Stiltsville: Miami Hidden Gem
Whether you’re visiting Miami for the first time or fortieth there are always new things to discover. Get out of the regular visitor’s routine and check out some of Miami’s more hidden destinations and secret spots.
You can spend a whole trip exploring Miami’s most famous and popular destinations, but beyond those well-traveled spots is a whole different city. Take the time to venture off the traveled path and explore the city’s hidden gems.
Here’s a three-day itinerary of Miami’s best-kept secrets and hidden gems.
Day 1, Miami’s Urban Core
Start your trip to Miami with something that every visitor should experience – A Cuban breakfast. It’s no secret that Miami’s culture has been heavily influenced by the large Cuban population that has made Miami a home-away-from-home for more than 50 years. However, it’s not as well known that Cubans have a truly delicious signature breakfast. It’s a great way of getting a taste of their flaky pastries, savory empanadas, Cuban toast and, of course, sugary sweet Cuban coffee. Get your fix in Little Havana at any number of little coffee counters or ventanitas or Cuban restaurants.
Little Havana has some other destinations worth checking out like Cuban novelty stores, local galleries and more, but what’s really lovely about Little Havana is the untouched realness of this cultural neighborhood.
Nearby, Downtown Miami is a burgeoning cultural area. There are museums ranging from art and science to historical monuments like the Freedom Tower. While you’re there take a minute and swing the Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, a state-of-the-art cultural center and host to national Broadway tours and concerts.
From there, head over to Brickell, the financial center of Miami’s international business world. Brickell is a quickly growing neighborhood in Miami, where young professionals from around the world are relocating to work in the “Capital of Latin America.” Hidden between the skyscrapers is a little oasis of what Miami used to look like in Simpson Park. Simpson Park is a preserved hammock full of Florida’s native plants.
Day 2, Biscayne National Park
If you don’t get to see Miami by boat, you aren’t seeing the very best of Miami. We have glitzy boats with DJs onboard but the best of what there is to see is underwater. Book a charter and rent some snorkel or diving equipment and spend the day exploring the reefs, wildlife and all the underwater secrets of the Atlantic. Consider checking out Boca Chita Key or Elliott Key, popular islands in Biscayne National Park, for docking the boat and getting the grill fired up. Ask your charter in advance if you can bring along some food or if they provide meals and plan on spending the whole day at sea.
Your captain will surely know some hidden spots and the best diving areas.
Remember that it’s summer here pretty much year around, and you can almost always go for a swim. In the winter months (December and January) you might catch a chilly day, but it’s still great weather for boating. Real estate window shoppers will get a kick out of driving through the many residential canals that line the water’s edge.
Head back to your hotel, take a little nap or grab a bite and get ready for a night on the town. The perfect music after a day on the boat? Some Carribbean-style reggae. There are a few live music venues around town that host regular reggae nights like Jazid, Purdy Lounge and The Stage. Don’t forget Miami’s close proximity to the islands; expect authentic musicians playing in their hometown styles.
Day 3, Head South
Head south and discover an entirely different side of Miami. The suburbia and farm land of Miami may be quieter than South Beach, but it’s no less dull. Take a day to drive south and let the sites in Homestead and Florida City rev your engines.
Make a pit stop at the Homestead Speedway’s Miami Exotic Auto Racing where you’re finally allowed to floor it and see just how fast a high-powered car can go. Trained experts will suit you up, give you the run down and let you take the wheel on a NASCAR race track.
Get back on the road and stop for a bite at Robert Is Here in Homestead. Robert Is Here is a fruit stand where they sell the best milkshakes in town made with fruit grown right on site. Try local exotic fruit like the carambola or star fruit, lychees, atemoya, Monstera Deliciousa and their famous mangoes. Stock up on fresh fruits and vegetables and save them for dinner tonight. Be sure to try a homemade key lime pie onsite. Just down the street is the Everglades Alligator Farm, the oldest alligator farm around, right at the entrance to Everglades National Park. There are more than 2,000 alligators including a 14 foot “grandpa.” You can also take airboat tours, explore a walking trail and see a snake show.
If you’re here in the winter and cooler months, consider an overnight camping trip to the Everglades.
Rent a car. Miami is a sprawling metropolis, much like Los Angeles, best seen by car. Public transportation can get you from one point to the next, but driving a car is a much more popular mode of transportation in Miami and allows you the freedom to stop and explore on your schedule.
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