Are you more of a city-slicker or nature lover? Though I may be more nature loving and have fewer quests for big cities, it’s always fun to break the cycle and enjoy a day in the concrete jungle! On our way to the Florida Keys, we decided to see what unique experiences Miami had to offer before heading to our final destination. Though Miami is ultimately known for its nightlife and shopping, we were hoping to experience a more unique side of Miami that most would not think to seek out.
We chose mid December as our month to travel to southern Florida because hotel rates were lower and weather was nice! There were several things we wanted to see in the Miami area that friends had recommended for us to do. We had plenty of days to explore and experience new adventures without a heavy agenda so we checked out some places that you will find unusual and interesting!
Our first stop was to see the urban graffiti district in Miami. We had heard about the famous urban graffiti and the street artwork painted on many buildings and walls in the Miami-Wynwood Art District.
We easily found plenty of street metered parking, threw on some walking shoes, and did our own walking tour of the area. One of our favorite artists and murals was Alec Andon’s (Aka Alec Monopoly) artwork. There were dozens of stunning murals and we could have easily spent an entire day enjoy the other famous artists artwork!
After our urban exploring, we worked up a thirst and appetite. We asked some locals what they
would recommended in the area and they directed us to Kush which was a cute brew pub that served local food and had eclectic craft beer choices. We tried a couple of items on the menu, and would definitely recommend their burgers! We were so glad we asked someone because we never would have seen this hidden gem!
The next stop on our agenda was about 5 miles away to Nikki Beach which is a restaurant & beach club on Miami’s South Beach! Nikki Beach is known for its celebrity sightings and for its luxurious ambiance. Its not everyday you find Cabanas and comfy beds and mattresses on the sand at a restaurant. It is also definitely the only beach that I’ve been to wondering if I was dressed properly and nice enough!
We enjoyed our time sipping our coffee while relaxing, beach walking, people watching, and absorbing the ocean breezes and warm December sunshine. Life is definitely good and worth seeing at Nikki Beach!
After a short 3 mile car ride we landed at our evening destination, Jungle Island Luminosa and Chinese Lantern Festival! This is a unique 90 day festival where Jungle Island transforms its theme park by decorating over 13 acres of jungle with 1 million LED lighted Chinese Lanterns!
While exploring the Chinese Lanterns throughout the park, you can also enjoy live music, acrobatic shows and live bird shows. Jungle Island has over 300 species of unique birds and I highly recommend seeing this giant exotic bird show.
We bought our tickets in advance online to ensure admission and we arrived at dusk with plans to stay as late as we wanted. The festival starts in November so be sure to check the dates and don’t miss this fun family experience for all ages! For ticket orders: www.jungleisland.com
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Our bucket list adventures include visiting all the US National Parks so we were excited to discover that one was located close to Miami! We started our next day early with our first stop at Biscayne National Park. Any idea why this National Park is so unique and special? It’s the only national park in the USA that is 172,971 acres and 95% of it is underwater! The park is only 30 miles outside of Miami and the drive to the park can take 60 to 90 minutes, depending on traffic.
Biscayne National Park is a wonderland of beautiful aquatic wildlife, colorful coral reefs and historic shipwrecks! The best way to experience this national park is by boat. Miami Ocean Rafting is one of the few boating companies licensed to explore the national park. The company will take you to the Mandalay shipwreck, Boca Chita Island, and the Boca Chita lighthouse. (Advance tickets required)
If you don’t have a boat or want to rent an excursion, the Dante Fascell Visitor Center at Convoy Point offers an overview of the park with exhibits and educational opportunities. We took some time to walk the short trails to check out the crystal clear water and aquatic life. It’s also a fantastic place for canoeing and kayaking. Elliott Key is the largest of the park’s island and offers hiking, overnight camping, picnicking and swimming.
Gypsy Tip: There’s no entrance fee to Biscayne National Park, but there is a $25 camping fee for each overnight stay at either Elliott Key, the park’s largest island, or Boca Chita Key.
I personally wasn’t that impressed with this national park because we didn’t have a boat and the day we were there the water was too rough to do any excursions. Even though we weren’t prepared for this underwater national park we are glad we stopped and we did enjoy our journey. We do want to notify everyone in advance to be sure to make your plans for this park in advance so you will have a full memorable experience.
Our 2nd Homestead stop was to see the very unique Coral Castle! This experience reminded me of watching a Fred Flintstone cartoon because one tiny man named Edward Leedskalnin made his entire castle house and furniture out of oolite limestone by himself! Why is that so special? Because this guy only weighed 100 lbs! For over 28 years he sculpted and moved over 1100 tons of coral rock using tools that he made by hand or purchased from the 1930-40’s!
It is a total mystery how this man moved these massive rocks. Engineers and scientists have been baffled for years and they compare this Coral Castle exhibit and feat to Stonehenge and
the great pyramids. You will find his total story and life quite interesting!
The museum’s general admission is $18.00 with discounts for seniors and children. The admission includes a guided tour, museum, and gift shop.
I love to venture to National Parks and also enjoy what the surrounding areas have to offer. This trip through Miami and to Biscayne National Park was quite unique and different from all the rest! We added a couple of days to our Key West trip to enjoy these added stops and this unique journey! I hope you find it as interesting as we did! Be sure to read our blog about the Key West destination!
May you always find peace and joy in all your journeys!
There is no one holy like the Lord; there is no one besides you; there is no rock like our God.
1 Sam 2:2
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