Every time I look in the bathroom mirror I’m surprised to see my own tan face.
We’re back in Wisconsin experiencing “spring” after a week spread across St. Croix and Miami, where I adjusted to thinking of temperatures in the mid 80s as “comfortable.” Wearing shorts and slathering myself in sunscreen felt quite normal, and I resorted to what I can only refer to as island hair because let’s just admit that there was no hope at accomplishing anything more sane looking.
Three days on the beaches of St. Croix was exactly what Jason and I needed. It was our first real vacation since Theo was born, and what better way to spend it than joining all of my college roommates on a tropical beach to celebrate the marriage of two dear friends (about time, guys, 10 years!).
We tanned/burned, caught waves in the ocean, played beach volleyball with a soccer ball (not a recommendation—my arms have yet to recover) and of course, celebrated.
But three days of tropical beach time is kind of where I max out, and so on Sunday, Jason and I headed to Miami. We settled on Miami for two reasons: it was easy to get to from St. Croix and, well, the food.
We came to Miami with a jam packed agenda and we successfully did it all. So if you find yourself in Miami for three nights and two days, here’s what I recommend your see (and eat).
How to revive a neighborhood that for decades has been on the decline? Convert the uninhabited warehouse buildings into a street art haven. It’s not a little graffiti here and there, but an all out commitment to changing the district into something unique and so very Miami. Walking around Wynwood is like nothing I’ve ever experienced—what used to be a concrete jungle is now full of galleries, cafes, and restaurants—but the interesting stuff is all on the outside.
We got into Miami in the evening and made our way to our AirB&B (perfect, by the way). After washing off the sand that had embedded itself in our skin, we headed to SuViche for dinner. The restaurant’s outdoor seating is small and airy, with a lively bar serving up pisco sours in a variety of inventive flavors. Everything we ate here was perfection, but if restaurants gave out souvenirs to take home, I’d be loading up on the Aji Amarillo Ceviche.
First thing the next morning we headed to Panther Coffee, a small cafe located in the heart of Wynwood, for croissants and coffee. We started with cappuccinos but ended up also ordering a nitro cold brew, because there is no such thing as too much caffeine. The cafe is packed with customers coming in and out, but the service is fast. For such a tiny shop, I was impressed that they had nine employees working the coffee bar and roasting station.
We intended to try a different place for breakfast our second day, but unfortunately Zak the Baker was closed for a “tribal holiday” (?) so we found ourselves with nitro cold brews in our hands again. There was no complaining.
After much walking, we also ducked into Jugofresh for smoothies when the heat got to be too much. The air conditioning was blasting and the smoothies were perfection.
Another great spot for dinner is Wynwood Kitchen and Bar. It’s a tapas style restaurant but the portions are more than generous, and Jason and I practically rolled ourselves out of there at the end of the night. The food was lovely—just order everything that’s starred as a Wynwood Kitchen speciality—but I wish we were with a bigger group so we could have tried more items on the menu.
Wynwood is really amazing, but definitely still true to its seedy roots. The main roads feel safe and are well lit at night, but I wouldn’t wander too far once its dark out. Let’s check back again in ten years and see if that statement is still true.
With all my love for Wynwood, we did, of course, leave that part of the city to head down to Little Havana. This area, which is home to a large part of Maimi’s Cuban population, is centered around Calle Ocho with Cuban restaurants and shops around.
We stopped in at El Pub for a beer and to split a Cubano sandwich. The food at El Pub isn’t the type that’ll blow you away, but when you need an honest sandwich (meat on meat on meat), it will certainly do. This is, hilariously, the only food photo I took all week.
But the highlight of Little Havana was across the street from our sandwich shop in a famous bar called Ball & Chain. We didn’t need a drink, but it was basically impossible to walk past this place with its live Latin music luring us off the sidewalk and the sweetest old couple dancing. I highly recommend the pisco sour here as well—they’ll shake it to the music.
Even if spending a morning in an art museum isn’t your thing, you have to see this building, if only from the outside. We happened to arrive right before it opened and I was able to snap a photo of Jason with no one else around.
The museum is small, despite how it looks from the outside, and has a few collections of modern artists. It was easy to spend a couple hours wandering through the different exhibits before doing what most people do in Maimi—going to South Beach.
Probably the most famous part of Miami, South Beach is known for it’s beautiful water and extravagant people. There are cars that cost more than my house cruising down Ocean Drive, people lifting weights on the beach, and lots and lots of Art Deco.
Having spent the better of three days on the beach in St. Croix, Jason and I ditched the bathing suits and decided to walk the length of South Beach (or see how far we could make it). We took an Uber to the southern most point and grabbed a lunch at Joe’s Stone Crab—the type of place where the maître d’ wears a tuxedo and the food equates to a Wisconsin supper club: straight out of the 80s but admittedly good. We split a stone crab niçoise salad and a stone crab bisque and were perfectly happy.
We made our way north on foot, but you can rent bikes every couple of blocks, which I kind of regret not doing. The Art Deco here is no joke—built in 1920s-1940s, all the hotels on Ocean Drive maintain their original facade. It was beautiful, busy, and so so hot. We made it maybe a mile and a half before we had to dip our feet in the water.
We were too hot and tired to make it all the way to the northern part of the beach that we wanted to try out, so after taking a bit of a break, we Ubered it to The Broken Shaker, a totally unexpected bar located inside of a hostel with a completely different vibe than the rest of South Beach—think less Miami Vice and more hipster pool party.
If we had an extra evening, I would have totally grabbed dinner here, but after an appetizer and a drink—bourbon with sweet tea, I loved—we headed off to our reservation at one of the best regarded restaurants on South Beach: Lure Fishbar.
This one was a bit of a splurge but we figured we earned it, and it was the perfect way to end the trip. The stone crab (one of the items they’re known for) was the best I’d ever had and the key lime pie also lived up to its expectations.
Once the sun sets, the neon lights go on, and we decided to walk through the Art Deco district once more before saying goodbye to South Beach. Twenty-two year old Vicky would have stayed to dance, but the techno music was a bit off putting—I was really wishing for another good live band. Thirty year old Vicky ate way too much and was ready for bed.
The next morning we were off to Chicago to smash Theo after not seeing him for a full week. He was less impressed to see us than we were to see him (I was the one who cried).