nothing rhymes with "miami"
June 12, 2008 12:54 PM   Subscribe

long layover in miami in late july. what should we do?

we'll be arriving in miami around 9:30am and flying out around 5:15pm on july 29. so that leaves us about 5 usable hours (it's a tuesday-- i figure we will want to beat rush hour to the airport).

where should we go? what should we do? where should we eat? is there a neighborhood we should aim for?

we like art, some shopping (especially in cool funky places), walking around and taking pictures, and will eat just about anything. not averse to just sitting around somewhere lovely and reading and taking in the view, eitehr.

the beach itself is not entirely out of the question, but we'll be on our way to a beach vacation, so it would be nice to check out some only-in-miami things.
posted by thinkingwoman to Travel & Transportation around Miami, FL (9 answers total)
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is beautiful. It's not to be missed if you are a plant lover.

I can't say anything about Miami neighborhoods, since I haven't explored much there except for South Beach. I've been stuck in traffic in Coconut Grove and it looks really cool.
posted by LoriFLA at 1:21 PM on June 12, 2008

Cab to South Beach. Lunch/drinks on Ocean drive, walk up Collins and check out the lobbies and pools in the ultra-stylish hotels (Delano, National), turn left on Lincoln road for shops and restaurants. If time, take an Art Deco tour.
posted by dzot at 1:22 PM on June 12, 2008

You must have Cuban food if you go to Miami. It is the best food in the world and is somehow never made quite correctly anywhere else.

For breakfast/brunch:

I love the Gran Paris Bakery in Little Havana. Sample the fresh pastries (I recommend the Guava Paste Pastry and the Meat Pastry), the croquettes, fresh Cuban bread with butter, and hot tiny cups of Cuban coffee. Buy a bag of their big Cuban crackers and enjoy them at snack time on your vacation with cream cheese or butter.

For lunch/early dinner:

El Rey de las Fritas is a hole in the wall, but it serves delicious hamburgers with spiced meat and she string potatoes. They also have tons of different shakes to try, most made of tropical fruits that are difficult to find in the north. I also recommend a big icy glass of Guarapo, or sugar cane juice.

For dinner on the plane:
Buy a Media Noche or Cuban Sandwich from the Versailles or from the Gran Paris Bakery.

For a snack:
Morro Castle has wonderful churros with hot chocolate. It also has some of the best tamales int he city.

Also, you should visit a Botanica and gawk at the exotic cure-alls and spell inducing candles.

If you're looking to avoid the beach you could always head for the 'glades and take an air-boat ride or hold a baby alligator.

Have fun! I am extremely jealous right now.
posted by Alison at 1:25 PM on June 12, 2008

Cab it to Versailles for Cuban food. It's 15-20 minutes from the airport. I once took a date there and after he'd had a sip of their cafe con leche, he proclaimed "Now that's sexy."

If you're hungry for breakfast, you can try Le Bouchon du Grove, easily the best breakfast I've ever had and very authentic. The Front Porch on South Beach is a close second. Awesome french toast and great for people-watching.

And bring an umbrella for the daily four o'clock thunderstorm.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 1:47 PM on June 12, 2008

Oh and for neighborhoods, I would definitely do Coral Gables and stop by The Biltmore Hotel. The Gables is a wonderfully picteresque neighborhood with gorgeous Spanish-style homes and century-old trees. Very near to both the airport and Little Havana, where you should have lunch ... at Versailles. Remember, you heard it here first.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 1:51 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

One last thing and then I'll shut up: Miami International Airport is perhaps the worst airport in the country. If you fail the competency exam to be the village idiot, you can get a job at MIA. Please, please allow yourselves extra time to get your flight out.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 1:58 PM on June 12, 2008

Response by poster: yes, i've experienced the joys of MIA many times, so we will probably plan to leave wherever we are at 2 to make our 5:15 flight. :)

keep it coming, notjustfoxybrown!

so, i'm liking the south beach itinerary, simply because it's one cab there, one cab back. any recommendations for places to eat/shop/see?
posted by thinkingwoman at 3:41 PM on June 12, 2008

Eat: Everyone loves The Van Dyke because it's right on Lincoln Road where all the good shops are. If you eat there (it's decent) you'll have your fill of other shops along Lincoln Road. The Van Dyke serves basic Americana and you can generally find something decent there. (They actually make a nice pizza.) Any cabbie can take you there.

Actually, now that I think about it, Lincoln Road is probably a good bet for you. There are galleries along the route (it's not open to car traffic), good boutiques, places to eat and if you've got your walking shoes on, you can walk to the beach. You'll need only a cab there and a cab back to the airport and if you leave around 2, you'll have plenty of time.

See: Books and Books is a great independent bookstore along Lincoln Road. (I like the one in the Gables better but this one's very nice too.)

For girlie stuff, you must go to Ricky's. The one on Miami Beach is fairly new (less than five years old) but they have everything. You need pink glitter ear powder, you say? I bet Ricky's has it. I blew a lot of money at Brownes and Co. too.

I'm actually missing Miami now, though I complained about it constantly when I lived there. I hated hurricanes, humidity, bird-sized bugs, I-95 and insurance that wouldn't cover your house when said hurricane occurred. Otherwise, it's fun.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 4:03 PM on June 12, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here's a link to the Lincoln Road site.
posted by notjustfoxybrown at 4:05 PM on June 12, 2008

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