“Here I am in the place where I come let go
Miami the base and the sunset glow
Everyday like a Mardi Gras, everybody party all day
No work all play, okay”
The unparalleled genius of Will Smith’s song, “Miami” from 1997’s great Big Willie Style album, sums up the city of Miami beautifully. After spending this past long weekend along the South Beach strip, I can honestly say I fully understand the poetry that is Will Smith’s words.
That’s right, this Valentine’s Day, J and I had the brilliant idea that rather than a fancy dinner or movie night, we’d head down to Miami to escape Polar Vortex #400 (I believe that’s the one we’re on now) and get a little bit of a tan.
Miami serves many purposes for its visitors. There’s the bachelorette parties and Jersey Shore look-alikes in Miami to party like there’s no tomorrow — and South Beach does this well. There’s the elderly folks looking to take a lot of naps, the occasional power walk and perhaps have a rousing night of bingo in the retirement center. And then there’s us…hopefully somewhere equidistant between these two groups (my guess is we were slightly leaning towards the latter due to our extensive nap taking and power walking).
We chose to stay at the Eden Roc Hotel right along the beach. This hotel is slightly lesser known (and therefore, slightly cheaper), but it did not disappoint. It was recently remodeled and had a whole extra building added on to it called the Ocean Tower, which is so nice. It is definitely worth upgrading to a room in this building if you can, solely for the balcony and views. They’ve set all the rooms up so that everything (including the bathroom) has access to the ocean views, which are pretty spectacular. Also, despite being a bit further north on South Beach, it’s an easy ride into the heart of it and also has some pretty fantastic things to do within walking distance (enter Soho House, see below).
I’m not going to lie, this trip was very uncharacteristic of me. Usually I’m all about getting out and seeing the place I’ve traveled to. I love to explore and really get a feel for the new place I’m visiting. However this trip was largely about relaxing and hanging out on the beach. I’ve survived 400 polar vortexes (and counting), so I thought it was time I had some sun.
We did get slightly more interesting at night. Miami has no shortage of restaurants, bars and clubs, and while we weren’t in Miami to rage, we still wanted to get a taste of what Miami had to offer.
Our first night out in Miami consisted of a trip to the very Southern tip of the beach to the infamous Joe’s Stone Crab. Unfortunately, we found out a little too late just how popular this restaurant is, when we signed in at the front desk and were told it would be a two and a half hour wait. Despite this (or perhaps out of laziness), we decided to wait it out. Luckily, we got a spot at the bar, ordered a few appetizers and drinks and found ourselves in an in-depth conversation with a very drunk, very rich businessman in town to upgrade his yacht. Because of this (or the kamekazis he insisted on buying us), the wait time flew by, and before we knew it we were eating the largest crab legs I’ve ever laid eyes on. Apparently the key lime pie here is to die for as well, but we just couldn’t fit it.
Afterwards, we headed to a bar/club called the Rec Room. I wasn’t overwhelmed with this place, but it was a good baby step into Miami nightlife. It was only about 11:00 pm which is far too early to hit the clubs, so this was just enough for us. Free entry, easy to get drinks, not too crowded — about all you need. I’d recommend it as a starting place if you’re headed to the clubs later or an ending place if you’re headed back to the retirement community afterwards like us.
Now, for my favorite thing we did the whole weekend — on Sunday night, we headed to Soho Beach House to the restaurant there, Ceccioni’s. I love the Soho House group, and the beach house was no exception. Conveniently, it was located about a 10 minute walk down the beach from our hotel, and the restaurant has such a lovely atmosphere. It’s all outdoors, overlooking the beautiful pool in the back, and it’s been designed in a very rustic, Italian sort of way with lights hanging down in Mason jars and trees sprinkled around.
To top it off, the food was amazing. All was very home-style Italian food, with fish, homemade pasta, and delicious pizzas available. I had the burrata (my recently discovered favorite food) and a pizza that tasted just like the ones I had in Italy — something I haven’t found in America anywhere. I really recommend this restaurant for a beautiful evening meal.
Next time I head to Miami, I’m taking my girlfriends and finding out a bit more about the nightlife. But, for now, I’m happy to say that my Valentine’s weekend away with J was just perfect for us. Now, bring on the Polar Vortexes…