When Z and I were in the pre-moving phase of our transition to New York, we discussed many of the things we wanted to do and goals we wanted to achieve while we lived on the East Coast. We talked about the bucket list items to accomplish in the city as well as the cities outside of New York we had to visit. Miami was one of the first we ever discussed and it has been on our minds since we moved. After our first year in New York came and went, I knew I wanted to plan a surprise birthday trip to Miami for Zach’s 32nd birthday. While we both enjoy the fact that we are both planners, sometimes it prevents us from truly living in the moment. We oftentimes find ourselves in conversation about the future, post New York life, when do we want kids, what’s the next step for our careers, etc. Because I knew Miami was on the top of our lists for places to visit and, let’s be honest, it’s a city for silly, adult fun, it would be a perfect place to celebrate exactly where we are in life; fairly newlyweds, childless, and a will to see new places. I was determined to not only make the trip happen but to keep it a secret from Z for MONTHS. I have never kept a secret that long in my life and I still can’t believe I did it. I booked the trip in February and I didn’t tell him until we were at the airport on May 4!
I spent the majority of my twenties working in the hospitality industry which means while I am an excellent resource for all things travel, I can be a bit of a hotel snob and will spend HOURS researching to find the perfect place at the right price. This was true of my Miami hotel research but I couldn’t be happier with my find. The Confidante Hotel, formerly a Thompson Hotel and now a Hyatt Unbound Collection hotel, was perfect for the intention of the trip. Steps from the beach, two pools, four bars on property, and easy access to South Beach and Downtown Miami. One of our favorite spots on the property was Nina’s House. Best known for their drinks with made to order fresh pressed juice cocktails and 2 for 1 happy hour. A perfect welcome to Miami!
During the time when Z had no idea we were going to Miami I was asking friends and acquaintances in the city (i.e. my hair dresser!) for recommendations on great restaurants and bars in Miami and Miami Beach. We hit up South Beach the first night in town, which honestly was like a mini-Las Vegas. Fun for a few drinks at an open-air, outdoor bar, but also a gamut of characters walking around that were fun to “observe”, to put it mildly. It was very different from what we envisioned which was classic beachfront restaurants, people dressed in their Miami-chic attire, and overall just a bit less seedy than what it was. This is not to say it wasn’t a great time it was just very different than our expectations! It was entertaining and more casual which ended up being nice to lay low and not feel like we needed to be super dressed up every time we went out. We’re always up for a little exploring, being in new places, and embracing the environment around us. Hence, why we love to travel. A few notable places in South Beach that we loved, some recommended by friends, some by Yelp: The Clevelander, the Naked Taco (for Cinco de Mayo!), and Havana 1957 for some authentic Cuban food.
Friday morning we were pumped to get our toes in the sand and swim in the ocean but the weather in Miami Beach had other plans. We got a solid hour in before a torrential downpour made its appearance and lasted for four hours. After we
ran off departed the beach we enjoyed some Cinco de Mayo festivities in South Beach and then made it back to the hotel for some afternoon sunshine before the sunset.
Saturday was the PERFECT day. The day began with another surprise I coordinated for the weekend. One of my coworkers and her husband, Angie and Mike, became fast friends of ours when we first moved to New York. However, they snowbird to Florida every winter so we were only able to spend a couple months with them before the moved to Tampa for the fall/winter season. Angie and I have kept in touch while they have been away and when I mentioned we would be in Miami and that they should join us, they were all in. It was AWESOME. For people we have known less than a year to drive across the state of Florida to spend 24 hours with us was remarkable. Originally they were supposed to come for the whole weekend but last minute work commitments changed their plans. But the one day they were with us was wonderful! I mentioned to Z about an hour before they were set to arrive that “some other people are going to be joining us” and he was wracking his brain to figure out who was coming. He was equal parts surprised and touched that our new East Coast friends had made such an effort. Heart happy moment! We spent the day on the beach and swam in the ocean for HOURS!
Our last night in town we went into Downtown Miami to this restaurant I found called The River Yacht Club. I read about these restaurants that were right on the Miami River (which I had NO idea Miami even had a river!) where yachts of all different shapes and sizes can coast through and park to get off the boat and enjoy a meal. Some of these yachts are 100 ft. long and this river is NOT big by any means. We even saw one pull away from the restaurant after a group of diners had finished their meal and got back on their yacht. It is a whole new level of wealth we had never seen before! It made for a unique atmosphere for dinner. The River Yacht Club also had a dance floor and live band while you dined. Warm winds, fresh, organic ingredients, and the sunsetting while we ate made for a stellar last night in town.
After dinner we headed across the river to another spot I had heard lots of good things about called Seaspice. It was a bit overpriced for us for a meal but it was a perfect nightcap. They, too, had giant yachts parked alongside the restaurant, but instead of a dance floor and live music they had a long, large couch that encircled the bar area as well as a swing by the hostess stand which was one of my favorite parts of the restaurant. How could you leave without sitting on the swing?!
Angie & Mike. I said it in Miami but I will say it again here. It meant so much to have you join us for all the festivities! Your open hearts, appetite for adventure and trying new things, and generosity of your time and friendship are just a few of the reasons why we feel so grateful to have met you in New York and even more touched that we now have this trip to cement our friendship. We can’t wait for you to be back in the city for summer and for more good times ahead!
Z. Here’s to a new year in this great, big city. Being with you and observing the way you’ve embraced our new normal, growing your role at work, evolving your look (just a hair! 😉 ), and living each day with intention has been an exciting time in our married life. I am in awe of you and all you’ve accomplished. I can’t wait to see what this next year will bring for you or rather what you’ll bring to your 32nd year of life!