Miami – first impressions

I got to travel to Miami for the first time ever at the end of February. Unlike my recent trip to Seattle, I wasn’t looking forward to it. For whatever reason, I’ve never had a desire to go to Miami. There just wasn’t anything about it that appealed to me. Either way, there was a conference there that I wanted to attend, so off I went. Here are my first impressions of the city and a couple of notes about getting around and places to visit.

First off, if you are planning to travel from the Miami airport to Miami Beach, consider the Miami Flyer. For $2.65 each way ($5.30) round-trip, you get an express bus that takes from the airport to the Miami Beach area. It’s considerably cheaper than any other mode of transportation, and if you plan to spend your entire time around the Miami Beach area, it’s way, way cheaper and more convenient that renting a car. I found it very convenient and easy to ride. Buses run about every 20-30 minutes, and there are numerous stops throughout the Miami Beach area to catch it from.

The conference I attended was at the Fontainebleau, which was way overpriced at $500 a night during the week. The restaurants and bars at the hotel were also way overpriced. I had a breakfast meeting with someone┬áthat cost $63 for a yogurt parfait, juice, 2 coffees, and a breakfast skillet. I’m pretty sure you can get that breakfast at Denny’s for under $10. Therefore, I decided to stay at a smaller independent hotel down the street called the Westover Arms. It wasn’t anything to write home about, but it was modern, clean, and under $200/night. It wasn’t right on the beach, but it’s only one block away. They also provide daily vouchers for a beach chair and umbrella if you’re planning to spend time on the beach.

One of the better restaurants I explored while in Miami was Dolce Italian. I’m a bit of a sucker for a good Caprese salad, and they may have made the best I’ve ever had. The mozzarella that is made on site and arrives at the table warm was defintely the best mozzarella that I’ve ever had. The ambiance is great. And by Miami standards, it’s reasonably priced.

Across the street from Dolce is the Delano Hotel. A colleague and me who had dinner at Dolce decided to swing by the hotel for an after dinner drink. It’s on the expensive side, but it is an interesting place. The atmosphere has that Miami South Beach feel to it (whatever that is), and we decided to belly up to the Rose Bar. It’s a great place to people watch. Overall, the Delano is worth it for one drink, which is about all I was able to afford.

A couple of parting observations I had with regards to Miami

  • Reminds me a lot of Las Vegas. People there are clearly trying to be seen. Showing off and flaunting one’s material possessions is expected behavior. The biggest differences are no casinos and oppressive humidity. If I had my choice, I’d rather spend my time in Vegas.
  • The energy as you head toward the South Beach area of Miami Beach is much, much better than the North end of Miami Beach. South Beach clearly has a livelier atmosphere where the North Miami Beach area is quieter, and presumably a little older in terms of clientele. I suppose I’ll enjoy the North Beach area more in a few years, but for now, I’d prefer spending my time in South Beach, if I have to spend time in Miami Beach at all.

After my first visit, I wasn’t impressed and am not excited about going back. In fact, if I never make it back, I won’t be disappointed. Yes, it was worth checking out, but it’s not a city where I want to spend a lot of time. It’s too expensive, too humid, and too pretentious for my taste.

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