Today’s post is a throwback to when we discovered that we were expecting Little T! We found out the amazing news one week before our vacation in South Beach which added a special element to our trip, knowing that it would be one of the last before our new addition to the family arrived. We lucked out with outstanding weather during most of the trip, swapping sub-zero temperatures and grey skies in London for bright sunshine and beautiful beaches in South Beach. Here’s a photo recap of some of the highlights from our trip!

Where We Stayed

James Hotel South Beach

We stayed at the James Hotel South Beach – now the Royal Palm South Beach – which is located right on the beach and a short walking distance from the bars and restaurants of Ocean Drive, or, in the other direction, the shops and restaurants of Lincoln Road. Our room had a stunning view of the ocean, the beach, the two hotel pools and Florida Cookery restaurant. We booked the hotel through the British Airways Executive Club, redeeming Avios points towards our stay.

James Hotel South Beach

We were early birds throughout this trip, partly due to jetlag, and we were often up just in time to watch the sun rise.

South Beach Sunrise

It was always blissful to just sit back, relax and enjoy the hotel’s sun loungers and a complimentary basket of water and fruit…

South Beach

South Beach

Or just enjoy some time walking along the shore and taking in the bright colours of the South Beach scene…

South Beach

South Beach Lifeguard Station

South Beach

South Beach

South Beach Lifeguard Station

Getting Around

Renting a car is not necessary (parking is expensive and there’s often traffic) – unless you want to visit other parts of Miami. Most places in South Beach are within walking distance or a short taxi ride away. I’d recommend renting a scooter or bicycles to move around the area. During our visit we regularly went to the Reebok CrossFit Miami box, which was about a mile and a half from our hotel, so we rented a couple of bikes from Bike and Roll. We rented beach cruisers on a discounted weekly rate, and the hotel doormen stored them away for us in a storage area behind reception.

South Beach Bike and Roll

South Beach Bicycles

Towards the end of our trip, we traded the cruisers for road bikes so we could have a day to cycle and sight-see around South Beach and along the scenic Venetian Causeway, which crosses through a chain of artificial islands in Biscayne Bay from Miami Beach to the mainland.

South Beach

South Beach

South Beach

Venetian Causeway

The day before we left, we rented a car to drive down to Key West. It’s a beautiful drive through the Keys and while we didn’t have time to during this vacation, it is worth it to stay there overnight as the drive to Key West takes about 3 1/2 hours. We were happy to make a day trip out of it though and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery along the way… and the scrumptious key lime pie at Blue Heaven.

Florida Keys

Key Lime Pie

Where We Ate

I really enjoyed the Cuban food while in Miami, especially at what turned out to be my favourite restaurant during this trip, Versailles Restaurant, which was about a 15 minute taxi ride away in Little Havana. We ate at a few cafes on Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road for a simple lunch or dinner, visited a couple of South Beach’s most famous restaurants, had one of our best meals at an unassuming cafeteria-style place and admittedly had some very disappointing dinners from a few highly recommended places which we’ll leave unnamed.

These restaurants were the highlights of the trip;

Las Olas Cafe, 6th Street – We discovered this place by chance when I searched online where to get the best Cuban sandwich, which is a grilled sandwich made with ham, roasted pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, mustard and crusty Cuban bread. I had an awful one at the hotel restaurant, Florida Cookery, and wanted to try an authentic, well made sandwich before leaving. We got to Las Olas Cafe, which is small and cafeteria style, with a counter of hot food, including roasted chicken and pork and all the sides – fried plantains, steamed vegetables, rice, black beans, etc. My husband ordered two roast chickens (yes, two) with steamed vegetables and fried plantains, which altogether came out to only about $8 or $9. I placed my order a Cuban sandwich, which takes about 5 minutes to make.

Meanwhile, I had some of the roast chicken which was so extremely delicious! It tasted amazing and was so juicy and tender that the meat was just falling off the bone. It was the best roasted chicken I’ve ever had and I would highly recommend this place for fantastic value and well made, delicious food. And definitely go for the roast chicken, you won’t be disappointed.

Las Olas Cafe

The Cuban sandwich I ordered certainly did not disappoint – Las Olas roast and slice the pork loin each morning, and you can tell all the ingredients are fresh and well made.

Las Olas Cafe

BLT Steak at the Betsy Hotel, Ocean Drive – We enjoyed the atmosphere and ended up coming back to the Betsy Hotel for drinks on the veranda a couple of more times during our trip.

Betsy Hotel South Beach

On our second night at South Beach, we had lovely dinner at the BLT Steak. The photos came out very dark and awful so I’ll leave you with a photo of the unexpectedly huge pile of doughnut sized onion rings we had as an appetizer while we waited for our table.

Betsy South Beach

Joe’s Stone Crab, Washington Avenue – This was one of our favorite restaurants, especially for the atmosphere. It’s one of South Beach’s most famous restaurants, considered a local institution, that also ships its famous seafood all across the continental USA.

Here are those famous stone crab claws!

Joes Stone Crabs

My husband had the swordfish, while I went with fried shrimp.

Joe's Stone Crab

Joe's Stone Crab

Van Dyke Café, Lincoln Road – This casual dining restaurant is a great place on Lincoln Road to people watch and enjoy the lively atmosphere of the area. We came here twice – once for lunch, and a second time for a quick, late dinner after our drive back from Key West. The servings are big here and they don’t skimp on toppings!

I had a turkey burger on a wheat bun with spinach, tomatoes and Swiss cheese plus an enormous portion of sweet potato fries.

Van Dyke Cafe

My husband asked for an extra portion of grilled chicken to accompany his Van Dyke Salad – baby greens, carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, radish and onions with honey mustard dressing on the side – and like I said, they’re very generous with the portions!

Van Dyke Cafe

Where We Bought Essentials

There’s a CVS Pharmacy on Lincoln Road where we stocked up on some toiletries, snacks and large bottles of water. And on our way to the CrossFit box, we would regularly stop by the Art Deco Market, a groceries store on Washington Avenue near our hotel, to stock up on fresh fruit, smoothies, coconut water and snacks.

We had a great time basking in the sunshine of South Beach and I enjoyed reliving those memories going through the photos to put together this post. It makes me look forward to returning to Sunshine State for another vacation, this time with our little one joining us.

PIN IT FOR LATER

Snapshots from South Beach Miami FL

All photos are copyright PiccoloExplorer.com

My Travel Monkey
Wander Mum

 

20 thoughts on “Snapshots from South Beach, Miami”

    1. Thank you! The scenery is beautiful around Miami, I hope you have a great time. Are you stopping by on your way to the Caribbean or somewhere else in Florida?

  1. I absolutely love Miami and your photos are taking me straight back there – I went back with my daughter when she was about 16 months old, so she’s sat on South Beach too and came on a food walking tour of Little Havana with me which was fantastic. Wish I was under those blue skies today! #mondayescapes

    1. Just realised I missed this comment! A food walking tour of Little Havana sounds amazing, I would have loved that! I really enjoyed the Cuban food we had in Miami especially at the Versailles Restaurant.

  2. I am literally dribbling at those onion rings – how big are they?? I love this post – Miami is top of my list of USA visits in the next few years and you’ve just basically strengthened that desire. I am bookmarking all your tips and suggestions! Thanks so much for linking up with #MondayEscapes

    1. They were huge! We were expecting thin, crunchy ones but these were pretty good! 😀 Miami is amazing and the drive through the Florida Keys is definitely worth it. Looking forward to the next Monday Escapes, I’m really enjoying reading everyone’s travel posts.

  3. Beautiful photos of Miami Beach, Fl. I’ve never been, but I’m hoping to go in the future. I think if I go though I’d wait until winter. I feel like Florida stays hot and humid. :-/

    1. Miami is one of my favorite places and I highly recommend it, I love the vibe there and the great beaches. We took this trip in January when the weather is pleasant – sunny and warm, a little bit cool at nighttime but never overwhelmingly hot or humid like we experienced on a previous trip in the summertime – although I did love swimming in the warm ocean in the summer. Hope you visit Miami and thanks for stopping by!

  4. What a fantastic trip…the hotel, the gorgeous sunrise, the beach and clearly the food was pretty incredible too. I’ve not been to that part of the states but sounds like a really good option for some winter sun! Thanks for linking to #citytripping

  5. Miami Beach is one of our favorite places, too! Las Olas came highly recommended, and we were not disappointed; same with Versailles Cafe. Oh, so many awesome places to eat – we would happily go back just for lunch! 🙂 Great pictures – thanks for taking us down memory lane, too!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *