Written for Calgary Buzz by Vacay.ca writer Guillermo Serrano
The end of the school year is so close that it’s time to start thinking about what to do next.
So even though you had to work and study through your spring break, you know it’s going to be sunny soon and it’s already sunny somewhere.
If you’re impatient for summer to begin, 72 hours in Miami is the perfect way to begin your summer weeks before summer officially starts.
Insider tip: If you’re flying from Western Canada, Miami International Airport has a bus that costs $2.65 and, 30 minutes later, gets you right to Miami Beach.
3 p.m. – Check-In at the Clay Hotel
There are many hotels and condos to choose from along the cost of South Beach – or SoBe – and if you’re competing with all the American students willing to fork over big hotel room costs, finding a place may be difficult.
A good, affordable option, even for those with Canadian exchange rates, is the Clay Hotel, a 138-room boutique hotel, just steps from the ocean. Complimentary perks include Wi-Fi and a continental breakfast. Rooms can be found for $110 a night.
5 p.m. – Gelato-go
Three young Italian buddies opened Gelato-go on sunny South Beach in 2013. One of them, gelato maker Antonio Arminio, learned the skill from his father who had been in the gelato business for over 80 years. His childhood friend Domenico D’Addio manages the finances, and his high-school pal Alessandro Alvino does the marketing and sales.
They search for their ingredients from around the world: pistachios from Sicily, Vairhona chocolate from cocoa beans in Venezuela. Choosing between the stracciatella and the tiramisu may be the toughest decision you’ll make during your 72 hours in Miami.
7 p.m. – Bike tour of Miami Beach’s Art Deco historic district
So you ended up having both the stracciatella and the tiramisu. We don’t judge. Especially when your next stop is a cruise through the neighbourhoods where tour buses can’t go. Stop for pictures and explore the history and colours at your own pace.
10 p.m. – Late night on Miami Beach
The rest of North America may be winding down but it’s early still in Miami Beach where life on sidewalk cafes and inside restaurants and clubs are just coming to life.
If you’re a party animal, you’re in the right place to attend the multiple events with top international DJs playing at nightclubs or hotel pool decks.
9 a.m. – Breakfast at The Donut Gallery
This family-owned place is a favourite destination for visitors and tourists. Try their World Famous Ted’s Special for $8.55, which is an English muffin foundation of bacon, ham, cheese and tomato.
11 a.m. – Everglades National Park
Head 45 minutes west from Miami and you’ll find the Everglades National Park, a protected wetland area that provides habitat for manatees, crocodiles, panthers, and hundreds of birds.
If you’ve ever dreamed of riding an airboat as I have since watching 1970s television shows, this is the place to do it. The exhilarating vertigo of speed and fresh water on your face while riding the floating airboat in the extensive prairie of wetland grass is priceless.
1 p.m. – Lunch at Le Tub
GQ magazine and the Oprah Winfrey Show picked this as the best hamburger you can have in the United States. Waddle out after tackling the 13-ounce Sirloinburger with cheese ($11.50) and we bet you would agree with that title.
4 p.m. – Beach time
Before sunset, play beach volleyball with locals and make some new friends.
8 p.m. – Taco Dinner at Taquiza
Taquiza use blue masa from small farms in Mexico to produce homemade tortillas and chips to meet the demand for beachgoers and Miami residents. From carnitas to barbacoa and lengua (beef tongue), there are lots of options to satisfy the authentic Mexican within. My favourite is carne seca and for dessert waffle cone taco with horchata ice cream dipped in chocolate and crowned with pistachios.
10 a.m. – Little Havana
Walk around the largest community of Cubans living in the exile. Try tropical juices in all colours and flavours at The Juice Palace. This place is a Miami institution: crowded, crazy, and great food. Feel free to challenge locals in a domino match. If you have the energy and if you are very brave, try salsa dancing on the street. There are plenty of people around willing to teach you.
1 p.m. – Lunch in Bahamas Fish Market
This is the restaurant for seafood lovers with Latin flavours. The ceviche and conch fritters as appetizers are highly recommended, then for the main course go full Latin with Arroz con mariscos, a medley of seafood in a paella-style dish. No Cuban meal is complete without a café cubano. A type of espresso that is twice as strong as American coffee with a thick layer of sweet crema (cream).
4 p.m. – Wynwood Art Walk
This is a former industrial neighbourhood that has been transformed in a visual art exhibition without any of the pretentiousness of being a fancy gallery row. It’s lively and full of interesting sites and characters. The event has evolved from a gallery night to a collection of artists, dancers, gourmet food trucks, music, and the best people-watching in South Florida.
7 p.m. – Dinner in Alter
The Miami Herald selected Alter as its 2015 restaurant of the year. There is a very interesting contrast between the neon lights outside, the relaxed environment inside the restaurant, and the balance, discipline and beautiful dishes Chef Bradley Kilgore and his crew deliver. He uses local ingredients from Florida with emphasis on seasonal flavours and an interesting selection of small artisan wineries from around the world.
9 a.m. – Brunch at the Panther
Before heading to the airport, try the best coffee house in Miami. Panther’s latte is full of character and flavours and their cheese croissants are worth grabbing an extra one to take with you. There’s lots of outdoors seating for a sunny morning.
After 72 hours in Miami, I realized that there’s an amazing variety of things to do for everyone from dog lovers, shoppers, outdoors adventurers, and arts and culture lovers.
My final advice: Don’t forget to use SPF 15 sunblock every day.