My birthday celebrations continue as I write this from my flight to Miami, Florida… It’s my first visit to the US since they elected their new president…  As you can probably tell I’m not a fan and have relented albeit just a little from my no visit policy as I really need to see sunshine.

It’s unfortunate that Canada has so little sunshine, and after almost six months of grey and dreary I’m at the end of my tether…I love you Canada but seriously!

So, my birthday present to myself is for a four-day flip to Miami, South Beach to be precise to feel the sand between my toes the surf on my skin, oh and that glorious sunshine on my body.  Got to love my favorite vitamin – yes, vitamin sea. 🙂

I’ve to Miami a few times, but have never stayed in South Beach.  I took Z+S three years ago and we stayed at Fort Lauderdale for March break, which was fun, but it was 30 miles from Miami and so only visited briefly.

So, what to do in Miami???

Well, before all of my four-day flips I create a rough shoot list of images I want to capture on my trip, and this time is no different.

Definitely some of the architecture and in particular the older art deco hotels along the strip in South Beach is top of mind, next is to shoot in Wynwood to capture the world class street art and murals. I’m sure that you know, but Wynwood is one of the premier street art locations in North America with a host of well-known artists using this outdoor urban setting to showcase their amazing work.

Sunday was a rainy one in Miami so I decided to head down the keys to Key West and check out the sights. Although a four hour drive from Miami it was bright, sunny day and perfect for a road trip!

I’ve always been a fan of Ernest Hemingway’s work so had to make the pilgrimage to his Key West home.  He had an awesome writing studio in which he produced the vast majority of his major works, which he adorned with a host of paintings, sculptures and nik-naks from his travels. I can see why he loved writing in there…

Key West is a quaint little destination and perfect for a weekend getaway, with lots to see and do its definitely worth the drive.

As with all of my travel related blogs I like to provide some tips on places to stay, eat and activities to try – so here are my favorites from this trip to Miami and in particular South Beach…click on the link to visit the site!

Indelible Tip #1:  As you know I’m always looking for hotel deals and this time was no exception, I wanted something that was cool in terms of architecture and that had direct access to the beach and ocean.  Remember, I wanted to feel the sand between my toes…  As I was perusing the site I discovered the Nautilus, a sixty hotel (1825 Collins Avenue, South Beach).  Designed by the well known architect Morris Lapidus and built in the 1950’s to reflect its European roots, this iconic hotel continues to provide the feel of a secluded Mediterranean beach club right here in South Beach.

The older I get the more fun I have discovering great hotels and passing along this information to my loyal following…ah, that would by you by the way!  🙂

Indelible Tip #2:  Staying in the heart of the action at South Beach also meant that there were some great places to eat.  The best dining experience was OLA at the Sanctuary (1745 James Avenue).  This nuevo latino experience was incredible, definitely try the squid ink Empanada with lobster to start.  I had the rack of lamb with beets for my main course which was sumptuously prepared and absolutely delicious!

There’s just something about the Latin sounds, smells and culture that get my juices going, much like when I’m in Italy.

Another great place, if you like Italian is Dolce Italian (1690 Collins Avenue), this Southern Italian gem had amazing thin crust pizza’s reminiscent of Naples along with a truly outstanding spaghetti and meatballs.  Yum!!!

Indelible Tip #3: Miami is chock full of cool things to do, albeit mostly beach or ocean related. Shooting world class art was one of my main objectives for this four-day flip and so after an early breakfast we headed over to “El Barrio” or Little Puerto Rico which was about 20 minutes from the hotel.

In 2009 the late Tony Goldman hatched a plan to transform this neighborhood from the semi industrial neighborhood with many empty and abandoned warehouses to the center of the arts, fashion and technology here in Miami.  Today, block after block is adorned with incredible street art, which now sits alongside a host of galleries, coffee shops, restaurants, clubs and a fabulous Farmers Market.

There are some incredible artists showcasing their work but some of my favorites are from the Bushwick Collective which I had the pleasure of visiting and shooting last summer when I was in Brooklyn.  I love the cross pollination of artists form 16 countries (and counting) who have created more than 80,000 square feet of art for all to see and enjoy.  Hence, this is why i have more than 1000 photos from my Saturday shoot at Wynwood. 🙂

Miami and in particular South Beach is definitely worth the visit, but remember to look farther afield if you have the time, inclination and transportation.

So until next time – adios!