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Gamerís Travel Guide to Miami Comic Con!

The Beaches, The Sights and Attractions, Entertainment and Nightlife, Lodging, Eating in Miami, Cultural Considerations, Where to Play, and a Few Final Suggestions!
Gamerís Travel Guide to Miami Comic Con!Gamerís Travel Guide to Miami
Feature Article from Justin Vizaro
Justin Vizaro
2/22/2011 9:32:00 AM

For the past five years, Iíve had the painful pleasure of living in one of the most uniquely transnational cities in the United States. The Magic City is already one of the most popular destinations in the country; and whether you plan on flying in from the doldrums of the Midwest or Northeast or just driving down from somewhere close, you would be remiss to pass up the opportunity to find out how and why Miami earned its nickname. I plan on making sure that by the time you finish reading this travel guide you will have enough information to make the best decisions regarding lodging, culture, gastronomy, and entertainment in Miami. I hope you enjoy your time here, and I also hope this guide helps you make the most of your opportunity to enjoy a tournament vacation.

First, a few rules about the city itself:

1. Down here, we speak Espanish Ė deal with it.
2. Caribbean time
3. Traffic is awful, but thereís no reason for you to make it worse Ė know where youíre going and how to get there before you start the car
4. All lights are red for at least 1.5 seconds, which means at least 4 cars can turn left on red before the oncoming traffic gets moving.
5. Avoid Liberty City, Overtown, Allapatah, and West Grove
6. You need sunglasses, even if you donít actually NEED sunglasses
7. Look for rule number 7 at the end of the article

The Beaches

The beaches are the obvious pull- with South Beach, Ocean Drive, Collins, and Washington Ave being the most notorious hotspots, and you can certainly bet on some wonderful beach weather (mid-70s, a cool breeze, and clear sunny skies) like weíve been experiencing for the past month or so. I know a majority of you will try to hit the beach as soon as you get off the plane or reach the end of I-95, so thereís no sense putting this off until further into the article. If youíre planning on going to South Beach, you should get there before everyone else does. Weekend beach traffic is excessive often to the point of absolute gridlock especially on Friday and Saturday Evenings.

The beaches do offer much more than just sand and salt water, as they are home to a majority of the Miami nightlife, especially clubs like the legendary Cameo, as well as Mansion, Set Miami, Nikki Beach, and the newly renovated LIV. I will cover the clubs in more detail in the Entertainment section.

The last thing about Miami Beach that I think is important to know is that itís a sterling example of the height of 1920s and 1930s Art Deco Design. The old hotels, apartment buildings, and vibrant colors paint a picture of the tropical paradise that blossomed into todayís playground for the rich and famous. Architecture aficionados can start at the tip of Ocean drive and continue all the way up the beaches taking in example after brilliant example of authentic Mediterranean Revival, Bungalow, Art Deco, and Moderne styles. Everyone else can just take heed of the fact that the architectural significance of Miami Beach parallels its reputation for those amazing parties it hosts, so take a few minutes to look at the buildings if you can peel your eyes off of the finest-looking women in the world while youíre out there.

Beach tips:

1. If you just want to go lie in the sand and stand in the water, you might be wise to use 195 and visit the much less crowded and less expensive North Beach instead of taking 395 to South Beach.
2. If youíre trying to go north and south on the beach, use Alton Rd instead of Collins, Washington, or Ocean to save yourself a minimum of 30 minutes.
3. There are tons of municipal garages where you can find flat rate parking or decent hourly rates. Itís better than street parking except for weekdays when you can park back in the neighborhoods free of charge. Iíve always found the 13th Street Garage to be the best option as itís within walking distance of Lincoln mall, 8th Street, and all of the good food and clubs. Itís also usually the one you can count on to not be full, which is a strange conundrum.

The Sights and Attractions

For those of you that have a free day or two in Miami, I have compiled a list of some of the things that are worth seeing or experiencing while youíre in town. Some of these things are a bit touristy, but others are just places we tend to go when we have spare time and want to get out of the house. If the attraction/sight has an explicit cost, I will put a ($) before its name so you can skip it if you so choose, but please keep in mind that admission will sometimes be less than parking for a free attraction.

($) Vizcaya Estate and Gardens (3251 S. Miami Ave, Miami) Ė Perhaps the most beautiful 50 acres in the entire city, Vizcaya is a Mediterranean style villa (more like a castle) with sprawling gardens nestled in the heart of Coral Gables on the edge of Coconut Grove. If you are familiar with the Hearst Castle in California, Vizcaya is its distant sibling.
The creation of John Deeringís estate circa 1915 inspired George Merrick to export the beautiful Mediterranean Italian-Spanish style to the rest of Coral Gables as well. If you have the money to spend or if youíve always wanted to visit Europe but donít have the time or budget to do so, Vizcaya is open Wed-Mon 9:30-4:30, admission is $15 for adults, $10 with a student ID.

Miracle Mile, The Biltmore Hotel, and Coral Gables Ė This one you can do in a car, all you really have to do is drive around and take in the beauty of the neighborhood that was the vision of George Merrick. Coral Way (SW 24th St) between Red Rd (SW 57th Ave) and Le Jeune Rd (SW 42nd Ave) will give you the best visual representation of the neighborhood with its shade-bearing trees that create an archway over the road.
From Coral Way, take Granada or Cordova south to DeSoto Blvd and follow that further south to the Biltmore Hotel that towers over the lush golf course and gabled roofs of the surrounding houses. One of the oldest hotels in the city, the Biltmore has been standing and greeting its awe-struck visitors since George Merrick and John Bowman teamed up to build it in 1924.

($) Venetian Pool (2701 DeSoto Blvd) Ė Just up the road from the Biltmore is the Venetian Pool, which is another one of Miamiís famous yet low-key attractions. You are much more likely to see a band of local kids or UM students at the Venetian Pool than you are to see a gang of snow-bleached Canadians, but itís still worth a visit if you make your way into the Gables. The term pool is a bit of a misnomer, however, as the pool itself is actually a lagoon carved from a Coral quarry that is fed from below by a natural spring. Because of the underground aquifer, the water in the pool (all 820,000 gallons) gets drained and refreshed on a daily basis. Merrick was also involved in the creation of the pool, which is open Tues-Sun 10:00am Ė 4:30pm; admission is $7.

Coconut Grove and Cocowalk Ė Please take this warning very seriously: stay East of 32nd Ave when in the grove, and try not to go more than 3 blocks north of Grand Ave. Coconut Grove used to be a really hoppin place for nightlife and general visitation in Miami, but recently itís becoming more and more of a ghost town. It could be in part due to the economic situation that caused a majority of the big spenders to fade out, or it could also be partially due to the stark difference of the environment 2 blocks west.
Either way, there are still some nice things to see in the grove, and itís probably worth taking a trip down there to walk around for a bit. Cocowalk offers a movie theater, bars, and a few shops, and is right at the center of the action in the grove. You could also visit The Knife- an Argentinean Steakhouse more than worth the price and the trip down there.

The Falls (US 1 and SW 138 St) Ė An outdoor mall located just off US 1 in the pinecrest area, The Falls offers great shopping like many major malls, but the twist and the thing that makes this one worth walking around is the water feature that runs the entire length of the Ďboardwalks.í

Other malls in Miami worth visiting are the Aventura Mall (further north on US 1), Dolphin Mall or Miami International Mall (closer to the airport).

($) Miami Metrozoo (12400 SW 152nd St, Miami) Ė They have animalsÖ open 10-5, $14 to get in and check out some Monkeys, Bears, Tigers and whatnot.

($) The Barnacle State Historic Site (3485 Main Hwy, Coconut Grove) Ė Itís really cheap to get in ($1) unless thereís a concert, in which case itís $5 for live music and an attraction, which is actually a good deal if you ask me. The Barnacle is another one of those house-turned-museum types, this time, though, weíre talking about the oldest house in the city which belonged to the original snow bird- Ralph Middleton Munroe. Built in 1891, the house still stands on its original foundation and overlooks the wonderful Biscayne Bay, reminding us why Miami is the Magic City. Just over 100 years ago Munroe purchased 40 acres of what is now prime Miami real estate on the mouth of Biscayne Bay for the measly sum of $400. Granted it was a small fortune then, but the truly impressive piece of information is that itís taken only 100 years for the city to literally explode into one of the largest and most rapidly growing metro areas in the country. If you find yourself in the grove or in the Biscayne area Fri-Mon 10-4, pass by the Barnacle and see whatís going on.

Florida International University and University of Miami Ė opposition to a public University in Miami said the town wasnít big enough for both schools to thrive, but quite honestly I think they coexist quite well, barring a brawl when the football teams get together. The fact is, The U is private and hardly anyone from Miami actually goes to school there- you are much more likely to see students walking around FIU or MDC wearing a UM sweater than anything else. If you get a chance, both schools have nice campuses that are worth a visit, and for the art lovers, FIUís Frost Museum is part of the Smithsonian Institute and UMís Lowe Art Museum constantly hosts premier exhibitions. FIU also has the Wolfsonian on Miami Beach, which is one of the largest and most impressive design period and propaganda collections in the world. The Green Library at FIU is the largest in the Southeastern US and was recently voted the most beautiful university library in the nation. The University Park campus itself is a sculpture park with pieces from the Margulies collection on display at all times scattered throughout the green areas.

Entertainment and Nightlife

Miami has a very active nightlife- one that can certainly make you forget about a convention or forego a good nightís sleep. If you make it into town on Thursday night, thatís college night at most clubs, so cover is low and they sometimes let people in that are under 21. If youíre over 21 and you really want to enjoy a night in the 305, bring a nice change of clothes (black jeans and your sleekest silk dragon button-up shirt DO NOT count); leave your hotel around 11, and make your way to one of the following places:

Mansion: 1235 Washington Avenue, Mansion is one of the better clubs in South Beach, but tends to be a bit of a privilege party- not many people can get past the velvet rope. If youíre not traveling with a group of attractive women, and if you donít look like youíre going to be dropping more than $100, you will find it very difficult to see the inner walls. Making VIP reservations and being on the list is pretty much your only shot. If you do make it inside, however, you get multiple floors full of good times and beautiful people.

Cameo: 1445 Washington Avenue, Cameo is a bit of a legend among the Miami club scene along with Nikki Beach. The belt rope is a little looser than that of Mansion, so you can take a chance waiting in line. World class DJs and top 40 bands used to frequent Cameo, but to be honest, I havenít been out there in 2 years. I hear they still do digital Fridays with social debauchery upstairsÖ which is decent if youíre into that whole scene.

LIV: In the Fontainebleau Hotel, 4441 Collins Avenue, LIV is gigantic- one of the classiest and most impressive looking clubs in Miami. If you can manage to get in (best bet would be to stay at the hotel) itís certainly worth it even just for the views.
The inside of the club alone is one of the most impressive displays of lights anywhere.

Nikki Beach: 1 Ocean Drive, Nikki Beach is only for the high rollers to be honest. Iíve only been one time on special invitation, but Iím not exactly dying to go back. Pretty much the only thing this one has as a claim to fame is the clientele (usually the most celebrity-ridden) which comes for the ďanything goesĒ M.O. on weekends. This one could be the hardest to get into, so unless youíre staying at the W, Setai, or Ritz and the concierge can get you on the listÖ let me suggest one of the following alternatives:

Atarazana: 7335 NW 36th Street, Ata is likely one of my favorite clubs in Miami, and itís actually in the Doral-Hialeah area, so you donít need to bother with the traffic or the parking menace. Itís not the tightest belt rope, but if you donít at least show up looking respectable, your chances will be about as good as they would be anywhere else. I wonít tell you the whole story, but you can find some videos of Atarazana on YouTube that might sway your decision to visit one way or another.

La Covacha: 10730 NW 25th St, ďThe CoveĒ is one of those places that has been up and down over the last 4 years, and from what Iíve heard itís back on the upswing. I havenít been there since I aged enough to get in elsewhere, but if youíre under 21 or if youíre just looking for a decent time with cheap drinks, The Cove might be the place to be. Iíve got a lot of great memories from there, but please donít take this as my recommendation for you to pay a visit. Use this option as a last resort if you donít like your chances of getting in anywhere else.

Other clubs/lounges/bars worth mentioning that you can look into on your own time: Space, BED, Vagabond, Blue Martini, SET, and Nocturnal.

Live venues and a few bars that might be worth your time: Tobacco Road, Transit Lounge, Churchillís, Bougainvilleaís in Sunset.

If you just want to have a few drinks and run the chance of meeting younger people (mostly the UM crowd) your best bet will be to take a ride down to Sunset Place just off US-1 and Sunset (SW 72nd). The nice little streets behind BTís have a fine sampling of Taverns and Bars that are ripe with cheap drinks, young folks, and no dress code good times. Bougainvilleaís (Bougieís) is my personal favorite, and gives you a good chance to relax with friends or make some new ones. For the true budget baller, thereís an Outback Steakhouse around the corner that offers $2 domestic drafts. Feel free to load up on those and then stumble around the rest of the neighborhood hopping in and out of bars until you simply canít stand up. If youíre into it, I hear BTís is one of the best in the city unless youíre driving north to the Cheetah Club, but to be honestÖ Iíve never been to one and Iím not interested in breaking my streak.

You can also sign up and take a Salsa Class, which usually devolves into a full-blown salsa party since the majority of the people that go are already salseros and salseras that just want to have a good time.

Another option for a great night with tons of options and even FREE PARKING is north on the Turnpike until you get to the Hard Rock in Ft. Lauderdale. Itís the perfect mix of casino, clubs, bars, and restaurants that is bound to please the entire crowd. Everything is contained in one spot, so it might even be worth getting your lodging accommodations there instead of in Miami and just making the 30 minute ride back and forth.


Like I mentioned, a great option if you have a vehicle and donít mind a ride is staying at the Hard Rock in Ft. Lauderdale. The drive isnít that bad and the accommodations on site are certainly worth it since all you need is right there.

If youíre not staying at the Doubletree but are still looking for something close, your options are Days Inn, Homestead Studio Suites, and Springhill Suites. I actually recommend Springhill Suites to anyone visiting Miami because itís quiet and very accommodating for the price. The rooms are great, and I never have a problem with staff, noise, cleanliness, or anything else that would normally annoy. The parking lot has a tendency to fill up sometimes, but itís generally not a big issue.

If you want to stay on the beach, let me just say I donít recommend it, but your best options for taking in the Miami experience are The Delano, Fontainebleau, The Clevelander (great night scene by the pool), and the Loews. More budget-friendly options are The Kent, The Chelsea, and The Chesterfield.

Your other option for lodging is creating an account on couchsurfing.org and finding someone that is willing to put you up for the weekend. If youíve never done couch surfing before, it can be a little intimidating, but a female friend of mine actually did it for 3 months when she was traveling around Europe, South America, and the US. She said there was no problem at all and that itís actually quite the experience. Couch surfers are people that offer their extra beds, couches, or floor space to travelers that donít want to pay for a hotel, and usually find people who do the same when they travel.

Eating in Miami

The options close to the venue are slim, but thatís a blessing in disguise really. Itís stupid to visit a great food city like Miami and spend the same $6 that you could use to get a limitlessly delicious Pan con Lechon and end up with a Big Mac and fries. Iíve compiled a list of some of the best eats in the entire city, and I split it up by region so you can make decisions based on the location of your hotel and the location of your daytime and evening activities. Downtown/Beach quite simply means anything in the Brickell area or the Beaches, West means anything west of the venue, and Central means mostly US-1, Miami Airport, and the Gables-Sunset area.

Guide to Restaurants:

$- any ol chum can eat here, prices average less than $8 per person
$$- average prices are in the $10-15 range, and decent hygiene is preferred. Go to these places for a nice dinner at a relatively affordable price
$$$- average prices are $20 per person, appropriate dress is expected, couth is necessary
$$$$- you donít care what the prices are, and theyíre not likely to be on the menu anyway (I donít think Iíll be putting $$$$ places on the list)

* Food is acceptable, mostly worth the price
** Great value, great food
*** Top pick

Downtown and the Beaches:

$, *** Bambinaís Pizza: 1405 Washington Avenue, if youíre on the beach, take advantage of your opportunity to get what is possibly the best-tasting slices in Miami. This hole in the wall New York style pizzeria is the perfect place to share a pie with a friend or two.

$$, *** Maiko Sushi: 1255 Washington Avenue, Maiko is my favorite sushi place in a town thatís already hit its critical mass of sushi establishments. I actually drive out to the beach just to have dinner here, and I would recommend it to anyone that enjoys a good roll every now and then. The prices are surprisingly affordable for the quality.

$$, ** Restaurants on Espanola Way, Miami Beach: down a little side-street on the beach laden with decorative lights and al fresco setups youíll find a few nice quaint offerings that are sure to satisfy even the pickiest of pallets. Choose these places more for the al fresco and ambience than for anything else- it gives you the opportunity to experience dinner on the beachís sidewalks without the lofty prices of Ocean Drive.

$$$-$$$$, *** Azul: Inside the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 500 Brickell Key Drive, if youíre looking for a place to celebrate, this is undoubtedly one of the best restaurants in the city. Euro-Asian fusion is a style you donít find often, but which Azul has found a way to perfect. This is quite possibly the best choice for fine dining in the city next to The Capital Grille.

$$$$, *** Capital Grille: 444 Brickell Ave, Itís simply known to be the best steakhouse in a town that is home to Mortonís, Ruthís Chris, and Barton G. If thatís not saying enough, I guess the only thing left for you to do is prove everyone wrong. The reputation for this place is spotless, and its steak and seafood commands the $40 average per plate.

$$, ** Villa Italia Restaurant: 3058 SW 22nd Street, The pizza is pretty good (not as good as Bambinaís), but I think the thing that they pride themselves on the most is that they make their own pasta in-house. Do yourself a favor and forego Olive Garden, Tony Romaís, Macaroni Grill, etc. and get a piece of Miami from a local place that deserves the business.

$, * Versailles Cuban: 3555 SW 8th Street, You havenít really been to Miami until youíve consumed something from this legendary landmark. Quite honestly, I rate the food about as good as the next respectable Cuban place, but the beauty of Versailles lies in the people that go and the hours they keep. The place is literally open all the time- I wonít say itís 24 hours because Iíve seen it closed (maybe just for cleaning, but knowing my luck youíll try it and it wonít be open). The best thing to do here is to go for Cafť con Leche and dessert- their cheesecakes are out of this world, shockingly cheap ($3-4), and pair exceptionally well with the Cuban coffee. The Key Lime Pie is also worth a try at $3. This restaurant has the best mojo (a Cuban lemon-garlic-onion mixture) in the entire city, and it tastes pretty good with their Pan con Lechon.

Central Miami:

Versailles and Villa Italia qualify in this segment of town as well in case youíre curious.

Most of the options that Iím going to list in this segment are further south near the Gables or Sunset, as there really arenít a whole lot of places that I really need to mention. If youíre eating around the airport, itís probably more out of convenience than anything else, and if thatís the case, find a bakery (they usually make cheap Cuban sandwiches) or Cuban cafť instead of Burger King.

$, * Bougainvilleaís: 7221 SW 58th Avenue, I know I mentioned this in the bars and nightlife section, but the fact that Iím bringing it back down here should tell you something. You would be remiss to pass up the opportunity to experience Bougieís, and whether you eat somewhere nearby or at one of the other restaurants on the list, you should probably try to end up here for a few drinks. Itís really the best place in Miami to catch a few suds or tip a few hard ones.

$, ** Villa Havana: 3398 Coral Way, This place runs like a machine- every waiter in the house is your waiter, thereís a parking attendant, and the food is the same every single time. Itís one of the better Cuban restaurants in the city because the fare is good across the board, particularly the Black Beans, Cuban Sandwiches, (if you dip in the beans) and the Palomilla. They also serve fresh made frozen lemonade that is certainly worth a try.

$$, *** Las Culebrinas: 4700 W Flagler Street, Zagat rated, this is easily the best Cuban food in the entire city, and they also offer traditional Spanish fare. The prices are a bit higher, but the restaurant is well worth the cost.

The food is magnificent, the ambience is great, and you truly feel like youíre getting the entire experience by eating at this place. Please donít fall for the trap and go to the other restaurants with the same name, make sure you visit the one on Flagler Street.

$-$$, * Mykonos Greek Restaurant: 1201 Coral Way, It doesnít disappoint, and the prices are decent compared to what you get. If you like Greek food, this might be a good choice for you; but if you love Greek food, you might want to choose something else because it certainly wonít make your top 10 list.

West of the Venue:

$-$$, *** Arabian Nights Doral: 10200 NW 25th Street, Arabian Nights is truly one of the best restaurants in the entire city- and it offers an experience like you would expect on Miami Beach without any of the headaches. Chef Tony is one of the most amiable guys youíll meet (and you will meet him if you visit) and he brings you the best of the Mediterranean and a few Cuban dishes as well.

During the week his lunch menu is simply unbeatable- $8 for a complete meal that will leave you wondering if youíve ever found a better use for the money. Arabian Nights also offers a full liquor bar, Hookahs and Shisha, and a live show (belly dancers come in on Friday and Saturday nights). Make your way over there and tell him I sent you- he will take extra special care of you.

$$, ** Royal Thai Restaurant: 10648 Fontainebleau Blvd, This place offers pretty standard Thai fare and does a pretty decent job with the preparation. The ambience is nothing to really write home about, but the food hits the spot pretty well and surprises most people that eat there. The people are very nice, and this place is definitely worth a visit if youíre out that way.

$-$$, *** Canton Palace: 7980 SW 8th Street, This is my favorite Chinese restaurant in the city, and for more than one reason. Not only is the fried rice among the best Iíve ever tasted (one off night, but I think it was a whack occurrence), they also offer a great sampling of traditional Cantonese dishes that people would be afraid to order in other places. Every time I go inside, the place is packed with Chinese folks, and there really arenít that many Asians in Miami, so thatís a pretty good indicator of quality if you ask me. The dishes are all family style, so go with a crew and share amongst each other. You can escape for less than $6 each or you can go all out and leave with leftovers for 3 weeks with just $10 each. If you go alone or with only one friend, you can expect to pay closer to $10-$15 per person.

$, * specialTEA Lounge: 10766 SW 24th Street, Special Tea is great for the Tea drinkers in the crowd, as they offer more than 40 different types of loose teas brewed on-demand. The sandwiches are also pretty good, so swing in and check it out if youíre visiting FIU and youíve got a few spare minutes.

$, ** Latin American Restaurant: 10700 SW 24th Street, Latin is the place to be after hours and before the action starts. Itís open 24 hours and itís the absolute best late night option in the city. Donít bother with Dennyís or IHOP, just make your way over to Latin and order some real food for a fraction of the price. When breakfast time rolls around, you could also find yourself among the waking masses that come for the $4 breakfast special that includes coffee, fills you up, and tastes better than most $10 options. If youíre there for anything other than breakfast, I recommend the Vaca Frita- itís the best Iíve ever had and itís only $9. For those that donít know, Vaca Frita literally means fried cow, and thatís basically what it is- tender stringy steak pan fried to a crispy exterior. The churrasco is also pretty good here.

$, ** Mi Pueblo: 10910 W Flagler Street, Mi Pueblo is another great breakfast spot, and the inside of the restaurant is so quaint youíll wish it was breakfast time all day long. Itís one of those hometown places, and English is mostly useless, but itís definitely worth a visit. I recommend the Pericos, and you can get those with toast and coffee for just $3.

$, *** Fiesta Mexican: 10433 NW 41st Street, Closed on Sunday, but any other day this place is great. The food is about as cheap as Taco Bell and its equivalents, but you get so much more and the flavor is great. The mild salsa is very good, probably some of the best tasting salsa Iíve had anywhere, and the Beef Fajitas are out of this world for their staggering $5 price tag. If you have a chance, take the short ride to Fiesta and have a cheap party in your mouth.

Cultural Considerations, Where to Play, and a Few Final Suggestions

For those of you that are in fact reading this because you plan on playing Magic on Saturday and/or Sunday, there are a couple of options for you if youíre looking for a place to play on Friday night. One option is really king though, unless you plan on making a minimum 45 minute drive to play elsewhere. If you want to join me Friday night, Sunshine Adventure Gaming will be hosting multiple events, details are below.

Sunshine Adventure Gaming: 7931 Bird Road #30, 305.264.1250
Friday Night Magic is typically draft format, but this coming Friday only, I will (simultaneously) be hosting a special Standard Constructed and Rochester Draft combination event that carries a $15 entry fee. Information can be found here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#!/event.php?eid=127499230655766
Please RSVP yourself to the event if you plan to attend. The event will be 3 rounds of Standard Constructed followed by 3 rounds of Draft with a cut to top 8.

Do not let me catch any of you drinking Starbuckís coffee while youíre in town. Spend only $1 or less and get the best coffee youíll ever drink at any of the 50 billion Cuban cafes, bakeries, or restaurants. Itís called cafť con leche if you want a latte, cortadito if you just want to wake up. If you want enough for everyone and you want to feel like you belong in the city, ask for a colada- itís basically an espresso that comes with little cups so you can share it. Youíll see groups of old Cubans hanging around drinking out of what looks like little coffee creamer cups- theyíre sharing coladas.

Aqui hablamos Espanol- youíre just going to have to deal with the fact that sometimes you wonít be able to speak English. Embracing it is the best way to deal with it, and most of the time the people understand a little bit- at least your food order. Por favor (please) and gracias (thanks) will get you by most of the time even if you canít speak a word of Spanish. The thing that will shut them down is if you start to tell them that they should know English because the truth isÖ thatís just not the way it is in Miami.

Consider getting a Local 10 discount card- I wonít plug it here completely because itís a bit of a conflict of interest and an abuse of my writing privileges, but you can visit Local10Card.com for more details.

Miami is called the Magic City, and thatís for more than one reason. The city is very young, and in its short history (roughly 100 years) itís grown to a burgeoning metropolis that rivals some of the countryís best. The attitude here is different, mostly because the population is predominantly Hispanic (emphasis on Cuban) and the culture is simply amazing if you learn to embrace it. Apart from the blast of growth and unique population, the diversity of its offerings in terms of tourist attractions puts it in a league of its own. Finally, rule #7 is what really makes Miami the Magic City, and that isÖ no matter what, no matter how frustrating it can be, and no matter how much you hate it, you can never leave for life. Make amends with the fact that once you visit Miami, you will be back. Enjoy this trip and make something about this city yours just like everyone else has. Rule #7b is ďwhat happens in Miami keeps you in Miami,Ē so if you are coming for the first time, be prepared for the outside chance that you might never leave or that you might soon return to stay.
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