Most travelers’ first trip to Miami usually starts with South Beach, and for good reason. The beaches are some of the most beautiful in the United States, and the laid-back energy and luxurious hotels make you feel like you are on vacation instantly.
But after you’ve gotten your fill of South Beach, consider exploring Miami beyond the surf and sand. From the graffiti-covered walls of Wynwood to the Cuban influence in Little Havana, there is so much more to see and do. I’ve been lucky to spend several weeks in Miami this year and have had local guides show me some of the best neighborhoods the city has to offer.
Over the last five years, Wynwood has experienced a renaissance. But rather than DaVinci and Michelangelo, it’s Vihls, Peter Tunney, and Lady Pink making a stir. These are artists who have transformed the drab concrete walls of this neighborhood into masterpieces. With murals. The murals ranging from abstract to political decorate every corner and create a colorful backdrop for a booming restaurant and nightlife scene. One restaurant, Coyo Taco, is a good example of the type of vibe you’ll experience in Wynwood. The front half is a bustling taco joint, and the back half is a music venue where Miami’s local DJs spin. The Frida Kahlo mural in the Coyo Taco bathroom is a personal fave.
The Design District
Los Angeles has Beverly Hills and Miami has the Design District. This section of mainland Miami is a luxury shopper’s dream where Prada, Céline, Dior, and Burberry are all within blocks of each other. People don’t only come for the shopping; they come for the art. There are more than 20 art galleries in the neighborhood, ranging from the the Institute of Contemporary Art to the Haitian Heritage Museum.
Viewfinder Tip: The Art Basel Art Fair happens every December throughout Miami; many of the main events occur in Wynwood and The Design District.
Cuba continues to be one of the most talked-about travel destinations in recent years. But to get a taste of Old Havana without needing your passport, head to Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) is the main drag in Little Havana; here, you can be immersed in Cuban life. Sit in on a game of dominoes with the local guys at Domino Park, or snack on a Cuban sandwich and a strong Cuban coffee.
Little Haiti is just north of Wynwood and is famous for the “Big Night in Little Haiti” event every third Friday. The event is hosted by the Little Haiti Cultural Center, and you can expect to be swept away by a vibrant night of dancing, music, and Haitian street food. The best part about the event is that it’s free with a suggested donation of US$5! While in the neighborhood, pop in to Sweat Records to add to your vinyl collection and get some vegan eats.
What’s your favorite Miami neighborhood?