Even if you love discovering new places—as my daughter and I do—there's something to be said for going back again and again to a city you know and love. It's a bit like re-watching your favorite old movie: you know the overall scheme of things, but coming back lets you notice new, subtle details you might've overlooked the first time around. As for cities we keep revisiting, Miami's on the top of the list.
Sure, Miami's got plenty to offer, including (though not limited to) great weather when it's freezing up north. (Mini-Me likes it even during the summer, when there's a slowed down ease to the pace of things. It doesn't hurt that one her best friends is down there as well.) And, for my daughter, the city's snowballing food scene has become a big part of its appeal over the last few years.
For anyone traveling with kids, it's particularly helpful that many of the city's hottest restaurants are in hotels, which tend to be more accommodating to families than a typical freestanding trendy restaurant. So although Mini-Me always orders adult-like dishes at places like The Dutch at the W (where her regular choice is pappardelle with lamb ragu, sheep's milk ricotta, and mint), she's usually not the only kid in the room, particularly if we eat on the early side. Actually, in Miami, our favorite "early bird special" is to stop by Nobu at the Shore Club late afternoon before the restaurant opens when you can order delicious sushi rolls by the bar.
If we're heading to a new restaurant from a celebrity chef (like Jean-Georges Vongerichten or Jose Andres, who both recently opened spots in Miami), we'll do some online research ahead of time, browse through their cookbooks, or check them out on TV as part of preparation for the trip.
Since we go to Miami frequently, Mini-Me has a short list of things she likes to do every visit. The key to keeping us both happy is to balance her picks with mine, so we'll each vote for what we'd like to do and combine the choices, along with something new everyday. If Mini-me wants to browse through the racks at Books and Books for a book that's as good as the Hunger Games, that's fine—but it means we've got to pop into Consign of the Times around the corner to look at the discounted Louboutins for me. And when I'm desperate to see the latest exhibit at the Bass Museum of Art, we'll stop for Italian style gelato at La Dolce Vita nearby. And Mini-Me's always up for heading to the Design District for a meal at Michael's Genuine Food and Drink, which means a pitstop for me at Marni and Tomas Meier on the way. Treating her like an actual person who should have a say in where we go and what we do is key.
It's easy to overspend in Miami, but we always include some free (or inexpensive) activities into our trips. During the winter, for example, the Lincoln Road Flea Market is an extra-colorful way to spend Sunday morning, with plenty of low-key cafes open to refuel when necessary. The city's got a vibrant food truck scene these days—plus a Shake Shack on Lincoln Road, and terrific casual Cuban food all around—so memorable meals don't need to be fussy or pricey. And, of course, sometimes the best days are spent doing nothing but being together on the beach.
With many Miami trips under her belt, Mini-Me also always has what's possibly the ultimate in-the-know request for each trip: to fly in and out of Fort Lauderdale, which has an easy-to-navigate airport that's far less congested than the one in Miami.
Want to see how Mini-Me makes it through the airport in style? Check out Travels with Mini-Me: Navigating the Airport.
Photo credits: Courtesy of The Dutch and J&G Grill