I just came back from a short trip to Miami, Florida, where I took the opportunity to visit a friend who lives there and escape the gray November weather. As it was my very first time visiting the city, I also visited some of its touristy attractions to get to know it better.
Curiously, Miami had never really been a destination that particularly attracted me (I prefer the mountains to the beach), but in the end, I was completely charmed! I was surprised to realize that Miami is much more than the popular Miami Beach, the flashy bars and the tropical palm trees. Miami is a city full of contrasts, unlike any other I have visited so far in the United States.
So here are three reasons why I ultimately fell in love with Miami (and why I hope to return there one day)!
A colourful city
Miami is a city particularly recognized for its dynamic arts scene. And you don’t necessarily need to visit a museum or go to the theater to fully enjoy the city’s vibrant and unique vibe! Just take a walk in the historic district of Miami Beach to admire its art deco architecture and pastel colours. Or, one of the highlights of my short trip, visit the Wynwood Arts District and check out its murals.
This district located north of downtown is recognized as the cultural and artistic centre of Miami. A former industrial neighborhood, the old warehouses have been converted into art galleries, cafés and restaurants in recent decades. And beyond the famous Wynwood Walls (an outdoor museum dedicated to street art), there are murals and works of art everywhere in the neighborhood: on the walls, on the sidewalks, and even on the electrical poles.
A diverse city
Miami’s vibrant energy perhaps comes from its diverse culture. Miami is a fairly young city (when it was founded in 1896, it had only 300 inhabitants), and its population increased significantly with the arrival of Caribbean immigrants in the first half of the 20th century, then the arrival of several Cuban refugees after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba in the 1950s.
Today, more than 70% of Miami’s population is estimated to be of Hispanic origin (mostly Cuban origin, but also from Central and South America). And this influence is felt everywhere in the streets and businesses of the city, but even more strongly in certain neighborhoods, like Little Havana. In fact, at times it was almost possible for me to forget that I was still in the United States!
A tropical city
Over the past few years, I have had the chance to explore cities in the American “South”, such as Austin, Texas or Savannah, Georgia. But in Miami, “South” takes on a whole new meaning. Maybe it’s the tropical climate, the many palm trees, or the Cuban influence, but being in Miami made me want to slow down and enjoy the warm sea breeze.
And to add to the atmosphere of the Tropics, did you know that it is common to see wild chickens in the streets and parks of Miami? It seems to be another legacy of the Cuban culture. Add to this that there is also a chance that you might come across wild peacocks, iguanas and even alligators while walking around town. In short, Miami definitely has a little exotic and strange side!
I didn’t have enough time to visit everything, but the colours, flavors and warmth of the city definitely made me want to come back!