This is my part II of “Things to do in Florida” focusing on the Southern half of Florida. Since my last entry was super long I’m going to narrow it down to just a few places. Also because I don’t know too much about Southern Florida. That being said, please add your favorite places to go in the comments below!
Miami Aye, aye, aye Caliente!!
In the words of my very confused boyfriend upon arriving into Miami International airport “why is everyone speaking Spanish?! Aren’t we in America?” His blatant ignorance aside, he has a point. Miami is what we native Floridians refer to as “North Cuba”. Miami has a long history of being home to Cuban immigrants/refugees and Latin Americans as well. This has shaped and molded Miami into what we know it today. People will speak to you in Spanish before they speak in English, pretty cool, right? I don’t go to Miami very often, but when I do I feel like I’m walking straight into a movie set. Anyway moving on…
If you find yourself in Miami it should be obvious but you MUST go to South Beach and walk along the strip. The beaches are pretty swell, ha-ha see what I did there? Okayyy… You’ll also see beautiful 50’s style architecture and souped up luxury cars. The people also seem to become more beautiful in Miami, that’s always fun if you like to people watch like I do.
If you’re a foodie, like me, then you’re in for some authentic Latin food. You’ll think you’re actually in latin America when you eat in Miami. There are so many restaurants that you’ll find virtually anything you’re in the mood for. One of the places I can recommend for some authentic Cuban food is called Versailles. Just prepare to wait if you want to sit down, we waited almost an hour! If you’re in a hurry then they also have the shop next door where you can get coffee and baked goods, oh and my favorite, Cubanos!
If you’re not scared of driving through some sketchy alleyways you’ll find some neat street art, those who follow my blog will know I love street art. To learn more about this area, it’s called Wynwood walls and it looks like you can actually take guided tours. When I went we just drove around ourselves.
Oh, and don’t forget the Miami nightlife! Miami has some of the hottest night clubs in Florida. You just have to meet some locals and they will tell you where to go. Along with that, we got around by using Uber and I would highly recommend it!!! Miami can be expensive, especially when it comes to parking! If you hop in an Uber, you’ll most likely meet someone who knows where the party is at!
The Florida Everglades
This is truly one of the gems of Florida. The amusement parks and beaches aside, the Everglades is truly unique and less explored by tourists. Most every Florida native knows that the Everglades are home to many rare and unique species of flora and fauna.
Probably the most notorious are the Florida gators. Before you ask, yes you can eat them, and no they are not as dangerous as you might think. If you live near a lake chances are you’ve seen these cuties swimming around. The only ones that should fear are your small pets if they get too close. Usually the gators in our lakes, near residential areas, can not be bigger than 6- feet long. The gators that are bigger than that get moved elsewhere to keep us, and the gators, safe.
If you want to see some huge gators and the beauty of the Everglades you can drive for 30 minutes to one of the Safari parks. I hadn’t been on an air boat tour since I was about 7 years old, so being able to do this in my adult life was definitely a highlight for me.
If you have Groupon you can find tickets to one of the many locations that offer boat rides for about 24$ a person. We booked our tour though Everglades Safari Park and really enjoyed our guide and the boat ride. I will say that the air boat is really loud so if you spot a gator, you’ll really have to be quick to get a photo.
The Florida Keys
If you are willing to drive for a long time on a one lane highway, then visiting one of the Florida Keys is a must! From Miami to the most Southern point in Florida, Key West, could take at least 3 hours so I would recommend booking a hotel for a night to have time to explore. I’m also going to tell you that if you want to go to Dry Tortugas, you’ll need to book ahead of time and have an early start. We drove all the way down to Key West hoping to see it, well turns out it’s an island. I know, I’m an idiot and didn’t research beforehand. That being said, this is the best thing in the keys. (I’m going to include some stock photos from Google just so you guys can see how awesome it is! I have to use google because when I went, I was like 7, we didn’t have digital cameras back then)
Well, other than snorkeling and diving, there isn’t much else to do. If you like seafood and buying kitschy souvenirs made out of seashells then you’ll find a lot of it here! Giulio and I decided to just walk around the little town and have some dinner on the water, since we had to admit defeat about missing Dry Tortugas and didn’t want to waste such a long drive.
We still enjoyed our time and I must say that the keys have started to develop nicely! When I was a child I remember there wasn’t that much on the islands, but now they have strip malls! Unfortunately we couldn’t stay a night in the keys, ran out of vacation time, so I ended up driving 6 hours that same day. Ugh. I did, however, stop on the highway to enjoy the sunset.
**I could add a bit about Ft.Lauderdale, aka a more chill Miami. People live here to get away from the noise and hustle of Miami during the week, but drive there on weekends to get their party on. I usually go to Ft.Lauderdale to have dinner, or I would go often for work trips. It can be a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t say it’s totally necessary.
I do hope that you all enjoy some of my favorite things about South Florida! As I said earlier, if you have any other places you absolutely love, feel free to write them in the comments below! 🙂