by Rachael Alexandra
Ah Miami, the Magic City! A sunny playground paradise for the rich and famous, its sparkling coastline bedecked with some of the hottest hotels, restaurants and clubs in the world. And for those who find themselves desperately searching for an excuse when that one friend texts you on Friday ready to take on every club on Collins Ave., even though you’ve already planned a chill night at home with your perfectly curated Netflix watchlist and the 5 face masks you bought at ULTA on your lunch break, keeping up with this seaside social scene can sometimes feel exhausting. Luckily, there’s no shortage of beautiful and diverse spots to explore in the Miami-area. Here are 10 great places to recharge and get lost in your own delightful musings:
1. Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM)
Located in Downtown Miami’s Museum Park and overlooking Biscayne Bay, the PAMM features contemporary art collections of the 20th and 21st centuries. It’s also famous for it’s lush hanging gardens and sustainable building design. The PAMM offers great programming, daily tours, and a steady calendar of events. Most importantly, admission is free on every second Saturday of the month. If you live in the area, plan to stick around for a visit to the Frost Museum of Science next door. Don’t spend your lunch money on parking fees; you can arrive via the Metromover’s Omni Loop at the Museum Park Station.
2. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
With over 3,400 different plant species, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a true plant lover’s dream! This flora wonderland blossomed in the 1930’s from the shared vision of notable Florida figures Dr. David Fairchild, Col. Robert H. Montgomery, Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Charles Crandon and William Lyman Phillips. (Seriously you guys, learn your Florida landscape history!) Today, this 83-acre botanic garden is recognized both locally and internationally for its conservation efforts. Make sure to stop by the Wings of the Tropics butterfly exhibit, explore the Tropical Plant Conservatory and Rare Plant House and break for lunch at the Glasshouse Café. Fairchild also offers guided walking tours, tram rides and a series of special events throughout the year. Check out the latest blooms here.
3. Books & Books in Coral Gables
Wait, bookstores still exist in 2019? Yes! — and, in my opinion, this is one of the best you’re going to find here in Miami. With a great collection of authors stacked tightly from floor to ceiling, a vegan/vegetarian friendly café, well-curated calendar of readings and live music on weekends, this is a cozy spot to nurse a glass of wine and lose all sense of time. For a post- book binge treat, grab a red velvet cupcake at Mischa’s and a Midnight Haiku B-10 tea at Small Tea just a few doors down.
4. Greynolds Park
Once a former rock quarry in the 30’s and a popular site for the peace movement of the 60’s, this beautiful 250-acre public park, filled with its mangrove forests and tropical hardwood hammocks, is today considered a historic site and the county’s second oldest park in its system. Greynolds Park is most famous for its iconic observation tower and mound, known as “The Castle”, as well as the old stone boathouse and bridges along its lagoon. This park also features trails, playgrounds, picnic shelters, kayaking/canoeing, nature tours and a nine-hole golf course. Whether you’re looking for a great place to get active and explore natural habitats, catch up on journal entries under a lush tree canopy, or simply turn off your phone and disconnect after a long work week, Greynolds Park is a treasured escape from the busy world just outside its walls.
5. Wynwood Art Walk (Second Saturdays)
Alright, this one can be a bit overwhelming, but still worth it. Once a working-class warehouse and garment district, Wynwood is now known as one of the trendiest neighborhoods and arts destinations in Miami. While recent years have seen the addition of more high-end retail, restaurants and residential developments, this district is a great place to explore some unique art, especially during Art Walk (Second Saturdays). Check out the vibrant and stunningly elaborate murals featured inside Wynwood Walls and wander through art galleries like GGA Gallery and Area 23 for an after-hours peak at exhibits. Try not to spend your entire paycheck on the local market vendors and delicious food trucks stationed throughout the event. Grab a drink at some of Wynwood’s less pretentious bars like Gramps or Wynwood Brewing Company (their La Rubia blonde ale is a local favorite), and end at Coyo Taco for a late-night snack. There are lots of unique restaurants and shops in the area to explore outside of Second Saturdays, many of which are on the high end, so you’ll definitely want to budget and reserve ahead before your next visit.
6. Everglades National Park
Here in South Florida, we’re lucky to be surrounded by some of the most beautiful natural areas and unique ecosystems in the world, the largest of which is Everglades National Park. If you’re looking for an all day or overnight escape and aren’t afraid of losing cell service, then you’ll absolutely love this national park. The best time for a visit is during dry season (roughly November to March) and there are several entrances and visitors centers to explore. Set out on a 15-mile bike ride at Shark Valley and make sure to stop at the Observation Tower halfway through the trail loop for some incredible views. Spend a night camping under a starry sky at the Flamingo Campground or, if you’re even more adventurous, the backcountry sites only accessible by water. Plan a day full of bird watching, kayak/canoe trails, guided tours, programs and more. Just make sure to check the website or contact the park for daily alerts and always remember — don’t feed the gators!
7. Coconut Grove (The Grove)
Just south of Downtown nestled against Biscayne Bay lives one of Miami’s oldest neighborhoods. Coconut Grove, more commonly known as The Grove, is a great place for those who recharge best while casually shopping and brunching their way down cozy tree- lined streets. There are plenty of trendy boutiques in The Grove like Market and Golden Bar, and don’t forget to visit spots like Maya Hatcha, Celestial Treasures or This & That Shop for more unique finds. Grab a drink and bite to eat at favorites like Greenstreet Cafe, Peacock Garden Bistro, Glass & Vine and Ariete. You can even catch a performance by the Florida Shakespeare Theatre at The Barnacle Historic State Park or, if you’re feeling particularly adventurous, take a sailing class at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club. Make sure to plan ahead for special events like the annual Arts Festival.
8. HistoryMiami Museum
Spend an afternoon deep diving into the area’s past at HistoryMiami Museum. Learn about the Tequesta natives, Flagler’s railway, the Cuban exodus and more at the museums permanent exhibit, Tropical Dreams: A People’s History of South Florida. Current and upcoming features include the Whitman Family Gallery, History & Ourselves interactive exhibit, and Embracing the Lens: The BlackFlorida Project. You can also browse the archive collection at the museum’s Research Center (by appointment only). Admission rates are reasonable and HistoryMiami offers Free Family Fun Days on the second Saturday of each month. If you’ve got time to spare, make your way a couple blocks east to Atlantis Cafe and treat yourself to a cortadito and medianoche.
9. Crandon Park
Operating as a coconut plantation in the 40’s, this land was donated by the family of William John Matheson on the promise that it would serve as a public park. Today, Crandon Park is a top destination for locals and tourists year round, offering two miles of sandy beach, pristine natural areas and world-class facilities. Grab that book you’ve been itching to open and spend a relaxing day laying out and picnicking in the sun. Bicycle, kayak, canoe and kiteboard rentals, as well and snorkeling and nature tours, are available for those looking to add more activity to their day. Embark on a leisurely walk or bike ride through the northern Bear Cut Nature Preserve and southern Crandon Gardens, former site of what is now Zoo Miami. Get a (literal) feel of local marine life exploring the touch tank at the Biscayne Nature Center and even take a ride on the historic carousel by the the sea. Crandon Park also offers a world-class tennis center, championship golf course and a wildly popular marina.
10. ARTECHOUSE Miami
ARTECHOUSE Miami first opened its doors in late 2018, one year after its birth in Washington, DC and preceding a third location in NYC’s Chelsea Market. This contemporary digital art gallery, with it’s techy interactive exhibits, is designed and curated for the Instagram age. LA- based Turkish artist Refik Anadol’s exhibit titled “Infinite Space” is currently on view and aims to explore “memories and dreams through the mind of a machine by using data sets ranging from human memories, photographs of Mars, cultural archives and sea surface activity as data sculptures and digital paintings.” Tickets are $25 a person for a pre-reserved time slot, which is just about what you’d expect to pay in South Beach for an hour’s worth of trendy social media content.