A wise old Pinterest quote once said, “Find your tribe. Love them hard.” And I am a firm believer that the sentiment (albeit corny) is absolutely true. Friends are the family that we chose and making the commitment to spending valuable time with them is crucial. As we get older, that feat gets harder and harder though; children, work, distance, bills.. life gets in the way of connecting as much as we’d like to which is why “girls trips” have become so important to me in the past few years.
Reuniting with girlfriends (who you may not have seen for months) and getting away from the daily woes of life is not only fun, but also therapeutic. Not to mention there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll make enough amazing memories to keep you smiling until the next one.
This year’s excursion took me and two of my closest friends to Miami during the pre-Fourth of July weekend. It was a first for all of us, but shortly after stepping out of the airport and into the warm South Florida breeze, I quickly realized that this is the kind of place where good girls trips are made.
Simply put, South Beach is built around the tourism experience. It’s flooded with scenic restaurants, open air bars, lively clubs, lavish (and not so lavish) hotels -- all of the essentials needed for the perfect adult playground.
When I initially began discussing going to Miami with my friends, I started by considering where we should stay. Combinations of TripAdvisor and friend’s personal accounts are usually my go-tos in terms hotel choice. In both cases, I continued to get the same feedback which amounted to a consensus of, “There’s no other option -- You have to stay at the Fontainebleau!”
Once we arrived, it didn’t take long to figure out why the fabulous hotel came with such rave reviews. Housed at 44th and Collins, the resort is isolated from a barrage of non-guest traffic and the party atmosphere of the southern end of the avenue. However, there’s also enough amenities that you don’t have to leave unless you really want to.
There’s dozens of restaurants, three expansive pools, a private beach and the rooms leave absolutely nothing to be desired.
Speaking of which, our reservation landed us on the 29th floor of the Tresor tower in a Junior Suite complete with a Bay View balcony, Mac desktop computer and Jacuzzi tub. From start to finish every aspect of the stay was truly luxurious.
However, even the best of stays can be ruined by awful dining -- especially when you’re like my friends and I who bond over food like no other. To that end though, I’m happy to report that overall Miami didn’t disappoint and I left with a list of diverse eating experiences that I can’t wait to try all over again.
Arriving early on Friday morning gave us the advantage of partaking in the deliciousness that is Vida’s expansive breakfast buffet. This contemporary American restaurant sits just steps away from check-in, but trust me it is much more than your ordinary continental hotel spread. From 7-11am, at least a dozen stations with everything from made to order omelets and eggs benedict to thick cut bacon and Belgian waffles are available - all fresh, all you can eat, all for $35. There is an a la carte menu, but I swear you’d be doing yourself a disservice by settling for anything less than the buffet.
Remember when I mentioned that “overall Miami didn’t disappoint?” Unfortunately, Area 31 would be the exception. Sitting on the 16th floor of the Kimpton EPIC Hotel in Downtown Miami, this restaurant is visually stunning. The panoramic views of the skyline are seriously gorgeous, but as much as I love dining for the aesthetics of a restaurant it’s hard to standby one where everything but the aesthetics falls flat. Between myself and two friends, we ended up sharing dishes of shrimp cocktail, tuna ceviche, crab cake, bao buns and goat cheese croquetas -- all of which ended with an overall “meh” post tasting.
At dinner’s end we discovered that great vibes, but subpar food and drinks equals a pretty hefty pricetag just for spectacular views.
A true carb lovers dream, Yardbird was worth every bit of the 45 minute wait for their delicious Southern themed eats. Upon sitting, my friend asked the waiter, “what do you recommend?” His response? “The fried chicken -- in any form!” The menu revealed that his enthusiasm for the chicken wasn’t at all an overstatement because there were in fact SO. MANY. FORMS.
Chicken biscuits. Chicken and Waffles. Chicken Eggs Benedict.
We settled on Chicken ‘n’ watermelon ‘n’ waffles, pork belly, biscuits with honey butter and possibly the best deviled eggs I’ve ever eaten in my LIFE. Everything was fresh and amazing. I’m still 90% convinced that someone’s grandma was in the kitchen serving as head chef because the food was THAT good.
All in all, I left two pounds heavier, but overwhelmingly happier.
Of all the food experiences that we had in Miami, Bodega Taqueria Y Tequila managed to be the most inexpensive and delicious. Living in Los Angeles during school has made me a bit of a Mexican food snob and everything about Bodega’s tacos were on par with perfection. The restaurant itself is super casual and to the naked eye looks exactly like the most souped up garage that you’ve ever seen; think modern Mexican food truck without the wheels.
With a menu of taco variations including everything from classics like pollo and carnitas to experimental choices like smoked guajillo lengua and pork belly confit there’s something to satisfy every palette.
The best part?
Once your done gorging on tacos the “tequila” part of this hidden gem is waiting for you beyond a huge metal door.
That’s right – the unassuming taqueria doubles as a lively speakeasy of sorts complete with lush couches, a full bar (stocking dozens of different tequila obvs), DJ and a super Instagramable “Love Me/Fuck Me” sign. The music ranged from hip hop/pop hits to EDM and the vibes were all good; After all you’ve got to love a place where the DJ goes from Spice Girls to Bobby Shmurda to Bel Biv Devoe within three songs. Not to mention that it was a nice change from the much too pretentious South Beach club scene; one in which we got more than enough of on the first night.
LIV is one of those places where you go in Miami just to say you’ve been before. It’s infamously rapped about and allegedly one of the city’s greatest hot spots. For me, it was a true testament to my running thoughts that I am indeed “too damn old for this club shit.” In my mind, I already had an idea about what the club would be like: blaring music, overpriced and watered down drinks, bottle girls with sparklers – the full Monty. However, with it being located in our hotel lobby, not attending would’ve felt like a missed opportunity. So, we got dressed, coughed up the 60 dollars per person (because Lil Yatchy was in attendance insert side eye emoji) and made our way inside. As expected, there was no dance floor for non-bottle service attendees, which meant that we ended up squished against the outer bar next to a group of guys taking extreme advantage of the LIV Snapchat location filters and looking at the table seaters like they were in a fish bowl. About 1 hour in, we all decided that we were too sober to deal and ended up going back to the room.
We took some pretty dope photobooth pictures.
Would I return?
However, the Fontainebleau's party experiences didn’t prove all bad. In fact, we each fell in love with the Glow Bar alongside the Bowtie and Oasis pools pretty instantaneously. All top 50 hip hop music and drinks strong enough to match their $20+ price point kept us coming back multiple times during the weekend. Service was spectacular and between cabanas, pool chairs and sunshine it was hard to want to be anywhere else.
But with so much to squeeze into such a short time period, that’s just what we did. Fortunately, Basement Miami made our move worth it. I would describe Basement as the ideal club for non-club-goers. Yes, there’s a dance floor (completely a Studio 54-esque disco ball), but the venue itself is SO much more than that. I mean what other club do you know that where you can leave the dance floor, hop on a mini ice skating rink and follow it up with bowling? Basement was truly the upscale Dave and Buster of clubbing and I enjoyed every single second of it.
Contrary to what it may seem though – our girls trip wasn’t all eating and drinking; 75% yes, but for the other 25% percent we managed to squeeze some culture in because sometimes you just have to.
I am a huge fan of street art and discovering interesting versions of it while traveling is one of my favorite vacation activities. For that reason, I knew that a stop at Wynwood Walls was a must. The Wynwood Walls were conceived in 2009 as a method of transforming the Wynwood district’s unique warehouse buildings, all with no windows, into “the greatest street art ever seen in one place.” Since that time, artists from around the world have ventured to the neighborhood to create masterpieces throughout the area. It’s amazing to see so much massive creativity in one space. The walls are free to attend, but also a priceless experience to be had.
Once you’ve gotten all of your culture, eating and drinking out of the way there’s obviously some retail therapy required and Lincoln Road Mall provides it. The outdoor shopping promenade, satisfied the fashion fiend in all of us with a bit of everything including Madewell, H&M, Anthropologie, Urban Outfitters, Zara and dozens more. It can take a full day to tackle, but I swear it’s worth it.
When our Sunday checkout came, we were each exhausted. It honestly felt like the weekend had flown by, but while writing this I realized just how much we managed to squeeze in while still having an amazing time. Miami has my heart (and Madewell jeans, which I left in the room -_-) forever. Can’t wait to make the trek back; on a girls trip of course.