By Dwight Brown NNPA Travel Writer – There are 1001 reasons to travel to Miami. Put festivals and events at the top of your list, and you also get to play under the sun, moon and stars. Come for a fest, stay for the eclectic dining, exciting tours, fun sports and amazing museums.
So, buy your event tickets, pack your bags, book your hotels and catch up on your R&R.
Feb 16 – 20 — The Miami International Boat Show is the largest and most luxurious boat exhibition in the world. And this year the show has joined forces with the Miami Yacht Show, so you’ll experience a boating extravaganza—from the most adventurous kayaks to swank, gigantic yachts. By land, head to the Miami Beach Convention Center and Pride Park and walk around and gaze. By sea, boats are on view at Sea Isle Marina, One Herald Plaza, Museum Park Marina, and IGY Yacht Haven Grande at Island Gardens. Expect parties, rock concerts and a good time in a very nautical way.
Also in February: Run in the Lifetime Miami Marathon and Half Marathon (Feb 6) or eat the finest cuisine at the Food Network & Cooking Channel South Beach Wine & Food Festival (Feb 24 – 27).
March 12 – 13 — The 15th annual Jazz in the Gardens Music Festival will be live this year and the impressive roster includes Mary J. Blige, Rick Ross, H.E.R., The Isley Brothers and The Roots with T-Pain. The City of Miami Gardens’ signature event is proudly hosted by Mayor Rodney Harris: “We look forward to celebrating with our residents and people from all over the world.” The stellar lineup of legendary jazz and R&B artists and that mellow jazz fest vibe attracts thousands and puts everyone in a good mood. COVID safety protocols will be in effect and luckily, the open-air Hard Rock Stadium venue is roomy and ventilated so folks can breathe easy as the music drifts out into the night.
Also in March: Screen top international films at the Miami Film Festival (Mar 4 – 13). Former top-10 tennis player James Blake is the Tournament Director at the Miami Open (Mar 21 – April 3), which attracts tennis icons like Naomi Osaka, Frances Tiafoe, Coco Gauff and Gaël Monfils.
June 15 – 19 — Great News! The American Black Film Festival is back! After two years as a virtual event, the festival will be live in Miami Beach again! ABFF brings Black culture enthusiasts, artists, executives and filmmakers together from around the world for five days of screenings, panels, exclusive parties and high-powered networking. The annual event attracts key Hollywood players like Halle Berry, Denzel Washington, Malcolm D. Lee, Ryan Coogler, Issa Rae, Tracee Ellis Ross and more. About Women Panels, ABFF Comedy Wings and Opening and Closing Night Galas are integral parts of the excitement. Join the in-person festivities in Miami Beach June 15-19, then participate in virtual events on ABFF Play June 20-30. Black film matters!
November – December
Nov/Dec — The increasingly popular Art of Black Miami is a brilliant, weeks-long (late Nov. early Dec.) art exhibition that highlights the work of black artists and people of color from around the city. Sponsored by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau, this window into black artists’ creations is a gem in the black art world with work from emerging painters to veteran sculptors. In past years, lectures and exhibitions by geniuses like interdisciplinary Harlem artist Sanford Biggers have dazzled attendees. ABM is more than just a two-week event, it’s a cultural movement that has virtual sessions, podcasts, fairs and competitions throughout the year. The empowering spirit of black art shines and it’s on view here.
Also in Nov./Dec: Miami Book Fair (Date TBA) is attended by hundreds of noted authors. The annual Taste of SLS (Date TBA) food/cocktail tasting event at the lux SLS South Beach Hotel is crowded with the coolest partygoers grazing on steak, seafood, Japanese cuisine and craft cocktails as they sway to music by Grammy award-winning DJ & producer Mark Ronson. Art Basel Miami Beach (Dec. 1-3) draws international art lovers to its fine art fair.
Cool Places to Stay
The Balfour Hotel Miami Beach, run by the very gregarious African American GM James Moore, is on a mission: “Our vision for The Balfour Hotel is to create a relaxing oasis and hidden gem among the buzzing energy synonymous with Miami Beach.” Moore has accomplished that goal, as his charming hotel in the quiet South of Fifth Street district has the warmth and intimacy of a bed and breakfast and the space and amenities of a mid-size hotel. The beach is just a block away, and this part of Miami’s shoreline is a much quieter and more ideal for those who prefer a calm atmosphere as they soak up the sun. Get served chef Steven Acosta’s Chicharron on the outdoor veranda at the Latin-inspired Mehzcla Restaurant and you’ll be happy.
Kimpton Angler’s South Beach is within walking distance of everything South Beach has to offer. It’s just two blocks from the beach, but you may never get to the shore once you’ve sunned and swam on their rooftop deck. From your room’s balcony, you can people watch ‘til the wee hours. Studios, suites, lofts, villas, spa villas and their exclusive three-story poolside bungalows are there for the choosing. In-room spa treatments can include the romantic Butterfly Agave Couple’s Massage. Folks gather for the evening wine hour in the lobby 5 p.m. – 6 p.m. often after touring the neighborhood on one of the hotel’s free bikes. If you stay here during the Afro Disco retreat, their lobby Minnow Bar, with its moody interiors and street-side patio, is rocking.
Hilton Miami Airport Blue Lagoon faces Miami International Airport and if ever there was a destination airport hotel, this is it. Set on a lagoon, it features a 3000-square-foot pool, tennis courts, gym, restaurant and the extensive Herb N’ Kitchen food shop. It’s also near the Dolphin Expressway, which makes car rides into South Beach, Downtown and up to the Hard Rock Stadium a quick drive. African/Canadian/Bahamian General Manager Michael F Hooper welcomes guests like he’s opening up his home. Fans heading to Tom Joyner’s and other specialty cruises often stay here. This is where, with sheer amazement, you can watch planes take off and land in all their glory and gaze at Miami’s skyline view.
Restaurants with Flair, Fine Food and People Watching
- Dinner at the very intimate Seawell Fish N’ Oyster seafood restaurant at the Angler’s Hotel should include Swordfish Tiradito, the very crispy Pork Belly & Oysters and the succulent Wagyu Pichana Steak. In the morning, as part of the restaurant’s new seven-day brunch menu, the Sunrise Breakfast is fresh as the day with eggs, chicken apple sausage and garlic rosemary potatoes.
- The see and be seen Asian/ Mediterranean Sunday Brunch at Mila Restaurant attracts a very cosmopolitan crowd that chooses their Champagne and then are treated to endless tapas style delights: from branzino tataki to yellowtail-yuzu kosho sushi, from eggs benedict to robata lamb kofte. A DJ spins music and everyone eats to a beat.
- Dig into the Carrot Cake French Toast that’s crowned with candied carrots at Café Americano Collins Ave. and eventually you’ll find your way to a center filled with raisin & pecan cream cheese filling. Watch the parade of beachgoers, tourists and nightclubbers go by on Collins Ave. as you eat, and you’ll be entertained too. Brunch is served all day.
- The show must go on at Villa Azur Restaurant and Lounge, and sometimes that means a sparsely clad and very beautiful fire dancer is sauntering around you as you dine on Seared Octopus, Chateaubriand Au Poivre and Baked Tres Leches. Tasty French cuisine in a sophisticated party atmosphere.
- The barrel to glass wine collection at The Social Club in the Kimpton Surfcomber Miami Beach gives you something to sip on as you contemplate dinner. The Sea Shells appetizer includes 3 New Bedford Massachusetts scallops. Then move onto the tender Braised Short Rib and end the night with Ricotta Donuts + Shortbread Cookies + Churros.
Exciting Things to Do
- Science is fascinating every day at the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. Get awed by the Planetarium’s 16-million-color 8K projections, view sharks overhead standing under the 31-foot oculus lens that’s at the bottom of the Gulf Stream Aquarium and discover the magic of skin at Skin: Living Armor, Evolving Identity. Amateur sleuths will love the Sherlock Holmes: The Exhibition.
- The integrated genius of art and technology converge during the immersive experiences and exhibitions at Artechouse. Vince Fraser’s stunning Afrocentric Aṣẹ: Afro Frequencies exhibition just closed and Renewal 2121: 100 years Into the Future now transports amazed crowds into a cyberpunk cityscape. Wow!
- Jet across the Bay of Biscayne and Atlantic Ocean with panoramic views of downtown, South Beach and the PortMiami aboard a fast boat with Thriller Miami Speedboat Adventures.
- Pick up a game of tennis: Flamingo Park Tennis Center (ask for Julio), Cliff Drysdale Tennis – The Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne or Miami Shores Tennis Club Complex (ask for Burd).
For a complete roster of annual and new events, check out the Miami Beaches Calendar https://www.miamiandbeaches.com/events/annual-events. To check on COVID protocols for each event, click the event’s websites.
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