Miami is unique among American cities for its mix of cultures, food, and good times. 

It doesn’t take long to fall in love with Miami. The city is rightly famous for it’s Cuban community, as well as for being the launching point into the natural wonders of the Everglades and the Florida Keys. And while every city is obviously unique in its own way, Miami seems a little more unique than the competition. Here’s what I love about it, and what I’d highly recommend doing on any trip.

1. Little Havana

Little Havana. #miami #florida #littlehavana #travel

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The epicenter of Cuban culture in Miami, Little Havana is a neighborhood anchored by 8th Street, aka Calle Ocho. Little Havana grew into what it is today beginning in the 1960s, as Cubans immigrated to Miami in droves amid Castro’s communist takeover in their homeland.

Today, Little Havana is home to legendary restaurants like Versailles and a strong dominos scene. Last week, I had a meal at El Exquisito Restaurant and loved it. There’s plenty to do in Little Havana, but even on a short trip make time to grab a meal and walk around for a bit.

2. The architecture

One of the biggest pleasant surprises I had when first visiting Miami was the Art Deco Historic District on the city’s South Beach. The neighborhood, apparently, “features more than 800 historic buildings erected during the 1920s, 30s and 40s.” The buildings aren’t enormous, like many examples of art deco in New York, but they’re wonderfully colorful and ornate. It’s an architecture lovers wonderland.

Here’s a walking tour of the neighborhood.

3. S & S Diner

S&S Diner is a tiny, no-frills eatery that serves good breakfasts and has been open since 1938. It’s not hip, and the food isn’t cutting edge. Instead, the kind of classic place I like to find in my own city — normal, laid back, and filled with locals. I make a point of going in whenever I’m in Miami to sit at the bar (which is the only place to sit) and order some eggs.

4. The Everglades

*DSCN9469

We’ve written about the Everglades in the past, so suffice it to say that they make up one of the most unusual national parks in the U.S. During our visit we saw both alligators and crocodiles, as well as lots and lots of birds.

Best of all, it only takes about an hour to get from downtown Miami to the heart of the park.

5. The Keys

The Florida Keys are a string of islands connected by bridges. The drive between them is famous in itself, and Key West has been drawing lovers of Key Lime Pie and Earnest Hemingway (who lived there) for a very long time.

Personally, I was less a fan of Key West than of Key Largo and some of the stops along the drive, which takes about 3 hours to do (without stops) from downtown Miami. Either way though, it’s an uncommonly beautiful place that warrants a visit at least once.

Related reading:

Key West is like New Orleans lite

*Cover photo via Ashton Coleman

— Jim Dalrymple II

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Written by Jim Dalrymple II

Editor in Chief of Tripping Over the World. Also, reporter at BuzzFeed News.

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