Florida has always been at the top of my list of places to visit; Miami to be precise and I finally visited earlier this year. Hubby and I spent Christmas and the New year in Miami, we also stopped by Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach. Honestly, I didn’t get to do half the things I had on my list (mainly restaurants, lol) but self-isolation and the lockdown has got me reminiscing. So I’ve put together some of the things I got up to, where we stayed and my best bits.
We stayed at the beautiful Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel for our first half of the holiday. A truly glamorous place, famous for it’s amazing restaurants, nightclub and celebs; located in a section of Miami Beach, Florida. To be honest I had high expectations of Miami and it surely lived up to it’s name. Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel had an incredible beach and large outdoor swimming pools surrounded by private cabanas. It was an outstanding place to be for the festive season; but, if you’re not one for large gatherings then it surely wouldn’t be your cup of tea.
We spent the other half of our holiday at Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach. Honestly, both hotels have very similar vibe, beaches but they are about an hour apart. I will totally recommend both to anyone travelling to either cities.
Generally, there are lots of places to eat. Both Miami and Fort Lauderdale had similar places to eat like McDonalds, KFC, Starbucks and some pretty cool restaurants similar to the UK. And if you know me well, then you must know that I love food and I’m a sucker for fine dining that’s got soul. So even though we got to eat at places like Hakassan and Etaru. Etaru is apparently a version of Roka in London or something along those lines; we also enjoyed some outdoor spots at Ocean drive and our hotels had decent restaurants and bars as well. Also, I was so desperate to try McDonalds and Burger King but I must confess I still prefer the UK version.
Additionally, both hotels had a kitchen which made things a lot easier. Conrad was a whole vibe though, much larger with a full kitchen and balcony.
Photo on the right was shot at Flamingo Lummus Park around Ocean Drive; I mean, look at that paella, looks yummy right? It tasted pretty good too! I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but there were lots of restaurants around Lummus park. The Villa Casa Casuarina at the former Versace mansion was also close by. Etaru on the other hand was more private and quiet and they offered pretty decent Japanese food too (photo on the left)
The best way to enjoy your holiday is to rent a car to get around. Luckily, both hotels were close to all the nice places, local shops and restaurants. However, we got a ride and got to see a number of places as well as grocery shopping etc.
What to do
Fontainebleau Miami Beach Hotel: Most of my time was spent at the beach, lol. We ate, partied and enjoyed the view. Fontainebleau also has an amazing large pool and because it was the festive season everyone was in a good mood. There was music at the pool side restaurant where we also dined a couple of times. Spending Christmas day on the beach was a first for us and totally worth it. It was different and absolutely incredible. Hubby and I have amazing memories from this trip. It was surely a different kind of Christmas celebration for us.
Conrad Fort Lauderdale Beach: Conrad on the other hand was a little laid back and chilled for us. The beach was a short distance to the hotel and we got to do more sightseeing. We drove to West Palm Beach, Henry Morrison Flagler Museum and Galleries. Henry Morrison Flagler Museum was a real beautiful mansion in Palm Beach, Florida. I have no words to describe it, it was insane, see some of the photos I captured below. We also visited some amazing galleries at Las Olas.
Unless you intend to visit people over there, work or have other exciting plans; Miami and Fort Lauderdale are places I totally recommend you visit with friends, family or your other half. But whatever you decide, here are a few more tips to note before going;
Definitely have cash on hand and be ready to tip everyone, everywhere. Americans love a good tipper. I honestly can’t decide who loves getting tips more; Americans or Nigerians? I think Americans win this one; even for a-not-so-great service, you are obliged to tip. I have no words!
It’s best to hire a car if you intend to move around a lot and go sightseeing. Also I think this saves a lot of money on uber/taxis and you get to drive an exotic car if you want, extra bonus right?!
A few days or week is enough to enjoy Miami and a few days for Fort Lauderdale unless you plan to tour other cities or states or meet up with friends and family.
Make sure you stay at a hotel with a beach view. There’s no point traveling all the way from UK or wherever you may be to go Miami or Fort Lauderdale if you can’t experience the incredible beaches and favourite spots.
Fort Lauderdale is super chilled and laidback in my opinion compared to Miami that is lively, loud and the ultimate party place.
Finally to save money, get a hotel that has a full kitchen with great amenities, I think most of them do anyway- you can use your extra cash on other fun things.
I hope this was helpful! Thanks for stopping by, and of course I linked most places above, enjoy!