Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Two must-see neighborhoods in Miami

Miami, Florida is known for white sand beaches and high-profile celebrities with fabulously elegant homes. But there’s much more to see and do in this waterfront city. On a recent trip we discovered two intriguing neighborhoods that provide glimpses into very different cultures.
WynwoodArts District is a unique, funky area in midtown Miami. More than 70 art galleries, antique shops, bars and restaurants attract both locals and visitors. But what makes it one of the most creative communities in the U.S. is dozens of graffiti murals spray-painted on the walls of buildings. The result is one of the largest open-air street art installations in the world.

Neglected, old warehouses in the former manufacturing district of Miami were taken over by developers when factories closed. These were transformed into numerous art complexes—a true museum of cutting-edge painted walls.
These creations are not the result of teen-age mischief; they are truly artistic paintings done by hand with ordinary spray paint cans. Most have positive messages or bold geometric designs. All are fun to look at and enjoy.

With the introduction of Second Saturday Art Walk and the arrival of the Art Basel fair in 2002, Wynwood has seen unexpected growth in a relatively short time. Locals and visitors looking for a hip place to go for nightlife have discovered this reinvented section of the city.
Miami’sLittle Havana is a vibrant Spanish neighborhood that is home to Cuban immigrants (more than 300,000 people migrated to Miami in the 1980s) and others from Central and South America. It’s a community where everyone speaks Spanish, and most of the inhabitants never learn English.

Little Havana is considered the epicenter of Cuban culture and heritage in the U.S. That distinct character brings in tourists, especially during annual festivals like Calle Ocho Festival or Cultural Fridays, The Three Kings Parade, and Viernes Culturales.
Since the district is famous for old-world cigar shops, we visited the Cuba Tobacco Cigar Company, one of the oldest cigar factories in the city, where we watched cigars being hand-rolled. Shops along the main street are filled with the aroma of strong Cuban coffee, which many offer free of charge to visitors. Other quaint shops include botanicas—folk medicine stores.

A famous landmark is Domino Park (Maximo Gomez Park), the heart of Cubans’ social gathering. People come daily to play dominoes and discuss anything on their minds.
Little Havana is a popular place to go for Cuban food, cultural activities, and live shows. Monuments and murals bring to life the history of Cuba, including the Bay of Pigs. Visitors can take guided walking tours or tours that focus on food for a delicious taste of Miami.

Don’t miss either of these neighborhoods when visiting Miami.

Photos by Larry and Beverly Burmeier

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