You know those trips where you really, really don’t want to go home?
That’s how I felt about my trip to Miami two weekends ago! I could have stayed there for several more days, with no longing for home or my normal routines—it was just so relaxing and easy to be present on South Beach. (Okay, let’s be real—the fruity cocktails didn’t hurt either.)
I booked this trip with my best friend since forever, Hilary, pretty last minute. I was at work one day in April, and she texted me asking me if I had Memorial Day Weekend Plans. I didn’t—and we travel so well together, see: Park City 2k16—so I immediately agreed to go somewhere with her. We toyed with the idea of New Orleans or San Juan, Puerto Rico, but given the pricing and amount of time we would have in our destination, we ultimately decided on Miami. Though I’d been to Fort Lauderdale before, I’d never been to Miami proper, and was excited to experience it first hand and see what the hype was all about.
Like many of my other recent trips these days, we booked Miami through a bundle deal on Expedia. If you’re flying from the same destination as your fellow vacationers, I really can’t recommend the bundling game enough. We were able to stay in a five-star hotel in Miami—more on that below—and get direct flights for a price if unbundled would have been impossible for our budget.
We left on Friday after work from DCA and flew back into IAD on Monday evening—a great way to maximize the long weekend with what felt like three full days in Miami. I’ve shared more about our experience on South Beach below—and, of course, happy to answer any questions you may have now or in the future! If you’re looking for the perfect girls getaway weekend on the East Coast, I can’t recommend Miami enough.
(A note I didn’t take my DSLR with me on this trip, so all pictures below are from my iPhone and a few are from my Instagram Story—got to keep it real! ;]. You can always follow along with my vacations in real time there—my handle is @katieurban_.)
WHERE WE STAYED /
For this trip, our main priority was booking a hotel right on the beach with a great swimming pool. Though we looked at several similar options, we ended up booking the Loews Miami Beach since it was on sale that day and were really happy with our decision. The hotel recently underwent a complete renovation. The interior decor was great and the building featured a lot of cool technology. For instance, instead of hanging a do not disturb sign on your door, all you had to do was a press a button and a light outside next to your room number would illuminate denoting you wanted your privacy.
Beach access was very easy from our hotel—all you had to do was exit right onto the sand through a gate on the far side of the pool area. That gate was always monitored by hotel staff to ensure only Loews’ guests could use their pool. The hotel set up ample chairs on the beach, and also had a towel and drink hut right near the umbrellas so you could get anything you needed without leaving the beach. However, you had to pay extra money ($30/day) to rent an umbrella. Hilary and I decided that money would better be spent on fruity cocktails, and since we didn’t want to burn up on the beach—it was HOT y’all!—we opted to spend the majority of our time at the Loews pool.
Competition for pool chairs was definitely tight—especially on a holiday weekend. Hilary and I got up around 8:30 am every day and pretty much immediately headed down to the pool to claim our chairs. If you want to leave and grab breakfast/lunch or take a break from the sun, your chairs are yours for an hour. The resort puts a laminated 8.5 x 11″ sheet denoting the time at which your chairs are up for grabs, and if you’re not back by then, they’re given to the next patron. This was a great system to keep things fair! (Hilary and I lost our chairs once, but had no problem getting new ones—they just were farther away from the pool in a turf area.)
The pool offered free fresh fruit-infused water, towels, and umbrellas for shade. At 11 am each day, the pool grill opened and waiters served you directly at your pool chairs. Needless to say, having someone bring us daiquiris and pina coladas all day definitely added to the appeal of the pool. Those fruity drinks definitely came at a cost—$24 each—but were so, so worth it. It was vacation after all! The pool also served food from the grill, but I’m sure you can imagine the prices, so we went to cheaper, local establishments nearby the hotel to save some money and explore a bit.
A note that like most hotels on South Beach, the Loews did have a $48/day resort fee. This covered towels at the pool and beach, chairs at the beach, and chairs and umbrellas at the pool. Just a cost to consider if you’re looking into Miami as a destination.
WHERE WE ATE /
Y’all, the food in Miami is amazing! I would go back just for the food in a heartbeat. We didn’t get to eat at nearly enough places in the three days we were there, but we were able to cover a lot of ground. Here’s where we ate:
- Charlotte’s Bakery (South Beach)—such a cute bakery near our hotel, we had no shame in ordering their empanadas for breakfast. They had several different styles—Hilary opted for Argentina empanadas, and I went for chorizo and chicken Venezuelan ones. They also had a range of breakfast options, like eggs and chorizo, perfect for fueling up before a day in the sun.
- Taquiza (South Beach)—this was an amazing hole-in-the-wall taco place (literally) two blocks from our hotel. We loved it so much we went back a second time. We loved their chips and guac and between the two of us tried most of their tacos. I loved the chicken and chorizo ones.
- Havana 1957 (South Beach)—a reader recommended this to me, and it did not disappoint! I opted for the Ropa Vieja, which is a traditional pork, rice, and beans dish, and y’all, it was so good!
- Upland (South Beach)—Hilary and I headed here for a nice dinner out, and it was so good. To start, we ordered the best wahoo I’ve ever had and a delicious five lettuce caesar salad. Though we usually try not to do this, we both had the pappardelle as our entree because the waiter recommend it—delicious! To finish, we opted for a mint sorbet that was so unique—and the perfect sweet treat after all that savory food.
- Sugar East Miami (Brickell)—this was a super cute rooftop cocktail and Asian tapas bar on the 40th floor of a hotel. The views were amazing and the mojitos were even better. I definitely would recommend this place if you’re staying on South Beach, but want to see a different neighborhood of Miami.
OTHER TIPS /
Other than hanging out on the beach or by the pool, the one thing we did that I’d recommend to anyone was checking out the Wynwood Walls. It’s an outdoor Urban Graffiti Art Park located in the Wynwood Art District. The whole area is an awesome collection of colorful and thought-provoking street art, and the Wynwood Walls park itself seems to anchor the area. Added bonus—it’s free! We did this on our way to the airport since it’s about halfway between South Beach and MIA. While we were there, we cooled off with some water, fresh orange juice, and ice coffee at Panther Coffee followed by lunch at KYU (both listed above!). Definitely check them out if you’re in the neighborhood.
Getting around Miami is very easy via Uber. However, if you’re staying on South Beach like we did, know that on big holiday weekends in the summer—Memorial Day weekend, 4th of July weekend, and Labor Day weekend—most of the main roads on South Beach are closed to cars (to create more pedestrian walkways). There were so many closures, the first night we got there, our Uber driver had to drop us off a few blocks from our hotel. Another night, we walked about 1.5 miles to dinner simply because it was easier and faster than trying to use a car service. So definitely look up any closures and take them into consideration when planning restaurants. We only ventured off South Beach once, and found it much more effective to hail a traditional cab than try to get an Uber to come to our hotel.
I can’t wait to get back to Miami soon! Let me know in the comments if you have any recs for other readers to take advantage of! x