Miami Beach for Thanksgiving Weekend
October 31, 2012 1:55 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to be in Miami Beach with my mom for Thanksgiving weekend. Any suggestions for your favorite places to go in the Miami Beach area? My mom really wants to take a day trip to the Everglades, and I'd love to find some fun twentysomething things to do.

We're planning on having a low-key-adult-children-are-awesome-because-they-can-do-fun-travel-things-for-Thanksgiving weekend. Neither of us has ever been to Miami before. We're not going to have a car, except for the one day we drive to the Everglades, so looking for suggestions for things that are either walk/bikeable from South Beach or a relatively inexpensive cab-ride.

I'd like to find some recommendations for awesome laid-back coffee shops, divey bars, delicious food, beach-wandering, drag shows and other twentysomething type activities.

My mom (late-fifties) wants to spend a day at the Everglades, eat as much seafood as possible, and she wants to go to Little Havana.

We're flying in on Thanksgiving, so any suggestions for places to get dinner that would be open?

Also, my mom wants to do an Everglades canoe trip and maybe a fan boat trip. We were planning on renting a car for a day to drive down, but any thoughts on best things to see or trails? I'm a little meh on the canoe-ing, but maybe it's great and I'd be missing out?
posted by forkisbetter to Travel & Transportation around Miami Beach, FL (11 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Everglades are awesome, so it's good that you're doing that. It's been a long time since I've done the Everglades, so I'm sorry I don't have more specific suggestions. I've never done a canoe there - I've always just done trails. Many of them are sort of built as you can't just go walking about anywhere.

If you can find a way to get to the Grove, it's my favorite part of Miami. It's old and is sort of the last remnant of hippy old-school Miami. It's close to Fairchild Botanical Gardens, which is a pretty amazing place. The Grove is not walkable or bikeable, but it might be worth the cab ride. There are lots of great divey bars there and a young crowd - more of a twenty-somethings hanging out with beers kind of thing than the beach, which is a little more intense. I really like to get pitchers at Tavern in the Grove - once OJ Simpson carded me there as a joke.

As far as the beach goes, I don't know quite as much about the bars there, but a couple of things I like you might want to check out: The Bass Museum and the Wolfsonian Museum of Thinkism are both pretty great Museums. I really like the Wolfsonian. If you're into orchestral music at all, the New World is fun to see, especially if Tilson Thomas is conducting.

I went to Buck 15 once and enjoyed myself. It's a club but it's not quite as annoying as some of the huge clubs. It was a rocking good time. Lots of people just drinking and dancing. I went with a group so we were able to buy a couple bottles of whiskey and bypass the line. But the line wasn't terribly long or anything.

Tobacco Road is another place I've gone a few times and it's pretty great. It's really old (by Miami standards). It beats some of the more blue-colored drinks in linen pants type places.

La Sandwicherie is a good place for lunch with Mom.

Probably the best thing to do on South Beach in November is to get a bottle of white wine and just sit on the beach and soak up the ocean and the people. That is the true heaven of Miami.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:17 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, and there are TONS of great Cuban places on the beach. Visit one or twenty. Get some colada and weird meat pastries. You won't regret it.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:21 PM on October 31, 2012

I love meandering on Lincoln Road. It's a pedestrian mall, outdoors. Lots of shops, cafes, etc. I like the Van Dyke Cafe, great for brunch. People watching is exceptional.

There's a bus from the airport to Miami Beach called the Airport Flyer.

For Thansgiving Dinner, the Fountainbleu will have dinner available. I would have recommended Wolfies, but that went the way of the do-do eons ago.

Joe's Stone Crab is closed on T'giving.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:32 PM on October 31, 2012

One more recommendation, apologies, as Ruthless Bunny mentioned Lincoln Road (which I agree is a lot of fun to stroll): Books and Books is a fantastic book shop you might like to visit, if you like bookstores.
posted by Lutoslawski at 2:56 PM on October 31, 2012 [1 favorite]

La Sandwicherie is highly recommended. But don't try speaking French to the guy there. He'll just grunt at you.
posted by dfriedman at 2:57 PM on October 31, 2012

BTW, I asked a question about things to do in South Beach a couple of weeks ago.
posted by dfriedman at 3:23 PM on October 31, 2012

Best answer: Club Deuce used to be delightfully divey, then it cleaned up a bit. But that still left it a lot less neon-y than most other options.

If you like beer at all you need to go to the Abbey on Lincoln Road. I hear they expanded.

Good call on going out to the everglades. Shark Valley is great this time of year; usually lots of gators sunning themselves and easy to see.
posted by phearlez at 3:45 PM on October 31, 2012

News Cafe. Gianni Versace used to frequent there, and it's just down the street from his house, which is interesting to see. I loved News Cafe, it has a very classy but laid back atmosphere, best Eggs Benedict I've ever had.
posted by waving at 4:31 PM on October 31, 2012

While in Little Havana, stop at Domino Park (some signs will say Maximo Gomez Park) for a real slice of daily life, where locals, usual older men, play dominos and chess outdoors. The same link as for Domino Park has links to other historic and cultural places to visit in Little Havana. I have to disagree on that one point with Lutoslawski's excellent list: there are some good places to have Cuban food on Miami Beach and other places in South Florida, but Little Havana is special.

For snacks on the plane on the way home if you are flying out of MIA, both Cafe Versailles and La Caretta have locations in the airport, and they are among the most popular in Little Havana.

On your way to or from the Everglades, stop and spend a while at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden which has one of the largest collections of tropical plants, including palms, in the world and is just a beautiful place to see. It's not far from Coconut Grove is you decide to stop there.

Also not far from there is Venetian Pool which is very unique: imagine if the canals of Venice were a swimming pool in the 1920s in the tropics and you get the idea.

If you opt for Venetian Pool then a nice place to stop for lunch and shopping would be either of 2 places also in Coral Gables: the Miracle Mile shopping street which also dates to the 1920s and has some nice architecture, or the new-ish Merrick Park, which is more upscale and outdoorsy and tropical, but manages to look like parts of it might be from the 1920s.

If you go to Fairchild but not Venetian Pool, try The Falls Shopping Center for lunch. It's all outdoors and filled with, you guessed it, landscaped waterfalls.
posted by Stoatfarm at 6:45 AM on November 22, 2012

The Falls was renovated a long time ago, Stoatfarm, and the water features that used to run the full length of the outdoor mall are long gone.
posted by phearlez at 6:22 PM on November 23, 2012

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great suggestions everyone!

Really enjoyed our trip to Miami Beach. We really enjoyed the hotel we stayed at, The National Hotel, which had a great pool and a classy authentic Art Deco vibe.

Also absolutely LOVED the Cuban food at this hole in the wall called Playa Cafe that was just a couple of blocks from the Beach. Nothing like getting some cafe con leche and sandwiches to go and eating at the beach.
posted by forkisbetter at 12:14 PM on December 4, 2012

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