Miami Travel Guide
When you hear "Miami" in conjunction with "music festival," you probably think of Ultra or Winter Music Conference, the EDM-fests that take place each year in March. But there's much more music on tap in the Magic City, too. In fact, the Miami Summer Music Festival is happening right now, and it runs through August 2.
Admittedly, this event is for a different crowd than the fist pumpers that flock to Ultra — but that's part of what we love about it. They say that summer is for locals in Miami, and this month-long affair certainly seems to cater to residents with, shall we say, a more refined musical bent. We've also heard that the concert series has drawn a number of tourists to town, which is great news in what is typically a slow off-season.
If you haven't heard of the Miami Summer Music Festival, you can be forgiven since it only started last year. This year's festival actually began on July 5th, but you still have time to catch some top-notch chamber music and opera performances.
You may consider yourself above guided tours, but there are many new-and-improved versions of tours these days that are worth considering. Case in point: the Wynwood Food & Art Tour by Miami Culinary Tours.
Right off the bat, you know a tour is going to better when food is involved. And, frankly, there could be no better way to introduce yourself to the creative vibe (and bright and splashy street art murals) of Miami's Wynwood than by strolling around the neighborhood noshing along the way.
We recently took part in a Wynwood Food & Art tour as part of a private group, but you can sign up for one of the regularly scheduled Saturday outings at 12 PM. You'll take in lunch and stop at five restaurants. Tours run for 2.5 hours and you'll walk about a mile, but hey — at least there are a lots of stop to refuel as you go.
The view from the rooftop hydro therapy spa terrace at COMO Shambala Urban Escape.
We’re not sure if it’s the blistering heat that renders people unable to count or rename this annual promotion, but the good news is that Miami Spa Month actually runs for two months: July and August.
There are many great spas in Miami, and all across town (ie: not just at the beaches), but here are five spa month specials that caught our eye for being, as the city’s tourism slogan goes, “so Miami.”
All treatments are $99, unless otherwise noted (some spas are also offering upgraded treatments for $129.)
Speaking of Miami today
We spotted a
creepy lovely hologram helper speaking Spanish and English just after we went through security at the airport's South Terminal. Of course, we had to stop and take a picture. Technically, the official name for the hologram helper is called a "Virtual Reality Passenger Assistant". And she also has a "human" name, Leticia. She may not be the hardest working airport employee but she does "work" seven days a week, 24 hours a day. (Cue the movie about a man who falls in love with the hologram helper and decides to move into the airport to be closer to her.)
Unfortunately, Leticia can't help you get an upgrade or put you on a different flight as her main goal is to give passengers tips on where to shop within the terminal. #hologramfail. Well, at least she looks pretty?
Airport Lounges / Miami Travel / American Express / Centurion Lounges / Miami International Airport / → All Tags
MIA just got a lot more, well, “so Miami.”
That is, the airport now has a new hard-to-access lounge where you can mingle with the moneyed set and enjoy cocktails and food from one of Miami’s best chefs. So, it’s just like the clubs and hotels of South Beach!
The good news is, you don’t have to be a club kid partying past 2 a.m. to hit up this lounge. It’s open from 5 a.m. so even if you have the first flight out, you can still enjoy some serenity and first-class amenities before you board.
The catch is that you’ve gotta have a good Amex, baby. The Centurion Lounge from American Express is complimentary for global Platinum Card and Centurion members who are visiting on the same day as a flight. If you don’t have the expense account, credit or stomach for the $450 annual fee that comes with the Platinum Card (or the $7,500 initiation fee and $2,500 annual membership fee for the Centurion Card), you can still access the lounge for $50 per day if you have a valid American Express credit or charge card. (That’s subject to capacity, of course.)
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Good news for those looking to head into or head out of Miami, as another of the area’s commuter trains has finally linked itself up with the airport.
Earlier this month a new Tri-Rail station opened up at Miami International Airport’s transit hub, and that means passengers are now just a short people mover ride away from the terminals and concourses.
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Most bars on cruise ships are pretty decent – you tend to have your champagne bar, martini bar, the big lounge with the live performers, and the nightclub, which is usually pretty empty but at least you can get some dance music every once in a while thrown in amongst the 60s nights.
But Celebrity Cruises has definitely upped the cool factor with a couple of bars that can be found on all Solstice class ships: yes, there’s the Martini Bar, but this one has an actual ice-top bar with ice-blue mood lighting, and there’s the Molecular Bar specializing in fancy foams and complex cocktails by award-winning mixologist Junior Merino. And then, unique to Celebrity Reflection, is the au courant pop-up nightclub concept.
Alexander Yepremian, the Reflection’s Cruise Director, had the brainiac idea to start a nightclub that would dock in a different bar each night at 10:30 p.m., with killer names like “Liquid” and “Indulgence.” On one particular night, this writer was having a glass of Pinot Noir at the club chair-rich Cellar Masters wine bar when crew started to move in carrying lights, sound equipment and cages large enough for cage dancers to shake their booty in. By the time I left, about an hour-and-a-half later, the DJ was throwing out some sweet sounds, the crowd was swaying and imbibing, and people were lined up outside on the red carpet waiting to get in.
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Have you ever wondered what it's like to run a hotel at sea as compared to one on land? Well this is the kind of thing that occupies this writer’s brain so I took some time during my vacation aboard Celebrity Reflection to speak with the ship’s Hotel Director (because yes – they have that), Jamie Petts, to get the inside scoop.
Like a hotel GM, a ship’s Hotel Director oversees pretty much everything to do with running a regular hotel including F&B, housekeeping and guest services. But unlike a GM who also looks after revenue and bookings, Jamie’s concerns are more hands-on: getting 3,000 people off the boat and back on 25-minutes later, whether the tenders are working properly and if the pools can open on time due to rough seas.
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Sure, we love all the speed and comfort of modern travel, but it didn't get that way overnight. Every Thursday, we're going to take a look back at travel the way it used to be, whether that's decades or centuries ago. This is Throwback Thursday, travel edition.
How much was a 10-day Bahamas cruise over 60 years ago? Well, you have your answer in the ad above, placed in Playboy in 1960. It advertises a voyage on a Windjammer sailing ship, departing Miami, with stops at Bimini, the Berry Islands, Nassau, Havana, Abaco, Cay Sal, and Grand Bahama all for $175 per person.
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Relax. This story is not about Selfie Sticks.
With the ferociously brutal winter almost behind us, this contributor decided to take some desperately-needed recuperating time, not just for my hunched-over, heat-starved body but for my rattled, over-worked brain as well. I really needed to unplug both mind and spirit.
The only way to prevent me, however, from sneaking an illicit peek at my emails and “only answering a few” was to book a cruise where that privilege costs a pretty penny. Ergo, I found myself on Celebrity Cruises’ Reflection, their newest ship on the block.
Celebrity has keyed into a traveler's need to disconnect and so they teamed up with Randi Zuckerberg, former Facebook and current Editor-in-Chief of Dot Complicated, and big advocate of finding a tech-life balance. The two brands came up with a series of spa and wellness treatments that encourage you to Take Care of YourSelfie. Clever marketing name aside, I didn't need to be told twice.
Miami's Wynwood district has become the city's epicenter of art but, ironically, the neighborhood's middle school has no arts programs for its 600 students, due to budget cuts.
Last year, the Wynwood Arts District Association and WynwoodMap.com brought together a group of non-profits, corporate partners, local businesses, artists, and city officials with the common goal of not only bringing color to the Jose De Diego Middle School's stark white walls, but to create a long term fundraising campaign that will finance a new arts program at the school.
The RAW (Reimagining Arts Wynwood) Project was launched during Art Basel in December 2014 as an army of more than 30 world-renowned arts - including David Walker, Pixelpancho, Anthony Lister, RYCA, D*Face, Jaz, LezaOne, ABSTRK, Shark Toof, Santiago Rubino, and Derek Hunter - covered JDD's exterior walls with large-scale, one-of-a-kind murals.
And now you can make it a stop on your next trip to Miami. Jose De Diego Middle School, located at 3100 NW 5th Ave in Miami, welcomes the public to tour the grounds, view the murals, take photos and, most importantly, donate to their cause.
To make a donation, visit crowdrise.com.
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Remember Eastern Air Lines? Well they’re back, and they’re getting ready to take to the skies once again. They’re not exactly the airline you remember from the 1980s, as technically they’re a whole new carrier and operation—they just scooped up the old name and associated intellectual property.
As with most new airline operations there’s always a little risk, but so far so good for the planes and people over at the new Eastern. They are looking to get 20 new planes into the hangar, and just the other day they received the very first one of them—a Boeing 737-800 complete with a nice looking livery with a nod to the past.