miami to culebra pop hop


This spring I was eager, overly ready, to transition into the color and pop that comes with the spring mood. A fan of it every year, but this one in particular I was looking for more, what some would even consider obnoxious pop culture. And to be fair, I can be found in that very camp at times. But this year was different, I had a taste for it, call it the youthful balance of life. So I created an itinerary with a flavor of pop and an edge with a bit of gritty. And there’s nowhere better than Miami for that type of trip.

Blah, blah, blah everyone knows Miami, but what you might not know, at least I certainly didn’t, was the retro-gritty area of MiMo for base camp. A rad little nook-of-an-area, that’s being refurbished and brought to life, from the northern spill-over of Wynwood. Great little cheapy motels, dinner-style eateries, art galleries, and coolness. Some were fancier than others but for me, it was all about the Gold Dust Motel, bingo. If you dig retro-vintage this is the spot, and don’t let the hostel option fool you, it’s solid and a fantastic value. Rad vibe-check, diner restaurant-check, dive bar-check, and an ideal position. There’s a bus stop or a Citi Bike station just steps away which adds to the fun and cost savings of an expensive Uber ride. I took the bike option, which takes about an hour, a classic beach ride down to South Beach for the day. And a—must stop for a cuban at Puerto Sagua Restaurant. A bus ride back to the hotel and a pool dive then back on the bus to South for dinner. There is nothing like South Beach and at night even more so, nostalgic at its very best. Which in my mind leads to dinner at The Avalon Hotel. Neon lights, swanky seafood, and tasty fresh cocktails. Then after for a drink at the area's finest dive bar Mac's Club Deuce. In my opinion, the choice day in South Beach. And ended with a snack back at the diner and enjoying the friendly environment.

The next day, after an A+ breakfast and great company, a walk through the gritty streets filled-to-the-rim with art galleries. The intent is to make your way down to Wynwood but eventually, you’ll succumb to a quick Uber to finish off. And by that time is time for lunch at Gramps, one of the originals, a colorful backyard-like watering hole with one helluva slice of Hawaiian. And a great mojito to boot. After that, it’s just walk-the-walk. And this was my first time, so all I can say is it’s a lot, it’s obnoxious-overly, but it is also the most colorfully inspiring walk I’ve ever had. Truly something to experience at any age. And it just so happens to my complete surprise, on the outskirts edge of it all is The Margulies Collection. A paid entry, museum-like exhibit that is now my favorite to date. An excellent mix of moods. Then it was back across the colorful streets of Wynwood for my favorite parts of any traveling day. Dinner at a little bugger-of-a-find at Rincon Escondido Tapas & Restaurant. A tiny hole-in-the-wall at its very best kinda-find. The next morning I was off to the airport but not to head home just yet. It was island time.


To no surprise, Puerto Rico has killer roundtrip flight deals out of Miami, and for a bit more, and well worth, a quick prop flight over to Culebra. What I found is exactly what I was looking for. A tiny scrappy little gem with all my favorite ingredients: a little gritty with tons of color, great food, exceptional beaches, and laid back island vibe. But it was just the simple walks around, the neon bright, town that I enjoyed the most. To dinner at Harspoons, mojitos at Mamacitas, a breakfast-sammy from La Pista, and a coffee grab at Blac Flamingo. But cruising the island golf cart style and boating to a remote island beach wasn’t bad either. Just a short, simple, and truly enjoyed visit as an add-on to a Miami hop. A neon color-pop with a bit of edge to bring spring into the mood. A couple of easy, and quick, flight hops and back to Miami it is for the flight home. Acknowledging so, this isn’t an itinerary for everyone, but an unorthodox gem to pleasure for a few. Another journey in the leather slip ons completed.

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