Miami seems like a relaxing place. We have the blue skies, the long beaches, the nightclubs. The thing is, when you're driving to work in a suit, the A/C isn't working, and the drinks you had the night before are revisiting your throat, it's almost as if the parrots' squawks are mocking you, the sun is your natural enemy, and the beach is giving you the middle finger. Stop partying like a Kardashian on South Beach, take off your suit jacket, and explore a shady environmental gem hidden right near downtown Miami. Earth'n'Us Farm in Little Haiti is a sanctuary in an unexpected neighborhood. This urban paradise is a permaculture farm with dense tropical greenery, bees making honey, and organic food growing. The residents include goats, emus, chickens, and a lucky bastard who gets to live in a tree house. Check them out as you stroll on the wooden walkways that connect little picturesque houses. In this perfect natural retreat, you can get married, take a yoga class, or attend a permaculture workshop with native edibles. Sure, you live in a land known for its superficiality and nightlife, but hanging out at a sustainable farm is always way cooler than clubbing.
New Yorker Boutique Hotel
Miami is a stylish city — so stylish, in fact, an entire postwar architectural movement sprang up in the Magic City during the '50s known as Miami Modern, or MiMo. And at the forefront of the architecturally artistic uprising was Norman Giller, the legendary architect responsible for designing more than 10,000 Miami-area buildings, including the original New Yorker on Biscayne Boulevard. Designed as a traditional roadside motel in 1953, the two-story property relied on then-popular neon signs and "space-age" design to lure road trippers. Over the years, the area around the New Yorker declined, succumbing to Miami's seedy underbelly of streetwalkers and crackheads. But then a cultural revolution manifested a few years ago, and the MiMo district rehabilitated itself with the help of Miami's artistic community. It's quickly becoming one of the city's most sought-after neighborhoods for its retro design and overall 305 history. Last year, New Yorker owner Shirley Figueroa and her husband Walter renovated the property and transformed it into a boutique hotel — a damn good one. They spruced up the exterior with traditional white paint, redesigned the rooms for a more contemporary feel, and outfitted the place with some subtle pieces of pop art. They added a free breakfast buffet and complimentary Wi-Fi — plus, most important, they made it affordable. Summer rates start at just $65, and you're a short cab ride from everywhere. It's the perfect off-the-beaten-path getaway for the anti-tourist — the person who wants to eat, sleep, and breathe the real Miami.
Chuck a Frisbee from the east edge of Belle Isle, and if you have a halfway decent arm, you'll hit South Beach. So how can a neighborhood this underrated, this cool, and this historic be hiding in plain sight of Miami-Dade's most famous hood? Belle Isle, the easternmost tip of the man-made Venetian Islands, was once home to retail zillionaire J.C. Penney's exclusive estate. Today, unlike its stuffy, rich-kid siblings, it marries the Venetian's quiet, exclusive vibe with a more bohemian, South Beach cool. Sure, there are million-dollar luxury lofts in the eye-popping Grand Venetian, but there are also charming, squat waterfront apartments that once housed military barracks and quiet, sandy lanes with palm-shaded one-bedroom houses. The island's center is a newly renovated park, and a footpath on the perimeter leads to clear-water views of Biscayne Bay reefs. Just to top it off, Belle Isle is home to hipster paradise the Standard, an über-chic hotel with South Beach's best spa, an Anthropologie-approved lounge, and the Lido Restaurant, a vegetarian-friendly eatery with ridiculous bayside table views. Next time you're in SoBe, take the hike across the bridge — your new favorite neighborhood has been hiding in the middle of the bay all this time.
You see her every time you travel on the MacArthur Causeway to and from Miami Beach. She's so popular that when TV networks broadcast big games featuring the Heat, Hurricanes, Dolphins, or Marlins, she gets a lot of air time, showcasing her immense beauty as she basks alongside the shimmering waters of Biscayne Bay. Some 4.1 million people a year stop by to say hello to her on their way to the Caribbean aboard whimsical vessels straight out of a sun-drenched daydream. And she's quite the workhorse, pumping out an annual 6.8 million tons of cargo from around the globe. This gal is quite the moneymaker too, creating an economic impact of approximately $17 billion for Miami-Dade. She is the enchantingly beautiful Port of Miami.
The last thing you think you'd want to see in our-shit-don't-stink and don't-park-pickup-trucks-overnight-in-our-city Coral Gables is a museum celebrating how wonderful, rich, and cultural the City Beautiful is (even the town's moniker is annoyingly narcissistic). But you'd be wrong. Turns out the recently opened Coral Gables Museum, which was built in the city's old police and fire station, has exactly what the Gables so often tries to fabricate: legitimate history and great architecture. Built as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) in 1939, the museum boasts a coral-rock façade and architectural details, such as busts of two real-life Gables firefighters, on par with the most ornate buildings in the area. And even better are the historical exhibits on display inside a structure that itself tells the story of the city's rise to prominence — which wasn't always pretty. As well as housing firemen and fuzz, the building also held the city's first court, witnessed the murder of a police officer, and suffered through a fire that almost killed prisoners. How's that for history? After the police and fire departments relocated to a larger and uglier structure in 1975, the building went through a number of uses before city officials realized it would best serve as a museum. They added a 3,000-square-foot wing and a 5,000-square-foot plaza, which will feature traveling exhibits and open-air concerts, respectively. The museum's location, adjacent to Books & Books and across the street from the new Coral Gables Art Cinema, might make this block the single most culturally significant spot in South Florida.
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Ever since he hung up his shingle in the late '70s, Fredric Snitzer has been a driving force behind the South Florida contemporary art scene. The graybeard dealer and Wynwood pioneer has long been a mentor to homegrown artists. He also has been a staple at Art Basel since it parachuted into town a decade ago and remains the sole Miami representative on the über-exclusive Swiss fair's selection committee. Ground zero for the sizzling Second Saturday arts crawl, Snitzer's Wynwood gallery boasts top-drawer talent, including big names such as Hernan Bas, Bert Rodriguez, Luis Gispert, and Naomi Fisher. The kingmaker's exhibits have always been edgy and polished and often leave viewers' heads spinning. An artist himself, Snitzer has always given those in his stable the freedom to follow their vision without caving to the bottom line. Not to say Snitzer's reward hasn't been big. He is a shrewd businessman who is both respected and envied by competitors who covet his blue-chip list of collectors and willingness to endure long waiting lists to snag his artists' works. But at an age when others at the top of their game might slow down or spend more time on the golf course than at the office, Snitzer is still punching the clock and nurturing emerging talent, such as Michael Vasquez, and regularly selling out entire shows. Thanks to Snitzer's homegrown hustle and uncanny eye for talent, Miami is now a serious contender on the international stage.
If you haven't been to the Bird Road Art District, you're missing out on the walk that does away with galleries and takes you into the working studios of two dozen professional artists who have turned an industrial strip near train tracks into a hotbed of Latin American art. See the paint-dripped warehouse walls where their work is created, and the sketches, tools, and muses that inspire them. From live, custom glassblowing at Matthew Miller's Nickel Glass studio, to massive sculpting at Esteban Blanco's space, radical art at Luis Fuentes's, provocative installations at Ray Azcuy's, and Latin expressionism at Mano Fine Arts, you'll find a full range of emerging and established artists hard at work. Free parking, a complimentary shuttle service looping through the district, food trucks, and free wine make for a convenient adventure in a creatively thriving district. Check it out every third Saturday of the month.
Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Better not. For starters, no one appreciates being called stifling and sticky. Besides, Miamians aren't down with such poetic metaphors, right? Wrong. O, Miami, the inaugural monthlong poetry festival, proved otherwise, which is a big deal for a city whose reputation as a party town eclipses any literary scene. Organized by University of Wynwood director P. Scott Cunningham and self-proclaimed "culturologist" Pete Borrebach, O, Miami had a mission to make sure each of Miami's 2.5 million residents encountered a poem during April 2011. And considering the ambitious street-level and highbrow programming, we think the festival came pretty close to its goal. O, Miami brought in U.S. Poet Laureate W.S. Merwin, National Book Award finalist Anne Carson, the Merce Cunningham dancers, Brooklyn Rail publisher Phong Bui, and Broken Social Scene's Andrew Whiteman, among others. The organizers also employed a couple of guerrilla tactics to expose the uninterested to great verse — dropping biodegradable poems from an airplane over Sweatstock, printing poetry on menus, and broadcasting it on DMV monitors. O, Miami poets drove around Miami in a red Ferrari and shouted verse from megahorns. And when über-star James Franco was delayed for an appearance alongside his poetry professor Tony Hoagland, a remarkable thing happened. The audience's visible anxiety over the 127 Hours actor's absence soon changed to rapt attention as Hoagland read his own verse, which eulogized everything from blowjobs to Britney Spears.
Ocean Drive has two very distinct personalities. On one hand, she's a noisy tourist trap, filled with giant mojitos, food that tastes cheap yet costs $100, and too many bodies trying to navigate teeny-tiny sidewalks. But look up and you'll find some of the most intriguing architecture in the world, dating back to a time in the not-so-distant past filled with flappers in fringe and men in top hats and tails. The Art Deco Welcome Center provides daily iPod-led audio tours of these architectural gems. For a mere $15 (the price of one cocktail), you can spend the entire day exploring these pastel wonders (though the tour itself runs about an hour and a half). For added enjoyment, grab a beverage and some friends and imagine what the Miami Beach of the jazz age must have been like.
South Florida Circus Art School
Despite what you've heard, the best place to fly in the 305 is not Miami International Airport, Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport, Richards Field, Opa-locka Executive Airport, or even Homestead General Aviation Airport. Nope, the best place to soar midair is at the South Florida Circus Art School in North Miami Beach. You still might have to take off your shoes, but rest assured that no clowns will frisk you or confiscate your liquids. Instead, master-level circus performers teach contortion, trapeze, aerial fitness, and flying yoga. Learn how to glide through the air using a single strip of fabric and no safety line. Spiral, drop, or climb higher and lower using only key grips and your killer core strength. Laurie Allen, who owns and runs SFCAS, says she acquired her first crop of instructors at a Cirque du Soleil audition. She also says that because circus performers practice every day, you never know which visiting big-top artists will be strung up next to you. But don't let that intimidate you. The classes are filled with just as many fitness freaks as those collecting Barnum & Bailey paychecks.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®