Wynwood: Wynwood Walls

Wynwood Walls

From life-sized murals of the Dalai Lama to colorful drawings that are nearly impossible to decipher, Wynwood Walls feature a constantly rotating mixture of artists and their highly regarded creations. Take a break from the ocean and sand and explore one of the Magic City’s faster growing neighborhoods captivating the eyes of Miami locals and visitors alike.

It’s hard to imagine that there’s more to Miami than sun-drenched beaches and early-morning nightclub escapades, but beyond the glitz and glamour of this city sits a newly minted, colorful neighborhood where art admirers come to frolic: Wynwood. What was once a warehouse district full of decrepit-looking buildings is now a mecca for artists to showcase their large-scale works, which you can gawk over at your leisure. And one of the most visually stunning pieces can be found in the heart of the district at the Wynwood Walls.

Wynwood is just minutes away from downtown Miami – near hotspot neighborhoods such as Midtown and the Design District – and the massive outdoor murals can be seen right off of I-95. Though the area is fairly large, Wynwood’s heart and pulse is situated between NW 25th Street and NW 26th Street; it’s best appreciated by foot, so leave the car behind once you’re there. At any minute, on any corner, you’ll spot a graffiti artist crouched down, or teetering from a rooftop, placing the final touches on any one of Wynwood’s canvas buildings.

It’s the Wynwood Walls, though, where world-renowned artists have come to carefully display their work to the masses across six main buildings. Pass the black gates, which feature a “Wynwood Walls” sign to let you know you’ve arrived. Here you’ll step on a paved sidewalk, surrounded by a freshly-mowed lawn, which leads you toward the graffiti-splashed walls. The main attraction, and largest of the walls, is front and center and is adorned by artist Shepard Fairey, known for his “Obey” stickers and red-laced posters. For three years, Fairey’s life-sized images illustrated commentary on human rights. Now, his most recent artwork showcases the Dalai Lama, floral paintings, “Rise Above” signage, and a portrait of Tony Goldman, a highly respected figure who was responsible for much of Wynwood’s development.

The works of artists such as Retna, Aiko, Invader, Futura and Ron English can also be seen at the Wynwood Walls. Next to the Walls is Wynwood Doors, an extension of the area, which welcomes artists to adorn store front doors of the adjacent buildings.

The arrival of the Walls in 2009 has since paved the way for other artists to color the walls outside of the immediate block. Wynwood is now entirely pedestrian friendly and extends onto many side streets and corners. The Wynwood Walls themselves are carefully preserved, but the immediate buildings surrounding the park feature artwork that’s constantly changing. In fact, the buildings across the street may look entirely different on your next visit to Wynwood.

The neighborhood is welcoming year-round and there’s always a new exhibit, painting, or hotspot, but perhaps the greatest time to visit Wynwood is during Art Basel, an annual global art fair held in Miami Beach the first week of December. That’s when rotating satellite galleries head to the area for additional openings, parties and events. It’s during this time, and often even during the months leading up to Basel, that artists come to renew their older pieces of art or create entirely new ones. The streets suddenly become filled with eager pedestrians looking to spot the next great graffiti piece and the atmosphere is nothing short of welcoming. You’ll enjoy the same experience locals have, and it’ll be hard to ignore the young, creative and hipster crowd that surrounds the area.

Wynwood and the Wynwood Walls are also enjoyable and busy on the second Saturday of each month, during which local galleries open their doors for “Art Walk.” Art Walk is free and designed to showcase new pieces of art and show visitors all that is offered. Famed local food trucks gather nearby and the streets are once again packed.

Just steps away from the Wynwood Walls, you can tour galleries, grab a freshly brewed cup of coffee, shop, indulge in lunch or dinner, and still find time to ride a Vespa across the neighborhood or join a walking tour. Favorites include Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, a Latin and Asian-inspired restaurant, which overlooks the Wynwood Walls and features an outdoor patio complete with even more artful creations. Here, you’ll have the freedom to order fresh pork belly, Brussels sprouts and ceviche. Across the street, Wood Tavern, a hangout replete with plenty of attitude and graffiti art, welcomes visitors to taste a taco or quesadilla straight from an old school type car in its outdoor patio. Guests revel over the live bands that play and the inexpensive beer that pours. If you’re looking for something slightly more upscale, Joey’s, an Italian restaurant, offers delectable pasta selections.

While you’re touring Wynwood, don’t forget to step into a small boutique for unique shopping. At Frangi Pani you’ll find personalized stationary and vintage-looking jewelry while Plant the Future offers some of the world’s most highly stylized home terrariums – you can even take home a life-sized horse sculpture. Whether you start off with an early afternoon drink or a mid-day tour, by far Wynwood’s greatest and most photographable staple is the Wynwood Walls.

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