MOOD-BASED TRAVEL: Miami Beach
In the latest in his series exploring how to experience travelling as an antidote to your mood, Kyle Taylor gives his take on Miami.
Mood: A World Away
Often times it feels as if the world is a flaming dumpster fire. Every day there’s a new existential crisis facing humanity. The Amazon is burning. Greenland’s ice is melting ten times faster than we thought. Trump wants to purchase Greenland. Greenland doesn’t want to be purchased. And it somehow gets worse from there.
Every now and then, you need to recharge your batteries for the next round of crazy. Miami Beach is the place to do it. Sublimely stuck in a time warp of sorts, it seems to perpetually be the height of 1990’s cool in this beach oasis. If you need a moment to recover from this world, Miami Beach is your destination.
What to expect:
A sliver of land off the east coast of southern Florida, Miami Beach is home to miles and miles of sandy beaches lined with some of the world’s most spectacular Art Deco buildings. It’s HOT here. Incredible hot. Upwards of 35 degrees all day and 28 or 29 at the “coldest” part of the evening. And it’s humid. Like walking through a wall of hot water all day and all night.
But the city is used to it and designed accordingly. Fans mist you as you dine al fresco. Large awnings keep you out of direct sunlight. Rooftop pools abound to cool you off and, of course, you’re never more than a few hundred yards from the pristine ocean. The cuisine is worldly with a spotlight on Latin dishes – particularly Cuban classics. The tragic assassination of Gianni Versace in 1997 shook the city and it has been somewhat stagnant since though Art Basel and the emergence of the Wynwood district has breathed new life into a city that is now well and truly on the rise.
It’s all about the beach in Miami Beach and there’s no better way to start your time a world away then on South Beach. At sunrise and for the first few hours of the day, you’ll have miles of sand to yourself and it won’t be debilitatingly hot just yet. Follow the sea from Ocean Road and 10th all the way to Lincoln Road and take in each unique Art Deco lifeguard tower. An early morning swim in the bathtub like water should also be on the list.
At Lincoln Road head inland, stopping at South Beach Munchies for Cuban coffee and breakfast before having a little mooch of the shops that line this pedestrianized thoroughfare. From here hop in a taxi or order a lift headed for Wynwood Walls – the centrepiece of one of the world’s best outdoor art districts. The hundreds of murals and flashily painted buildings – each completely unique – will take your breath away and the sauntering pace will keep you completely relaxed. If you’re peckish, pop into the Wynwood Diner for some classic American diner fare but skip dessert as a further wander through the neighborhood will take you to Mr Kream – the only ice cream shop I know of that has a live DJ spinning tunes while you devour a mountainous cookie Sunday.
It’s back in a taxi now to the Lummus Park section of Ocean Drive. You can hit the sand for an afternoon swim and lay, take in Versace’s mansion and wander the strip to admire the absolutely spectacular Art Deco buildings. Whatever you choose, don’t forget to call in at The Palace on a Sunday for near-constant drag shows. There’s even a swimming pool and bar on the roof for when you want a break from the queens. For those after a less-clothed beach option, try Haulover beach between towers 12 and 16, which is fully clothing optional.
The full Miami Beach experience requires a stay in an Ocean Avenue Rt Deco hotel masterpiece. Hotel Breakwater is my pick. Every piece of furniture, every fork and every photo will let you live a fully immersed Art Deco fantasy and the pool deck is a welcome respite when the strip gets hectic.
The best option to stop and think is any stretch of sand you can find. Listen to the waves while you watch the beachgoers crisp themselves in the baking sun, truly a world away from anything you could ever deem “real.”
While the city thrives on its spectacular beaches, the night scene is dominated by mega-clubs that stay open until 5 am.
First, of course, you’ll need to fuel up and there is no better place to do it than Yardbird Southern Table and Bar. Oozing with cool, this modern take on southern staples has nailed that contemporary cool cuisine vibe. The fried chicken wedge is to die for and something you won’t find outside the USA. If you do want some Cuban fare, Little Havana is an essential pit stop but beware – it’s very touristy and may take you out of your “world away” headspace.
The late-night options are world-class and world-famous, with Liv, Basement or Story the top spots to dance the night away. Special mention goes to gay club Twist, a mixed crowd enjoying the labyrinth of bars and dance floors that weave inside and outside in a way that only a hot-weather city would allow.
Whatever you decide, you’re certain to have a rum-fueled night to remember (or not).