For many people of the late Gen Y/early Gen X population, Miami used to bring to mind this:
then it likely transitioned to this:
and then there's the stereotypical image of Miami, which often looks something like this:
but I'm going to make the argument that Miami is none of these things. In fact, I don't know if anyone can accurately summarize Miami because it's both extremely diverse and undergoing a really fascinating transformation.
Growing up in South Florida, my family and I often made trips to Miami where we usually either had dinner and people watched on South Beach or shopped and strolled down Lincoln Road Mall, and that's it. While I still occasionally partake in both of these activities (the latter more than the former), Miami has so much more to offer than most people, myself included, realize. There's a reason The New York Times proclaimed the city one of the places to go in 2015.
During my last few visits to Miami, I've discovered what makes this city so great. Sure, there's Art Basel and the hip crowd that descends on South Florida every December, but there's much more that can be discovered year-round.
If you had asked me 10 years ago, even five years ago, what the food scene in Miami was like, I probably would have shrugged and said there are some Cuban places worth checking out. Now? The list is never-ending. James Beard award-winning chefs have set up shop and there's been an influx of creative, really delicious food being served in neighborhoods outside of the typical hotspots. Some of my favorites include Yardbird Southern Table & Bar (best fried chicken and waffles!), Pubbelly Sushi (try the bigeye tuna over crispy rice and homefries with spicy mayo) and The Federal (home to some amazing buttermilk biscuits with a honey apple cider glaze and a light but well-flavored tomato salad).
Through the continued growth and popularity of Art Basel, Miami has definitely become a force to be reckoned with when it comes to art and design. There's the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, the Pérez Art Museum Miami and a slew of galleries showcasing a ton of art in a variety of ways, but my absolute favorite is Wynwood Walls. Back in 2009, a man named Tony Goldman took the Wynwood warehouse district and transformed it into a showcase of unbelievably amazing graffiti and street art. I don't know why it took me several years to visit Wynwood, but I'm so glad I did. I also loved checking out Second Saturday when artists, food vendors and retail businesses come together for a night of music, food, art and fun vibes.
I come from a family of shoppers (it's in our blood), so the shopping scene in Miami isn't necessarily new, but it has expanded to areas previously unknown to me. Take Purdy Ave, for example. This neighborhood on the west side of Miami Beach is home to several great clothing stores in addition to popular restaurants and fitness studios. Then there's the Design District, which is where I can only afford to window shop, but for all the wealthy Europeans it's basically their mall. Even Lincoln Road has gone through some much-needed changes over the years, with well-known brands like Zara, H&M and Kiehl's opening stores. There's also a Tesla Motors showroom (it is Miami, after all).
I honestly can't speak too much to what's happening with Miami real estate, but I do know the Miami skyline is constantly evolving and will continue to do so. Fancy new hoteliers are moving in, and there seems to be a lot of excitement around the upcoming Faena District. Of course this means the cost of living will go up, and as a city girl I know that's not ideal, but it is interesting to see just how quickly both commercial and residential real estate projects are changing the downtown Miami and Miami Beach area, in particular.
So, what I'm really trying to say is that I like Miami — more than I used to and more than I thought I would. South Beach is still full of crazy spring breakers in March, but now you know there's so much more to Miami than South Beach, and you can successfully visit in the spring and never run into a drunk college-aged student even once.