Tropical Temptations: Memorable moments in Miami

Shereen Shabnam

Miami is always a pleasure to be in but this year, I was able to combine my work in the technology industry with a dose of the Miami Auto Show. As I am passionate about all things related to cars, this naturally elevated my Miami experience.  In the past, I would spend hours navigating through the famous Dezer collection, but it was exciting being able to see a lot more interesting cars this year via the motor show.

When it comes to looking for a haven that lets you relax by the day and party by the night, Miami is perfect as both are done in gusto and with equal measure. The calm and serenity that I feel in the coastal parts of Miami, the creative inspiration I feel in the Art Deco areas and the diverse cuisine, sights and sounds that offer a fascinating blend of urban chic and old-world rustic charm is what makes me go back again and again.

As always, Miami has great year-round weather, the best beaches and is a cosmopolitan metropolis with an enviable arts and cultural landscape in the backdrop blue skies, cotton candy clouds that makes ‘The Simpsons’ sky paler in comparison and cool breezy evenings perfect for beach walks and outdoor sports.

This time around, I spent a lot of time at the Botanical gardens across the Miami Convention Centre purely because my conference with IFS was held there. The garden was small but done beautifully and offered a green haven to relax after the talks.

Naturally I love the Dezer Collection which keeps adding unique pieces during each visit. Then a visit to the Everglades National Park, a 1.5 million-acre eco-system of subtropical jungle and the warm waters of Florida Bay offers a good dose of greenery which I crave for when I am sitting in my office all day.

Being a Pisces, I also love the Biscayne National Park that hosts’ lots of marine life and plants, living coral reefs as well as the longest stretch of mangrove forest.

During every visit to Miami, I have stayed in different hotels as the city, the South beach and many more areas have an inspiring collection of hotels, from casual and chic boutiques to the world’s leading luxury properties. This time, I stayed at the National Hotel which was convenient as I could walk to the Lincoln Road in less than five minutes for retail therapy.

If it is your first time in Miami, head to South Beach to see the Port of Miami which clearly is the Cruise Capital of the World. One year, I went on the maiden journey of the largest cruise ship in the world, ‘Harmony of the Seas’ and this is still very vivid in my memory as one of my best holidays. The famous Port is dotted with sparkling white megaships carrying travelers to the Caribbean and back – my favourite stop was of course the Bahamas.

Visitors with children will enjoy the Jungle Island that has great wildlife shows, monkeys and exotic birds. I had a private encounter with the lemurs that initially was daunting and I was squeamish but they soon won me over with their cute antics.

The Miami Children’s Museum, which is hosted in a gorgeous building designed by the award-winning Miami architectural firm, Arquitectonica was great as it was my first time in this venue.

A visit to Miami is not complete unless you go to the Art deco area, which has a collection of more than 800 architecturally protected buildings from the 1930s and 1940s. If you love art, take ample time to spend here and my only regret is not charging up my camera in full when I visited. It is a photographers dream.

I love the trendy Lincoln Road for uninterrupted retail therapy as this area is pedestrian friendly and has lots of spots to have coffee breaks and watch the locals in between shopping. Not far from here is the World Symphony Centre with world-class performing arts. During my stay in Bal Harbour, I discovered the famous Bal Harbour Shops across the road which had the best designer boutiques that included Gucci, Fendi, Roberto Cavalli and lovely coffee shops.

Visiting Downtown Miami is a must especially as it has Florida’s largest performing arts center with the Grand Opera, the Miami City Ballet and of course there is the Design District that hosts the top designers. Close to the Design District is Wynwood that has close to a hundred galleries including contemporary urban murals and relaxation areas.

Other new Miami attractions to look out for when you visit are include the Miami Science Museum, the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, and the new Miami Art Museum. We spent an evening in the Science Museum with fellow conference delegates and it was the perfect venue for hosting events with large groups.

My favourite part of Miami is Little Havana where I discovered ‘Cassava or Tapioca’ during lunch one day. It is a root crop I love and is a staple we eat in Fiji. The vibrant area makes you feel happy naturally and one could spend a entire day exploring the cuisine, watching how one hand-rolls cigars, with the backdrop of songs that make you want to start salsa and merengue lessons right away.

New visitors should head to Coconut Grove with lush and tropical greenery and has lovely cafés, art galleries, retail shops and markets and suburbs such as Coral Gables with beautiful Mediterranean-style homes and winding waterways.

The Key Biscayne area is good for hiking and biking trails, boating and sports facilities. North of Miami has great Moorish architecture, good golf courses and large Aventura Mall where I ended up spending a full day. South of Miami is great for Everglades National Park, a World Heritage site and numerous tourist destinations.

EcoAdventures in Miami offers a wide variety of exciting naturalist-guided excursions for nature lovers and outdoor sports enthusiasts that combine adventure, recreation, and natural history. It is great to kayak, snorkel, bike, or hike in this remarkable sub-tropical environment and go on nature trails.

Miami offers far beyond sun and sand, with world-famous nightlife and world-renowned art galleries, first-class hotels superb dining, designer retail and unique architecture that makes it one of the world’s most visually distinctive regions.

You can fly to Miami directly from Dubai with Emirates five times a week. The flight is comfortable and with WiFI available during the journey, I was able to work and enjoy the wide range of inflight entertainment and duty-free shopping onboard.

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