Most people who visit Miami do so with the intentions of spending a lot of time at the beach, and there’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is that most people won’t venture outside the beaches that are adjacent to their hotel, condo, or wherever it is they’re staying. This can be a huge mistake, as Miami has some wonderful beaches that few tourists ever get to experience or even know about. To help you explore more of what Miami has to offer, here are a few of the best beaches most tourists don’t know about.
Crandon Park is just a little outside of Miami on Key Biscayne Island, where it provides two miles of quiet, family-friendly beach. There are plenty of places to barbeque for a family outing, as well as plenty of shade for when you want to take a break from the sun. The surf rarely gets too rough, so you don’t have to listen to violent waves crashing or surfers wiping out on their boards. The water just off the beach is crystal clear and quite shallow, so it’s not hard to step into the ocean and enjoy it for a while. Finally, Crandon Park offers guests clever enough to find it a carousel, an outdoor skating rink, and incredible views of both the ocean and downtown Miami.
Haulover Beach Park
This beach is not for shy people or the faint of heart, as the north side of Haulover Beach Park is a nudist beach. If you want to spend some time in the sun without worrying about tan lines, this is the place to go. But don’t worry, the locals that come here are quite friendly and won’t judge you. Of course, the entire beach isn’t dedicated to nude bathers, so you’re free to venture to the south side of the beach for a quiet and relaxing time if being on a nude beach makes you uneasy for whatever reason. In addition to being a great place to take in some nude sunbathing, Haulover Beach is a great spot for kite flying and fishing, or just enjoying a peaceful and family-friendly beach most tourists don’t know about.
North Shore Open Space Park
This beach lives up to its name in the sense that there is a lot of open space. North Shore Park is far removed from the skyscrapers of downtown Miami, creating the allusion that you’re on a desert island with a wonderful, sandy beach and beautiful Seagrape trees. Since it’s a safe distance from downtown, tourists staying in downtown hotels aren’t likely to find North Shore Park. This makes it the perfect place if you want to get away from the crowds and enjoy a quiet day. The park is also open 24 hours a day, making North Shore Beach the ideal place to go if you feel like taking in the beach after dark.
In a city like Miami when it’s almost always sunny and warm, it’s only natural that residents and guests alike will gravitate towards ice cream. Heading to your favorite ice cream stand or parlor is a summer tradition no matter where you live, and in Miami it’s something that can be done year round. Luckily, the city of Miami does not disappoint when it comes to ice cream, and here are a few places that you have to check out.
Azucar Ice Cream Company
Tucked away in Little Havana, Azucar Ice Cream Company has a flavor listing that will blow your mind. They offer over two-dozen signature flavors, including the must-try Abuela Maria, a trademark of Azucar. Many of the flavors come with fun names like Beam Me Up, which is Bourbon-Heath Bar, or Mulatica, which is Cinnamon Oatmeal Cookie. Azucar also has a wide array of seasonal flavors they break out during certain times of year, such as Pumpkin Flan, Berry Christmas, and Crème de Vie, which is Egg Nog. If you’re looking for a huge selection of unique flavors you never thought you’d find in an ice cream parlor, Azucar Ice Cream Company is the place to go.
Whip ‘n Dip Ice Cream
Another place with a great selection of flavors is Whip ‘n Dip Ice Cream. This place makes all of their ice cream in house from locally sourced ingredients, and it’s always coming up with new flavors, with Banana Nut Chip, Bulldog Blitz, Pineapple Sorbet, and Snow Capped Andes Chocolate being among the favorite flavors of their regulars. What also makes Whip ‘n Dip great is that they also offer all of the usual items you’d find in a good old fashioned ice cream stand like sundaes, banana splits, shakes, ice cream sandwiches, and frozen bananas. Also, if you need an ice cream cake for whatever reason, this is the place to go; they make cakes of all different sizes that can accommodate anywhere from four to 50 people.
Walls Old Fashioned Ice Cream
Finally there’s Walls Old Fashioned Ice Cream, which is an ice cream parlor that’s a little small in size but massive in taste. There are over two-dozen flavors available year round, from traditional favorites like Chocolate and Coffee to stuff you won’t see anywhere else like Superman and Mantecado, as well as seasonal favorites like Pumpkin and Egg Nog. But flavors are the least of what Walls offers. This place offers two unforgettable sundaes, the Cookies Monster Sundae and the Peanut Butter Deluxe Sundae, in addition to an epic Banana Split and an Old Fashioned Strawberry Soda, which hits the spot perfectly on a hot Miami day. On top of all that, Walls also offers homemade fudge in more than half a dozen different flavors, including Pistachio, Chewy Praline, and Cookies N Cream. With great ice cream and homemade fudge under the same roof, it’s no wonder Walls has been named Miami’s best ice cream parlor on multiple occasions.
We’ve not yet made it to Halloween, but that doesn’t mean we can’t take a sneak peek at what November has to offer. The city of Miami has quite a few exciting events on the schedule for November that residents and visitors alike can enjoy. With the weather in Miami almost always being ideal, it’s not such a bad idea to take a break from the beach and venture elsewhere. Here’s a look at a few events in Miami during the month of November that are worth checking out.
Festival of Chefs, November 4
This event is one of the few opportunities that the chefs of Miami get to spend some time out of the kitchen, as they have a chance to speak with their peers and the public while sharing some of their latest culinary creations. Chef Adrianne Calvo of Chef Adrianne’s Vineyard Restaurant & Wine Bare will be present, as will a slew of the top chefs in Miami. If you’re interested in tasting some gourmet cuisine, the Festival of Chefs is the place to go. The event is at Nikki Beach and gets started at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $125 and will benefit Easter Seals South Florida’s Culinary Arts High School.
Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, November 8
The United Chinese Association of Florida will be putting on a spectacular and authentic event with the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival. You can count on there being great food and plenty of entertainment, including martial arts performances and dragon dances. Kids can attend as well, enjoying a bounce house and face painting. Of course, the main event is the dragon boat races, with rowers and drummers taking part in this ancient ritual. The event runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Haulover Beach Park Marina, and is free to attend.
Miami Book Fair International, November 15-22
Residents and visitors to Miami have eight days to enjoy what is regarded as one of the best literary events in the country. There will be over 300 well-known authors coming to Miami to participate in book parties, readings, and the highlight of the week, the “Festival of Authors.” Even casual book lovers are bound to see an author they like doing a reading or find something at the fair that strikes their interest, making the trip worthwhile. The event concludes with a street fair from the 20th to the 22nd, when things really pick up and start to get exciting at the Miami Book Fair, which is held on the Miami Dade College Wolfson campus.
Christmas Tree Lighting, November 27
By the end of November, you’re going to start thinking about the holiday season, and the day after Thanksgiving is when you can enjoy Miami’s tree lighting at Bayfront Park. This is the official unveiling of the park’s Christmas tree, which is 50-feet high and covered with bright lights. The lighting itself takes place at 7 p.m. in Bayfront Park, but from 5:00 p.m. to 9 p.m. you can enjoy the sounds of holiday music and the tastes of some of Miami’s best food trucks. You can’t rely on Miami being all that cold, even in late November, but holiday music, a tree lighting, and great food will be enough to get you in the holiday spirit.
Whenever you go on vacation, there are a lot of factors to consider when deciding on the right hotel to stay during your getaway. If your vacation destination of choice is Miami, one of the top factors to consider is the hotel pool; after all, lounging by the pool is bound to make up a significant chunk of your vacation in a warm weather city like Miami. To help you pick out a hotel that will appeal to you, here’s a look at some of the best hotel pools in Miami.
When it comes to pools, the Setai hotel in Miami Beach offers guests three different options at three different temperatures. One pool is at 75 degrees for those who want to move around and go for a swim; another pool is at 85 degrees for those that just want to sit poolside and maybe dip their toes in the water; and the final pool is at 95 degrees for those who want to just jump right in and have a good time. Surrounding the three pools are plush, green lawns making it easy to walk from pool to pool, and not far from the three pools is a bar, making it easy and convenient to get something to eat or drink while lounging poolside.
Mondrian South Beach
Image Credit: Booking.com
The pool at the Mondrian South Beach Hotel offers spectacular views of both Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami, especially at sunset, as the hotel faces to the west. The pool itself is pristine and surrounded by a maze lounge chairs, hammocks, and gardens so guests can rest comfortably in beautiful surroundings. For guests who desire a larger and more private space, there are outdoor living rooms and cabanas available, as well as cocktail and food options. You should also know that every Sunday at the Mondrian pool there are lounge style pool parties featuring some of the best DJs from South Beach, giving guests a chance to cut loose by the hotel’s lovely pool.
Image Credit: Globalty Investment
The two pools at the Epic Hotel in Miami are just that: epic. The hotel features two rooftop pools on the 16th floor, where guests can enjoy incredible sunrises and sunsets. The view during the rest of the day isn’t bad either, as the hotel sits at the intersection of downtown Miami, the Miami River, and Biscayne Bay. There are plenty of chairs to sit in around the pools, as well as daybeds and private cabanas for those looking for a little more privacy and luxury. The hotel’s restaurant, Area 31, is nearby, so it’s not hard to grab something to eat or drink while you enjoy the two rooftop pools.
Shore Club Hotel
Image Credit: Tablet Hotels
Finally, there’s the Shore Club Hotel, which has two infinity edge pools that are in close proximity to the beach, making it easy for guests to move from one to the other and back again over the course of the day, giving them the best of both worlds. The lounge areas surrounding the two pools are second to none, featuring large beds, comfortable pillows, and lovely throws that are perfect for anyone who just wants to spend a day by the pool or beach. The pools at the Shore Club Hotel aren’t big, but they are beautiful, and they are among the most popular hotel pools on South Beach.
We all have different reasons for wanting to go on vacation, but for the most part we all want to get some rest and relaxation, especially in a city like Miami, where the weather is almost always perfect and the views are spectacular. Of course, sometimes lounging on the beach sipping cocktails isn’t enough and you need to take things a step further. For those that want to go that extra mile towards rest and relaxation, here are a few places in Miami where you can pamper yourself even more while on vacation.
Acqualina Resort and Spa
One of the best places to go in Miami to get pampered is the Acqualina Resort and Spa. Acqualina is also home to hotel rooms and residences, and its spa is top of the line, with countless options for treatment, many of which you can receive right on the beach. Patrons can choose from a variety of different body treatments, massages, facials, and nail treatments. You can even set yourself up with a two or three-hour long private spa experience that will make you want to re-define the term “relaxation.”
Russian & Turkish Baths
For a different kind of experience when it comes to pampering, check out Russian & Turkish Baths. This place will make you think you’ve left Miami and been transplanted to ancient Greece, as the facilities include stonewalls and Grecian statues, creating a unique and inviting environment for you to relax. Russian & Turkish baths is home to a variety of saunas, steam rooms, and a slew of other settings to promote relaxation, such as cold-water pools and hydrotherapy. Many of the treatment rooms are large enough for multiple people, turning treatment into a social experience, allowing you to talk with friends or meet new people while giving yourself some much-needed rest and relaxation.
The Spa at Mandarin Oriental
Another hotel with a great spa is the Mandarin Oriental, which is a beautiful Miami hotel right on the water. This place is at the cutting edge of spa treatments, with over a dozen different options, including Thai massage, therapeutic massage, and Ayurvedic holistic body treatment. There are half and full day packages available in private rooms with personal wellness specialists for those who want the utmost level of pampering. Even if you’re looking for something a little more basic, the spa at the Mandarin Oriental has a fitness center, personal trainers available, and classes in yoga, Pilates, Tai Chi, belly dancing, and more, giving you a world of options.
Seven Seas Spa and Salon
One final place to check out is Seven Seas Spa and Salon. This place is just a few years old, so it has a modern feel with plenty of space and plenty of services. The salon is a wonderful place to treat yourself to a new hairstyle that’s in line with the latest trends. Meanwhile, the spa has an extended menu of massages, facials, and various skin treatments so you’ll feel as good as you look with your new hairstyle. Seven Seas offers half a dozen distinct packages to help you achieve the highest levels of relaxation and comfort, all in one of several beautiful locales, including an outdoor Tiki hut right on the beach.
We all know that Miami is best known for its beautiful beaches and its crazy nightlife, but that’s not all that the city has to offer. Miami is also a great city for shopping, as it’s arguably the fashion capitol of the South. Whether you want to drain your savings account on a wild shopping spree or simply want to buy an item or two to help remember your vacation, Miami has plenty of great shopping options. Here are some of the shopping hotspots in Miami that you should know about.
Bal Harbour Shops
If you’ve come to Miami looking for class and luxury, the place to go is Bal Harbour Shops. This mall has dozens of high-end stores all in one place, so much so that you will think you’ve been transplanted to New York, Paris, Milan, or one of the other fashion capitols of the world. Bal Harbour Shops being an open-air facility makes the shopping experience even more enjoyable, as you can still feel the Miami sunshine beating down on you and won’t feel like you’re wasting the day away being inside.
For those without endless funds to spend, Bal Harbour Shops can still be an enjoyable shopping destination. The high-end designers are mixed in with enough reasonably priced stores to make it worthwhile for those on a budget. Even if you don’t plan on buying anything, window-shopping in such a beautiful locale that also offers quite a few enticing restaurant options is a great way to spend the day for anyone who loves shopping.
For a more traditional shopping experience, check out Aventura Mall. It may seem like every other mall you’ve ever been to, except it’s bigger and better. A recent renovation has turned Aventura Mall into a beautiful space for spending a day for anyone who loves shopping. Aventura Mall offers six major department stores and hundreds of other specialty stores, ranging from the kinds of high-end stores you’ll find in major fashion centers and smaller, family-owned shops.
There are so many options at Aventura Mall that it’s easy to lose track of time while moving from store to store. Just in case you stay longer than expected and work up a hunger, there are over a dozen great dining options, covering all types of cuisines for whatever you’re craving.
Finally, if you want to combine being a tourist in Miami with your love of shopping, Bayside Marketplace may be the ideal place to go. Bayside Marketplace is located right on the water, producing dazzling views while you shop, as well as the option of going sightseeing or hopping on a party ship from the dock right at the mall itself. This gives less shopping-savvy people alternative entertainment options and allows you to break up your day of shopping with something touristy.
As for the shopping available at Bayside Marketplace, you’ll find many of the same stores, restaurants, and food court options that are available to you at other malls. However, there are just enough unique stores with south Florida flare, as well as bars and restaurants that you won’t find anywhere else, to make going to Bayside Marketplace a worthwhile venture during your visit to Miami.
You don’t need me to tell you that Miami is a great place for a vacation getaway. However, the nightlife that Miami is known for doesn’t make it the most kid-friendly city. But that doesn’t mean you can’t bring your kids along with you on vacation in Miami, as the city has plenty to offer that kids will enjoy. The key is finding the right place to stay, so here are some of the most kid-friendly hotels in Miami.
Trump International Beach Resort
One of the best Miami destinations for those with kids is the Trump International Beach Resort. This hotel has an entire program called Planet Kids that’s dedicated to making sure the little ones have a good time. Planet Kids is a complimentary service for all hotel guests and puts together a full slate of activities for kids seven days per week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The activities may revolve around sports, art, the environment, and more, all of which are both fun and educational for kids.
Planet Kids also puts on additional activities for kids on the weekends with an ice cream social every Friday and a pajama party every Saturday. The ice cream social includes everything you’d expect, while the pajama party is four hours on the beach with interactive science activities, arts & crafts, a dance party, and star gazing through a telescope.
If Planet Kids isn’t enough, Trump International Beach Resort also caters to kids in other ways. The hotel’s grotto-style pool includes a large shallow area, creating plenty of room for young swimmers. The hotel also has a mascot named Globie who’s always hanging around the pool area, adding another element of fun to the Trump International Beach Resort.
Loews Miami Beach Hotel
Another great option for visitors to Miami with children is Loews Miami Beach Hotel. This hotel offers guests age 4-12 participation in SoBe Kids Camp, which has half day and full day programs seven days a week and on Friday and Saturday nights. These programs include beach sports, arts & crafts, sand castle building, a scavenger hunt, and a slew of other activities that will keep kids occupied and entertained for long periods of time.
Loews also has a “Kids Closet” full of strollers, blankets, baby bathtubs, and other necessities young kids may need during their stay. The hotel also lends out toys, books, and even DVD players that will help keep kids occupied. The hotel pool is also rather kid friendly, as it’s quite large and shallow, giving kids plenty of space to splash around for hours at a time.
Fontainebleau Miami Beach
Finally, there is Fontainebleau Miami Beach, a hotel that is more than happy to go out of its way to give parents a break from their kids while on vacation. Fontainebleau offers babysitting services seven days per week, as well as half day and full day Kids Camp Room programs that engage kids in games, scavenger hunts, teambuilding exercises, and more, all while parents are free to enjoy themselves sans children. Of course, if parents want to spend quality time with their kids, the hotel has swings and several shallow pools that are ideal for kids, giving them plenty of options to enjoy themselves on the hotel grounds.
With Halloween right around the corner, visitors and residents of Miami should be starting to formulate plans for how they’re going to spend the final night of October. Unlike other parts of the country, the weather in Miami should not dissuade anybody from getting out of the house and enjoying themselves on Halloween night. With Halloween falling on a Saturday night this year, there’s even more reason to do something fun on a holiday centered on fantasy and imagination. Here are a few places people in Miami may want to consider celebrating Halloween.
Like many zoos around the country, the Miami Zoo enjoys taking on a more haunted vibe this time of year, creating a variety of events geared towards both children and adults. The Miami Zoo is putting on events for kids this weekend, and then Friday and Saturday night Halloween weekend it’s putting on Spooky Zoo Nights. This will be a family-friendly event from 7 to 11 p.m. featuring scary tram rides, a Halloween-themed carousel, and story telling around a fire. Just like the zoo is during the day, a trip to the zoo at night on Halloween weekend will be fun for the entire family.
It’s only natural that you’ll gravitate to the beach while in Miami, and Halloween night is no different. Lummus Park will be hosting a Nightmare on the Beach party from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. It goes without saying that this is a 21 and older party, and tickets should be purchased beforehand with proceeds benefitting The Little Lighthouse Foundation. If you put on a costume and head to the beach, you’re bound to have a great time with an open bar and food being provided by some of the best restaurants in Miami. Between the costumes, the food and drink, the performers, and whatever else may pop up during a Halloween party, Nightmare on the Beach figures to be a memorable evening.
The Coconut Grove part of Miami at CocoWalk will be home to activities for both children and adults all day long on Halloween. The afternoon from 2 to 7 p.m. is the time for kids to enjoy trick-or-treating, costume contests, an up-close magician, tattoo and balloon artists, and even their very own dance party. Starting at 6 p.m. the kids will start to head on home and a DJ will start to take over the entertainment that’s geared more towards adults having a more traditional Halloween party. Then starting at 11 p.m., those in costume can dance to techno music at CocoWalk into the early morning hours to bring their Halloween celebration to a fitting conclusion.
Dylan’s Candy Bar
For just a few dollars at the door, you can celebrate Halloween in a candy store, which would have seemed like a dream come true when you were young. Of course, with the party getting underway at 10 p.m., Dylan’s will be hosting a Halloween party for adults. As you might expected, there will be a live DJ and contests for the best costumes, but Dylan’s will add its own unique twist on Halloween with special candy cocktails that will make you feel like a kid again, giving you a great venue to celebrate Halloween this year.
There’s a limitless number of fun and engaging activities to do while in Miami, but sometimes you want to do something a little more relaxing and low key, or perhaps something that involves some sight seeing and maybe even a little bit of education. For such occasions, the state of Florida offers many wonderful state parks, including some good ones in the Miami area. Here’s a closer look at a few of the state parks in the Miami area and what they offer to visitors.
Oleta River State Park
The first state park in the Miami area that’s worth visiting is Oleta River State Park, which is the largest urban park in the state of Florida. The park is located on the shores of Biscayne Bay, so there’s a beach area for patrons to enjoy, as well as swimming and fishing opportunities. There are also picnic areas and pavilions to enjoy a small family barbeque or put together a large family reunion. Oleta River State Park also has cabins (with air conditioning) and campsites for those interested in an extended stay.
Of course, that’s the least of what Oleta River State Park offers. The river itself weaves through a beautiful forest that guests can explore via canoe or kayak, with rentals available inside the park for novices who who’d like to try canoeing or kayaking for the first time. However, what Oleta River State Park is best known for is its bike trails. The wide variety of bike trails inside the park gives both inexperienced and more advanced mountain bikers plenty of trails to enjoy. Finally, it wouldn’t be a park without the opportunity to see wildlife, and Oleta River State Park does offer guests a place to see manatees, dolphins, alligators, and other types of traditional Florida wildlife.
Bill Baggs State Park
Just a little south of the city of Miami is Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, which is on the southern end of the island of Key Biscayne. The park is home to more than a mile of beachfront, which is considered to be one of the best beaches in the country. In addition to swimming and snorkeling, the water is also open to boating, canoeing, kayaking, as well as some of the best shoreline fishing in south Florida. For those who are less water savvy, there is biking and hiking available, as well as areas to view wildlife.
Of course, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is perhaps best known for being home to the Cape Florida Light lighthouse. This lighthouse was built in 1825, and is Miami-Dade County’s longest standing structure. Guests are able to take tours of the lighthouse twice daily five days per week. The park is also home to two restaurants offering authentic Cuban food for those who want a good meal without having to pack a picnic.
Barnacle Historic State Park
Finally, there’s the Barnacle Historic State Park. This is a small, historical site on the shores of Biscayne Bay and the former home of Ralph Middleton Munroe, a pioneer of the area. The historic site consists primarily of Munroe’s old home, which was built in 1891 and is more or less in the same state it was in the late 19th century. The forest around the Barnacle has been preserved, leaving many old and beautiful trees, which makes for a wonderful setting to take a tour of the historic site, go for a walk, do some bird watching, or simply enjoy a nice outdoor picnic while watching boats sail by.
In a city like Miami, the weather is perfect nearly every day for playing a round of golf. Obviously, the summer heat can sometimes make it unbearable to play 18 holes, but that doesn’t mean you can’t play a shortened round on those extremely hot days, giving you the option of playing golf in Miami nearly every day. Fortunately, Miami has an almost endless list of beautiful golf courses, and here are a few worth checking out.
Crandon Golf Course
Right off the bat, if you’re up for a challenge, check out Crandon Golf Course. This place hosted a tournament on the Senior PGA Tour for 18 years, so it’s a professional-level course. Crandon is considered to be as difficult as it is beautiful, and it is absolutely gorgeous, located in a tropical environment that’s full of water mangroves, and beautiful foliage. Even for advanced players, each hole at Crandon seems like it’s harder than the last, and if that doesn’t scare you, be aware of crocodiles, raccoons, and other type of wildlife that may be lurking on the course.
Normandy Shores Golf Course
For a slightly more manageable course, head over to Normandy Shores, which is a viable course for both new golfers and those with experience. The location of the course right on the water does mean that the wind can become an issue for golfers, adding to the level of difficulty. Of course, that proximity to the water makes it a picturesque golf course to visit, so the views may very well take your breath away and make you forget about your golf score.
Turnberry Resort & Spa Golf Course
One of the best but more exclusive golf courses in Miami is Turnberry, which has two courses that are only open to members or guests of the Turnberry Isle Resort & Spa. The course is loaded with a variety of golf features that make it both challenging and enjoyable to play. The scenery isn’t bad either, with many picturesque water features, including waterfalls. If you’re serious about your golf, or planning a golf vacation, it may be worthwhile to stay at Turnberry Isle Resort & Spa just to gain access to these two wonderful golf courses.
Briar Bay Golf Course
If you’re only interested in playing nine holes, check out Briar Bay Golf Course. The course is challenging enough to keep experienced players interested, but it’s also a good destination for beginners. Briar Bay is also aesthetically pleasing with plenty of nice water features, and because it’s only nine holes it’s easy to walk the course, so you can take your time and enjoy your surroundings. It’s also one of the more cost-friendly golf courses in Miami, if that happens to be important to you.
La Gorce Country Club
Finally, for a golf course that’s right by the beach, go to La Gorce Country Club. This place is nestled right on Biscayne Bay in Miami Beach, with a wonderful view of the Miami Beach skyline. The course itself was designed by Jack Niklaus and has a rich history to it. Playing the course at La Gorce won’t be a walk in the park, as it poses some challengers for players, but with the views and the setting that the course offers, playing a round there may start to feel like a walk in the park after a few holes.