their natural habitats.
Illustration by: Eleanor Hilty