Miami's Best Seafood Festivals

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By: Lori Kahn

If you love seafood, Miami has the perfect fests in store for you. Ditch the flower crown and bring a bib to these top seafood festivals.

“When I think of Miami, I think of seafood,” says Tod Roy, owner and producer of Hess Select South Beach Seafood Week, which takes over South Beach every October culminating in a huge four-block, outdoor seafood spectacular on the beach between Ocean Drive and the Atlantic Ocean. “You’re outdoors, on the sand, eating amazing seafood prepared by chefs who are inventive and make it exciting for everyone. What could be better?”

Frankly, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves. Miami’s access to the Atlantic Ocean make it a prime location for some of the country’s best and freshest seafood. Pescatarians can rejoice while feasting on Florida lobster, stone crabs, mahi mahi, and snapper just to name a few local catches. Whether your preference is steamed, grilled, fried and even as a ceviche, Miamians and visitors alike can’t go wrong devouring the Magic City’s endless seafood during these annual seafood festivals.

Deering Seafood Festival: March

The Deering Seafood Festival is a one-day, family-friendly event each March that includes delicious catches from the sea, celebrity chef cooking demos, adventures for kids, Virgin Island stilt walkers, a Bahamian Junkanoo musical parade and on-going live entertainment. Celebrate the ocean’s bounty on the lush lawn of the biggest backyard on the bay at the Deering Estate, a 444-acre natural and archaeological preserve listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Sit in on celebrity chefs teaching you tricks of the trade with cooking demonstrations throughout the day along with culinary delights for you to enjoy featuring Florida’s freshest fish and seafood along Seafood Alley. Chefs in the past have included Eating House Chef Giorgio Rapicavolis and winner of Food Network’s “Chopped,” Simon Stojanovic of Altamare (currently closed). Their dishes include fresh stone crabs, grilled mahi mahi, garlic blue crabs, fresh crawfish, seafood paella, conch and mountains of shrimp.

Need to keep the kids entertained while you down all the shrimp you can stomach? Take them to the Deering Discovery Cove, where they can experiment and explore the wonders of the world’s five oceans. The Li’l Shrimp Kids Zone also provides unlimited play on inflatables, creative activities and a kid-friendly menu for the even younger tots in the family. Other things to do include a rock-climbing wall and the Pelican Skipper pontoon boat rides to Chicken Key, as well as Artists Lane, featuring paintings, photography, crafts and jewelry by local artisans.

Don’t forget to take a nice walk around the lush Deering Estate in between your seafood bites. These grounds have what is thought to be the largest virgin coastal tropical hardwood hammock in the continental United States. You can even take canoe tours or meander on butterfly walks and guided nature hikes. You’ll need an excuse to walk off those calories.

South Florida Seafood Festival: October

The 6th Annual South Florida Seafood Festival is coming up on October 20 and 21 this year and is back at the Miami Marine Stadium in beautiful Key Biscayne, kicking off the Florida Stone Crab season.

From 11 a.m. to sundown, this family-friendly weekend festival features an international flavor-fest with such local seafood staples like Bahamian cracked conch, Jamaican jerk grilled fish, paella, ceviche, lobster rolls and more. Be prepared to taste dishes only found in Miami. Live calypso, steel drum beats and reggae play all day while you stroll through the festival’s Shipwreck Bar & Lounge and a nautical-theme vendor area showcasing art, jewelry and decor that you can purchase for the seafarer in your life.

There is a kitchen lab offering cooking demonstrations by popular South Florida restaurants based in Coconut Grove and beyond. Once you know how to create your own seafood go-to dish, you can dash over to the Grove Wharf where you will find a pop-up seafood market with experts to help you select the perfect catch to take home and surprise family and friends.

It’s not just about the food and drink, but also family, so let your little pirates out for a day of fun come rain or shine at the festival’s Celebration of the Sea Eco-Discovery Zone. This family fun zone provides a whole slew of entertainment for the kids with hands-on games, educational exhibits, surfer simulations, stage performers and other fun activities.

South Beach Seafood Week: October

The sea to shoreline eating extravaganza continues during October when the best Miami chefs set up in South Beach’s Lummus Park to cook signature seafood dishes on the beach from some of city’s top restaurants at the South Beach Seafood Week. This seafood fest also kicks off stone crab season from October 16-20 with the more refined palates in mind during upscale dining events.

From Tuesday through Friday there is a signature event each night, each with its own delicious theme. Special events’ ticket prices start at $75 and go up depending on the event. Rest assured, the events are well worth the price of admission. Tuesday’s Crabs, Slabs and Cabs gets you a seat at the table with executive chefs from Menin Hospitality’s hot spots putting on a creative culinary showcase of crab and meat surf n’ turf with wine pairings. There is also a Cooking and Cocktails event; An Evening at Joe’s where you will enjoy a VIP Joe’s Stone Crab Jesse's Room experience with five-courses of Joe’s famous seafood; and the incredible Chef Showdown where you get to be the judge of an all-inclusive executive chef's competition crowning eight seafood culinary champions.

Saturday is the all-day mega-seafood festival where $25-$45 gets you entrance to the entire four-blocks of festival grounds, open bar from 12 p.m. -7 p.m. at any one of the 30 Bar Stations and Beer Garden, access to Jack Daniel’s Beach Club, Main Stage and Whole Foods Demo Zone. On top of all those perks will be more than 60 premiere menu items featuring maritime foodie options, all available for purchase at anywhere between $5-$10. You will have plenty of seafood to taste and a whole lot of party to enjoy. 

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