Don’t be fooled by its portrayal in movies and TV. Miami Beach isn’t all glamorous. Let me help you adjust your expectations by giving you some #realtalk about what you can expect when you visit.
- It’s incredibly dirty. The streets of Miami Beach haven’t been cleaned this week. They probably haven’t even been cleaned in the past year. So the year old stains of God-knows-what are blackened onto the sidewalk everywhere you go.
- It smells bad. By the time you get into the elevator of the parking garage, three people have peed there that day. The streets are not much better. But the closer you get to the water, the more the sea breeze wafts away those unsightly odors.
- It’s impossible to find parking. Speaking of the parking garage, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a spot to park on any given day of the week. You’re also likely to see the dreaded “Lot Full” sign on many of the city garages. The farther north you go, the more luck you’ll have.
- It’s impossible to get to or leave without running into traffic. Whether you’re going in or out of the beach at 10 am or 3 am, you’re going to be stuck in traffic for at least half an hour. If it’s during waking hours, it’s because everyone else is coming in and out of the beach, too. If it’s not, it’s probably because several lanes are closed on the MacArthur Causeway for construction. I’m not sure what they’re building, but they’ve been doing it every night for my entire life.
- It’s full of souvenir stores and head shops. Sure, you can find some respectable threads on the beach, on Lincoln Road, for instance; but for every real store, there are 7 stores that exclusively sell “I’m in Miami Bitch” shirts. If that’s not your thing, you can go next door to the head shop, where you can find a ton of things you never knew you never wanted, like an electric purple bong shaped like an assault rifle.
- It’s fake. I’m not talking about plastic surgery, though that, too; but the sandy areas of the beach are partially man-made and the sand was brought in. That’s not a dig on it. The sand provides a beautiful and soft bed to lie in under the sun. It’s not dense and hard or full of shells like some beaches.
- Even though everything looks old, almost everything is relatively new. Miami doesn’t have a lot of respect for history. From Robbie Joe Stadium to Tobacco Road, Miami’s oldest bar which was unceremoniously sold and demolished in 2014; it’s out with the old and in with the new. So it might be laughable to someone visiting from other corners of the earth to see restaurants proudly brandishing “Established 2001.” However, for Miami standards, that’s impressive.
- It’s extremely hot. People used to beaches in the northeast, California or Europe will feel like they’re in Hades in 85 degree heat with no respite from the sun. Avoid looking like a lobster after the first day of your vacation by putting on sunblock before you go outside. Then re-apply as needed. If you wait til you’re on the beach to lotion up, you will burn. I guarantee it.
- It’s very crowded. Miami Beach is popular with locals and tourists alike at all times of the year. If you want long stretches of sand to yourself with just the sound of the ocean waves, you won’t find that in Miami Beach. You will probably be less than 6 feet away from at least 5 other people. People’s kids will kick sand in your face and you’ll be surrounded by the sound of someone FaceTiming in a foreign language and someone else’s speakers, most likely playing reggaeton or something that features Pitbull.
- It’s trashy. Though there are lots of places to go out to where getting extremely dressed up is not just recommended, but required; Miami Beach is populated by extremely trashy looking people all day long. If you’re in a ripped up muscle tee and thong sandals you will fit right in. And in that same get-up, you can walk into any South Beach bar to get a drink or 4. The nicest looking people at the bars on Collins Ave are the servers. Everyone else just rolled out of the sand with their hair all crazy and wet stains on their clothes from the bathing suit underneath.
I’m sure none of this sounds extremely appealing to you, but it’s beautiful and you’ll enjoy it. It’s Miami Beach, so even in all its trashy, smelly glory, everyone loves it just the same.