Before anyone says a thing, let me proclaim my love for graffiti, especially the graffiti and array of other art pieces that grace the walls of the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami. So why “more stupid graffiti”? Ever heard of the MSG graffiti crew? No? Well then, read on for a little tale of Miami and its dynamic offerings…in Wynwood and beyond.
The Wynwood Arts District, the largest museum dedicated to street art in the world, is a vibrant, ever-changing canvas that showcases the work of unbelievably talented street artists from around the world. The hub of this open-air art museum is Wynwood Walls, made up of dazzling giant wall murals covering six buildings that change every so often in true graffiti style. Step outside these “walls” and you’ll find a dizzying array of even more concrete slabs showcasing colorful colossal pieces. This is a thriving neighborhood brimming over with pieces whose scales and creativity will blow your mind.
Although it’s fun to walk around the neighborhood discovering pieces around every corner on one’s own, a top recommendation before going solo is booking a tour with Wynwood Buggies, specifically a Wynwood Buggies Tour Guided by a Street Artist experience. On this journey through the Wynwood Arts District, you’ll learn the stories behind the pieces, and hear and even feel the passion these artists have for what they’re creating and for how they’re beautifying a once-left-to-its-own-devices neighborhood.
During our buggy tour, we were lucky enough to encounter several icons of the Miami scene working at their craft. The reason? Our guide Danny, who is a street artist himself and knows many of the artists working in the area. These are street painters who have true heart and who only a decade ago or so were arrested for doing the very same thing they are now being applauded for. That’s the story, though, that the tour guide points to—how street art in these parts was considered vandalism (and in some cases still is) and how now the community is blooming because of these same artists. Which brings me to MSG, one of the first graffiti crews in the area whose pieces you’ll see throughout the tour, including at the iconic RC Cola Plant, which brims over with art. MSG, or “Miami Style Gods,” is part of the fabric of what makes Wynwood Wynwood, and they find humor in how the neighborhood has developed and become a tourist hub because of “more stupid graffiti.”
You Had Me at Delilah…
With a name like that you know this new speakeasy-style restaurant is going to have you swooning. Delilah Miami is the third location for the Roaring 20s-inspired supper club with locations in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and what a showstopper it is.
When we finally found the tucked away door and burly bouncers that led us into this fabulous, aesthetically pleasing restaurant, we were delighted beyond our expectations. Delilah Miami is drop-dead gorgeous and it has to be if it’s going to have Miami’s culinary enthusiasts’ tongues wagging.
Located in Brickell, one of Miami’s buzziest neighborhoods, Delilah Miami is awash in a palette of light pink, teal and gold, showcasing a perfect blend of the signature style of the Los Angeles and Las Vegas outposts while adding classic Miami flair including intricate ceiling soffits with bright wallpapers; a rich, Turkish burl wood lobby; a grand stairwell entrance and luxury marble and stone throughout. Of course, signature Delilah caricatures by artist Blue Logan adorn the walls, menus and lamps, featuring local Miami icons—think Gloria Estefan, Andy Garcia, Bad Bunny and the like. The centerpiece is a custom stage where the spotlight is on the cabaret-style singer and band as well as feathered dancers swaying their hips to the lovely tunes.
While being serenaded by the singer, the band, the dancers and the fun energy that cascades through the room, we dined on divine West Coast oysters; the must-have (again and again) chicken tenders, for which the venue is known (trust us!); and the spectacular hiramasa ceviche served in a coconut shell—and those were just the appetizers. For main entrées, we decided on the scrumptious Genuine red snapper, which comes with potato bravas, peas, carrots and chili garlic sauce, followed by a scallops dish served with caper sofrito, cauliflower purée, pickled raisins and parsley oil. These we accompanied with a carrot souffle that oh so delicately melted in our mouths. Of course, we couldn’t say no to cocktails (it’s a speakeasy restaurant, after all) so we opted for the vodka-based Cafecito Martini (a nod to Miami and its Cuban flavor). Speaking of, Chef Roy and team infuse the menu with Latin-inspired flavors and ingredients such as coconut and lychee, paying homage to the city’s cultural heritage. Other menu highlights include Stone Crab salad, Cubano fritters, Crispy confit and Suckling pig.
Delilah offers all the bells and whistles the Miami crowd and those who travel here are accustomed to—it’s a top recommendation that will put the sparkle in your day…or evening.
The Call of the Mermaid in Miami
Hopping on a boat while sightseeing in Miami is pretty much de rigueur, but what about if we twist that boating adventure a bit and you hop on a Zodiac instead, the kind used by the DEA, FBI and Customs officials to patrol the waters and shorelines. That’s what Ocean Force Adventures Boat Tour offers—a 6-person group tour on this small vessel guided by a licensed captain who knows how to tell a tale and enrapture you with Miami’s fabled history.
During this 2-hour tour, passengers start off from one of Miami Beach’s marinas and set off by water to explore Star Island, with its waterfront mansions, and Fisher Island, the most expensive zip code in Florida and the third most expensive in the U.S. Then the boat zips off—yes, be ready to hold on tight—past PortMiami to get up-close to the dazzling Downtown Miami and Brickell skyline. Even as a local, this view is still breathtaking.
Then the boat is embraced by the city’s imposing skyscrapers as it glides down the Miami River with the captain pointing out historic landmarks, quirky sites and top restaurants. This was my favorite part of the tour as we felt immersed in the city and its history, learning how Miami came to be one of the most dynamic destinations in the U.S. Oh, and if you’re extra lucky, you’ll see wild dolphins delighting in their surroundings (we saw about three!).
Due to the weather, our tour was unable to head to Stiltsville, a collection of wooden homes on Biscayne Bay accessible only by water. Part of Biscayne National Park, Stiltsville can only be accessed with a National Park permit and because they have a permit, Ocean Force Adventures includes it in its tours. This is a very unique experience, but even if weather doesn’t permit the trip to Stiltsville, this is one of the better sightseeing boat tours Miami has to offer.