January 4 – 7, 2020
Before boarding our cruise to the Panama Canal, we spent a few days in South Beach, with temps in the low 70s. This was too cold for the locals, who were wearing sweaters and jackets, but welcome warmth for us Minnesotans. We have escaped temps that are hovering near zero!
Our lodging is with Hilton Grand Vacations at McAlpin-Ocean Plaza, just across from Lummus Park and its easy access to the beach.
We had visited this area perhaps 15 years ago, and much of it still looks familiar, although many shops have changed hands over the years. That wasn’t important, though, as we weren’t here to shop, but to relax and enjoy the sun. It was mostly sunny, and we only experienced rain one evening – a heavy rain that left us soaking wet. Who cares when the rain is warm?
This area is renowned for its Art Deco style buildings. We recognized the former Versace Mansion, which is now an upscale hotel called The Villa Casa Casuarina. We also located the Carlyle Hotel, which was the site of the Robin Williams movie “The Birdcage.”
One day’s walk took us to South Pointe Park and along the marinas. There was an arts and crafts fair at Lummus Park on Saturday and Sunday, so we checked that out and managed to purchase a few things there.
Ocean Drive is lined with bars and restaurants. We sampled a few during our stay, but the most interesting restaurant is located a couple of blocks away. Cheeseburger Baby is Miami’s only female owned burger joint and food truck, in operation since 2001. The place was busy, it’s a small venue with a few tables, but lots of takeout. I ordered a chocolate shake, french fries and cheeseburger. It was all delicious, but enough for two meals.
After our meal at Cheeseburger Baby, we wandered over to Española Way, lit up for the night. It too is lined with restaurants and bars, but we were just in the market for gelato. We did go back another night for dinner, though.
SpaceX was launching a rocket on the evening of January 6, from Cape Canaveral, at a little after 9pm. We decided to go out to the beach to see it would be visible from here, 200 miles away. The sky was partly cloudy, but we were able to see the light from the rocket.
On our last morning here, we visited the Miami Beach Botanical Garden, a lovely oasis. It’s a small park, just 2.6 acres, featuring subtropical plants from around the world as well as from south Florida. It is also home to many butterflies, including the Atala (once almost absent from Florida, but making a healthy comeback), Monarchs and the Zebra Longwing (zebra heliconian).