Whether you’ve got a long lay-over, taking a day trip up from the Keys or down from Orlando, Miami simply cannot be missed, even if it is only for a few hours.
Like many cities, this tropical metropolis almost offers its visitors almost too much. With an array of districts with individual characteristics, countless shopping malls and roof-top bars and of course its famous South Beach – you’d need a lifetime to explore it in full, and boy we gave it a good try! I spent hours planning our perfect day trip. I chose our restauraunts and bars, I found the parking lots and how much they cost, I worked out our video and photo op locations and even gave us enough time to do a spot of shopping. What most people don’t expect when they’re planning the ultimate trip though, is for things to go wrong. And while the first part of the trip went perfectly, the end was a little more disappointing.
Upon arrival – it was time to eat!
And what better place than Choices Cafe, a small vegan chain with a couple of restaurants across the city. We ate at the one in Coconut Grove – a district with a local, small town feel. The food was unreal and you can read a quick review here.
We drove Downtown to the Hard Rock Cafe – Pete wanted a t-shirt!
On our way we drove past Grove Towers – famous for being featured in George Michael’s Careless Whisper video. As a self-confessed George fangirl, I can tell you that it was an overwhelming win for me!
We then headed downtown to the Hard Rock Cafe. I collect shot glasses for my step-dad and Pete wanted a Miami shirt, as it has to be one of the best Hard Rock Cafe locations, right?
You can watch my video for more footage of us approaching downtown Miami – one of the best experiences of my life so far.
We then continued to South Beach – for frozen cocktails, Art Deco and beach selfies
A completely different atmosphere awaits you at South Beach. Suddenly everyone is gorgeously carved like a Greek God, half naked, either sipping on cocktails or playing volleyball – so different to the crowds of people in Mickey Mouse t-shirts and XL Gulp cups back in Kissimmee.
I suddenly felt so out of place with my ridiculously frizzy hair (I hate to break it to ya but anti-humidity hairspray simply does NOTHING in Florida), but to be honest, everyone must have felt the same as me. The heat made me feel like I looked worse than I did. Being in the same clothes for an hour made me feel disgusting, so being sat in a car all day didn’t help my situation much.
I liked the sound of The Clevelander. An up-beat hotel with a vibrant outdoor beach bar and roof-top terrace (which wasn’t open the day we went), an amazing happy hour which I took full advantage of, and the best of all – their refreshing misty rotating fans which probably prevented me from passing out. 2000’s R&B like Ciara and Destiny’s Child were blasting out of the speakers while beautiful people drank and dined in the sunshine. It was only 5pm but the night had already started for most, that’s for sure.
We drove back Downtown – for some night-drive action and roof-top cocktails… almost
… We didn’t quite make the roof-top bar I’d been dying to go to, and it was disappointing and upsetting to say the least. We kept getting lost and accidentally driving the wrong way down one-way streets – the whole road system was confusing the hell out of both of us.
Pete was amazing driving in America. He’d never driven in another country or on the opposite side of the road and had certainly never driven an automatic. Our 14 hour (total duration) car journey was an achievement and experience in itself. But being in a huge city like Miami, at night, with a lot of road works, constant sat nav re-directions because of them and one-way-streets everywhere, we got frustrated, pissed off and a little bit scared. One-way-streets aren’t new to us, but the UK and US road systems are so different that it just turned out to be the most stressful aspect of our trip.
After literally, AN HOUR trying to find this one bar, driving around the same roads countless times, missing turnings and getting into the wrong lanes, we just gave up. We had a five hour drive back up to Kissimmee ahead of us, and just didn’t have the time nor the patience to go and enjoy it after all that. We ended up home at about 2am, I was exhausted.
The thing is, for the two days previous, we had been on driving constantly, so this last stint of the trip was perhaps just too much, and all we needed was an overnight stay in Miami to get through it – but our budget didn’t allow for a random overpriced check in somewhere potentially expensive. We drove home, leaving the city in a kind of… ‘phew – glad that’s over with’ kind of mentality.
I did still manage to get some good footage of Downtown Miami at night though, which was the main reason why I wanted to go to this roof-top bar so much. My point is, it’s not the end of the world that one aspect of the entire Florida trip didn’t go to plan. There will be other cities with other roof-top bars, and maybe this experience will just help us become more prepared.