I bummed around Miami for a few days here and there mainly for the beaches. The beaches! My first go through Miami was the tail end of my time with my travel buddy. We come into town and stayed in Little Havana for our last night before he headed back to real life. Not gonna lie, I was totally skeptical as drove down this kind of sketchy street and I had to leave my home on wheels in a questionable parking area, but the hotel we stayed in was actually super nice, and has a beautiful rooftop restaurant- like an oasis in a sea of chainlink fence and glass on the sidewalk. We had delicious dinner at a Cuban restaurant, a drink on the roof, and I had an excellent shower not knowing when my next real shower opportunity would be. I had been spoiled by real hotels! Going back to my usual routine was gonna be rough and a little lonely.
Kevin didn’t need to be at the airport until late afternoon, so we went into South Beach for brunch and to walk around. It was a gorgeous sunny day and walking on the beach I was super bummer we hadn’t brought swim stuff, but maybe for the best since at one far end the water was empty except for a crowd watching three grey blobs in the water lurking near the shoreline- sharks?? I choose to believe small, nice-ish sharks. No fins visible, but also didn’t surface in the 15 min or so we watched. In any case, the cool retro lifeguard huts are pretty sweet, the water was blue and cool, and we happened to be visiting the week of the Super Bowl.
Super Bowl central! We had accidentally stumbled upon Fox’s zone of fun, which had photo ops, free Doritos, and a bunch of promos for upcoming shows like a giant Lego wall you could help build, and my favorite: a Ferris wheel with a Masked Singer theme! My current fave guilty pleasure show. Also offered excellent views of Miami beach. I was almost tempted to stay in town for the game and come back down here to watch the commentators and crazy fans, but a giant rainstorm came through and I’m glad I hightailed it away for a few days before returning when back to sunny.
After my drop off at the airport I did some laundry, and then spent the next few days checking out a few beaches between North Miami Beach and Hollywood. Did some reading, sunning, swimming, napping, and one of my days at the beach happened to be at the clothing optional beach area. Parents and relatives and potential future employers, please skip ahead to next section. Everyone else, yeah I totally had to go for the full experience because how often does this opportunity present itself? Plus I will almost certainly never see any of those people again so who cares if they all see my pasty white areas is my opinion. It was mainly old couples and dudes, and one young couple who took this chance to do all the usual Insta poses just with their butts showing this time. I had a very kind offer to join a nudist man on his boat (pass) and chatted with some nice Israeli dude. I call it a win to have come away with fewer burned areas than expected.
South of Miami is the Biscayne National Park, which is a park like 99% underwater. Okay, I don’t know the actual amount, but it really is pretty boat dependent to enjoy. Kevin and I came and checked out the visitor center and walk along the mangroves, and later on I came back on my own and went on a snorkel trip out to Anniversary reef. The boat company has only been running tours for a short while so the reef is still relatively unharmed from visitor damage. It was a little rough seas wave-wise, but had a shark swim right under me, spotted some ginormo kind of ugly fish, teeny jellyfish, and all kinds of pretty fish and coral. On the way back we saw a few dolphins, and my ginger pills did their job and I was puke free despite the major waves.
In town I spent an afternoon in the Wynnwood neighborhood checking out the murals and amazing street art. It was pretty spectacular, and I totally loved how the whole area was basically catering to Instagram and ‘pics or it didn’t happen’ culture, while occasionally mocking it at the same time. This also 100% did not stop me from taking a million photos as seen below.
A little north of Miami I made one last stop before heading across the state once again, this time to a beautiful attraction which is, in a way, one of the oldest buildings in the western hemisphere. The Cloisters of the Monastery of Saint Bernard de Clairvaux were originally built in Spain in the 1100s, but hundreds of years later was purchased by William Hearst, who had each stone marked, packed, and shipped to the US. He died before it could be reassembled but someone else bought it all and put the crazy puzzle back together in Florida. To honor this rich history, I had a Valentine’s photo shoot with my creepy cat statue (I think I have the market cornered on #creepycatroadtrip if you have any interest in his Flat-Stanley-style adventure), walked the labyrinth and garden, and felt rather serene.
Had to eventually (and reluctantly) leave Miami to head northwest toward Tampa, but had a blast!