We’ve talked about the romantic value of one-day long, epic day adventures. The idea is simple: hold hands with someone you love, or go sublime and solo, but binge on the flavor of a new city as if you had only one day to capture it all.
This month we visit Miami to explore parts that go beyond bikini-clad beaches. You can find lists all over the web about the hottest nightclubs and party spots in town, but next time you’re in the Magic City, consider this one-day itinerary that takes you to a different kind of wild life in Miami.
A Cuban coffee is the only way most people start the day in Miami, so head for Bill Baggs National Park in Key Biscayne and begin your adventure with a classic Cuban breakfast at the Lighthouse Café. Located in the marina, you’ll enjoy a classic Florida scene of boaters pulling up for fuel and food.
Then, rent a cycle and ride a quaint grassy seaside trail to the actual lighthouse.
You’ll enjoy pastoral seascapes of vegetation and wildlife all along this path that ends at the actual Cape Florida Lighthouse on the beach. Be prepared to cross off many birds on the Audubon list.
There are official tours offered for the lightkeeper’s quarters and grounds, but the glory of the moment is definitely a climb to the top for majestic, drone-quality views of the coast. Well-done for a morning on the tip of the country.
Leave the isle of Key Biscayne via the picturesque Rickenbacker Causeway and head for the artier side of things with a visit to the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Stroll exhibitions of modern art that wonder on the Poetics of Relation and other steamy subjects. Discuss over lunch at Verde, the museum’s spectacular café situated right on Biscayne Bay.
Then, head for less civilized things.
Head south on a leisurely drive down the scenic and historic Old Cutler Road for Coral Castle. Back in 1920, a young Latvian named Ed Leedskalnin came to America on the heels of a spurned engagement. He spent decades here, at the edge of the Everglades, in solitude, working on a “castle” made of megalithic stones. Like the great pyramids of Egypt, it’s still an official mystery how exactly Ed carved and moved these massive stones (weighing tons) into the fantastical juxtapositions you find here, but it’s fun to debate the theories as you explore this kitsch-y Miami attraction reminiscent of Old Florida.
Afterwards, keep heading south towards the agricultural section of Miami where you’ll spot authentic nurseries and farmer’s goods dotting the roadsides along Krome Avenue.
Follow along until you arrive at Robert is Here. One of the oldest establishments in the area, it’s come a long way from its original, austere “shake stand” persona to a fully-stocked farmer’s market with house samples of the sweetest mangos you’ll ever taste. Of course, you’re here at Robert is Here for the strawberry shake. Don’t be daunted by the line; it’s worth it.
As dusk starts to approach, head for the almost final stop of your day: the Anhinga Trail at Everglades National Park. Open 24 hours, you can enter any time for an otherworldly drive through the famous, uninterrupted terrain of the Everglades. Your first turn-off is the Anhinga Trail, which offers paved and elevated boardwalks that take you right to the wildlife action happening in the waters below.
We’re talking gators.
As dusk turns to sunset, you’ll see alligators trailing the waters with their trademark snouts gliding past unsuspecting prey. Dusk is the best time for wildlife viewing, as well as one of the most scenic times of day to view the vast Everglades’ river of grass.
You’re now set for the best night’s sleep but if you’ve got the mojo to keep going, head back north to Miami Beach to grab a seat by a fading pool in an old hostel with the best cocktails this side of mixology at Broken Shaker. Cheers!
And now you know. Miami struts to the beat of salsa as much as the swamp. Next time you’re here, take a wander in the city of which Iggy Pop said, “…is nothing like me, and that’s why I need to be here – it’s the opposite. I’m practical, where this place is moody, I’m stolid in my interior, where this place has a certain flair, and I’m materialistic in a sense that this place is fundamentally spiritual – there’s a quicksilver quality about this place.” Exactly Iggy.