Miami Beach in Winter
Why did we go to Miami Beach? It is difficult for us to stay at home all winter since we have retired. While working, we were busy and had limited vacation time, but retirement has changed all that. In the winter, it is easy for me to become bored and lazy. We took a trip to Los Angeles last year, Escape from the Cold to Los Angeles .
A warm climate in a place not previously visited was the goal and Miami Beach fit the bill for us. It is also one of the big cities we have not visited and it has great weather in the winter. We left Alabama, which had daytime temperatures in the 40s, for Miami’s mostly sunny days in the low 80s. Such a pleasure!
Miami Dream Hotel
The Dream is located in Miami Beach, just a couple of blocks from the famous Versace mansion. It is on Collins Avenue, one block over from Ocean Drive and a couple of blocks from the beach. The hotel has excellent reviews, a perfect location, and a very reasonable price for the area. However, the rooms are quite small. The Dream is actually a combination of two Art Deco buildings and still has the sign for the Tudor Hotel. The hotel was built in the 1930s and has the original exterior, but is ultra modern inside. So, if we return to Miami Beach, the Dream will be our first choice for a hotel!
The hotel has a fantastic restaurant, The Naked Taco, and we had several excellent meals there. The restaurant also provides light food and drinks to the hotel’s rooftop pool area, which we also enjoyed.
Getting Around in Miami and Miami Beach
We flew into Miami and did not rent a car because parking is very expensive. But, we really did not need one because it is so easy to get around. Miami Beach has a free trolley system that is easy to maneuver and we used it frequently. There is also a separate trolley system for the city of Miami. However, I never discovered a way to get from Miami Beach to Miami using the trolley.
We took an Uber to and from the airport as we had a good bit of luggage. It was only $22. There is also a bus that goes from the airport to Miami Beach.
Because we wanted to orient ourselves to the city, we took a hop on and off bus tour. It was only $49 each for two days, which gave us information about the area and provided transportation between Miami and Miami Beach.
We also took an Everglades tour with Miami Tour Company . They picked us up at our hotel and provided transportation to the Everglades. It was much easier than renting a car.
We also walked quite a bit during our stay and I am very happy to say that my husband’s new knee did quite well. This was our first exposure to significant walking since his surgery six months earlier. We got about 14,000 steps on our first day, which involved lots of airport walking.
There was so much to see and do in Miami! Our six days there enabled us to pretty much do everything we wanted.
Wynwood Walls is accessible via a city bus tour. The Wynwood warehouse district elevates the work of graffiti artists. Wynwood Walls brings the work of the world’s greatest graffiti artists to a concentrated area. It is difficult to believe that this art is created with only spray paint. It is a walkable outdoor museum. Art lover that I am, this might just be my favorite Miami attraction.
The mural below was created by drilling into concrete. It is impressive from afar and even more up close.
All around the Wynwood area, there is art on the buildings. The photo below was snapped while on the tour bus and is not a high-quality pic, but I had to include it in this post because it is so amazing. The woman’s eyes appear to follow you. Mesmerizing and beautiful!
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Vizcaya was on my list and easily accessible as another stop on the tour bus. It was the summer home of James Deering. The exterior of the Italian Renaissance villa has appeared in several films. The home, located on Biscayne Bay, was completed in 1922 for a cost of $15 million.
The grandeur of this mansion is not something easily found in the United States as the photo below of one of the interior rooms indicates.
This home made me think of Downton Abbey and was of a similar time. The home is grand and during its heyday, it sported a staff of thirty. The kitchen below looks similar to Downton Abbey’s as well.
Miami Beach and Ocean Drive
The beach was beautiful and the water was a gorgeous turquoise color. Our hotel provided chairs and towels, so we were quite comfortable enjoying the warmth and sunshine.
I tested the water and it was much too cold for me to get in, but quite a few people did not seem to mind.
South Miami Beach is known for its Art Deco Architecture. The buildings along Ocean Avenue and Collins, where we were staying, cannot be changed from the outside. Consequently, it has one of the largest known concentrations of 1920-1930s resort-style architecture.
Ocean Drive is also famous for Casa Casuarina, aka the Versace Mansion. The house was built in 1930 and fashion designer, Gianni Versace, purchased it in 1992. He lived there until he was shot in front of it in 1997 by a serial killer. The mansion is now a very expensive hotel. We contemplated having lunch there to see the inside, but we did not find the time.
The Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach
The Holocaust Memorial was a sobering place to visit, but it is important to remember this tragic time and the lives lost. The memorial is dedicated to the six million Jewish lives lost to the Holocaust. We learned that Miami Beach has one of the largest populations of holocaust survivors in the world. Going through the memorial brought tears to both of us.
Little Havana is the definitive Cuban neighborhood in Miami. It is popular for shopping, restaurants, and bars.
Little Havana is the place for authentic Cuban cuisine. We made a special effort to visit Versailles Restaurant while there. The restaurant claims to be “ the world’s most famous Cuban restaurant.” Even at mid-afternoon, we had to wait to be seated. Below is one of the specials, but I can’t identify everything. I liked most of it and the price was very reasonable. My big guy had a hamburger.
In a shop in Little Havana, we were pleasantly surprised to see, Fidel, a friend from a tour we took to Italy eight years ago. He owns Havana Collection, a group of clothing shops in Little Havana. Fidel recognized my husband as soon as he walked in. He sold my husband some shirts at highly discounted prices. It was so nice to see him again.
While so close, we took a Miami City bus tour to the Everglades. We learned that the Everglades is a slow-moving, shallow river that moves at a rate of about a mile a day. The airboat ride through it was exhilarating.
While on the airboat, we saw several alligators.
Wolfsonian Museum, Miami Beach
The Wolfsonion is an affiliate of Florida International University and houses an extensive collection of Art Deco artifacts. It was a good place to spend a few hours.
A Short Haircut
The humility and open air rides made my hair impossible to deal with during our stay. I have been wanting to go short and finally mustered the courage while there. Summer is coming and this cut should be easy to manage. What do you think of the cut in the photo below ?
We loved Miami and Miami Beach! It was so relaxing to spend a few warm and sunny days away from winter weather. Incidentally, we returned home to 28 degrees! Brrr!
Miami Beach is beautiful and its people were so warm and accommodating. I highly recommend it!