What is the first thing that pops your head when I say graffiti? Spray paint on a wall in the form of anti-social behavior in a city. However, in recent years graffiti has transformed into street art, and Wynwood Walls in Miami is where this genre has a home.
Traveling for work, I got the opportunity to spend some time in Miami. The conference I attended was in Miami Beach, but since I registered late, my closest option was on the mainland in the Wynwood Design District. My hotel, Hampton Inn & Suites Miami Wynwood Design District, was tidy, comfortable, and with great staff, but it was an oasis in an urban desert.
I do two things when I travel for business: do something cultural and have an excellent city-specific meal. Visiting Miami was no different. Unfortunately, I didn’t have much free time due to the distance and traffic going back and forth between the conference venue and the long days at the event, so I needed to make the best of my free time.
Venezuelan Arepas and Giant Cream Puffs
I always ask the hotel staff for local recommendations. I wanted a Miami experience. Lucky for me, they directed me to little hidden gems right around the corner.
La Latina Miami specializes in Venezuelan Arepas. While I’ve been exposed to many different food cultures, I know little about South American foods. Arepas are Venezuelan comfort food often sold by street vendors. They are unleavened stuffed cornmeal cakes that are crispy outside and fluffy inside. Arepas contain ingredients like roast chicken or pork, eggs, beans, pumpkin, cheese, and more. I was a little worried that there wouldn’t be a vegetarian choice. However, I was pleasantly surprised by the options. I chose one with cheese, sweet plantains, and avocado. Delicious.
Of course, after having something savory, I needed something sweet. Lucky for me, there was a fantastic bakery next store. All the senses awake when walking into DBakers. As in if Willy Wonka made cakes. I asked for a recommendation, and the friendly fellow behind the counter suggested their specialty, Ferrero Cream Puff. OMG. Seriously. I brought it back to my hotel room. I kidded myself, thinking I would only have a couple of bites and save the rest for later. Nope. I. Ate. The. Whole. Cream Puff. I make no apologies as it was a religious experience. I was proud that I didn’t go back there every day.
Having checked off having a great meal, I set off to have a cultural experience. I’m big on exploring my surroundings on foot, but I found where I was that being a pedestrian wasn’t ideal. Miami is a car city. And while the Wynwood Walls were only a couple of miles walk which is the usual distance walked around Newport, I was told by the front desk to take a Lyft. They were pretty horrified at the thought of me or anyone walking.
Off I went in a Lyft to see the Wynwood Walls. As we snaked through the streets and traffic, street art was everywhere. The idea of Wynwood Walls came from Tony Goldman, a community revitalizer, in 2009 as a way to transform this warehouse district. He thought that Wynwood’s large warehouse buildings would make unique canvases to bring the most incredible street art ever seen in one place. Goldman succeeded. The art is diverse.
The Miami Experience
The highlight of the conference was what I called “The Miami Experience,” held at the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. The food represented a mixture of Miami’s cultures. And so did the activities: Dominos, cigar rolling, and dancing.
I’m looking forward to returning to Miami in 2023 and really exploring Miami Beach properly and discovering Haitian food. Adios. Have you been to Miami? And what are your highlights?