Wekiwa Springs State Park

Wake up early, bust out the Bustelo and whip up a colada to prime yourself for the four-hour drive to a blissful oasis in the middle of Florida. Wekiwa Springs State Park in Apopka is Orange County's longest-running attraction, which was providing locals and tourists alike a place to distract themselves in a fantastical setting long before Disney World came into existence. Emerald springs feed the Wekiwa River and lush tropical hammocks that are home to a wondrous wildlife habitat. Take a lazy canoe ride downstream or gallop on horseback along miles of trails. When you've had enough exploring, cool off in the park's namesake natural spring. By the time Wekiwa closes at sundown, you'll be ready for a tired ride home.

Just south of Tampa on Florida's west coast lies St. Petersburg, a little city with a big art and beer scene. About three and a half hours from Miami, downtown St. Pete's is rife with museums, restaurants, nightlife, and a new pier with a giant tiki bar at the end! There are a number of hotels, but the Vinoy is the city's crown jewel — a grand pink palace right on the water. Once you're settled, visit the Dalí Museum, home to over 2,400 works of art by the surrealist master; you can even chat with a virtual Dalí while you're there. The city is also home to the Chihuly Collection, featuring sculptures by renowned glass artist Dale Chihuly. When you've had your fill of art, stroll the new St. Petersburg Pier to the end and stop for a Sundowner at Pier Teaki. Doc Ford's Rum Bar & Grille, also on the Pier, is a great choice for a waterfront dinner. On Saturday morning, head over to the Saturday Morning Market and stock up on fresh veggies, handmade pastas, honey, artisan cheeses, and fresh flowers. Later, escape the afternoon heat with a visit to a brewery in the Edge District; just a few miles from downtown, this neighborhood can only be described as St. Pete's Wynwood, with over half a dozen breweries, art galleries and a giant dog-friendly bar called (what else?) the Dog Bar. Grab a bite at the Galley, a nautical-themed pub back in downtown, before checking out the bars along First Avenue. On Sunday, stop at Black Crow Coffee before heading home.

Sometimes you just want to get away — but not too far away. Sure, there's always Miami Beach, Key Biscayne, or someplace else with lots of sand and proximity to the ocean. But why not indulge yourself like a local? Plan a staycation in Coral Gables. Book a stay at the Biltmore Hotel (1200 Anastasia Avenue; biltmorehotel.com), one of the oldest hotels in South Florida, and schedule a service or two at the spa. (We want you to feel properly pampered.) For dining and nighttime entertainment, head to Miracle Mile. No vacation is complete without a little shopping and some, you know, culture, so plan a visit to the Coral Gables Museum (285 Aragon Ave.; coralgablesmuseum.org) and do a little damage at the Shops at Merrick Park (358 San Lorenzo Ave.; shopsatmerrickpark.com). Spend an afternoon at the Venetian Pool (2701 De Soto Blvd.; venetianpool.com; see "Best Pool") or taking in a flick at the Coral Gables Art Cinema (260 Aragon Ave.; gablescinema.com). Browse the shelves at one of the best bookstores anywhere, Books & Books (265 Aragon Ave.; booksandbooks.com). Oh, and check to see if anything's playing at GableStage (1200 Anastasia Ave.; gablestage.org) and consider adding a night of magical Miami theater to your itinerary!

Flamingo Campground
Photo courtesy of Bear Mountain Inn

Camping in the swampy and buggy South Florida Everglades sounds intense, but Flamingo Campground makes the experience easy. Flamingo is located on the southernmost tip of the Florida peninsula within the Everglades National Park and is just an hour and 45 minutes away from Miami central. Various amenities and activities offered by Flamingo are enticing for experienced and amateur campers. If camping in a tent isn't your thing, the campground offers glamping-style eco-tents furnished with beds, plug-ins, and lamps over a boardwalk to keep you away from mud and bugs. Campers can get down with nature by renting kayaks, canoes, bikes, or boats to explore the swampy canals and Florida Bay. Currently under construction, the latest addition of Flamingo Campground will soon offer one and two-bedroom lodging with kitchenettes and balconies, plus a full-service indoor restaurant and bar that will be open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Pérez Art Museum Miami
Photo by MannyofMiami.com

Sure, Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is filled with beautiful and thought-provoking artworks, But the entertainment doesn't stop there. Go for the art and stay for the people-watching. The guy who places his cell phone across the room and sets the camera timer in the hopes of catching the perfect oh-just-me-looking-at-some-art photo for the 'Gram. The girl who'd much rather be at Club Space but stepped in to grab a few pics to look cultured. (Whatever that means, amirite?) The person actually interested in the art who silently reads all the placards before gazing deeply at the painting. The mom who's trying desperately to keep her young kids occupied. For those who enjoy people-watching, PAMM is the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. All that, and the museum is a veritable flytrap for tourists. Tourists!

Whether you've spent your whole life in Miami or are a recent transplant, there's no denying the Magic City moves to the beat of an unseen Cuban rhythm. The Cuban flavor is everywhere — from the people to the food to the art. If you're looking to enchant a potential bae, there's no better place for a first date than Little Havana. There are options galore depending on the type of date you want to have. Still testing the waters and don't want to blow your budget? Go for a free, self-guided walking tour of Calle Ocho. How about more of a mid-tier first date? Start the evening with drinks and a bite at Old's Havana (1442 SW Eighth St.; oldshavana.com; see "Best Mojito"), then go dancing at one or more of the various bars along the strip. What? You say this is an OTP (one true pair) audition? Make a day of it! Catch a flick at Tower Theater (1508 SW Eighth St.; towertheatermiami.com; see "Best Art-House Cinema"), engage in a little people-watching at Domino Park with some ice cream from Azucar (1503 SW Eighth St.; azucaricecream.com) in hand, have dinner (see above), and end your day with drinks at Guantanamera (1465 SW Eighth St., #105; see "Best Latin Club") while enjoying a hand-rolled cigar.

In July, the Miami Herald opined that Wynwood has "lost its hipster crown," LawnStarter having declared Fort Lauderdale the fourth-best city for hipsters. (Who's going to tell the Herald it's been years since hipsters thought of Wynwood as cool?) What's Miami's true hipster epicenter? That would be the Upper Eastside. Thanks to (semi-)affordable rents and oh-so-hip businesses, the area is popular with in-the-know residents. But what sets it apart is the Biscayne Corridor, where kitschy, neon-lit motels dot the landscape and a major thoroughfare manages to feel intimate. (Once Biscayne Boulevard reaches the North Miami city limits, it becomes a six-lane monstrosity and all bets are off.) You can take a gastronomic journey on the strip with stops at the likes of El Bagel, Phuc Yea, Cafe Kush, Tigre, Chica, and Ms. Cheezious, or visit hangouts like the Vagabond Hotel, the Selina Miami Gold Dust, and, a teensy bit off the boulevard on 79th Street, the Anderson. By the way, Herald: Everyone knows the best hipster cities are the ones clickbaity sites aren't writing about.

Connecting Miami's bustling mainland with the quieter Key Biscayne, the Rickenbacker Causeway offers some of the most magical — and peaceful — views of the city. Accessible by car, bike, or your own two feet, the five-mile roadway is mere minutes away from the Magic City's clogged byways and crowded bars and clubs. Run along the Rickenbacker Trail and admire Miami's famous beaches, palm trees, and Biscayne Bay. Along the route, you'll see the city in all its glory: its jagged skyline, sparkling waters and the occasional kilo washing ashore.

When a South Floridian spots a summertime Instagram post from a well-traveled acquaintance boasting of a trip to Greece or Thailand or the South Seas, we experience not a single pang of envy — only pity. After all, the Atlantic Ocean is our fricking backyard. No jet lag, no currency exchange, no muss, no fuss. With mile after mile of accessible coastline from Key Biscayne to Miami Beach to Sunny Isles, the Atlantic provides a natural air conditioner to keep cool during our otherwise impossibly sweltering summer months.

South Pointe Park
Photo by Bruno Fontino / Courtesy of the GMCVB – MiamiandBeaches.com

Anyone who likes to be stoned and has been to South Pointe Park can tell you that South Pointe Park is an excellent place to be stoned. The views of downtown and Brickell over shimmering Biscayne Bay is the stuff of dreams, and there's an ever-present cool breeze, even on sweltering summer days. On Wednesday and Sunday evenings, however, something special is added to the already serene experience. AcroYoga is a portmanteau of "acrobatics" and "yoga," and it looks like it sounds. The park is filled with scantily clad people in excellent shape, effortlessly lifting each other and contorting their bodies. As the sun sets over the skyline across the bay, acoustic guitars, bongos, maracas, and harmoniums are played for jam sessions centered around Hare Krishna chants. Roll a joint, pick up an instrument, maybe try out AcroYoga for yourself if you're feeling limber. Or just sit back, people-watch, and wonder where your munchies will take you for dinner. It's casual, free, and 420-friendly.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®