By Zeke Quezada
Heading to South Florida is more than an attempt to get away, it becomes a sensory experience in sight sound and even touch. The humid air coupled with the sights and sound of the Miami area make it seem as if you left the United States and dropped in somewhere in the Caribbean or Latin America. Nope, you have arrived in Miami and you can bet that your vacation is set to be different than you would have expected.
Step outside of the airport in Miami, Florida and in an instant you are introduced to the Latin sounds of Caribbean influenced music. The rhythm is in the air and the language. Listen to the cab driver and their Spanish dances off of their lips. Miami is a place all its own you’ll quickly feel like you should have brushed up on your high school Spanish skills. Miami is a respite for a travel writer as so much happens the moment you touch down It is no different for me and when I jump in the cab I am ready for the complete South Florida experience. The cab driver greets me with such a cadence in his voice that I want to start a conversation immediately. I call out “Calle Ocho” in as close to what I believe is perfect Spanish and he drives off.
We begin to talk about Miami and my love for Cuban cuisine and he asks me about my favorite dishes. I rattle off as many as I can think of and the cab driver mentions a few of his own. By the time he drops me off at Versailles on Calle Ocho I am starving. In a few days I will eat Cuban sandwiches and Masas de Puerco at Puerto Sagua on Collins in South Beach and El Siboney in Key West. The food of South Florida is a small reason to visit considering the beaches, the wildlife and the nightlife.
A getaway to Miami is not complete without a late night in South Beach, a drive to the everglades and a visit to the Keys. Sure you’ll get your share of Cuban cuisine and culture on Calle Ocho but the Latin flavor as well as the Caribbean influence is everywhere.
3 Must Dos in South Florida That Cost Very Little Money
Art Deco Architecture in South Beach – There is no denying that you’ll see the beach in Miami and you should not miss it. The warm water and wide expanse of sand will call you to lounge for hours upon hours, but if you want a diversion, look no further than right behind you. The art deco revival that has occurred in South Beach is a magnificent way to do a little sightseeing in Miami without spending too much money. Walk along Ocean Ave. and you’ll be shooting so many pictures your eyes will be fuzzy and your memory cards will be full. The hotels and buildings in this area have been restored and most allow you to walk around the property. Check out some of the old pools and see a few of the hotel lobbies and catch a glimpse of old Miami.
Homestead and the Everglades – Head southeast of Miami and you’ll find Everglades National Park and more water and alligators than you ever thought you could encounter. Drive toward Homestead and look for the fruit stands or find an alligator park where you can go on an airboat ride. Prices vary in these parts so do a little research. You can generally do most of the sightseeing in Everglades National Park area on your own and if you want a boat ride there are a few operators in the area offering the experience for reasonable prices.
The Florida Keys – Yes, you can drive all the way down to Key West in a day but I am thinking that you would not get enough out of the trip if it is a hurried excursion. Drive to Key Largo and see John Pennekamp State Park, find a place to swim near Mile Marker 88 and get to at least Seven Mile Bridge. Come to think of it if you get that far you might as well head al the way to El Siboney on Catherine in Key West and have some fried pork.
The sightseeing is free but the gas might drive your vacation costs up.