Travel Guide: Miami, Florida

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Party in the city where the heat is on
All night, on the beach til the break of dawn
"Welcome to Miami"
"Bienvenidos a Miami"

Listen, if you didn’t vibe out to my Will Smith intro then I need you to reread it with enthusiasm and try again. Earlier this month Booked for the Weekend took Miami for a weekend getaway with friends, and this week I’m sharing all of the ins and outs of this vibrant city. One thing I love about Miami is that it’s an environment that allows you to reinvent yourself for the time being, by letting go and simply relaxing. No but really, when in Miami I’m no longer but Gabrielle, but my alter ego, Gabriella ::insert fiery flamenco dancer emoji here::. From Vueve Cliquot Carnaval to brunching on South Beach, you won’t want to miss a detail of this exclusive travel guide!

Are you ready to go MIA?


LODGING + TRANSPORTATION

For lodging we depended on our good ‘ol trusty friend, Airbnb! Charged with finding the perfect spot to accommodate everyone, my best friend (and the birthday girl!) Jasmine landed the cutest condo in the Sunny Isles community. The great thing about Miami is that while it can appear spread out, you don’t necessarily have to stay on South Beach in order to feel close to everything. The early bird catches the worm, which is why we definitely scored this gem by booking in advance (which I strongly suggest when utilizing Airbnb and similar hosting platforms).

In regards to transportation we Ubered the entirety of our stay, which was extremely affordable, especially when traveling in large groups. Depending on your destination, be prepared to spend anywhere between $10-15 one-way, every day, for a 15-20 minute ride.

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VUEVE CLICQUOT CARNAVAL

The main event of the weekend took place at Museum Park for Vueve Clicquot’s fourth annual Carnaval. This unique daytime event welcomed guests from all over to participate in the spirit of international celebration (alongside plenty of bubbly of course!). Set in the beautiful Museum Park overlooking Biscayne Bay, the event included traditional Carnaval entertainment involving salsa dancing and live music. Having been my second time at the event (last summer I attended their Vueve Clicquot Polo Classic in New York City), I was thrilled that this was in the lineup. A classy affair, everyone came dressed to impress and prepared for a day of fun in the sun, countless memories, and endless glasses of Rich Rosé.

Vueve Cliquot Carnaval images by Mark Clennon (@mark.c) & Simon Valcin (@valcinphotos)

I snagged this "zesty" dress for less than $30 at a random trip to TJMAXX, but have linked some cute copy cat looks below:

Boohoo Cut Out Lemon Print Dress

Boohoo Off Shoulder Lemon Print Dress

Akira Lemon Print Side Slit Maxi Dress

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EATS

With a lengthy list of delectable foods Miami is known for, eating well on our trip was far from a problem. The one thing I wish I could have gotten my hands on before departing? An authentic Cuban sandwich, because they are BOMB while in Florida, and especially while in Miami. Nothing stopped us from eating well during our stay, and below were just a few of my favorite spots:

Barton G.

Merge fine dining with Alice in Wonderland and you get Barton G.! Located off of Miami Beach, this is far from just a dinner, but a real life experience. Barton G. The Restaurant sets itself apart from other leading restaurants with their showy New American plates with whimsical touches in this upscale venue. With menu options titled as “Honey Bee My Surf N’ Turf” and equipped with a full bee keeper’s outfit, to the “Bird’s Eye View” [pictured below] decked out with a faux bird to serve as your dinner date, this is an experience like no other. We dined here to celebrate my best friend’s birthday and I can totally see why she chose this venue. The customer service was impeccable and the food ridiculously top notch. A heads up that Barton G. is best for celebrating special occasions and while the menu is pricey ($35+ per plate), it is worth every penny. Reigning at 2018’s Diner’s Choice Winner, it is strongly encouraged that you book your reservation in advance through OpenTable.

What I ordered: the Bird’s Eye View

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Coyo Taco

By far my favorite taco joint in the city, I had experienced Coyo Taco once before while on a trip to Miami. It went without saying that this spot was a must while with my friends in the Wynwood Arts District. With a chill vibe (and a hidden club in the back!), Coyo Taco is literally heaven on Earth. Don’t be turned off by the winding wait outside, as it moves quickly and is worth every passing minute. Perfect for a casual bite or a quick nosh before (or after) hitting the night scene (their late night menu begins after midnight), Coyo Taco is sure to become your new BFF.

What I ordered: Pollo al Carbon (2 tacos per order) and a Blood Orange Margarita

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Nikki Beach Sunday Brunch

How perfect was it that our departure landed on a Sunday, the same day that the most lit brunch experience on South Beach takes place? I’d like to call that favor. Serving as the close of our weekend together, the birthday girl celebrated one last hoorah at Nikki Beach’s World Famous Amazing Sundays Brunch. When I say that it was gorgeous, that doesn’t give the scenery nearly enough justice. Surrounded by the beautiful sandy beach, jaw-dropping cabanas, and live entertainment to match, this was a brunch like no other. With a VIP experience, the brunch lineup showcases the talents of a world traveled culinary team with a variety of live action stations, rotisserie and carving stations, sushi rolling station, and extravagant dessert displays. While beverages are not included in the $49.95 per guest brunch (unlimited buffet), they do offer mimosas, house champagne and gourmet Bloody Mary’s as well!

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THINGS TO SEE & DO

Let me begin by saying that there is so, so much to see and do in this vibrant city, and while much was achieved, we didn’t scratch the surface. The following is not an exhaustive list, but however my top two recommendations that we squeezed in the short weekend:

Museum of Ice Cream Miami

I have literally been dying to visit one of Museum of Ice Cream’s locations (San Francisco, Los Angeles, Miami) the moment I laid eyes on pictures of their sprinkle pool. Also, who wouldn’t want to venture to a spot that even Chance the Rapper isn’t too cool for? We truly lucked up on tickets to attend the weekend of our trip, as they had been sold out for weeks prior. Let me begin by saying that it is EXTREMELY difficult to get tickets to their locations, and I suggest signing up for their newsletter in order to get ticket sale updates. You can’t help but to feel like a kid again in this magical ice cream emporium, which is why it’s a must you attend if able. From free scoops, to banana swings, what more could you possibly want?

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Wynwood Art District

Wynwood is an eclectic district in the urban core of Miami and home to a multitude of art galleries, retail stores, antique shops, eclectic bars, artisanal eateries, and much more. This is also where my food recommendation above, Coyo Taco is located. With much to do in this artsy neighborhood, what really sets it apart from the rest are their beautiful murals known as Wynwood Walls. Completely “Instagram-worthy”, the Wynwood Walls has brought the world’s greatest artists working in the graffiti and street art genre to the city of Miami. Grab a taco or two from Coyo Taco and take a walk for yourself through this beautiful spectacle!

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Other Recommendations:

Little Havana

Sugar Factory

Panther Coffee

Basement Miami

Frost Museum of Science

Bodega Taqueria y Tequila

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

As you prepare to consider your next sunny getaway I hope you’ll consider Miami, as it’s richness in both culture and color is sure to please. What will you name your tropical alter ego upon arrival? Please share in the comments below, what are you most looking forward to experiencing in Miami after reviewing this travel guide?

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