FL 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.)
Usually, there's nothing better than arriving at your destination and finding the airport taxi line completely wide-open. That means there's no waiting; just drop your bags in the car, give the driver the address of where you're headed and you're off.
The other day this editor arrived at Miami International Airport at 5:30am after a red-eye flight from Los Angeles. The taxi line was free and clear so I took the first taxi available. Before I got in, I made sure the taxi took credit cards. The taxi line agent assured me this taxi did and the driver himself assured me as well. (It's also a new law in Miami that taxis must be equipped to accept credit cards.)
But once we got moving, the driver asked me if I had cash. "Er, no," I said. "I need to pay by credit card." He sighed and then got on with the driving. During the quick drive (about 20 minutes), he seemed to struggle with keeping his eyes open. Which I could understand since he was probably at the end of a long overnight shift. But he also wasn't wearing a seatbelt and he was driving about 80 miles per hour on a highway. And I thought turbulence was bad.
Once we got over the bridge and into Miami Beach proper, he turned around and told me, "I'll take you to ATM now and you can get cash." There was no way I was going to have a cab driver take me to an ATM at 6am so I could get cash. I responded firmly with "No, I'd like to pay by credit card." When he dropped me off at my hotel, I gave him a cash tip. On the bright side, the fare was just $35, by far one of the cheapest airport taxis we've ever taken. But also, one of the scariest.
If you spot Harry Potter shopping for bathing suits in Diagon Alley, there's a good reason: things are scheduled to get soaked and soggy over at Universal Orlando Resort.
If there’s one thing that theme park kingdom was missing it was a water park, but apparently won't be a problem for much longer. Plans are in the work to open up a new water park, Volcano Bay, in 2017.
The scoop from the Orlando Sentinel reveals that the water park will feature some kind of volcano centerpiece — complete with several waterslides running down its slopes. Other details are few and far between at this point, but it sounds like we can expect a lazy river, a rapids ride, and plenty of fun.
Construction is already underway, and 53 acres near the Cabana Bay Beach Resort have been put aside for this new spot. If this is anything like Universal’s recent additions and upgrades, then we can’t wait!
[Photo: Universal Orlando]
Theme Parks / Theme Park Travel / Disney / Walt Disney World / Downtown Disney / Movie Travel / → All Tags
It’s been a while since we discussed the changes to Downtown Disney over at Walt Disney World. Fast-forward two years later, and plenty of developments have been made. But this latest announcement may be the most exciting one of all: Get ready for an Indiana Jones-themed bar.
All together now: "YES!"
Per IGN, this awesome-sounding place will be known as Jock Lindsey's Hangar Bar. Apparently that dude — Jock Lindsey — was the pilot (and snake owner) from Raiders of the Lost Ark. And no, we didn’t remember that either.
Public Transportation / Miami Travel / Florida Travel / Trains / Airports / Airport News / Train Travel / MIA / → All Tags
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.
We recently reported on the opening of Key West’s newest hotel, The Gates, and now we learned of a delightful food truck parked permanently outside: The Blind Pig with a motto of “Small Bites Done Right.” Sadly we couldn’t make it to the Southernmost Point to taste for ourselves, but we have a very reliable foodie who assures us the small bites are indeed done right.
The Blind Pig serves breakfast from 7:00 to 11:00 am while lunch and dinner is available from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. To start the day one might opt for the Hotsy Totsy Taco, a breakfast taco of scrambled eggs, aged cheddar cheese, pico de gallo and avocado slices ($4). For lunch try the Flapper in a Wrapper – a grilled chicken wrap on a whole wheat tortilla with wildberry mint vinagrette, arugula, crushed apples and herb feta ($7). Then come back for dinner and order its namesake, The Blind Pig: smokey pulled pork meat, aged cheddar cheese with cider barbecue glaze and sweet onions served on pretzel bread ($7).
Then there is the I.R.S. (irresitable snacks) section of the menu ($4 each) with items such as truffle popcorn, devils on horseback, salt and vinegar hand-sliced chips and fries with parmesan cheese.
We venture to say this is not your typical food truck. So get yourselves on the nearest highway heading south and don’t stop until you reach the Conch Republic. First stop? The Blind Pig.
[Photos: The Blind Pig]
Retro Travel / Florida Travel / Miami Travel / Throwback Thursday / Miami Beach Travel / Cruise Travel / → All Tags
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.
Cruise Travel / Cruises / Celebrity Cruises / Royal Caribbean / Ships / Spa Travel / Caribbean Travel / Travel News / Selfies / → All Tags
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.