A Miami Excursion with YouTube Personality Sonia Gil
Host of "Sonia's Travels"
Wanderer / Adventurer / Foodie
My travel cravings pull me towards physical adventures, climbing, surfing, running, or cultural understanding. People watching is a top to-do activity on my list. My earliest travel memory was the first time I visited New York City. I was about seven and I remember walking around the city having to hold my mother's hand so I wouldn't fall backwards from looking up at the tall buildings.
I would spend my perfect day in Miami because I can squeeze in beach, adventure, cultural clashing, incredible people watching, and delicious food all in one place. I would stay at the Standard Hotel. It's gorgeous, quiet enough to enjoy and rest, but happening enough that you want to hang out. My most memorable moment here was paddle boarding away from the beach and having a manatee swim right under me.
The activities that can't be missed
1. If you are a runner, you are in for a treat, and if you are not, try it. Wake up early, go for a run (or walk) along the beach starting out in South Pointe Park and go north. Keep going until you are exhausted and then jump in the ocean. The best part is that you can do this year round.
2. From November to May, there are free classical music concerts every Saturday. The concert going on in the New World Symphony theater is projected on a massive wall outdoors in the most beautiful park. Everyone brings their picnics, chairs, and blankets. I guarantee you will make friends, and fall in love with classical music.
3. Free yoga at the beach. Every weekday, in front of the lighthouse on 3rd Street at South Beach, people meet to greet the sun, exercise a bit and then jump in the water. The class is led by great teachers, and you might even get a hindu card reading at the end.
My favorite places to eat
1. Icebox. I have lunch there 3 times a week. It's homey, tasteful and real. Turkey club is the way to go.
2. Michael's. Only the best ingredients. It's a classic so make a reservation. Order the Penne with braised beef "sugo" - ask for bread because none of that sauce can go to waste. Finish off with the "chocolate cremoso" - sea salt and olive oil were made to be with chocolate.
3. Gigi's. Have the meatloaf and order two while you are at it. I don't know why they call it meatloaf because it is nothing like it. And get the brussel sprouts as a side. I'm still trying to figure out what they put on it.
The places you should definitely see
1. 1111 Lincoln Road. It's a parking lot but only in Miami would the most luxurious, architecturally interesting building be a parking lot. Best views in town, and truly a treat.
2 The Bakehouse Art Complex. And old bakehouse, revamped and turned into 60 artist studios. Free of charge. Walk around the studios, see the artists in action, get to meet some of them and find some very interesting work that you will end up purchasing.
3. More than a place it's a time. Come to Miami during Art Basel, the first week of December. You can cut the energy with a knife, the people watching is spectacular, and you'll have art and parties coming out of your ears. It's certainly not a quiet time to be here, but a must, at least once.
My favorite hidden gems
1. El Chalán. A place you would probably walk by on Washington Avenue. Peruvian food, well-prepared, always fresh and inexpensive. Fish ceviche and lomo saltado. Yum.
2. Cinematheque—I love watching movies, and I love it even more when it is at a great intimate location. Good selection, good crowd. Few people know about it.
3. Sunset Harbour shops. It's a block on "local" South Beach. For the ladies, the small clothing boutique is not cheap but the selection is exquisite. Stop at the panther coffee for a "cortadito" that will make you only want to drink that coffee forever. Jugofresh has all the juices, enzymes and cleansers that you will need, and last but not least, Footworks, to find the perfect running shoe. Be prepared to run on a treadmill and be filmed to figure out how you distribute weight and pressure when running.