Travel Hacks for Miami Visitors

Miami is bustling, international, energetic and colorful. There aren’t too many rules here. Understanding the culture will help you blend in. Here are some tips to ensure you enjoy your trip to the max!

Getting around by trolley is free, but the bus is exact change only. Have it out and ready.

Speaking of which, the bus is rarely on time. Don’t panic, it will arrive eventually.

Life is Sloooow
It’s hot and tropical, making the culture laid back and slow. Remember this when dining out, shopping or using public transportation.

Dining Out
Many restaurants will not present you your check until it is specifically asked for.

Paying Your Bill
When you do receive your bill, always check for included gratuity.

Personal Space
Is non-existent. The little old lady behind you isn’t trying to steal anything from your purse, she is just trying to get closer to the front of the line.

Social Norms
Miamians will not apologize profusely for accidentally brushing your arm while walking down Lincoln Road. They won’t expect you to either. Live and let live.

Safety in the Street
Like any city, biking is a popular way to commute. Be aware of tourists on bikes, as most are too engaged in the scenery to notice pedestrians.
(Insert photo of bikers)

Street Dress Code
Miami is the city of ‘yes.’ Anything goes. Don’t, however, feel the need to wear your thong bikini while jogging. Very few can pull that off.

Beach Dress Code
Topless bathing is accepted everywhere. Whether or not it is actually legal is a different story. If you want to go full out in your birthday suit, head to Haulover, just north of Bal Harbour.

This isn’t the USA you’re used to elsewhere. It is an extension of South America. If you order your cafecito at a local Cuban coffee shop, don’t assume the employees speak english.

A cafecito, or cortado, is espresso with tons of sugar. A cafe con leche is espresso with tons of milk. A cortadito is a mix of the two.

Rain showers generally last 10-20 minutes. If you are on the beach and the sky opens up, stick it out. By the time you pack up and leave, it will be over.

Most locals are not rampant partiers. Ask promotors for nightclub advice. Ask locals for directions. Ask other tourists what night is best at Mangos. Ask locals about the city’s greatest happy hours.

Parking tickets are given out like candy. You won’t beat the system. If you didn’t pay for your spot, chances are it’s illegal. Avoid the headache and park in a lot.

The Sun
Experience sunrise on the beach with free yoga. Enjoy sunset on the bay with half-priced drinks.
(INSERT photo of sunset over downtown miami)

If you are in a taxi in South Beach, direct the driver to a street west of Collins Ave. You might have to deal with more stops signs, but the difference in traffic will be worth your while. If you don’t have cash, ask if the driver accepts credit cards before getting in.

Better yet, rent a DecoBike using your credit card. Ask a local for help.

Alcohol is available for purchase almost everywhere, including Walgreens, CVS, Whole Foods and Publix (pronounced with a short ‘u’, like the Irish bar, followed by “licks”.)

Miami’s food scene is so much more than fried plantains and medianoches. From Peruvian to Italian, the city is bursting with great restaurants. Don’t limit yourself!
(Photo of ceviche)

Kodak Moments
Most importantly, always have your camera ready. From breathtaking sunsets to drag shows at brunch, you never know what you are going to see in this vibrant city!

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

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

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

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

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

Prepare for Poland

Poland is a triumphant nation with a tragic history, and now it is aggressively pressing its way into the forefront of the travel industry. Many travelers, mostly European, have been quietly perusing Poland for years, but only recently is it introducing itself to the West as a must-see. And for good reason! Vast green hills peppered with livestock, colorful religious altars adorning local roads, and small but vibrant cities bursting with energy combine to form one of the most complicated countries on the European continent.

Before making a reservation and heading across the pond, consider the key points below and prepare for a journey that will leave you wanting more.

Read more at TourMatters

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

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

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

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