Exploring the Miami Less-Traveled: Under-the-Radar Experiences in South Florida
Image source: Timothy Valentine on Flickr
Every sporting event, film, or television show set in Miami comes packaged with the go-to-intro: a collage of stunning South Beach shots, including Art Deco architecture, white-sand beaches, bikini-clad women, rollerblading residents and other images of paradise.
While that scene is lovely (and for the most part accurate), the lesser-traveled paths of Miami offer just as much to see, do, taste and enjoy. Here are a few things to discover off the beaten path in Miami.
Marlins Park — Little Havana
When LeBron James made his decision to take his “talents to South Beach,” he was geographically mistaken. American Airlines Arena, home of the Heat, is located in Downtown Miami. Be that as it may, he’s back in Ohio, and there’s a new king ready to reign. His name is Giancarlo Stanton of the Miami Marlins, and he can claim the crown with his freshly inked 13-year, $325 million contract. Yep. That’s the largest contract ever awarded to any athlete in North America.
Come see this beast of a man pummel baseballs at state-of-the-art Marlins Park. Built in 2012, it is the newest stadium in Major League Baseball. It’s gorgeous, has great views of the field from every seat, a retractable roof for those sunny Miami days, air conditioning for those frequent too-sunny Miami days, and plenty of things to do if you don’t know what a 4-6-3 double play is. Feel free to post up all game at the Budweiser Balcony and Bar and take in amazing views of Downtown Miami while the cool ocean breeze wafts in through the open glass sidings. Or dine and drink at the outpost of South Beach staple The Clevelander, featuring a swimming pool open to all customers.
Pro Tip: If you prefer to eat before the game, check out La Cameronera on West Flagler for some amazingly fresh, fried seafood.
Our next stop is Wynwood, home to all things drinks. Beer, cocktails, and coffee are all enjoying a resurgence, as is Wynwood — Miami’s up-and-coming art district. Once a dilapidated neighborhood of empty gang-grafittied warehouses, Wynwood has been cultivated as an artists’ haven and hip spot for all. Check it out now while it’s still somewhat off the beaten path.
Wynwood Brewing — (best beer)
Established in 2011, Wynwood Brewing is Miami’s first craft beer brewery. With strong connections to Wynwood’s current art scene and even stronger connections to its Puerto Rican community of the 70s and 80s, it’s a must-visit when in the neighborhood. Wynwood Brewing often holds community events, so you can enjoy your beer with some locals or grab a growler to go. Make sure to try Wynwood’s Great American Beer Festival gold medal-winning Pop’s Porter.
Pro Tip: The brewery offers tours on Saturday and Sunday at 1 p.m., but it’s first come, first served, with a maximum of 10 people.
Gramps — (best cocktail)
Gramps advertises three things in block lettering above its main entrance: Air conditioning, cold beer, and cocktails. In Miami, the first two are always easily accessible, but only recently has the city acquired the kind of first-rate cocktail scene it deserves. Gramps fills this need in Wynwood. Opened in 2012 with the help of NYC cocktail bar Mother’s Ruin, Gramps has the pedigree to produce killer drinks. The bar routinely hosts events, live music of all sorts, and DJs spinning for a crowd that likes to imbibe and enjoy.
Pro Tip: Don’t worry if you have one too many, as there’s almost always a food truck or two parked outside, often times Miss Cheezious, voted Miami’s best.
Panther — (best coffee)
Coffee was, until recently, in even shorter supply in Miami than good cocktails. Yes, Cuban coffee is amazing and ubiquitous. But apart from that, Starbucks was probably your only hope. Now Panther is making some of the country’s best coffee, let alone Miami’s. The owner hails from Portland, Oregon, bringing the Pacific Northwest’s famed coffee culture with him. All of Panther’s coffee is roasted in-house, and the shop’s expert baristas offer a variety of preparation styles. For those folks out there that think Cuban coffee is the only thing that can get them going for a night out, you should know that a small drip coffee has more caffeine than an espresso shot. Prove it to yourself by ordering Panther’s incredibly robust cold brew coffee, and see if your heart doesn’t start pumping.
Pro Tip: There’s also a location in Sunset Harbour if you need a Miami Beach pick-me-up closer to the Hilton Cabana Miami Beach.
Club Space — Downtown
Speaking of pumping, Club Space has seen a fist or two do its thing since opening its doors in 2000. That was back when electronic dance music wasn’t known by every single person on the planet. Since then, Space has hosted some of the best DJs in the world: Tiësto, Avicii, and David Guetta, to name just a few. Danny Tenaglia famously played a 20-hour set(!) at the venue — totally legal thanks to Club Space’s 24-hour liquor/operating license. It’s well-known that the party doesn’t stop with the sun at this Downtown hotspot, which routinely closes as late as 2pm. Space is one of those places you have to go to once in your life. When you take the plunge, be prepared to go hard.
Pro Tip: Check Instagram for a promoter to help you skip the notoriously long lines.
While South Beach will always be synonymous with Miami, hopefully you now have enough incentive to take your travels away from the well-worn path.