The Excitement of…MIAMI!

by Trish Utter

The chill of winter is here, but it’s 78 degrees in Miami! Don’t you just love living in Florida? There are so many places we can drive to for a weekend. I booked Circa39, a boutique hotel in Miami, for a family trip with my son Colt, and Brooke my daughter. The drive was easy and parking was a breeze with their secured parking lot. I was greeted by the beautiful and bubbly staff.

Driving up to the quaint hotel, you can’t help but imagine that you are back in the 1930s. The architecture is stunning and makes you feel that you are on a movie set. The hotel was built in 1939, and completely updated in 2014. Circa39 is across the street from the wide, sandy beach and around the corner from the Fontainebleau Hotel.

Within a minute we had our room key and followed the terra-cotta path to a lush courtyard, called the WunderGarden, which is a secluded courtyard with comfortable little nooks to relax in. It’s quite a cozy little hideaway.

The corridor to our room was lined with white chiffon that blew in the tropical breeze. Ah, it was so relaxing. The room was spacious and very quiet. It was wonderful to have a large closet, and a fridge in our room was an extra plus. We couldn’t wait to hit the pool which is nestled on a comfortable sundeck with cabanas and loungers.

On our first morning there, we opted for breakfast from Jules Kitchen. It was nice not having to leave the property to get a latte and there’s a vast selection of items included in the breakfast buffet – and they also do lunch and dinner. We sat outside on the large front porch overlooking the street so we could people watch.

The hotel staff informed us of the free, blue, bus that stops right in front of the hotel, and runs every 10 minutes in a loop to South Beach, and back. We took this to the famous Lincoln Road. The road is blocked off to traffic and people walk to all the shops, restaurants, and entertainment.

We managed to get some beach time in, and I must say that I found the beach surprisingly clean. The hotel offers free beach chairs and towels so all you have to do is waddle out and sit down and enjoy. No lugging beach chairs around…so relaxing.

I visited the WunderBar and ordered a craft cocktail from their great selection. The bar is fully stocked, and their specialty is rum, the taste of the tropics, and a pretty place to indulge in. I enjoyed meeting other guests and locals here. Meeting local people is a fantastic way to get to know the area as is the hotel’s site of insider tips: www.beyondcirca39.com
This hotel does make you feel that you are living the Miami lifestyle, but you will be surprised at the very affordable room rates. I am already looking forward to our next stay at Circa39.

If you read all of our travel stories you will know that one of my favorite things to do right away in a new area is to take a trip with Big Bus Tours. When you do this you get ideas of what you would like to go back to see more in-depth or you can just hop on, and off. There are 2 tours, the Beach Tour and the City Tour. I recommend….both!

On the city tour, I found out about an area that I had never heard of – Wynwood. There are murals on every building. Graffiti artists are encouraged to paint and each building changes regularly. Street artists from around the world can be seen painting on every flat surface, so as the bus drove around and with this in mind,  I was shocked to see a plain black building right in the center of all this, with the text #JANLIFE and a few exotic cars parked outside. #JANLIFE, I shouted….lol! This is a friends business, JanLife Performance, but I didn’t know he was in Wynwood. I jumped off the tour to check it out on foot and to meet up with Jan. Jan told me that his building is painted black as it’s a code to graffiti artists not to paint on that building. He also showed me all his Lamborghini’s, Rolls’, Bentley’s, McLaren’s and other cars he rents out. If you need a nice car to really get into the Miami groove, check out #JANLIFE.

There is high energy in Wynwood, with all its boutiques, bars, craft markets, microbreweries, restaurants, nightclubs and live music. I came across Wynwood Walls. Here you will find artists from all over the world that display their gigantic artwork and paint murals. Entry is free. A wonderful place to take photos. I could have spent days in Wynwood and hope to go back again soon.

If you are looking for a real Miami experience that you will not find anywhere else then look no further than the Ball and Chain. Here you are immersed in Latin music and dancing. No cover charge and free salsa lessons, this place is hopping. The Ball and Chain has a history that goes back to the 1930s. Apparently, African American entertainers such as Lena Horne, Ella Fitzgerald, Nat King Cole, and Louie Armstrong, are rumored to have performed here, as well as Billie Holiday, Count Basie, and Chet Baker. I sat in a comfortable booth right in the middle of all the excitement. I dinned on tacos that were bursting with flavor, the portion size was huge and it was surprisingly affordable. For such a busy place, I was surprised at how clean it was. The Ball and Chain has fantastic exotic drinks and as if all this wasn’t enough they top the excitement with professional Latin dancers that dance on the bar top! Wow! I also liked the fact that you can walk to the back of the bar to an outdoor courtyard that is beautifully lit that offers a bar and seating area to relax in. I think this should be high on your list to visit. Check their website for all their events that go on every day. They also offer valet parking.

One of the main stops for the Big Bus Tour is at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. It offers an Aquarium, Planetarium, and the Feathers to Stars exhibit showed to the progression of flight from feathers dinosaurs to landing on the moon. We loved the paper airplane display where you can test out your own aeronautical skills by shooting your paper plane off in a little wind tunnel. You easily spend a day here and it has lots of hands-on exhibits for young scientists.

Miami is full of fashion, art, funky stores and nightclubs. I’m ready to do it all over again!