Your Town Monthly Goes To Miami Beach

Our recent Spring Break vacation to Miami Beach and the greater South Florida area was full of spectacular food and lively music. Photo: Judy Mena

Every year for Spring Break, thousands of sun seekers travel to South Florida for respite under the sunshine and palm trees. This year, a good friend and I joined the pilgrimage with a 5-night visit to Miami, and it was a trip I couldn’t help but share with you

The Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami Beach served as our posh accommodations for this girls’ trip. Situated on Collins Avenue along Millionaire’s Row, this luxurious beachside location allowed us to wake up just steps away from turquoise water and soft, sugary white sand to squish beneath our toes.

The picturesque beach at Fontainebleau Hotel. Photo: Judy Mena

Wooden planks make up the Miami Beach Boardwalk, which we followed from our hotel, 2.8 miles down the coastline to South Beach. This neighborhood is home to the historic Versace Mansion, now operating as The Villa Casa Casuarina, a luxury boutique hotel. Hundreds of nightclubs and restaurants make South Beach a global destination for entertainment. The Palace on Ocean Drive features daily Drag Queen performances that are sure to make you blush.

The wooden planks of the Miami Beach Boardwalk. Photo: Judy Mena

The historic Versace Mansion, now known as The Villa Casa Casuarina. Photo: Judy Mena

The Palace on Ocean Drive features daily Drag Queen performances. Photo: Judy Mena

Back at Fontainebleau Hotel, it was time for us to check out some of the 11 pools on the resort grounds. We were greeted by a gigantic pool party with live DJ and hundreds of beautiful young people. Not quite our age group, but we sure did have fun! We learned that Diddy would be performing later in the weekend.

Pool party at Fontainebleau Hotel. Photo: Judy Mena

While in Florida, we wanted to meet up with family and friends, so we hailed a ride service to take us about 30 miles north to Ft. Lauderdale. Our group dined at Louie Bossi’s Ristorante, a popular indoor-outdoor Italian restaurant serving pastas, pizza pies and more. I was impressed with the swordfish entrée.

Louie Bossi’s Ristorante. Photo: Judy Mena

Feeling adventurous one day, we rented a car and drove 170 miles to the southernmost city in the contiguous United States, Key West. The Florida Keys are a string of 800 small islands connected by 42 bridges, one of which is 7-miles long. The highway ends at the quirky 4.2 square mile island of Key West, just 95 miles from Cuba. Key West is home to several historic buildings, including the former home of Ernest Hemingway, now home to a number of polydactyl cats descended from the author’s original pet “Snowball”.

Lazy Days Restaurant in Key West. Photo: Judy Mena

Hog’s Breath Saloon, a staple among Key West watering holes for nearly 25 years, was the perfect spot for fish tacos and cold beer while enjoying a live piano player. Key West’s best beach is at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Parrot fish, yellowtail snapper and a variety of corals make snorkeling here a worthwhile activity. Chickee Hut Beach Rentals offers snorkel gear, lounge chairs, umbrellas and rafts to rent. Soft sand lovers may prefer the white sand of Miami Beach compared to the more coarse, crushed coral sand found on Key West’s beaches.

The beach at Fort Zachary Taylor State Park. Photo: Judy Mena

Any trip to Miami should include a visit to Española Way, a pedestrian-only street reminiscent of a Mediterranean village. The street comes alive at night as diners at Hosteria Romana enjoy Italian cuisine al fresco while servers put on a boisterous show of singing and napkin swinging.

Española Way. Photo: Judy Mena

On our last night, we enjoyed a chic dining experience at the Rusty Pelican, featuring a spectacular view of the water and the Miami skyline at sunset. And for dessert, a southern classic: Key lime pie.

The breathtaking sunset view from The Rusty Pelican. Photo: Judy Mena

The Key lime pie at The Rusty Pelican was a standout favorite. Photo: Judy Mena

Our trip to South Florida was a tropical whirlwind of great food, music, entertainment and gorgeous beaches. I highly recommend it!

If you go: With average temperatures around 70 to 80 degrees, spring is a pleasant time of year to visit South Florida.

This article was originally published in June 2019 print editions of Your Town Monthly.