Category Archives: Local Interest

Things to Do in Key Biscayne

Key Biscayne is a not-too-close, not-too-far escape from both the city grind of Miami and the tourist haven of its beaches. Active travelers, boaters, cyclers, and nature-lovers will benefit from a day trip here. It’s an island just past Virginia Key, which requires either a car, boat, or bike to get to.

Parking and public transportation at Key Biscayne
Crandon Park is located on the northern end of the island, and offers $5 parking. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is south, with parking included after paying an $8 entry fee. Walkers and bikers pay $2 – 4. Biking from Miami Beach to the end of the island is roughly 30 miles long, with several bridges to cross before reaching Key Biscayne.

Best and worst time go to Key Biscayne
To beat the crowds and traffic, weekdays are best for visitors. Boater’s Grill, also known as No Name, is a popular restaurant for both boaters and pedestrians and fills up quickly at lunch time on the weekends.

Admission to Key Biscayne
Entry to the island itself is free of charge. Key Biscayne is home to a little more than 10,000 residents, making it almost a suburb of Miami. Venturing through neighborhoods lined with mansions, dining in local restaurants, and shopping in fancy boutiques are several alternatives to the natural draw of the island. State parks generally charge an entry or parking fee, see above.

Must see/do at Key Biscayne
Bill Baggs or Crandon Park are must-sees. Both parks, aside from providing a natural oasis from the city, have areas for hiking, picnicking, beaching, and biking. The historic Cape Florida Lighthouse is open Thursdays – Mondays with short, guided tours twice daily.

Other places to visit near Key Biscayne
Boater’s Grill is a very popular, word-of-mouth restaurant located on the water in Bill Bagg’s Park. Known for its fresh fish, especially the whole fried fish, and cold beverages, it is a great spot to enjoy a casual lunch with a gorgeous view.

Insider tip for visitors to Key Biscayne
Key Biscayne is misleading in that one might mistake it as a Florida Key. It is not. The first official Florida Key is Key Largo, which is about an hour drive from Miami International Airport.

Read more at MapQuest Travel

The Bass Museum of Miami Beach

Miami’s art scene is exploding beyond Art Basel. Wynwood is sprinkled with indoor and outdoor galleries from local and international artists. The Design District is the place to go to find the latest fancy furnishings for your home. Perez Art Museum showcases changing contemporary exhibits, and South Beach proudly boasts Art Deco architecture from the 1920s and 30s. With all of these options, it is easy to overlook one of the most classic art museums of the city: the Bass Museum.

Clean, quiet, and peaceful, the Bass Museum is a great escape from the highly energetic Miami Beach crowd. The exhibits change often, so members and locals never get bored. Artifacts from ancient Egypt are presented alongside international modern art pieces.

Admission to the Bass Museum
Depending on your membership and/or age status, the admission can range anywhere from $0-$10.

Must See/Do at the Bass Museum
The first Friday of every month, the museum presents “Beats After Sunset,” a DJ-accompanied Happy Hour that allows access to the latest exhibit for a flat fee.

Parking and Transportation at the Bass Museum
There is a metered parking lot across the street, as well as metered street parking surrounding. The 120 bus and South Beach Local stops are directly across the street. Taxis are plentiful, as the W Hotel is caddy corner to the museum.

Other Places to Visit at the Bass Museum
Close to the museum are restaurants and some boutique shopping options. Next door is Miami City Ballet. One block away is the beach, outlined by a lovely promenade on which you can stroll after your museum visit.

Insider Tip for Visitors to the Bass Museum
At present, the times advertised on the door are incorrect. The museum is open until 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Read more at MapQuest Travel

5 Most Romantic Places in Miami

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, what better place to spend it than the tropical, breezy paradise that is Miami? There are so many romantic places to take your honey, it can be hard to narrow down. Here is a roundup of five of the most romantic spots in Miami.

  1. Area 31: Located in the swanky Epic Hotel in Brickell, the sophisticated Area 31 is a sustainable seafood restaurant and lounge. Most of the selection is organic, the menus are printed on recycled paper, and herbs are plucked from the outside garden. Enjoy a cocktail on the outdoor terrace that overlooks the turquoise waters of Biscayne Bay and glittering lights of Brickell Key.
  2. South Pointe Park: South Pointe Park is located at the very tip of the island of Miami Beach. During the day, it’s a great place to ride bikes, take the kids to the park, or lay out in the sun. In the evening, it’s the perfect place to bring your date at sunset. Pack a picnic, a bottle of red, and secure a grassy spot near the water. Watch the sun go down behind the stunning vista of downtown Miami. Bring an extra blanket to cuddle under; February nights conveniently mean cooler temperatures.
  3. Rouge: One of the prettiest spots in all of Miami, Rouge is a Moroccan-French style restaurant that permeates romance. Think brick walls, deep red accents, iron wrought chairs and multicolored tiled table tops. The true gem is past the bar and through a little hallway where the owner has transformed the backyard space to a secret garden-style dining area, with flourishing greenery, flowers, and a large brick fireplace. Call ahead and check what time the live piano music starts to really impress.
  4. Mondrian: Few things are sexier than watching the sunset together, especially if you are snuggled on a comfy bed with half-priced mojitos in your hand. The Mondrian Hotel is located on the bay with a sweeping view of downtown. Walk through the lobby to the back, where you will find lounge chairs and big, white beds surrounding a tranquil pool, overlooking the bay and Miami’s gorgeous skyline. Grab a fancy cocktail at the bar and relax to the chill-out music and fiery sky.5. Vizcaya Museum and Garden: Who says romance only comes out at night? February weather is perfect for strolling through Italian and Spanish-inspired gardens during the day. It’s a little piece of European heaven here in South Florida. Peruse the flowers, trees, fountains and sculptures hand in hand and enjoy the silence. Or browse the antique and art collections inside the mansion, once the winter residence of James Deering. Head to the Grove for a late lunch or early dinner after, as the villa shuts its doors to the public at 4.30pm.

Read more at MapQuest Travel

Miami Yoga Guide

Breaking into the yoga world can be intimidating and confusing. Thoughts of “I’m not flexible, patient, zen enough” might come to mind. Or maybe you’re thinking “Nah, I need to sweat to feel like I worked out.” Ignore those voices in your head. There are so many different styles of yoga, that with a little research and practice, you likely will find exactly what you are looking to gain. From Ashtanga to Vinyasa, there is a style for everyone, right here in Miami.

Miami loves yoga, and there are so many good studios that giving due credit to all is tough. To start, we’ll help you narrow your options to the styles that sound most appealing, and check out a few studios that offer it. Finding your yogic path can take time, but remember that life and yoga are all about the journey.

Read More at The New Tropic

Grow A Garden Anywhere

It’s fun, it’s healthy, and, let’s face it, it’s just cooler to walk onto your balcony and grab an extra handful of cilantro for your homemade guac.

Growing your own fruits and vegetables in a tiny outdoor space or balcony might initially seem impossible, but it’s totally doable. According to Déva Presence of Permaculture Miami, as long as you have access to sunlight (and really, here in Miami we have more than our fair share), a watering system, potting soil, and good fertilizer, you can grow your own dinner. All it takes is a little TLC for that green thumb to appear. And even with a small space, there’s plenty of options. But first, “Know your plants!” says Presence.

Read more at The New Tropic

Sustainable Living in Miami’s Urban Paradise

While it can feel like we’re bombarded with news of our crippled environment, we’re in a great place to make small changes that will permanently change our future.

Permaculture is more than just eating organic or conserving water, it’s a design system that combines architecture, engineering and social sciences to create a living or working space that functions solely off the earth’s natural processes. It involves using alternate energy systems like solar, perfect for sunny South Florida, and designing sustainable systems that use or reuse rainwater. Indoor plants and gardens carefully designed to grow food for you and the community are also an important part of any permaculture system. And while it may not be feasible for most of us to live completely off the grid in Miami, there are plenty of smaller steps we can take to live a more sustainable lifestyle.

Read more at The New Tropic

A Local’s Guide on Where to Dance

“Dancing? Um, no thanks.” I reply as my out-of-town friends suggest a night out club-hopping. The idea of scantily clad twerking tourists spilling drinks all over my conservative white cotton button down and reasonably long shorts gives me immediate chills. “Oh come on, it will be fun! We need to move,” they beg. After a few minutes of convincing with a side of wine, I agree to a night on the town with the stipulation that we would not visit any mega-clubs. The girls agreed, opting anyway for less dramatic venues where we could really let loose like nobody was watching.

Some may say that this cannot be done in a town of Ferrari-driving hoteliers and their plastic, long-legged girlfriends 20 years their junior. That’s because they’re not locals. Not only are there plenty of low-key, down to earth dancing options around the city, there are also real reasons why we should be doing it.

Let’s start with the why. Dancing, freestyle dancing to be specific, has multiple benefits for both the mind and the body. As we all know, movement is key to a healthy heart and body. It’s a much better option for your Saturday night plans than sitting at the local watering hole with your friends, chatting for hours about the highs and lows of the latest political drama. While yes, these topics are certainly discussion-worthy, save it for brunch.  Aside from getting the blood pumping and increasing your heart rate, freestyle dancing can tone your muscles and burn fat. It improves balance and coordination, and in some cases, can improve self-esteem. (Probably the less booze the better if you’re seeking that latter benefit)

Dancing is also extremely good for the mind. When a DJ leads the party, we don’t know what beats to expect next, so we are forced to make an almost-unconscious rapid decision of what to do with our bodies. This highly strengthens the mind-body connection. With the mind stimulated and the body following suit, stress and tension release, for at least a few hours.

Last but certainly not least, according to a study at the well-known Stanford University, freestyle dancing can lower one’s risk of dementia by a whopping 76 percent. Dancing can  strengthen your brain better than crossword puzzles, reading, or golf. Every night out you bust a move is a little more brainpower in the bank for after your knees give out.

Read more at The New Tropic

Tackling Trash in East Little Havana

About 5 years ago Corinna Moebius, cultural anthropologist, author and longtime Little Havana tour guide, noticed an increase in, well, trash. In the four previous years she had lived there, occasionally neighbors would put usable, unwanted household items on display prior to collection day, but it was a rare occurrence. As the recession escalated, the amount of discarded items seemed to spin out of control, she said. Unwanted sofas, tables, and television sets were making their way to the streets and vacant lots of East Little Havana. “What looked liked whole apartments” were being dumped on the sidewalk, says Sharif Salem, also a 9-year resident of the neighborhood, and photographer behind the Instagram photography series Sofas of Little Havana. Moebius and Salem’s beloved neighborhood was turning into an open-air dump. “There was no way the residents of East Little Havana themselves could dump so much,” Moebius recalls, which lead her to one conclusion — residents from neighboring areas had to be leaving their unwanted furniture here too.

According to the City of Miami’s Solid Waste Department’s website, bulky trash, including furniture, is collected once a week. Items can be left in front of your house the evening before the scheduled collection. There is also a Mini Dumping Facility located on NW 20 Street, which is cleared weekly.

So why would people choose to discard trash and furniture in Little Havana? Even after the city installed “No Dumping” signs, the problem persisted and grew. Week after week, East Little Havana locals found discarded sofas, chairs, and tables in empty lots in their community. It’s been five years, and nothing is changing. Personal and organized cleanups, while temporarily effective, are fruitless in the long run. Slapping a Band-Aid on a deep wound doesn’t cure anything, and the issue needs to be cleaned out at the source, Moebius said.

Read more at The New Tropic

Five things we learned on the Emerging City Bike Ride

Miami is an eclectic mix of different cultures, languages, foods, opinions, architectural styles, and colors. Even the smell of Little Havana is drastically different than that of South Beach. At any given point we can travel to Haiti, Cuba, or Argentina, without ever leaving the city.

Enter the Emerging New City Bike Tour, which aimed to highlight development projects in Coconut Grove and Little Havana, but was even more successful in showing outsiders a new insider’s view of this vibrant city.

Group leader Brian Lemmerman reminds us that there is so much more to a city than what people initially see, saying, “So many different people with so many different stories, so many different circumstances, places, histories, we could spend our entire lives learning” the truth behind Miami.

Almost 40 riders set out to learn more on Saturday afternoon. Starting at Bayfront Park, representatives from Celebrate Diversity Miami, The New Tropic, and Emerge Miami, as well as community-based partners from Coconut Grove’s Collaborative Development Corp. and Little Havana Tours, led us through a fascinating journey of Miami’s past and its future.

Read more at The New Tropic

Take in the view from these Miami Rooftops

Oh Miami, how lucky are we right now. The skies are blue, the clouds fluffy, sun is shining, the first taste of heat is in the air, but the daily afternoon rains are still a few weeks away. It’s the ultimate time to … chill on a roof!

Grab your friends, your hat, and your phone to blow up your Instagram and make your friends in the rest of the country jealous. Head to one of these fabulous Miami rooftops for an afternoon of sun or an evening of fun with some of the best views in town.

Read more at The New Tropic