Miami is full of amazing moments to be had, but like any magical city there’s a certain je ne sais quoithat’s unique to the city’s flavor. In Miami, those magic moment range from a swirling multi-colored sunset that looks right out of a Photoshopped poster to spotting an endangered species in its natural habitat. One writer shares her “5 Amazing Miami Moments.”
WATCHING THE SUNSET
There are lots of places to catch a smoldering Miami sunset. But the outdoor patio bar at Smith & Wollensky takes top honors. With an icy cold mojito in hand, you can watch the locals stroll by with their dogs while giant cruise ships float past PortMiami. Then slowly, the sky begins to swirl with shades of pale yellow, tangerine, saffron, lavender and soft pink. The sun sets slowly over the downtown skyline and another sultry Miami evening is born.
YOUR FIRST FRITA
Despite having tons of Cuban friends, I had never heard of a frita until recently. A frita is a Cuban hamburger, a tasty little creation that is akin to a Royal Castle burger on steroids. Fritas are deliciously addictive, and easy to find in Miami. Smaller than the average burger, fritas are made with ground beef, ground pork and chorizo sausage, spiced up by the addition of a little onion powder and paprika. Topped with super-thin, fried shoestring potatoes and “special sauce”, it’s impossible to eat just one. Popular frita spots include El Rey de las Fritas and El Mago (where President Barack Obama sampled one), both located in Little Havana.
SEE A MANATEE
Seeing a manatee in the wild for the first time is an amazing feeling. When a manatee pops her head out of the water and stares at you with friendly brown eyes, you can’t help but marvel at this huge – yet oddly huggable – beast. Also called sea cows, manatees make cute snorting noises when they come up for air. They bump along in slo-mo with their thick tails and stubby little pectoral fins. Manatees congregate in groups called “herds” in quiet harbors or canals and near bridges. If you can’t spot a wild manatee, visit the ones that live at Miami Seaquarium, which operates a rescue and rehabilitation program for these beautiful yet threatened creatures.
Driving across a causeway is a classic Miami experience. The bay glitters, the beach beckons, the convertible top is down and all is right with the world. Julia Tuttle Causeway is an all-time favorite, because the bay spreads out before you like a sea green magic carpet. MacArthur is the sexiest causeway, with South Beach sports cars whizzing by, waterfront mansions with yachts parked out front, and cruise ships so close you can reach out and touch them. Did you know that the Bee Gee’s hit song, Jive Talkin’, was originally called “Drive Talking”? This is not an urban myth; it’s absolutely true. The song’s rhythm was modeled after the sound their car made crossing the Julia Tuttle Causeway each day from Biscayne Bay to Criteria Studios in Miami. “Ja..ja..ja..Jiiive talkin, you’re tellin’ me lies…”
Sailing out of Miami on a cruise ship is a thrill, plain and simple. You are 10 stories high, looking out at the dazzling Miami skyline, millionaires’ mansions, palm trees, yachts and speedboats. You are embarking on a sea adventure, with modern conveniences that would make a pirate weep. No matter that you’re sharing this moment with 2,500 other passengers. NOW is the time to embrace your inner tourist. Say ”YES” to the umbrella drink, groove to the steel band reggae rhythms, feel the sea breeze on your face, and file this memory away under “cruise ship special”.
This article was first published at http://www.downtownmiami.com