If you live in Florida and normally take road trips with the family to other states, a trek just from Miami to Jacksonville one-way without crossing the state line is equivalent to a week's worth of groceries for a family of four.
The buzz word these days to enjoy that family vacation in the face of skyrocketing gas prices is "staycation"--vacation by staying local.
How many of us have not enjoyed all the sites, attractions, museums, entertainment in our own backyard? Guilty as charged!
I [Christine] recall living in Maryland for 15 years and never visiting the White House or Washington Monument (although I did visit all of the museums several times. The museums in the Washington Mall are all free to the public). To see it, she had to move to Miami and return as a "tourist". Funny how we take our surroundings for granted.
If you live in Florida and are looking for ideas to vacation locally, here are some suggestions for hotels, activities and restaurants to visit, absorb, and enjoy the best of Miami. Keep in mind many Florida hotels are offering additional discounts this summer for Florida residents. We recommend calling the hotel directly for special Florida resident rates.
The Clay Hotel is perfect for budget-faithful travelers who want to be close to South Beach. Located on Espanola Way, a charming, two block Spanish village in the heart of South Beach, the historical Clay Hotel has been featured on MSNBC.com, the Today Show, and rated #5 in America's Top 10 Budget hotels. The hotel also boasts several Hollywood credits--often the location for many films and music videos. Sylvester Stallone and Sharon Stone filmed a scene for the movie "The Specialist".
Art Deco Walking Tour- South Beach is more than sunburned tourists, celeb wanna-be's and topless bathers. The famous Art Deco District is located in South Beach. Take a professional, entertaining walking tour, suitable for all ages. Learn about the role of the Miami Vice series, Hollywood films and fashion industry. Stops include the Versace Mansion, Jerry's Famous Deli, The Essex Hotel and more. Price is family and wallet-friendly at $15/person.
Miami Spa Month --During the month of July, Miami's premiere spas are offering massages and spa treatments for $99--that's almost half of the regular rate. For example, the Jurlique Spa in Coconut Grove tantalizes and refreshes the body with a Mojito treatment. For starters, relax with a foot bath while sipping herbal tea. Then your masseuse will add the essential ingredient of Mint oil, the key to the aromatherapy session. To top it off with something sweet, a Mojito sugar body scrub exfoliates the skin and invigorates your spirit.
Most spas offer the $99 deal everyday except Saturdays. Be sure to check details for each spa.
The Miami Science Museum has partnered with the Bejing Museum of Natural History to exhibit the fossils and skeletal structures of the rarest and largest feathered dinosaurs in China. This exhibit captivates and educates both children and adults. Unique fully-sculpted models, interactive, multimedia experiences, and a children's paleo-discovery area, bring these magnificent creatures to life! The exhibit ends this September 2008. Tickets are $20 adults, $13 children ages 3-12.
If you like mime, another family- friendly event is Slava's Snow Show--What could outdo, outshine, outperform Cirque Du Soleil show or Blue Man Group? A combination of both! This July SNOW, lots of SNOW will fall in Miami's Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in this theatrical wonder of imagery, clowning, and music. Get your tickets now for this limited show from July 24 - August 17. Tickets are priced at $55.00.
Pollo Tropical-- My all-time favorite place for a healthy meal at a great value. Pollo (pronounced "poyo" and means chicken in Spanish) Tropical serves home made Caribbean food served at fast food pace. You can feed a family of four for $30! No kidding. Over 30 locations in Miami area. (Yes I used to work at the main office as Marketing/PR manager and spokesperson. Indeed I am the biggest fan next to my cat Jean Pierre. A copy cat of the Hamburglar, Jean Pierre stealthily steals the chicken right from under your nose in less than 2 seconds!). When visiting the restaurant, please have patience with the cashiers' heavy accent as many speak English as a second language. "Hey mon, Miahmi is a melting paht". So if your agenda is jammed-pack, a meal at Pollo Tropical allows for a flavorful, inexpensive meal, with Caribbean ambiance, without the long wait for sit down service.
On the opposite end, for an exclusive Miami, fine dining restaurant, we present Prime 112. A sleek, upscale SoBe (short for South Beach) style steakhouse, Prime 112 is located at the beginning of Ocean Drive in the renovated, historic Brown's Hotel. A celebrity hot-spot for dinner, reservations are a privilege for "regular customers". So arrive early to savor the best beef in town. But beware, prices are hefty.
Another favorite of Christine, is Andiamo Brick Oven Pizza. Before we even get to the pizza, the building is an eye-catching landmark. Owner Mark Soyka converted the 1960's retro car wash into this pizza heaven. The best part is while you're waiting for your order, you can get your car washed. Undeniably the best pizza in Miami, Andiamo indulges with an eclectic selection of pizzas. Christine's favorite--portabello mushrooms with truffle oil and goat cheese. It's gourmet pizza a la Miami. So what are you waiting for--Andiamo-- which means "Let's Go!" in Italian!
Andiamo a Miami!
Share with us your suggestions for a staycation in your city!