5 Days in Miami: South Beach to Little Havana

Miami is a crazy mix of the luxurious and low-key. It's a place where swanky shopping malls and glitzy nightclubs collide with hipster art districts and down-to-earth hangout spots. You can be gawping at P. Diddy's mansion one moment, and strolling through a colourful community garden the next. This itinerary allows you to soak up the dynamism of Miami – from South Beach to Little Havana – with a generous helping of superb places to eat and drink.

Day 1 - Miami Beach

First stop - Miami Beach. Kick things off with a leisurely bike ride down the breezy Miami Beach Pathway to explore this famous stretch of Florida coastline.

Starting in North Beach hop on a Citi Bike at 79th Street & Collins Ave, and ride 7.5 miles down to South Pointe Park. Fabulous en-route pit-stops include: Buenos Aires Bakery for some Argentinian breakfast pastries (empanadas anyone?); Broken Shaker at 27th Street for refreshments in a colourful courtyard (complete with a pool!); 13th Street for viewing one of Miami’s most iconic lifeguard towers, and absolutely anywhere for a dip in Miami's beautiful blue waters.

You’ll end your ride in the perfectly landscaped South Pointe Park where bikini-clad, muscle-bound, Miami locals jog, yoga, rollerblade and dog walk under the Florida sun.

Next up - South Beach. Continue on foot and walk around Miami’s famous SoBe, as it's commonly called. This is the area below 23rd street known for vibrant thoroughfares like Ocean Drive which is an art deco paradise. Lincoln Road and Espanola Way are also worth checking out. You'll likely be sucked into many cool spots here, such as upscale Miami-made boutiques and sleek sidewalk ice-cream parlours.

Round-off your day in Miami Beach with pizza on the beach (Pizza Rustica South Beach), while watching the sun go down over the Atlantic Ocean.

Day 2 - Wynwood Walls & Miami Design District

Today's about exploring Miami's art districts. You don’t have to be an “artsy” person to enjoy Miami's creative scene as the offerings are diverse enough for everyone to enjoy.

Starting in Wynwood, pick up a breakfast sandwich at neighbourhood favorite Zak the Baker, before a short stroll down the block to Wynwood Walls - an outdoor complex with 35 hand-sprayed wall murals, and a handful of indoor galleries. Wynwood's colossal walls of colour have come to define the neighbourhood. Opening everyday at 11am, it costs $10 for adults or $5 if you have a student ID.

Afterwards, if you are left wanting more and haven’t got your fill of street art, the Museum of Graffiti is only a few minutes walk away and is the only dedicated graffiti museum in the world. You might also be needing a little pick-me-up so Panther Coffee is a beloved local establishment, and just 2 minutes walk down the block from Wynwood is Coyo Tacos - hailed as serving Miami's best tacos.

From Wynwood, you can walk for about twenty minutes and arrive slap bang in the heart of the Miami Design District - a visual playground for lovers of architecture, fashion, and design. We're talking sleek high-end shops and G-wagons galore. But instead of dropping $8 on a croissant in the Dior Cafe, just saunter around and admire the striking and often playful architecture in the area. The Institute of Contemporary Arts is also nearby and totally free to visit.

A scenic late afternoon or evening hangout is Astra, a rooftop bar and restaurant with wonderful views over Wynwood.

Day 3 - Little Havana

Visiting Little Havana means jumping right into the center of Miami's vibrant Cuban community. 70% of Miami locals are Latino or Hispanic, and Little Havana is where the Cubans settled in the 1950s and 1960s after escaping the revolution in their homeland. Block by block, they made this neighbourhood their own, and the Cuban influence can be felt at every turn.  

Calle Ocho is a good place to begin your explorations. Start with a spot of Cuban breakfast at Versailles and then visit the likes of Cuban Memorial Blvd Park and Domino Park. The most interesting things to see in Calle Ocho are between 13th Street and 17th Street, and although it's easy to explore the area by yourself, we recommend booking a walking tour for the full Little Havana experience! This one, prioritises food stopovers, so you'll be able to sample lots of delicious Cuban cuisine as well as learning about the area from a local's perspective.

Ball & Chain is a must for a memorable evening of live music and cocktails.

Day 4  - Key Biscayne

It's time to crank up the tropical vibes and head to Key Biscayne for the day - a barrier island that can be reached from downtown Miami by a 20 minute drive, or 40 minute bus ride (line 102 and 207). You'll find mangroves, palm-tree-lined boulevards, beach cabanas, a lighthouse and more!

A day spent on this island can be moulded around your mood. Maybe you'll fancy a day of beach lounging and park picnicking? Or kayaking and paddle-boarding? Whether you feel active or idle, there are endless things to do.

North of the Island in Crandon Park is the best place to begin, which is a very green, very beautiful 800 acre beachside park that was once a coconut plantation. To get around we suggest renting a beach cruiser from Key Biscayne Bike Rentals as the island is perfect for peddling around. You can load up on gourmet picnic supplies and deli sandwiches at The Golden Hog (quite pricey), or come prepared by bringing your own snacks.

A dinnertime feast at Catina Beach will be a treat, or head to CJ's Crab Shack for some tried and true seafood once you're back in central Miami.

Day 5 - Little Haiti

You’ve seen Little Havana, now it’s time for Little Haiti - a smaller, less touristy neighbourhood and the beating heart of Miami's Haitian community.

Once known as Lemon City, it was re-named in 2016 in recognition of the large Haitian community who made the neighbourhood home in the 1980s and 1990s. Even though the whiff of gentrification is pretty strong, the Haitian spirit is still alive and kicking. Walking around, you'll feel miles away from South Beach or even the upscale beachy expanses of Key Biscayne. Little Haiti does a wonderful job proudly flying the flag for Haitian culture: Voodoo botánicas dot the streets, Kompa or Rasin music plays out from storefront speakers, shop signs are displayed in Creole, and colourful building facades and murals enliven the architecture.

Northeast 2nd Avenue represents the main corridor of activity in Little Haiti so head here first. Neighbourhood gems include: Little Haiti Cultural Center, which will teach you more about the Haitian-American history of the area; Libreri Mapou - a bookstore devoted to Haitiatian Literature, and Yeelen Gallery which "aims to tell the story of the community".

And of course, don't leave without trying lots of different Haitian cuisine! Breakfast on warm coconut bread at Piman Bouk Bakery, tuck into Griot at Pinman Bouk Haitian Restaurant, and Lakay Tropical Ice Cream is the only place to go for Haitian style-ice cream in flavours you might not have heard of let alone tasted - like cachiman and korosol.

Places to Go in the Evening:

Where to Stay:

Budget – Generator Miami (from €17)

Average – Freehand Miami (from €60)

Luxury – SLS Brickell Miami (from €178)

Starting from Skratch? Here’s a Few Tips to Get You Started:

https://www.oyster.com/articles/miami-vacation-things-to-know-before-you-visit-miami

https://culturecrusaders.com

https://www.skratch.world

USA - Facts before you go

Language

🇺🇸 English

Currency

💵 Dollar

Time Zones

UTC-10, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4

Tipping

Tipping is always expected and generally 15% in restaurants

Known for

🎬  Hollywood

🏜 Grand Canyon

🌭 Classic diners

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Amy Drayton
October 17, 2021
posted in
JOURNEYS

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