My husband had to go to Miami for a work conference and since he was going to be there all week, I decided to tag along with our kids and make a vacation out of his business trip. I can’t really say Miami was ever in my “must-see” vacations spots – it wasn’t even in my Top 25 place to go, BUT who can refuse free? We just flew in this afternoon and it’s never felt better to be home!
PROS – The tropical weather – the sunshine and palm trees were wonderful! I love the sun and the ocean and we visited both South Beach in Miami and Fort Myers Beach. The water was so warm, clear and perfect for boogie boarding and I preferred Fort Myer’s beach-y small town feel. We went through Alligator Alley and the Everglades to get to Ft. Myers and it was a nice change of pace – but no alligator sightings! My daughter loves the water so the pool and beach were perfect activities, even if I did have to cover my kids continuously in sunscreen all week. The Seaquarium park was fantastic for people of all ages – they had dolphins, a killer whale, sea lions, sea turtles, manatees, crocodiles, and all kinds of fish and birds. I originally thought it was kind of pricey to get in, but with fantastic shows all day long, it was totally worth the money. We also took a really great boat ride throughout the islands off the coasts that rode us past mansion after mansion where all the celebrities live (Will Smith, Usher, Mel Gibson, Denzel Washington, Shaq, Leonardo DiCaprio, Carmen Electra, Shakira, etc.). It was peaceful to be out in the water and see the city from a different angle. The city had a free MetroMover public transportation that offered us such a convenient way to move about the city effectively and at no cost. The Bayside Marketplace downtown was a neat place to shop, eat and explore. Along the water, it had all kinds of open-air shops and restaurants and the perfect place to get ice cream after a steamy day. It was so great to get-away from the daily grind BUT…
CONS – Usually vacations inspire me but I can’t really say this one had that affect on me. Not to sound like a complainer but…downtown Miami was not good. At all. We stayed with my husband’s work at the downtown Hilton, which was a great hotel but in a bad location. Being in the downtown location, we saw the inner city and it was not pretty. It smelled like urine in every elevator, metro station and corner of the city and homeless people crowded the streets begging. For being in the tropics, it was a concrete city with very little greenery or lush vegetation to look at. And oh the congestion. Everywhere you looked there were cars, noise, traffic and people. Even when we went to South Beach, I’d hardly call it relaxing. It was a mad house everywhere we went, which is not very conducive to peace and quiet. I never felt like I truly unwounded and I think I came home more exhausted than I left (and it doesn’t help my daughter didn’t sleep well in a foreign hotel room and my son was teething all week!). We found most of the people we encountered were very rude and pushy, especially in traffic. Pretty much everyone down there spoke Spanish and we stuck out like sore thumbs that I’d hardly believe we were even in America. Everything had a very flashy, materialistic feel to it, including the shopping and people. I’ve never seen so many tacky, over-the-top clothing and attitudes – everyone thought they were the next J-Lo or Beyonce and it got old really quickly. It most definitely did not help that the NBA Finals games #6 and #7 took place while we were there, so the diva attitudes and crazy, revealing clothes were at a maximum. I’m a down-to-earth person looking to make lasting, meaningful memories with my children and I’d hardly call Miami a wholesome, family place. Now I know for sure why it has never on my “must-see” list of places in America.
One encounter with a man in the Metro elevator sums up our whole trip:
- Man – “This elevator stinks like the city.”
- Us – “Yes, it’s pretty bad.”
- Man – “You’re not from around here, are you?”
- Us – “No, we’re from Cleveland.”
- Man – “Yes, you are too happy to be from Miami. And you’re American. The only Americans here are crackheads.”
- Us – “Oh, that’s too bad.”
So in a nutshell, it was nice to get away with my family but Miami is not a place I’d visit again.