It was a nice New York afternoon, the sun was out and there was a light breeze sweeping through 5th avenue, crowded with people rushing in and out of the stores shopping before the weekend. I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed when I said to myself “I really need a vacation!” I had been thinking about Miami Beach for awhile, trying to figure out the best time to visit but also if my budget allowed. I texted my friend Jasmine “Are you down to go to Miami?” She immediately texted me back saying “100% down.” That night we booked our flight out of New York. We were set to spend 5 days and 4 nights in Miami.
I’ve been to Miami twice before, I missed the Cuban food, laying by the pool and swimming. For vacations, I usually try to visit cities I haven’t been to before but I really wanted something tropical, and Miami is one of the places I can visit as a TPS recipient under the strict immigration laws to not leave the U.S that has nice beaches, warm water and coconut trees where I can get fresh coconut water from. It’s also pretty affordable and during my recent trip I fell in complete love with new discovered corners.
I am a huge Freehand Hotel enthusiast. I’ve been to the Los Angeles, New York and now the Miami location becoming my favorite of them all (haven’t been to the Chicago one yet). The Freehand Miami is a block away from the beach, it has an award winning bar called Broken Shaker with a colorful and plant surrounded patio that plays music throughout the day. They played everything; Amy Winehouse, Nina Simone to my favorite late 90, early 2000’s R&B. The art throughout the Freehand was one of my favorite things, they have murals filled with bright colors surrounding the hotel, a garden with fruits and vegetables that they use to cook with or for the bar, and a restaurant with a very distinguished menu called 27 Restaurant. The furniture and interior design in there adds to how tasty the food is, the walls are filled with prints, the furniture gives me bohemian vibes and of course there’s plants. I had the Summer Salad and Yucca Fries and my friend had the Chickpea Masala with extra Malawach which I couldn’t stop eating even after I complained of how full I was. Everything about the Freehand Hotel was amazing but the staff there is the highlight of it all. Everyone was kind and accommodating, they made our stay perfect. We stayed in a Quad which we booked through Airbnb, it’s basically a hostel like room that accommodates four people. We didn’t have to share the room which was great and the beds were comfortable. Being a quad guest at the Freehand Hotel also comes with free continental breakfast which is nice but we didn’t really take advantage of it as we wanted to try different restaurants around Miami. The hotel also offers free bike rentals, beach umbrellas and there is a free trolly stop nearby that goes throughout Miami Beach. I can’t think of a better place to stay at in Miami Beach if you are on a budget and want something comfortable and cute. I definitely plan on staying here again.
I discovered this small, local restaurant during my vacation with my family. It’s one of my favorite places to eat at while in Miami. You’ll leave this place stuffed, craving more in a few hours and all under $15. My favorite thing to get there is the shrimp with black beans, rice and maduros. They also give you Cuban bread with butter and their cafecito is the best. We ate there twice and I regret not eating there more.
We went here for dinner during our first night in Miami and it was so good. I never know what to expect from taco restaurants as my standards are high but this place fulfilled my standards. It is located in South Beach but they have other locations throughout Miami. We made it to happy hour so we ordered a margarita pitcher ($20, serves about 3 margaritas for 2 people), I had a Cameron taco, a Chorizo taco and an Elote. The cilantro-jalapeno crema on top of it was my favorite. The corn tortillas are blue and made in house. My friend had a camaron taco, al pastor taco (brought pineapple on it) and a quesadilla and it was the best quesadilla I’ve tried. The cotija cheese with beans made the quesadilla very tasty. I will definitely be visiting this place again!
I really wanted to eat as many tacos as possible while in Miami so during our visit to Wynwood we went to The Taco Stand. This place is so cute, the menu is easy to read and visible over the cash register to everyone who comes in. You can see the team members preparing your food and you’ll probably want everything. I ordered a chicken taco, an asada taco, chips and guacamole and an elote, a whole elote. It was a lot of food, I didn’t even finish half of my chips as my friend also ordered two tacos, a quesadilla and an elote but everything was delicious. They have a sauce bar with different sauces like a creamy cilantro and a chipotle one, pico de Gallo, and your typical red and green sauces. They also have churros if you have a sweet tooth! The interior design was very on point, they had graffiti and art on the walls, and pictures of El Capulin. We also didn’t spend more then $20 and we had so much food and a beer. I definitely recommend if you’re in Wynwood and are craving tacos.
I will admit I saved the best for last. Doce Provisions is one of my new favorite places in Miami. THE FOOD WAS SOOOOOO DAMNNNN GREAT!!!!! I was eating thinking about the next time I could visit this place wishing it wasn’t my last day in Miami. Their menu is seasonal so what I was walking in set to order (I look at the menu before and usually have an idea of what I want) was not available which made me sad but I didn’t know the treat I was in for. I ordered the award-winning Chorizo Croquettes that brought a sauce and fresh cheese on top to start and OH MY GOD. They were the best, my order brought four and every single one I savored. Then I had the Little Bird Fried Chicken which is a piece of fried chicken, sweet plantain waffles, picked peppers, guava marmalade and sriracha honey. That’s the best chicken and waffle I have ever had. My friend started with the Lechon Asado Bun which brings orange-achiote, aji amarillo, grilled pineapple confit over it and her main course was shrimp lo mein. The buns were delicious, the lechon was soft but crispy on top. When I go back I will definitely order those. The lo mein was creamy, not your typical lo mein but better. We left Doce Provisions very, very satisfied. I couldn’t stop talking about it and now thinking about it. Definitely visit Doce Provisions if you are in Downtown Miami.
Miami is a hub for art. Most people might know this because of Art Basel but it’s more than exclusive galleries and parties after dark. You can find art throughout Miami in almost every corner. There are sculptures, murals, graffiti, and more that could be found throughout the vibrating streets. It’s a destination for art and artist with the help of Miami-Dade County Art in Public Places, a program that has been providing residents and tourist with art across public parks since 1973 . Wynwood, where people can stroll through The Wynwood Walls and galleries isn’t the only place that provides people with art but it a very popular place for tourist. We visited the Pérez Art Museum Miami which happened to be free that day (every 2nd Saturday of the month) and enjoyed the current exhibits up, some of my favorites were by Kara Walker and Teresa Margolles. The two floor museum is overlooking the bay with a museum park alongside. It’s definitely a place I’d recommend to visit.
Although Miami is known for the nightlife it has more to offer than clubs and bars. I personally hate clubs but we did make our way to a day party at El Patio in Wynwood where my hips swayed side to side to some of my favorite Bad Bunny songs and Reggaeton. Sweat ran across almost every back in that patio but no one cared as we danced the afternoon away.
My vacation was everything I wanted and more to the point I felt a deep sadness departing, a usual feeling after a vacation but none like before. It’s going to be one I remember as I let go of a lot and gained so much. I gained a profound amount of confidence that I didn’t know I lacked. I’ve always been pretty confident but during this trip I wore less and owned my body, the curves, the cellulite and stretch marks more. I often hear people complain about their body during the summer but I have no complaints about mine. It looks good and I feel good.