A mid-week jaunt, really to anywhere, can refresh the mind and provide perspective. And it doesn’t interfere with the utilitarian weekend.
However, you do have to sacrifice the traditional work week. My extracurricular activities require more attention than my day job, but doing them remotely isn’t an issue, luckily.
Miami, and its metro neighbors, are always like visiting a denser, larger version of Tampa Bay. Younger, busier, dirtier, and more chaotic. As I detailed previously, I’ve fixated on what the area was like in the 80s, during the cocaine cowboy days.
My friend Jodie, who recently moved to Miami from Tampa, decided that there isn’t any marked quality improvement in the dining / culture / arts / fashion / people / activities / places to live in Miami, there are just more of them.
Fort Lauderdale has a specific flavor, like St. Petersburg does, but is distinct from Miami. Of course, there are many communities in between the two with their own personalities.
I knew I wanted to hit the Design District and Wynwood – two areas that are rapidly changing for the better in the blocks north of Downtown Miami, on the mainland, along Interstate 195.
My mom and I drove through Miami Beach proper, a separate city with its own culture, and I would say it feels the most exciting, vibrant, and appealing for someone my age, and as a gay man. Most of the beach’s interior blocks are mid-rise deco condos and apartments, with plenty of foliage and wide sidewalks.
I think high-rises are pretty, and they’re omnipresent in Miami, but am not drawn to them for living.
We adventured to Wynwood by foot Tuesday night. On 20th Street Northeast, the Fight Club looked awesome, full of sweaty urbanites. I wanted to jump in and box some!
After a couple hairy turns past the edges of Overtown (public housing), we arrived at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. What a fantastic place! Great art, good food. My parents were wooed.
Wednesday I drove to Key Largo with my mom to see one of her old friends. Miami’s vast network of interstates, express toll-ways, and intermingling with the Florida Turnpike got us there drama-free.
Later, I hit up the Design District with Jodie. First impression: subdued. The big brands have jumped at the idea of a Miami version of New York’s SoHo, but without the necessary foot traffic built in. The buildings are modern and minimal, cool, though there were plenty of empty storefronts interspersed with glossy luxury façades.
The brand curation is ongoing, so you get Prada next door to Scotch & Soda. And little to represent the price points in between.
Of course, I can’t really complain. I harp on about street retail’s superiority to enclosed malls. The mastermind behind the transformation of the Design District has done an amazing job convincing luxury behemoths to leave the Miami retail establishment (Bal Harbour). For that, he should be knighted.
Brands I spotted: Cartier, Berluti, Celine, Billionaire, Marni, Martin Margiela, Prada, Scotch & Soda, Sebastian James, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, Kartell, Armani/Casa, Jonathan Adler, Fendi Casa, Emilio Pucci, Rick Owens, Rolex, and Dior Homme. Not a bad resume…
I typically prioritize shopping over travel for my finite disposable income, because I see shopping as simpler and less expensive. However, once I’m on the plane, or train in this case, back home, I am happy I made the necessary arrangements ahead of time to enjoy a different setting for a couple nights.
I really like Miami. It takes much of what is great about Tampa and injects it with some B12, makes it a little zippier. I will definitely be returning, and hopefully, spending more time reviewing the rapidly-expanding retail the city has to offer.