So last month I was soooooooo lucky to go to one of my bucket list destinations Miami. With its palm trees, pastel walls and art deco architecture it had been on my travel wishlist for ages so as you can imagine I was pretty happy when the guys at Olympus offered me the chance to go and take the brand new Olympus Pen EPL9 with me to capture the whole trip. I took along my friend and fellow Olympus fan and ambassador Jay who also shot solely on the new EPL9 and we had such a brilliant week seeking out new places, eating great food and snapping away to our hearts content. Miami is an incredible place. We were based more in Miami Beach which is where all the good stuff is in my opinion, but its super easy to Uber into downtown Miami and thats what we did a couple of times. After a brilliant trip I had to share not only some of the incredible imagery we captured but all the things to do in Miami and Miami beach that should most definitely be on your Miami hitlist!
Stay in a great hotel in South Beach
I honestly can't rave about our first Miami Beach hotel enough and in fact I won't as I wrote a whole post all about The Plymouth, Miami on the blog. I did a lot of research for hotels as I was lucky that I was able to choose them myself. We stayed in one near South Beach and one on the other side of Miami beach on the bay. My top tips would be if you are looking at a hotel along Ocean drive, bear in mind it will be super busy and quite noisy especially at weekends. For a hotel right near the beach you will pay a premium but if the beach is your thing you will have almost instant access to the white sands of South Beach. We walked past a few that looked stunning including the Faena Hotel and The Confidante. We opted for The Plymouth as it was a bit further away from the hustle and bustle and therefore lovely and quiet, but only a couple of minutes walk along the boardwalk to Ocean Drive and our fave Starbucks ha ha. Our second hotel The Mondrian South Beach despite a gorgeous view really wasn't our cup of tea. It was super noisy and the service wasn't great tbh so my other top tip would be avoid party hotels if you like a good nights sleep!
Wander down Miami Beach Boardwalk
The beach boardwalk runs almost the whole length of South Beach itself and is such a lovely route to have a wander down, especially with an iced coffee in hand. Take in the warm breeze, the palm trees and the view of the sea without even getting any sand in your shoes. Also really nice in early evening for a stroll along too.
Paddle in the Ocean
Now I'm not a fan of lying on the beach (its the sand that gets everywhere) and to be honest we were way too busy for that but I had to make sure I at least took a paddle in the ocean. The water was gorgeous and so beautiful and blue. If you have more time and love the ocean then head out for a swim in the sea or float around on your own inflatable. Just make sure you don't get caught out by a large wave!!
visit a museum
Now there aren't many museums where you get to eat ice cream on every floor or swing on a giant banana, but we were so lucky to bag tickets to the Museum of Ice Cream. An incredible four floors of colour, flavour and fun and sooooo many photo opportunities. From tasting melted ice cream to sitting in a pool full of sprinkles, the Museum of Ice cream really was one of the best things we did in Miami.
Sadly the MOIC has finished now in Miami (opening soon in New York) but there are still plenty of great museums to check out in Miami; The Perez Art Museum, the Vizcaya Museum and gardens which are beautiful or the Frost Museum of Science.
Eat great food
Thankfully Jay loves to eat food as much as me and there is so much good food to be had in Miami Beach. We ate incredible burgers at Big Pink which has the biggest menu we wanted try everything and what we had was sooo good. I ate tasty tacos at the Watr bar on the roof of the 1 Hotel, really delicious and reasonably priced for the venue. We had a great lunch of burgers and lobster roll at the Clevelander Hotel on Ocean Drive which by all accounts is pretty rowdy in the evening but in the day we enjoyed the big portions and the frozen pina coladas. We also sought out the best cuban sandwiches in a little restaurant called Bella Cuba recommended to us by the team at The Plymouth. Really yummy and well worth a try if you want to sample really well cooked homely Cuban food in a family run restaurant.
Prepare to eat large and eat well and don't forget there will be tax and gratuity on top of your bill!
Walk Ocean Drive
A walk along Ocean Drive if a must do especially if you want to see some of the famous pastel art deco architecture. I loved the mix of colours and buildings and my camera was full of shots of hotels and restaurants. There is so much to see so make sure to look up! Ocean Drive is also where you'll find all the restaurants, bars and shops. Head back at night to see everything lit up in neon.
Visit Wynwood Walls
Its no wonder Wynwood Walls is one of the most popular places to visit in Miami. Totally free to enter you can wander an outdoor museum showcasing large-scale murals and art works by some of the world’s best-known street artists as well as wandering the neighbourhood streets where the painted walls and murals continue.
Stand and pose in front of your favourite for a photo or just wander and take in all the amazing colours.
The neighborhood is full of cool of cool bistros and places to hang out. Head to Zak the Baker for a hibiscus lemonade, gorgeous pastries and to watch them make bread in an amazing machine whilst flour hangs everywhere in the air.
Laze by the pool
If time allows and the weather is nice then take some time out to laze by the pool. Lots of the hotels have very cool pool areas with large beds and waiter service for drinks and food so lay back, soak up the sun and relax. Despite the fact the Mondrian South Beach wasn't our cup of tea it really did have an incredible pool area with views of the bay and I spent my last afternoon floating around the pool on a lilo.
Snap the Lifeguard towers
A must take photo is the brightly coloured Lifeguard Towers on South Beach. Along the beach they are still actively in use with the beach safety flags flying, whilst along the boardwalk you'll find older lifeguard towers sat waiting for repair and a repaint, but still make a great photo backdrop.
Tee Primark mens | shorts Primark | scarf
Seek out new places
One of the best things about Miami and Miami Beach was just finding new cool places to eat or drink. We headed to The Broken Shaker at the Freehand Hotel for courtyard cocktails surrounded by festoon lighting and fire. Very cool and very busy so get there early! We then went to The Edition Hotel to play a couple of games of tenpin in their basement bowling alley. Lit up by bright neon, you'll also find their very own ice rink with colour changing lights, very instagrammable! You pay per half hour for the bowling with drinks on top but well worth a quick game just for the setting. My advice is head to other hotels to see what exciting things they have going on and also ask for recommendations before you go too, thats how we found places.
Have a cocktail
I am partial to a little cocktail, I'm not a huge drinker but I did make it my Miami mission to try a cocktail in every place we went. Along Ocean Drive you see huge cocktails in massive glasses with upside down bottles of Corona in and two straws for sharing, I didn't venture this large but I did enjoy the frozen pina coladas that seemed to be on tap everywhere we went. Special mention also goes to the frozen rose Froze cocktail I had on the rooftop bar at the 1 hotel, a yummy blueberry mojito at Bella Cuba and a very tasty coconut cocktail served in a hollowed out coconut at The Mondrian.
Watch the Miami sunset
I booked our second hotel for the view of the bay out to Miami and it didn't disappoint.
Watching the sunset over the water was incredible and also gave me chance to test out the Panoramic option on the PEN EPL9! You won't see the sun set over South Beach itself so for best views you need to be on the west side of Miami Beach.
As well as from the Mondrian you will get a great view of the sunset from any of the rooftop bars in Miami beach.
Drinks on the 1 Hotel Rooftop bar
The rooftop bar at the 1 Hotel is on pretty much every list of things to do in Miami. This hotel is incredible and if budget had allowed I would have loved to have stayed here but fear not, non hotel guests are allowed to visit the amazing rooftop bar after 7pm just in time to see the sunset. It has an incredible pool along the length of part of the roof with stunning views across Miami beach. The service was fabulous and the bar itself had a really nice vibrant but chilled out vibe. I highly rate the frozen rose cocktail (in fact I had two) and the food was also excellent.
Another rooftop bar to check out is Sugar the rooftop bar above EAST hotel in Miami's Brickell district.
See Ocean Drive by night
Ocean Drive takes on a whole new atmosphere at night especially at weekends. The buildings are all lit up in bright neon and trees have festoon lights in them and the noise and the buzz along the strip in incredible. Find yourself a restaurant or bar along Ocean Drive and sit outside and watch the cars come down music going, bass pumping, its peacocking at its best and so entertaining. You'll also be guaranteed to see some incredible cars too.
So that's all my top tips and things to do in Miami. I had an absolute blast and I did actually shoot a vlog of the whole trip too which will be coming to my Youtube very soon. Hope you've loved seeing what we got up and thanks to Olympus for an incredible trip.
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