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My First Time In Miami | How I Survived

Location: Miami, Florida

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Trip to Miami

It was around the second week of July 2016 and I couldn’t remember when last I had taken a day off from work. At the time my cousin Joey was on vacation in Disney Orlando, Florida with his family. I longed for a break from work and since we hadn’t seen each other in a long time we decided to meet up in Miami on his return from Orlando.

As I began searching for flights luck was on my side! Flights were available from as low as $250 from Panama City. Some holidays were coming up towards the end of August so I thought what a perfect time! So I took a chance and bought the ticket even before getting my leave approved. Life is about taking chances and I think some of the best moments happen spontaneously.

skyscraper in miami

I decided to travel on our Independence Day holiday which fell on a Thursday so I took the Friday off. That meant I would have been away from the office for only one day. Once my leave was approved I began searching for hotels in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

The Hotels in Fort Lauderdale had good rates but were too far away from the main town. So after about a week of searching and deliberating, we decided on one in Miami, not too far from the airport.

Later that day when I got home, I began organizing my luggage so that in the days ahead I would start packing.

By the end of that same week I had put together an itinerary because I wanted to maximise the little time that I would have been there. However, it was unnecessary because I quickly dogged all the fun activities I planned and decided to shop most of the time. lol

At the Airport

When I landed the atmosphere almost felt like home, as it reminded me of Panama City. The tropical weather, familiar sights of Waterfronts, Yachts, Skyscrapers, Palm Trees and Yellow Taxi Cabs.
skyscrapers in miami - american airlines arena miami

Getting around

Google Maps gave us a sense of direction in terms of what places were near our Hotel and where the nearest restaurants were. This made our lives so much easier. It was like having a personal tour guide in the palm of our hands!

The only limitation was that we needed to be in wifi accessible zones because neither of us had a local sim card.

But for the most part Lyft and Uber taxi services were very efficient in taking us around the city. Every time we left the Hotel we hoped that there would be free internet where we were going.

Most of the drivers were friendly so I capitalized on the opportunity to ask about getting to the different places that I was not sure about. To my surprise three-quarter of them were Latinos who migrated and had been living in Miami for a number of years. I even spoke a little Spanish here and there with some of them.

skyscrapers in miami

Shopping

I love to shop! Like who doesn’t? The first day I touched down I just had to find the nearest shopping outlet which happened to be Dolphin Mall. Let me just say I did not leave there until around 9 or 10pm.

There were so many stores I wanted to go into it that it was not possible to do all at once. But on the following day I returned and continued where I left off.

Dolphin Mall is a really huge Mall and luckily for those maps inside it was of great use. If you have plans to go here I suggest you utilize the maps placed inside the Mall because then too much time is wasted looking around for stores randomly. But by all means if time is not an issue then you can spend all day browsing every possible store.

I don’t know if Miami generally has really good shopping or if it was due to being Labour Day weekend. But the sales were insane.

Even the day before I left Miami I went back to the Mall. I wanted to be sure I didn’t leave anything behind. I couldn’t resist going into some of my favourite stores such as Zara, H&M, Nine West, Forever 21, Michael Kors just to name a few.

skyscrapers in miami - dolphin mall

skyscrapers in miami - hm dolphin mall miami

American Airlines Arena

For most people living in Miami and in America, the American Airlines Arena is perhaps a common sight for them. However, for me, it was worth taking a picture there just to say I have done it.

skyscrapers in miami - american airlines arena miami

Lincoln Road Mall

Lincoln Road Miami Beach is a pedestrian-only promenade located between West Avenue and Washington Avenue. It offers unique shopping, sidewalk cafes, bars, galleries and fine dining. It is the home to Brand name and Specialty stores like Guess, Steve Madden, Zara, H&M, GAP, and Forever21.

Most of the restaurants and bars have couches or chairs and outdoor table,s perfect for a late-night cocktail with close groups of friends.

skyscrapers in miami - lincoln road mall

skyscrapers in miami - Lincoln Road Mall Miami

Wynwood Walls Art Museum

Wynwood Walls Art Museum is an outdoor museum featuring huge, colorful street murals by artists from around the globe. I love street art and this place was no exception. We spent about 45 minutes here just taking photographs and enjoying the scenery.

Every painting had its own vibe. I absolutely loved and appreciated this place! If you are into art and photography, this is a good place to check out next time you are in Miami. It is free to enter but be sure to check opening and closing times prior to going. In a separate blog post I would share more of the photos of the Artists’ work. So you can look out for that soon.

Quick story:

Although we did not strictly follow the itinerary, I had grouped each activity based on proximity to each other. So our plan was to go to South Beach after leaving the museum. By the time we were ready to go we realized that there was no access to free wifi. Time was going, the sun was blazing hot and we needed a taxi. Feverishly we checked at various points in and around the museum but no luck. What was more weird was the fact that no taxis were in sight either so we began walking in the direction in which the taxi that dropped us off came.

Getting no where fast, we asked a few people on the side walks which way was South Beach lol. “Could we walk from here?” we asked. Of course it was not possible to walk!

We came to a halt after walking for about 20 minutes. By that corner which I cannot remember the name of the street, on the opposite side had a clothing boutique (I am sorry I did not take the name down) which my cousin suggested we go into to ask the owner to use their internet.

Why hadn’t we thought about that sooner? I guess the sun was too hot to think clearly. Long story short, the owner of the place was very nice and allowed us to access his username and password for the internet. Soon our Lyft driver arrived and we were on our way to the beach!

Boy did we learn the true meaning of endurance!

skyscrapers in miami

skyscrapers in miami - wynwood walls

South Beach

We headed to South Beach which is approximately 10-15 minutes drive away from the Museum, where we spent the remainder of the day.

Miami Beach, famed for its colorful lifeguard huts is the meeting place for international art lovers and persons escaping the winter.

Although I was born on an island where beaches are like second nature, the clear blue water and the white sand are a must-see for any Miami visitor.

Unfortunately time didn’t allow for visiting the nearby museums, shops and historic buildings.

On a side note, the beach is very open and I was amazed that there was no changing rooms. I would like to believe that there may be some but somehow we didn’t know where to find them.

skyscrapers in miami - south beach walk lincoln road

skyscrapers in miami - south beach

skyscrapers in miami - south beach

Fort Lauderdale

We took a train using the Tri Rail at the Hialeah Market Station as it was the nearest one to where we stayed. It took a cool 20 minutes to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport then another 20 minutes by car to Sawgrass Mills Mall. We were not able to see and do much but at least we were able to have lunch and spend the day at the mall.

skyscrapers in miami - tri rail station

After a tiring day of shopping at the mall I couldn’t resist having a nutty chocolate ice-cream from Haagen-Dazs.
skyscrapers in miami - haggen dazs sawgrass mills mall fort lauderdale

On our way back from Sawgrass Mills Mall we almost missed the last train which was scheduled to leave the terminal at 10:00 p.m. Due to the driver taking the wrong lane to the main area like when departing to another state.By the time we made it to the terminal there were other people waiting so we knew the train hadn’t left yet. When it was time to purchase tickets the machines were not accepting our visa cards and neither did we have small change. I thought to myself the train would surely leave us. Luckily after asking a few  people a man was generous enough to change a $10 bill. We bought our ticket and was in time to catch the train.

skyscrapers in miami - fort lauderdale hollywood international airport

Overall my time in Miami was a fun experience. On my next trip I hope to do more adventurous things and visit more of the beaches. It was a mini getaway well spent.

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What are some of the things you can recommend to do in Miami?

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  • I’ve been to Florida before but not in Miami it sounds and looks lovely will add Miami to my mini getaway list and i will be sure to stop by the mall! Great post 🙂

    https://makeupwithmona.blogspot.com/?m=1

    • Thank you! Yes its really nice. Maybe I’ll be able to visit other areas next time. You must go to Dolphin Mall 🙂

  • Sky Fisher

    The street art is beautiful! Heading to Miami for the first time this summer…can’t wait!

    • Indeed it is. Have a lovely trip!

  • Tram-Anh Tran Poprik

    Ahhhh! Sounds like you had the best mini-getaway! Glad you got some shopping in…always important! xx

    • Yes I did. Retail therapy is always welcomed lol

  • Miami is beautiful and your pictures are gorgeous! Have visited other areas around Florida? <3

    • Thank you! Nope I have not been to other areas but once I get recommendations I will next time 🙂

  • Anne Markey

    I have always wanted to go to Miami. Looks like you had a good time.

  • The art museum sounds so cool! I’ve been to Miami a few times and haven’t been there. If I go back, it’ll happen! 🙂 I’ve found Uber to be so helpful while traveling, too! It really can be a lifesaver when you realize it’ll take too long to walk someplace or you just get tired.

    • Yes Crystal it is a nice place to see while you’re there. Uber/Lyft drivers are usually more than helpful to offer advice.

  • Kimberly @ Berly’s Kitchen

    After reading this, I am soooo homesick. 🙁 I only live a couple hours from Miami now never get over that way. We loved Miami when we lived there. It sounds like you had a great time and hit a lot of fun touristy spots. If/when you go back, give Zoo Miami, Aventura Mall, 15th St. Fisheries (Ft. Lauderale) and the Intercostal water taxi (Ft. Lauderdale) a try. 🙂

    • Thanks so much! Taking notes. I wanted to do the Zoo and Aventura Mall but not enough time lol. So I will be going back for sure!

  • CouponDivaAndi

    I haven’t been to Miami in years (I went to Miami Beach one time years ago 😀 )

    • That’s nice to hear. At least you did it once before 🙂

  • Mr. Jumpstart

    Going to Fort Lauderdale in April. I can’t wait. Walking distances always look small on the map in Miami, but a tiny square block will be like a mile long. It is very deceiving.

    • Hey that’s great. Trust me it is a lot of walking. I know exactly what you mean from the map point of view lol. Have a nice trip!

  • Katie

    going to Miami next month! will definitely check some of these spots out!

    • That’s great Katie! Have fun and safe flight!

  • Danielle Moore

    Awesome! I actually just went to Fort Lauderdale a week or so ago! I’m doing a blog series on 17 Beaches in 2017 and south beach and Panama City are on there!! Thanks for the recommendations 🙂

    • Hey Danielle. That’s great to hear. Would be very interested in reading all about it. Can’t wait!

  • so lucky you got to go to miami! i have still never been and am dying to check it out. great photos! xo, sharon

    http://www.stylelullaby.com/uncategorized/spring-faves-the-ruffle-trend/

    • Thanks Sharon! You should check it out.

  • Yes you should Marceline!

  • A lot to do. I needed at least a week there lol. But I did have an amazing time

  • Good to know you enjoyed this post Jan. Thank you!

  • Neil Copping

    Wow, looks amazing, thanks for sharing this. I have always wanted to go to Miami, now I really want to go. Love the wall art. Great pictures! Really gives us a taste of Miami. Thanks again!

    • HAHA thanks Neil. I will be sure to read about it when you go.

  • Beautiful! Miami is so in my travel bucket list, I really want to visit it one day! Nice shots by the way 😉

    • Thank you! You should visit and do enjoy.

  • Miami is in my travel bucket list. Hope to go there someday. It looks like a fun trip for you.

    • That is wonderful to hear! It was thank you. Have a great time when you do 😉

  • We love visiting Miami when we get the chance. The Vizcaya museum was lovely. Great spot for pics in the garden and near the water. Don Pan is also a favorite hotspot for Cuban treats. Glad you had fun!

    • You are the second person to tell me about that museum so I have noted that. Thank you.

  • Your photos are so beautiful and you are really rocking that outfit! Miami is fun, would definitely go back some day! X

  • miles and ellie

    I think Miami would be such a blast! The culture, shopping, the beach! Those are some pretty great photos, definitely makes me want to visit!

    • Thanks Miles and Ellie. Great place!

  • Annie Says

    Miami looks so cool XD
    I’d love to go there, but if I’d get lost I’d probably just freak out and sit on a sidewalk clueless at what to do xD

    • LMAO Annie!!! I know what you mean but sometimes the adventures lies in getting lost!

  • Peng Desuyo

    Being in a place for the first time always brings that different kind of excitement. I love that feeling! Great shots BTW

    http://www.pengandpaper.com

    • Yes Peng it did give me that feeling also. Thank you!

  • Jason Le Nguyen

    Miami is so beautiful, The people are friendly and you can eat a lot of yummy foods 🙂 nice picture 🙂

  • Kimberly

    I grew up in Miami, very close to Ft. Lauderdale. It’s nice to see it through visiting eyes. 🙂

    • How lucky Kimberly!…I know exactly what you mean 🙂

  • We lived in Miami for years. One of the best things about Miami is the cultural diversity, which leads to great food and festivals. There are public festivals all the time from the different ethnic communities. Its not hard to find them either. Just goole local events calendars or ask some locals.

    • I’ll definitely do that for next time I am going. Thank you!

  • Kasia

    Looks like a fun trip. I also visited Miami for the first time in 2014. I’m going to write about my adventures on my blog as well. Lincoln Mall was fun. I love that you can just walk around outside and pop in somewhere to a store or a cafe to check something out and be out the door exploring more. I also found some great eats on Alton Street.

    • Oh yes I was also on Alton Street. Nice restaurants. Hope I get the chance to read about your adventures when you do.

  • Annette Yedlin

    What a fun trip! My husband and I went to Miami when we were dating. He took me to the Superbowl when the Bears were playing. We had a blast. There is so much to do down there. I’m glad you had fun and took time off work to go.

    • That’s great to hear Annette. I have never been to one of those games. Thank you I did!

  • Idora Yasin

    You’re in my neck of the woods! Next time you come back you definitely have to visit Bayside (good for shopping and nightlife) Vizcaya (beautiful mansion that has now become a museum) and Cape Florida Beach! I’m glad you had a wonderful vacation, no matter how short or long its always nice to get away!

    • Idora I was so upset that I didn’t get to visit Bayside. My cousin was a bit tired after Disney and most of the things I planned to do we didn’t end up doing. But trust me that will be one of the first places next time.I’ll also look out for that museum. I love visiting museums. But indeed I still had a good time. Thank you!

  • Martha DeMeo

    Sounds like you have a wonderful trip! I love all your photos, of course my favorite is your ice cream cone! LOL

    • Lol Gotta love chocolate!! Thanks Martha!

  • Mamabops

    Miami is such a fun city! I’ve only been once, but I’d love to go back. I love the architecture and style there. Everything is so bright and fun!

    • Yes I endorse everything you said because its true. For that reason I want to go again

  • Abhishek Goyal

    Awsome photos. would love to visit there. But my company will not give me such freedom to goto this type of place. It will lot of time for me as I am in india right now. But excellent way to portrait your trip . Like the place very much.

    • Thanks Abhishek. Perhaps one day you shall be able to. Anything is possible!

  • Nice shoots, would live to visit Miami soon.

  • Nay

    Love that art! That looks amazing. Looks like you had an ace trip.

  • I love that street art! Miami looks awesome. Glad you had a good time.

  • Kimberly Hsieh

    I want to visit Miami sometime too!! The street art and weather are just amazing 🙂

    xo, http://www.lovekimber.com

  • Brandi Kennedy

    Man, those beach pictures made me homesick. I’m a Tennesseean these days, but I grew up in Central Florida – just about 20 minutes from the Daytona & New Smyrna beaches. I haven’t seen the beach in probably 10 years, and I miss it!

    • Aww you haven’t been to the beach in such a long time wow!! I can’t imagine what that’s like.

      • Brandi Kennedy

        Painful. Some days it makes my spirit downright ache.

  • I usually take in amused too, but the weather was so good, I didn’t want to do anything indoors. I loved South Beach. We stayed at the Betsy on the strip and its gorgeous. It was our first time in Miami as well, but won’t be the last.

    • That’s great Stacey. I only wanted to be outdoors as well. Definitely going back too!

  • This sounds and looks like a great area. I’ve never been to Miami before. That street art is amazing.

  • Jade Chesser

    Sounds like a fun trip! The Lincoln Road area looks really neat! Thanks for sharing your trip!

  • JustMadeTheCut

    I love Miami! I’ve been about a million times. Try visiting Bal Harbour the next time you visit.

    • Thanks hun. Lucky gal! I’m taking notes 😀

  • Miami sounds incredible! Never been but would love to visit. The mall sounds insane – in fact the shopping would be the first thing my husband would be aiming for!

    • Yes Juliette nice place. I always prefer malls because they usually have all the stores I want to hit. Shopping became my priority there and I dropped everything else lol.

  • karyl henry

    I love Miami! Haven’t been in a few years, but I’ll be there this summer for a conference. If you like the club/bar scene, definitely do South Beach. It’s GREAT people watching, and a lot of fun. Mangoes is my favorite…the bartenders are all gorgeous Cubans, and they take turns dancing on the bar! You probably learned it, but the restaurants/bars automatically add 18% tip on the bill…so there’s no need to tip them extra!

    • Thanks for those tips Karyl. I will remember for the next time.

  • Ashvin Nankoo

    Miami looks awesome and looks like you’ve enjoyed yourself to the fullest. It is also so cheap. $250 is definitely not a bad price to pay. Also, your pictures are beautifully taken!

    • Thanks Ashvin. I surely had a great time.

  • Breyona Sharpnack

    Looks like you had a great time! I lived in Jacksonville for two years and ventured to Miami once and I felt a bit overwhelmed by all of the things to do. I didn’t feel prepared at all but next time I will be lol!

    • Yes Breyona I did. That is exactly how I felt. I needed more time in the day! lol

  • Christina_Hall

    Very cool! Thanks for sharing your experience. I have never been to Miami but it’s definitely on my list of places to go to. It’s always nice to know more about it before you go.

    • Such a nice place. I think you would enjoy it too

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