Miami Beach for people who don't like corporate things
October 21, 2021 3:56 PM   Subscribe

Your nerdy, semi-jaded, politically active Asian friends who enjoy the occasional club night are in town. Where do you take them?

My partner and I decided to just bite the bullet and book a week in Miami Beach in early November. She's big on beaches and people watching, I like wandering around at night and people watching, and we're looking for things to do.

The hard part of this is that we hate gentrification and fake corpo-community spaces (like Atlantic Station and PCM) and a lot of what I'm seeing recommended look and smell like those spaces (Lincoln Rd gives off that kind of vibe, for eg)

Things we do like include eating out at places that skew not-bougie (ie not this), nerd stuff (like museums and aquariums), and, well, people watching.

Things that have stood out to us that we think we might like

*The Miami Circle
*The Everglades, Key Biscayne, for tours/hiking etc
*Little Havana
*Little Haiti
*Frost Museum
*South Beach for people watching and clubbing provided there's good social distancing/vaccination protocols (thinking this is a pipe dream since ATL's real bad about this and we have a 'mandate')

Things that seem recommended a lot that we are avoiding

*Vizcaya and Deering Estate (avoiding for the same reason we avoid going to 'historic' plantations in metro ATL or the mansions of industrialists everywhere else)
*Wynwood Walls (see a lot of this in ATL already and it's super gentrifying)
*Bayside Market (see above)

We'll 1) have a car, 2) be able bodied, 3) mask up in crowded spaces and indoors always, and 4) have our second covid vaccine doses. Is there anything y'all think we might be missing here? I think if there's something like La Choloteca is in ATL, that'd be a neat thing to go to
posted by paimapi to Travel & Transportation around Miami Beach, FL (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It will be nice enough to sit outside at most bars and restaurants. My bf and I stayed in south beach recently and had a wonderful time just enjoying the beach, the hotel pool, and wandering around ocean dr. eating and drinking wherever. The people watching is great. We didn’t go to any clubs bc Covid, or see very many attractions (we did go to bayside market and it was def just a boring mall), but it was a wonderful, relaxing vacation. There are a ton of cool boutique hotels in south beach too. Our hotel (the Plymouth) had a great sushi restaurant and a dj in the lobby on weekends, so it felt like things were “happening” even when we didn’t venture out.

Sorry, I just realized you asked for fun things to do and I don’t have any specific recommendations. But I guess my advice is that it’s a nice place to just chill. 😂 The one thing I wish I’d done was have a drink or meal at the Versace mansion, but I did take pics outside of it!
posted by a.steele at 5:47 PM on October 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

the museum of contemporary art up on the north side is nice. the beaches are better the further up you go in miami. note that miami beach and miami are separated by bridges and the beach is technically a separate municipality= you have to drive/bus to go from say, south beach to little havana and back.
posted by europeandaughter at 6:01 PM on October 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

You should definitely check out the Wolfsonian! It is one of my favorite museums in Miami.
posted by msali at 7:48 PM on October 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

Just went to Superblue last weekend and it is awesome. After that we had a great lunch at Love Life Cafe which is a vegan fast-casual place. (These are in Miami itself, not Miami Beach, you will need to drive and park. We had no trouble finding on-street parking midday on a Saturday.)
posted by Daily Alice at 9:27 PM on October 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

You should definitely go to the Everglades. Our favorite access point from Miami is wandering the boardwalk of the Anhinga Trail. It's very accessible, and you can easily spend an hour or two just wandering and looking at birds, fish, and alligators. There are other trails that leave from the Royal Palm visitor center as well that take you back into the brush of the hammocks.

If you want to see a more natural beach than can be seen on Miami Beach, Bill Baggs State Park is really nice, and one of those places people who live in Miami actually go.

Coral Castle is much weirder than the standard mansion tour. It's extremely silly, but there's definitely nothing like it anywhere else.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:35 AM on October 22, 2021 [2 favorites]

I would recommend Vizcaya over the Frost Museum, frankly. Vizcaya has always been one of my favorite places in Miami, where I grew up. It was the idiosyncratic vision of a closeted gay tycoon in the early 20th century, and is a fascinating transposition of Renaissance Italianate architecture to a subtropical climate. The real attraction is not the house itself, but the surrounding environment -- a stone ship just offshore of the house on Biscayne Bay, and a lush formal garden with a labyrinth and various other beautiful features, with lots of stonework made from the local limestone. It's a quiet oasis of meditative calm in the frenetic, often aggressive milieu of Miami. When I was growing up in Miami in the '80s, they used to put on nighttime performances of Shakespeare plays in the gardens; it was magical.

As for the Frost Museum: I worked, decades ago, at its predecessor, the old Miami Museum of Science, which was actually adjacent to Vizcaya on a piece of land that had once been part of the estate. It was a cool, slightly ramshackle place, powered by the love of many dedicated people and a shoestring budget. Then it was reinvented as a gargantuan high-tech starchitect-designed touristy "experience" in downtown Miami (i.e., the Frost), turbocharged with philanthropists' money and tax dollars, but seems to have had the soul, and a lot of the scientific credibility, sucked out of it. To be fair, I've never actually been to the Frost -- but I'm going on the reports of people I trust who worked at the old museum.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:14 AM on October 22, 2021

Lincoln Road Mall, BTW, was designed in the 1950s by the famous "Googie" architect Morris Lapidus. I guess aspects of its current incarnation might be viewed as "bougie" based on the commercial tenants and the customer base, but architecturally and historically, it's an integral part of the Miami Beach landscape.

One of the things I enjoy most on South Beach is just walking along Ocean Drive in the evening (because it's too damn hot during the afternoon), looking at the restored Art Deco hotels, with all their pastel colors and neon (much of that color palette being the vision of Leonard Horowitz in the late '70s and early '80s).
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:20 AM on October 22, 2021

One more favorite Miami spot of mine: Venetian Pool.
posted by Artifice_Eternity at 9:25 AM on October 22, 2021

Seconding the Wolfsonian for sure. You might also check out the Perez Art Museum, Oolite, or the Institute of Contemporary Art. I also love Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. If you go to the Everglades, you can stop at Robert is Here for tropical fruit and milkshakes. It's definitely touristy, but you'll have the opportunity to try all kinds of tropical fruit that you might not get elsewhere. Taqueria Morelia, just up the road from Robert's, is good too. Fruit and Spice Park, also down that way, is cool too, although better in the summer when there are more trees fruiting.

If you did want to breeze through Wynwood, or somehow wind up there, you could do Zak the Baker, Panther, Gramps, and La Sandwicherie (or just go to the original in South Beach). Enriquetta's in Midtown is good for Cuban. Sabor a Peru, also nearby, is good for Peruvian.

If you go to Bill Baggs in Key Biscayne, you can also have lunch or get a drink at Lighthouse Cafe/Boater's Grill/The Cleat.

Hope this helps. Let us know how your trip goes.
posted by 6and12 at 7:54 AM on October 28, 2021 [1 favorite]

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