things to do in miami

Last week I spent a week in Miami with my husband and brother & sister in law. The purpose of the trip was to board Holy Ship, a music festival my brother-in-law puts on on a cruise. It’s pretty nuts–4 days of EDM (Google it) on the ocean. I figured we should spend some time in Miami since I’ve never actually been (I know…), and I’m really glad we did. I found Miami to be a beautiful, happy place, and it was just what I needed.

We flew in on New Years Eve and kept it pretty low-key, with a yummy dinner at Bazi in South Beach. I’d have to say the night was a success with the exception of the annoying surcharges on Uber rides. But whatevs, that was to be expected. As usual I had a list of recommendations of places to see, eat at, etc. and it was quickly scraped when we realized just how many great spots there are in the city.

Since I always document my travels I thought I’d share the things I learned from this trip to Miami:

1) Never trust the weather report. It lies. Straight up. I know tropical weather is unpredictable and all, but this was way off. We had mostly fabulous, sunny weather (no rain when it said 90% chance), until we got back from the cruise. Just be prepared for all types of weather. Pack for summer but bring a light denim jacket or something.

2) It’s Vegas in the tropics. And obviously no casinos either. Call it a holiday week (NYE) or not, the place screams Vegas. The people, the cheesiness, the clothing, the hotel pools…Let’s just say I avoid Vegas for these reasons. So while I enjoyed my time in Miami, I would love to do it again now that I know this. I stayed at the Fontainbleu and honestly wouldn’t stay there again. The hotel itself is super nice and luxurious, but with their club, DJ situation at the pool, and popular restaurants the place was a little too hectic (Vegas-y) for me.

3) Speaking of the Fontainbleu hotel. If you want a lounge chair around the pool (or anywhere you can actually see the pool) set your alarms for 5:45AM. Yup, you read that right. I thought I was doing such a nice thing by waking up at 8:00AM and going down to get us chairs while Paul slept, but nope, never got a chair. I was so shocked when 2 days in a row this happened so I finally asked someone and they said the best way to secure a good spot is to be down by the pool no later than 6:00AM, but there will most likely be around 20 people already there.

But wait, don’t be confused. When I go somewhere pretty I always opt for the beach. However, I’m not really down to shell out $500-$1000 (plus the cost of bottle service (HA! Vegas…) on a lounge chair / daybed). The Fontainbleu also thought it would be smart to cram a bunch of chairs together not even facing the ocean, offer zero service unless you’re getting bottle service, and call that a pleasant beach day.

Luckily my brother & sister in law were staying next door at Soho House and we got to experience a much more enjoyable beach experience since what’s not to love about white sands and turquoise water.

4) Pack an anti-frizz product. The humidity can get kinda nuts. This hair serum by Living Proof will save your life. Trust me.

5) The architecture is everything. I have a soft spot for Art Deco architecture and the streets of Miami are lined with Art Deco buildings. Even the hotels that looked a little run-down were beautiful. The same can be said for the greenery. Millions of palm trees and lush greenery everywhere you go. I was pretty bad on this trip when it came to taking pictures. I was stopping at every corner, no joke.

6) Beware of mosquitoes. Ughhhhhh you have no clue how much mosquito bites kill me. I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to a specific type since sometimes my bites blow up like golf balls and I’m the type that refuses to scratch. I’d rather suffer for 2 days than prolong the pain. I only had one bad encounter and it was after it rained one night and we were eating dinner at Cecconi’s. I swear the Soho House had a swampy vibe the way it’s all tucked in the corner lol. That night both my ankles got so bitten up I literally couldn’t eat my food I was so uncomfortable.

7) Shopping on Lincoln is a lot like 3rd street promenade. Let’s be totally honest, who actually likes going to 3rd street in Santa Monica? Not me. The shops were nothing special (everything we have in LA), and the amount of people flooding the streets had me in and out of there in under 30 minutes. But not before I stuffed a bag full of candy from Dylan’s 🙂

8) Look for the hidden gems. When picking our spots for dinner each night we (meaning: my husband) heavily relies on Yelp. He apparently has some 6th sense for reading reviews–he claims he can tell which reviews are actually valuable and applicable to the kind of dining experience we are looking for. And you know what? He totally nails it every time. It’s hard to describe it in one word but let me break it down a little.

We like restaurants that 1) have a fabulous menu (fresh ingredients, interesting pairings, different, etc.), 2) has a great vibe / ambiance, 3) offers hand-crafted cocktails, 4) is worth it. A “popular” place to us doesn’t always equate to good.

Here is where we ate in Miami & loved: Bazi, Talde, & Jules Kitchen. Another night we ate room service for dinner at the Fontainbleu and the potato skin nachos were OUT.OF.THIS.WORLD. The rest of the nights we were on Holy Ship so I don’t have any other spots to name.

9) Half the people don’t speak English. I didn’t believe my girlfriends when they told me but it’s totally true! The Uber drivers, the waiters, the hotel staff. I have an unusually difficult time understanding people with accents so luckily my husband was there to translate.

10) Use the boardwalk. I love walking around new cities to explore and get a feel for the vibe and people. After walking down Collins to see everything we primarily used the boardwalk along the beach to get around. You feel kind of secluded but have a beautiful view of the beach on one side and the hotel pools on the other. And let’s not forget all the beautiful greenery lining both sides. Photo ops for days!

The outdoor shower at the Soho House is too dreamy.

The infamous Fontainbleu pool that pissed me off just a little.

A little 80’s a little Art Deco. Obsessed.

The beaches are full of fun colors.

A super cute hotel pool I stumbled upon while walking along the boardwalk.

 I’m wearing: CoolChange cover up // Beach Riot venom bikini // Kopari oil to get a glowing tan