I have been living in Florida for five years now, and people were always surprised to learn I had never visited Miami. To be honest, I was never interested (aside from the food). Big cities have never appealed to me. In retrospect, my most memorable travel moments have been in small(er) cities. However, I didn’t have anything planned for the 4th of July weekend and in a “what the hell” moment decided to book a hotel and try the “Miami for Non-Party Animals” experience.
Weekend Itinerary – Saturday
After almost four hours of driving, coffee was just what the body needed. Of course, this was the perfect excuse to visit Little Havana. Parking in the area is not easy to find, but after driving in circles five or six times, we finally found parking at La Carreta.
Rooster in front of La Carreta
La Carreta serves Cuban food at reasonable prices, but without compromising on the quality of the food or excellent service. You can eat inside the restaurant, or buy fritters and other small plates at the outside kiosk.
We decided to go inside and were surprised at how fast we were seated, considering we had seen buses of tourists being left there a few minutes before. We ordered Natural Yuca Fries and a Medianoche, which is technically a Cuban sandwich but with sweeter bread. To drink, a Mojito and a Presidente were almost obligatory.
The fries came with a cilantro aioli that only made them better. The medianoche was good, but (and this is where I might start getting hate) I had better in Tampa. Note: Before reporting my blog as spam, let me know in the comments if I should try a Cuban sandwich in another place, that might be better than those in Tampa.
The Mojito was another story. It was perfect. I have never been to Cuba, but I’ll bet if I go they will taste the same. Finally, we ended with a cup of Cafe con Leche. The coffee lived up to the hype. I don’t know what’s the secret ingredient (is Condensed Milk isn’t it?) but I’ve been craving one since I left.
Cafe con Leche at La Carreta
Wynwood. One of the most sacred places for an Instagrammer (Now that I’m mentioning Instagram…Follow Me!). I have no shame in admitting that was the main reason I went, followed very closely by its food reputation. Parking is not as difficult to find as it is in Little Havana if you are willing to walk. There’s a good sized parking at The Shops at Midtown Miami, that’s fifteen minutes from the Wynwood Walls.
The Wynwood Walls are an outdoor/indoor art gallery displaying the work of the world’s greatest graffiti and street artists. There is not a lot to say because the pictures speak for themselves.
Tip: Take a bottle of water with you, if paying more than $8.00 USD for juice is not your thing. Or visit RUST, and enjoy a refreshing Passion Fruit Sangria.
Weekend Itinerary – Sunday
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar
We started Sunday with brunch from Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. We had seen the restaurant featured in one of Anthony Bourdain’s episodes about Miami and decided to give it a shot. The place is primarily known for its fried chicken recipe, and that’s exactly what we ordered. Good Southern Food (from what I heard) is not easy to find in Miami, and this place is all about that. They have an impressive and extensive list of whiskey and bourbons, which I did not try but if this is something you’re into it might be worth a visit.
Overall, plates were filling, coffee was good, and service was fine. The savory waffle was probably the best savory waffle I ever had. However, Atlanta’s fried chicken still has my heart.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Our next stop was the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, previously known as Villa Vizcaya in Miami. Of Baroque architecture, this 50 acres Estate has provided the setting for many films and special events. I will leave you all with a picture because I feel it deserves a separate post.
Update: I wrote a separate post about the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens for the only multi-authored, online travel magazine geared to the over-50 luxury traveler Getting On Travel. Click Here to Read It!
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
I wanted to like South Beach. At the same time, I knew it was going to be very difficult for me to like South Beach. First, parking is impossible or pricey. Second, it’s crowded, but you already knew that. Finally, people trying to convince you to enter their restaurant to drink $30.00 USD margaritas is not my kind of fun.
I had been in South Beach for less than half an hour, and I already wanted to leave. Then, we crossed the street, and things got better. The beach was beautiful, and we found some peace. Also, we were able to find a seat at a Mexican restaurant (I don’t want to hide the name, I just don’t remember) with a nice patio to indulge in some Modelo beer while ‘people watching.’ At the end, South Beach wasn’t as terrible as I had portrayed, and I’m guessing it’s more of an acquired taste.
Tip: Remember where you park your car. Most parking lots look the same.
We ended our weekend at CRUST, one of the top restaurants in Miami according to TripAdvisor. I’m happy to inform it was not overhyped. I recommend you make reservations in advance because the place is not huge, but locals and tourists alike seem to love it. I can’t blame them, service was top-notch and the food was so good I forgot to take pictures. Plates are huge though, so keep that in mind when you order. On Monday, after we came back from Miami I was still eating Linguine Carbonara and Truffled Pizza.
Where to stay?
During this weekend we stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn Miami Airport West. As a Hilton Honors Member (you can sign up for free or contact me for more information), I was able to check in before arriving and the room was more than ready when we got there. I also got a great price! It was clean, I slept well, and they also have shuttles to the airport in case you need one.
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