I have never been to a more colorful and vibrant city than Miami. After graduating college, I spent three months in Barcelona, Spain, as an au pair for a wonderful family I had met on aupairworld.com (if you know anyone who is interested in being an au pair I’d recommend this site). Shortly after I returned to the states my Spanish family moved to Miami! I’ve been wanting to visit them for the last three years and finally had the chance. I flew into Miami ahead of a big storm and enjoyed cooler weather, days mixed with sunny and shady skies, and great people watching!
My Spanish family lives on the island of Key Biscayne. They (like most residents of Key Biscayne) live a resort lifestyle in a high rise condominium. Their patio overlooks the ocean that presents beautiful views morning, noon and night.
My first morning there Lidia and I went on a bike ride through the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park which sits on the south end of the island. I was immediately impressed by all of the greenery and lush vegetation. The area was a lot more tropical than I was expecting. We rode around the island and along the coast to the lighthouse.
There were iguanas everywhere! They were sun bathing on the lawns, running in and out of the forest, and frequently almost in the way of my bike tire. It was an unexpected experience.
We stopped along the coast and were delighted when a fisherman pointed out dolphins swimming and playing a hundred feet out in the water.
We rode to the lighthouse and parked our bikes to walk along the beach. The sand in Florida is so clean and monochromatic, it makes for stunning views!
We rode back, showered and headed into downtown Miami. We had lunch and walked around the downtown. There are waterways everywhere in the greater Miami area! Such a cool setting for the city (I think as an Arizona native I especially appreciated this).
Lidia was an amazing (and energetic!) tour guide and brought me to many of the different areas over the course of my stay. We went to Coral Gables and visited the Venetian Pools and the Biltmore hotel, I would love to stay there. We also visited Coconut Grove and drove by a curious street with all Asian themed architecture. Also in Coconut Grove, there were wild peacocks roaming everywhere! I felt like I was in a zoo. At one point we had to stop in the street for a mom and her babies to cross, it was too cute.
We also visited Miami Beach, the Miami most of Hollywood depicts on TV. I loved Miami Beach! It’s such a fun place. The buildings are all art deco and everything has such panache.
Each restaurant had it’s own style and flair and the air was filled with an amazing energy. We ate lunch and people watched before walking along the beach.
Each life guard stand is decorated differently adding to the colorful vibe of the area. I was lucky because it was overcast so the weather was in the high eighties/low nineties, perfect!
Lidia also brought me to Little Havana which I thoroughly enjoyed. There’s so much culture on Calle Ocho.
We stopped into Ball and Chain and enjoyed the live Cuban music before heading next door to Azucar for scoops of fresh cuban ice cream. They have some unique flavors there.
A trip to Little Havana wouldn’t be complete without a stop at Domino Park where I enjoyed watching the older men play dominos with their friends while puffing on their Cuban cigars. What a great way to spend retirement!
I also visited the Wynwood Walls art district. I was impressed by all of the street art. Artists are commissioned to spray paint graffiti art on the walls, roll up doors and sidewalks. Again, so much color!
Wynwood Walls is such a cool site! I could have posted twenty photos from here because I was in love with every wall, but I limited myself to the ones below.
We stopped and had coffee at the cafe where we were unexpectedly witness to a Zika protest. The mosquitos are infected in the area and locals were protesting the government’s lack of action to protect the residents of Miami.
A side note on Zika, it was interesting to be there while this scare was (and still is) happening. My host mom, Lidia, had us spray bug repellent on ourselves every time we were in an area that was affected by Zika for protection. She also commented that a good family friend, who is pregnant, recently cancelled her trip to visit them because of the virus. In general though, other than the protest, I didn’t see or hear much related to Zika.
My last night there Lidia and Sergi (my Spanish parents) treated me to dinner at the Rusty Pelican with the family. They timed our dinner with the sunset and I was exposed to one of the most magical sunsets I have ever seen. Each ten minutes or so the view changed. Gorgeous!
I woke up early my final morning to enjoy my coffee on the patio while the sun rose. I loved Miami and can’t wait to go back. Thank you to my Spanish family for your generous and warm hospitality. Can’t wait to see you all again!