Tag Archives: travel

Espanola WayMiami Beach, a baby city of only 100 years of age (which we celebrated in quite a big way earlier this year!) is home to three different historical districts! The Art Deco Architectural District, of which we have all heard and which is probably the most famous. There’s also the SoFi district — that’s South of Fifth, and lastly and for the sake of this post, most importantly: the Espanola Way historical district.

So, when Miami Beach got its start, it was at first a coconut palm plantation that also boasted a few other fruits to its lineup. Proving unsuccessful, the area quickly converted to a line of hotels and high-end homes, becoming in effect the first resort-style town in the country. People were enticed by the wonderful weather and the stunning views; not to mention the fact that it was basically virgin land – as easy to mold as possible without the influence of too many land-owner or any anti-trust busting by the government.

Much of the original structures in the city borrowed a lot from European styles, in particular the Mediterranean – thus all the red clay roofs, arched windows, wrought iron. This style, known as Mediterranean Revival, is what we see most of in the Espanola Way District.

At its conception, Espanola way, the four square blocks from 14th to 15th St, in between Washington Ave and Pennsylvania Ave, was meant to be a spot for those looking for the nightlife — artists and dancers crowded the clubs here. Al Capone even has a rich history of gambling and especially of his prostitution ring in the area.

Thrive as it did for about 15 years, the depression did not do the district any favors. It fell into a deep decline and became quite crime-ridden until our Art Deco savior Barbara Capitman protested it be protected and designated a historical sight. In the last 15 years, the area has been home to international cuisine – from Gloria Estefan’s cuban cuisine chain Havana 1957, to Mexican food, Italian, Spanish, French Moroccan.

It is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Miami! Be sure to arrive as the sun is setting and the string lights on the palms turn on!

Charles Deering Estate

VIsit the Charles Deering Estate on bike!

VIsit the Charles Deering Estate on bike! (Photo from SouthFloridaFinds.com)

Located in Palmetto Bay, Fl (in the southern edges of Miami Dade County), one will find a surprising addition to the National Register of Historic Places. That’s right! In a city that is only about 121 years old, stands the Charles Deering Estate which was built by the Richmond family which opened it as an Inn. In 1901, it was known as the southern-most hostelry in the country. One of the earliest registers of the inn included names such as Henry Flagler and James Ingrahm, both of whom went on to pave the way for future settlers in South Florida – Henry Flager especially, known as he is for having built the Gold Coast Railroad down the length of the state at the end of the 19th century.

Charles Deering bought the cottage and moved into it in 1922. As per the attraction’s website, it is a 444-acre “environment, archaeological, and historic preserve” which makes up the largest virgin coastal hardwood hammock in the continental US.

The estate also includes what is perhaps the oldest burial mound in the country as well, with about 12-18 Native American burials; it’s been disturbed repeatedly in the last century or so but luckily the State of Florida acquired it and added it to the Charles Deering Estate Park.

All-in-all, a totally surprising – and refreshing – taste of history in southern Florida that most tourists would be delighted and encouraged to check out!

10 things to do in Miami from a Miami-phile


Here’s a list of 10 things you can try in Miami and Miami Beach that are extremely accessible via bicycle!:

  1. Wynwood Artwalk – Wynwood used to be a dingy warehouse area but since 2008, it’s been converted into a massive outdoor street art gallery. The first Saturday of every month, the plethora of galleries in the area stay open later, offer wine and invite special musical performers to join the masses. (We love Wynwood – we even offer a bike tour of the area!)
  2. SoundScape Cinema Series – Our bike rental shop is a block away from the famed Frank Ghery building, The New World Symphony, on South Beach which offers a movie night every Wednesday at 8PM. Sit on the grass, watch a classic (they love to air Hitchcocks) or a more modern film (this week they showed Maleficent) with some friends and some wine (some people would say they’re one and the same).
  3. Group bike ride – The largest and most well-known is Critical Mass the last Friday of each month, but there’s also Magic Mondays at 9PM from University Metrorail station, there’s Wednesday Night Ride that leaves at 8PM from the Omni Station in downtown and ever Sunday like clockwork you can creepily join any one of the dozens of local pelotons as they ride down to the very scenic Key Biscayne.
  4. Check out a farmer’s market – Miami Beach has two – one on Lincoln Road and one on Normandy Drive every Sunday and Saturday respectively. Brickell’s market at Mary Brickell Village offers ceviche and fresh stone crab on Friday mornings!
  5. Jazz Night at Churchill’s – Every Monday night the infamous Churchill’s, a grimey-but-great live music pub offers a selection of jazz musicians in the front and open-mic in the back.
  6. Word & Wine – Another add to the open-mic list, located at Wynwood’s TSL Lounge, the name says it all.
  7. Watch an independent movie – Try O’Cinema Theater (Wynwood, Miami Shores and now Miami Beach) or South Beach’s Cinematheque on 13th street and Washington ave for a movie you have hopefully never heard of!
  8. Free Friday Nights at the Wolfsonian Museum – Could “free” get any better? Our bike rental shop is conveniently located around the corner from this student staffed museum. Borrow a bike for the day and then check it out!
  9. Watch people on the Promenade – The character of Miami is well-seen in its residents and visitors alike. Watch the weirdos and the beautiful people stroll up and down South Beach’s promenade be it on rollerblades, bicycles, skateboards and the occasional Segway.
  10. Miami River Segway Tour – Don’t pretend you didn’t expect us to self-promote! Our Segway tours are most prominent on South Beach (Art Deco Segway tour and Segways at Sunrise/Sunset) but the wonderful thing about the Miami River Segway tour is that it explores an area of Miami which explains our city’s nickname, The Magic City, best.  Downtown Miami and Brickell as archaeological risk zones offer a magnitude of sights from towering sky-scrapers to thousands years old digging sites to the house of the first Miami doctor circa 1903.