Where's the Fun in Miami?
There's more to Miami than bikinis and booty. In the final installment of a series profiling the Magic City, The Root explores the 3-0-5 you won't see in a typical rap video.
If you're looking for an edgier view of the 3-0-5, head up Second Avenue to Sweat Records, Miami's coolest indie record store. Rifle through stacks of LPs, see who you can identify in the massive mural of musicians (Is that Prince -- next to James Brown?); snack on organic cupcakes; and observe the city's hippest movers, shakers and music makers in their natural element.
If you wanna party like a local, you need to hit up Vagabond; Thursday night, the joint is jumpin' for Shake, a weekly hip-hop hipsterati party with DJ A-Train on the ones and twos. On Saturday nights, a more mature, but no less cool, crowd gathers at Electric Pickle for live music and killer DJs.
Key Biscayne, Coconut Grove and Coral Gables
For beautiful vistas and spectacular dining, do yourself a favor and head out to Key Biscayne. This island village offers an entirely different vibe than the rest of the city. Drive over the bridge and hang your first left to visit one of the most scenic restaurants. The Rusty Pelican serves up sizzling steaks, along with a stunning view of Miami's downtown skyline, offering a picturesque spot for a celebration.
For a gritty, authentic glimpse into the lifestyle of hardcore Miami lifers, bring a six-pack and spend an afternoon at Jimbo's on Virginia Key. Expect to encounter grizzled fishermen reminiscing about hurricanes past, more stray cats than you can begin to count and a boccie ball court that's always rumbling with use. The place is a dump, but there's no place like it.
To see how the top 5 percent lives, venture past the state parks, beaches and tennis courts to the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne -- a stunning resort that redefines the meaning of luxury. If you've got dollars to spend, the outdoor couples massage is one of the best investments in luxury you can make. Evenings at Cantina Beach, the resort's oceanfront Mexican restaurant, promise incredible, freshly made guacamole and tequila selected by one of the country's few tequila sommeliers.
Coconut Grove is just a hop, skip and a jump away, and this historic pedestrian's paradise is worth the visit if you enjoy shopping and good food. Here, elements of the Grove's history -- from the Bahamian villagers who made it their home in the late 1800s, to the hippies who made the Grove the place to be in the '60s and '70s -- are still evident. A stroll down Grand Avenue offers stores galore and some pretty great restaurants. We suggest that you bypass touristy fare like Johnny Rockets and the Cheesecake Factory and instead grab a burger and beer at the Sandbar, or sample exotic Peruvian seafood at the inimitable Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar.
Miami is a party town, but it's also a sports town, and for many, the beating heart of Miami sports can be found in the well-heeled city of Coral Gables. Besides being the University of Miami stomping grounds (go, Canes!), Coral Gables is also home to a breathtaking display of old-money mansions and a delightful stretch of restaurants, bars and boutiques known as Miracle Mile.
Around the corner on Aragon Avenue, there's Books & Books, a rare and special literary landmark in the city. Writers like Edwidge Danticat and Diana Abu-Jaber can often be found browsing through the stacks or enjoying lunch in the sunny outdoor courtyard.
The important thing to remember is that when you're in Miami, the party's wherever you want it to be. The city has no shortage of cosmopolitan glamour, counterbalanced by visions of inner-city life straight out of a Trick Daddy verse. But there's fun to be found in every corner of the city, and Miami has a way of stealing your heart. Soon enough you'll be daydreaming about your next visit, so it's best just to say hasta la vista instead of adios when your trip to the Magic City comes to an end.
Patrice Grell Yursik is the creator of popular beauty and culture blog Afrobella.com. In her past life she lived in Miami for 11 years and worked as the calendar editor of the Miami New Times. Follow her on Twitter.