By Casey Sutton
What city is home to more than 50% foreign-born residents, where nearly 80 languages are spoken, and has been nicknamed “the immigrant capital of the world”? Would you say Hong Kong? Mumbai? New York? You would be wrong in all cases – it’s Miami! As the 42nd largest city in the United States, the relatively small landmass is packed with diversity and culture.
I was born and raised in the colorful city of Miami and since coming to Thunderbird, many friends have approached me to ask what should they see if they vacation there. Although I respect the renowned landmarks such as Deco Drive, the Fontainebleau and South Beach, here are some suggestions that are off-the-beaten path and will give you more insight from a local’s perspective.
A must-see landmark in Miami is the Everglades. It is not spoken about much outside of the state of Florida, but it’s the only ecosystem of its kind in the entire world. It is essentially an extremely wide and shallow river that cuts across the state and is home to thousands of species of animals. If you decide to visit this beautiful nature reserve I would highly suggest an airboat ride through the backwaters, where I guarantee you will see both alligators and crocodiles – which many restaurants in the area serve as a delicacy. There are also ample opportunities for hiking and camping throughout the reserve.
For those of you who prefer to stay away from the wild, I would suggest Midtown Miami. This is a relatively new part of the city that has sprung up over the past ten years. What was once a low-income, industrial neighborhood is now a sprawling center of art and cuisine. During the second Thursday of every month artists open their gallery doors to the public, and thousands of people flock to see their newest work and enjoy delicious food trucks. There are also incredible restaurants and lounges in the area and it is fast becoming the new center of nightlife in the city.
If the crowded streets of Midtown are not your style, then Key West may be for you. This laidback beach paradise is located only three hours from Miami and is easily accessible by car. The white, sandy beaches are littered with shade from overgrown palm trees, and a gentle, cool ocean breeze will lull you into daily naps. This tranquil destination is also home to world-class fishing, diving and snorkeling and offers beautiful reefs to explore.
If you are thinking about visiting Miami, I would encourage you to forego some of the more typical destinations in lieu of a more unique or even local experience. With the Everglades as a natural wonder, Midtown as a booming center of nightlife, and Key West as a relaxing getaway, you can customize your vacation in Miami to fit what you.