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

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

Things to do when it Rains in Miami

A good rain in Miami is equivalent to a blizzard up north. Exciting for the locals, bummer for the tourists. Official rainy season lasts from June through September. Dark clouds swell to a breaking point and pound the city with short, intense bursts of cooling rain. Showers often hit hard in the late afternoon, lowering the temperature during the brutally hot summer months.

However, rainy days can occur at any time of year, so be prepared. Pack a colorful umbrella and a camera to capture the weather’s dramatic effect on the sky. Walk when you can. Miami traffic slows to a near-halt when the roads get glossy.

Here are five ways to make the most of your time when the rain falls in Miami:

Read more at MapQuest Travel

Things to do in Little Havana

Miami is a collection of neighborhoods representing many cultures, from Haitian to Argentine to Cuban, and beyond. Little Havana, a traditionally Cuban neighborhood, has developed into a melting pot of Latin American cultures. It still, however, keeps its Cuban vibe with cigar shops, Cuban restaurants and salsa-inspired dance clubs. Missing a tour of Little Havana would be the ice-cream sundae without the cherry on top — it’s an essential ingredient in Miami’s colorful platter of experiences.

Don’t Miss in Little Havana
Calle Ocho is the main drag in Little Havana, where you can find a Hollywood-esque Walk of Fame dedicated to Cuban stars like Celia Cruz. Be sure to check out Domino Park on SW 15th Ave., where locals gather to try their hand at dominos. Stroll to Memorial Boulevard on SW 13th Ave. to see the ceiba tree, a sacred symbol of life in the Santería religion. Take in a bit of history at the Bay of Pigs Museum, or enjoy a Cuban-style ice-cream at Azucar, with wild flavors like avocado, guava, or cafe con leche. Sip a mojito as you dance the night away at the historic Ball & Chain, a classic nightclub from the 1930s that has recently reinvented itself as a live music and salsa venue.

Must See/Do in Little Havana
Cultural Fridays, or Viérnes Culturales, take place the last Friday of every month from 7 p.m. until 11 p.m. Expect live music, open art galleries, and typical street food.

Parking and Transportation at Little Havana
There are several low-cost, even free, parking lots available around Calle Ocho. The bus is also an option as several lines run from Downtown to Little Havana.

Other Places to Visit Near Little Havana
No trip to Little Havana is complete without trying a cafecito, a typically strong Cuban coffee made for sharing. Jump on the Number 8 bus and head to Cafe Versailles for quite possibly the most famous cuban coffee in the city.

Insider Tip for Visitors to Little Havana
While significantly safer than in years past, it is important to be careful while wandering Little Havana, especially at night. Stay on the main drag and avoid East Little Havana, which begins east of SW 17th Ave.

Read more at MapQuest Travel

Miami Neighborhood Overview

Overview of Miami Neighborhoods

Miami is booming. High rises are showing up overnight. Art Deco buildings are undergoing makeovers. Public transportation is improving. It is a sprawling city with a surprisingly variety of neighborhoods, each with a specific culture. Hop in your car and explore the great places Miami has to offer, just be aware of the neglected gaps in between each neighborhood. Try to steer clear of Overtown and Liberty City for the time being.

Read more at MapQuest Travel

Yellow Green Farmer’s Market

Hundreds of vendors crowd under a 100,000 square foot tent every weekend of the year in Hollywood, FL, creatively displaying brightly colored fruits, veggies, clothing, and other products one might expect to find at a farmer’s market. The smell of empanadas baking in the oven fills the air as local musicians entertain shoppers that stroll along the booths at the Yellow Green Farmer’s Market. Located off I-95, it remains a draw for locals and visitors alike, some wanting to stock up on local produce for the week, and others simply wanting to peruse the items, snack on free samples, and enjoy the live tunes. Either way, the Yellow Green Farmer’s Market is a must-see hidden gem for anyone temporarily, or permanently, in the South Florida area.

Parking at Yellow Green Market
There is plenty of free parking at the market.

Best and worst time go to Yellow Green Market
Since it’s only open on the weekends, times to go are limited. Local produce dies down in the summer, literally, and growing anything is almost impossible in the heat. Try late November to April for best local pickings. Otherwise, the market is open all year. Early in the morning might help you beat the crowds, but it’s part of the charm, so any time of day is good.

Admission to Yellow Green Market
Free music, free samples, free browsing. Several restaurants and many food stalls can be found inside, with varying costs. Check out the fresh juice, Mediterranean fare, gluten-free baked goods, and the olive oil shop, to name a few. Most booths offer free samples of their goodies, don’t be afraid to try them all.

Other places to visit near Yellow Green Market
Downtown Hollywood is an afternoon in itself. Restaurants, shops, art galleries, and parks line the main strip and surrounding area. A local trolley can take you around the town for $1 per ride, giving you the chance to explore not just the historic downtown, but the oceanfront as well.

Insider tip for visitors to Yellow Green Market
Most vendors are cash only. Be prepared before arrival.

Read more at MapQuest Travel

Stay Healthy in Miami

Going on vacation doesn’t mean you have to abandon your active lifestyle. In Miami, it is easier than you probably think. Below are several ideas to ensure a healthy vacation here in Miami.

If you want to maintain your exercise routine:

Rent bikes from your hotel or from the city bike share program, DecoBike. Ride along the promenade from Miami Beach to South Pointe Park. Want to try something different? Rollerblades are still a completely acceptable form of transportation. Rent them from South Beach or Bayside with Bike n Roll Miami, and wallow in your 90s nostalgia.

Jogging on the beach is never a bad idea. Especially if you join the iconic Raven’s Run, a free running club led by the famous Raven. A Miami local, he has successfully run 8 miles on the beach every single day for the past 40 years. If you prefer to run solo, head to the boardwalk that starts on 23rd Street.

Kitesurfing is a popular pastime down here, especially in the Keys. Thankfully, you don’t have to go far. Key Biscayne is known for its plethora of kite surf instructors, so book your lesson and hit the water. If possible, stick around until the sun goes down. This island is known for its incredibly colorful sunsets.

Miami’s proximity to the Caribbean means ocean waves are few and far between. That’s why Miamian’s prefer paddle boards to surfboards. Paddle under the sun through the bay from Sunset Harbour Marina, or wait until dusk and join one of Miami Beach Paddle Board’s Neon Tours. Explore the Sunset Island channels on boards equipped with LED neon lights.

If yoga is your thing, you are in luck. Free and donation-based classes are offered all throughout the city, and most take advantage of our wonderful weather and gorgeous vistas. Practice in front of the ocean at sunrise or sunset at 3rd Street Beach, hosting classes every day at 7am and 5pm. Sleep in a little bit and meander over to the Mondrian Hotel on Sunday mornings at 10am to get your vinyasa on in front of the bay, overlooking Miami’s impressive downtown skyline. In contrast, practice with a view of Miami Beach at Bayfront Park, offering free yoga classes every Monday and Wednesday at 6pm and Saturday at 9am.

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