Miami is a hot spot, literally and figuratively. Being in a subtropical zone, the climate tends to be hot and humid, with afternoon thunderstorms. However, the crazy weather adds to the excitement of this vibrant city. According to the Census Bureau, Miami is the second largest city in Florida, following Jacksonville. It is also the financial and economic center for the state of Florida, with over 43 billion dollars annually coming into Port Miami via cargo and cruise tourism. For this cranky camper though, Miami is an lively place, with great beaches, good food, and unique art and culture.
My first drive through Miami was at night, trying to find a place to eat after landing late in Ft. Lauderdale. I ended up in Wynwood, one of Miami’s thirteen districts. At ten o’clock at night at the height of the Covid19 crisis in early July, the place looked a little sketch with the graffiti art walls and darkened businesses. On this late September trip, businesses have reopened, and in the light of day, I saw that the walls were indeed covered in an interesting, eclectic collection of street art. It was this street art that sparked a revival in the early 2000s and helped to make Wynwood a destination for art and fashion. There are also some great boutique eats in the area.
Our morning in Wynwood began with a stop at The Salty Donut, an artisanal coffee and donut shop that offers up gourmet donuts such as traditional glazed or maple bacon to some truly dynamic flavor combinations like guava cheese or sea salt cream and cookies. We tried the white chocolate tres leches, a brioche donut with a rum-infused three-milk mixture, bottom-dipped in white chocolate and topped with a torched meringue. It was divine. The sea salt cream and cookies was also delicious, with the sea salt cookie cream really making the chocolate cake donut. It was fitting that we went on National Coffee Day; in celebration of this important event they had discounts on their handcrafted coffee beverages.
After breakfast, we drove around to tour the district and enjoy the uniqueness of the painted walls. We saw the creativity and vital spirit displayed in the various colorful murals decorating warehouses and restaurants. Of course, we pulled over to take photos in front of our favorites. Most of the Wynwood district is a perfect backdrop for social media photos. I, like many, posted a couple on my Instagram.
Of course no trip to Miami would be complete without a trip to world famous Miami Beach. On Emily’s recommendation, we visited South Beach at the end of Fifth Street. Parking was limited, but we were able to find a spot right by the beach. It was a fun afternoon of more swimming in Florida’s clear, aquamarine waters. Other than the marijuana smoke from a few beachgoers around us, the beach was very pleasant and clean. It was so nice to unwind while swimming and watching the sandpipers on the shore.
We grabbed dinner before heading back to the Miami-Kendall area. We ordered pita sandwiches from Kalamata, a trendy Mediterranean restaurant on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, about a block and a half from the beach. The restaurant had a really nice aesthetic, and as restaurants in Miami-Dade are now open for indoor dining at 50% capacity, I would have loved to dine in. Unfortunately time constraints dictated our return to the hotel, but that didn’t make the food any less delicious. My falafel sandwich was very good, especially with a side of jasmine rice and a bit of the chili sauce that came with the meal.
Speaking of food, a great dessert spot is Night Owl Cookies. If you ever have an 11 pm craving for some hella fresh-baked soft cookies in Miami, Night Owl has what you need. On both 2020 Florida trips, Night Owl was my first stop. I visited SW 8th Street location, near Florida International University on my way from the airport. Started by Andrew Gonzales, a sweets enthusiast, the business quickly expanded thanks to social media and food blogs. Of course, earning Forbes Under 30 Summit’s “Top Young Chef in the Nation” in 2017 and 2018 hasn’t hurt either. Today, his south Miami storefront is one of the nation’s largest cookie shops. More importantly, the cookies are hella yummy. My favorites include the Birthday Cake, stuffed with white and milk chocolate chips, topped with rainbow sprinkles and drizzled with frosting and the Cookies and Cream, a chocolate chip cookie stuffed with chocolates chips and topped with Oreos. There are many other flavors, as well as seasonal offerings, such as the Pumpkin Spice cookie filled with sweet dulce de leche. Order online for curbside pickup or Postmates delivery. If you can’t make it to South Miami, they do ship nationwide. It’s only $12.50 for four-day UPS shipping from Florida to California, a small price to pay for some delicious cookies. The only bad thing would be the four day wait.
This is barely even a snapshot of the food and fun that Miami has to offer. This happening city in sunny South Florida has plenty to do for every taste and interest. So hop on a plane and come on down. It’s hot!
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