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When people ask me why I started blogging, my answer to them is simple, I’m that “go-to” friend who loves to talk about the latest store openings, or the perfect happy hour spots and let’s not forget the best local groomers for your pets. I’m the one you call when you’re trying to pick the perfect place to go out for dinner and I just so happen to live in a pretty hip, up-and-coming neighborhood in South Florida called Midtown Miami. I like to think of Midtown Miami as our own little version of Brooklyn. To some, that might seem preposterous, but to me, it’s my reality and I have some pretty decent insights as to why I can make that comparison. Midtown Miami is centrally situated right alongside Biscayne Bay, directly across from South Beach. It’s a 12-minute drive from the airport, directly north of downtown and a little bit further away from Brickell. Not only is it set in an ideal location, Midtown Miami is a haven for those of us who enjoy being near the madness that can be South Beach but also relish in savoring local foodie spots such as Sugarcane, Gigi’s and Sakaya Kitchen. Midtown is the place that artists, young professionals and families of all different backgrounds and cultures can call home. Everywhere you look, you’re bound to see a dog being walked, a stroller being pushed or the occasional bum roaming the streets. I didn’t say Midtown was perfect, but it provides the type of environment that many city dwellers crave. Local bars and lounges such as Bardot and the Electric Pickle have even caught the attention of Brickellites and the Beach crowd. All in all, Midtown Miami offers its locals the same vibe, venues and vida as does Brooklyn to its residents. While the area directly west of Midtown is still considered to be impoverished, gentrification is slowly taking place and residents find themselves being able to walk to more places to grab a cup of coffee, get their hair cut and shop for clothes. I love living in Midtown, as it provides me access to all the things I love; intriguing art displays, live music venues and a plethora of locally owned restaurants to eat at and have Sunday brunches at. I invite you to come check it out anytime.Read More
As a long time South Florida local who likes to explore the scene and blog about the best Miami has to offer, one of the most frequent requests I get from my readers involves helping them coordinate an upcoming weekend trip to South Beach. (Guess I could give all the Miami party planners a run for their money.) The questions range from help with planning “my best friend’s bachelorette party” or “the ultimate girl’s weekend getaway” to smaller requests such as "what are the hottest lounges and restaurants to visit" or "best brunch spots on the beach". Of course Miami is the perfect option for a quick weekend getaway, especially one with the girls, because this city offers everything you could want out of a fun-in-the-sun-filled weekend. Pool parties, endless miles of sunny beaches, foodie hotspots, stellar spas and so much more make Miami one of the best cities in the country. Okay, so looking to plan your very own ultimate girl’s weekend in Miami? Here are my top 5 recommendations: 1. Book your hotel at least 3-6 months in advance if possible; you’ll get a better deal! Remember that the summer months are low season in Miami where as Nov. – April is high season. 2. Try to stay on Collins Ave anywhere between 14th - 24th streets; you’ll be closer to all the hot spots and easy access to the beach. 3. Book a poolside cabana at any of the popular hotels for your own private pool party – its money well spent when you’re looking to treat yourself to a nice, relaxing time. 4. It’s all about the details: create a gift bag for all the girls in your group and fill them with fun, quirky gifts (nail polishes, picture frames, etc.) or make a fun music mix you can listen to during the trip. 5. Book a photographer to help capture you and your pals in funny poses and use the pool/beach as your backdrop. It’ll be the perfect way to remember your vacation! A few weeks ago I was able to put my party-planning hat on and take some of my own advice for a weekend trip I planned for eleven of my best friends. I’ll walk you through some of the highlights from the weekend where I was able to put some of my best advice to the test. This year, my friends and I all turn 30 and we wanted to celebrate. So, what better excuse than to celebrate such a big milestone together? Although most of us grew up partying in Miami, more than half of the crew has since moved to other cities all across the country so a weekend in Miami Beach was welcomed by everyone. At the end of the day, we wanted lots of pool/beach time, great foodie spots to eat at, a couple of cool lounges to let off some steam, and most importantly, spend lots of unforgettable moments together. So what does such a weekend entail? Well, because we were such a big group it was decided early on that we would stay in the heart of South Beach so we could walk to places and have access to lots of venues without having to walk far or catch expensive cab rides. The Surf Comber was the perfect hotel because not only do they have the ideal location, they had all the amenities we needed to ensure a fab weekend; a pretty pool with beach access, nice, comfy rooms, great restaurant for meals and beautiful hotel bar for pre-dinner drinks. Once we had our hotel picked out, the next step was to make meal reservations at various spots. This included a couple of dinner reservations at Haven, Lantao and Pubbelly and a special goodbye brunch at the ever-popular YardBird Southern Table & Bar. It’s always good to call ahead for places on the beach, especially when you have a big group. The highlight of the trip had to be the time we spent in our private poolside cabana that we rented for the day. The cabana came with our own cocktail waitress who ensured we always had plenty to eat and drink and we had plenty of private space to talk, catch up, lay out and even host our own dance off (thanks to a lively playlist created just for the occasion). Each girl contributed to the weekend in their own unique way, bringing with them gifts, food and drinks, make-up tips, clothes to borrow, you name it. But one in particular came through with a marvelous idea. She booked a photographer to come out and capture the entire crew (all 12 of us, or how we called ourselves, the dirty dozen) in spontaneous fun poses so we would each have a memento of the weekend to keep (and post on Facebook, Twitter, etc.). This was by far, a fantastic idea and one I would recommend to anyone planning a vacation with friends or family.Read More
Although much of Miami’s reputation for world-class, sun-worshipping hedonism is well deserved, the city isn't all clubbing till 4 a.m. and hard bodies on the beach. Miami offers plenty of attractions that appeal to people who prefer quiet contemplation to bacchanalia. Coral Castle Museum is a monument to solitude. Latvian immigrant Ed Leedskalnin broke ground on this monument to eccentric obsessions in 1923, carving and setting the structure's 1,100 tons of coral stone in tribute to the fiancée who is said to have left him the day before their wedding. Leedskalnin, who died in 1951, before his life’s work was completed, was as given to understatement as he was grand gestures; he engraved on the castle’s welcome sign this promise to visitors: "You will be seeing unusual accomplishment." In contrast to Coral Castle, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens was commissioned as the winter residence of industrialist James Deering and constructed by more than 1,000 workers. Designed to resemble an Italian villa, the estate consists of 34 decorated rooms and sits on 50 acres, comprised of the 10-acre, Rennaissance-inspired formal gardens and 40 acres of native jungle. For another dose of a bygone era, the Wolfsonian-FIU art and design museum just off South Beach houses a 120,000-object collection focusing on modern art produced between 1885 and 1945. The size of the museum is modest, but that’s all the more reason to linger over the collection and temporary exhibits, which have recently surveyed media images from the Spanish-American War and advertisements inspired by the invention of the light bulb. Oleta River State Park beckons the outdoorsy introvert north of the metro area. Grab a copy of Walden and lie out on the secluded beach, or speed down the miles of novice and expert bike trails. Other popular (and peaceful) activities include hiking, kayaking, and saltwater fishing. If you’re stranded in South Beach, escape to Terrace Bar and Cigar Lounge. Located on the second floor, Terrace is not only literally above the bustle of the club scene, but also temperamentally outside of it; sheer curtains billow in the wind out on the terrace as guests sip cocktails and sample fine cigars.Read More
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