In The Academic Society, we believe that hard work should be celebrated. And what better way to celebrate a successful semester than with a vacation with my girls? This year, my high school besties and I turned 30 so of course we had to plan a Flirty Thirty getaway! We choose to celebrate in Miami and it was an amazing time.
Like the academics we are (we all went to the Mississippi School for Math and Science for high school or as I like to refer to it “nerd school”), we decided that our vacation should have a theme. So we thought about what we really wanted from this girls’ trip and that was to relax, refocus, and rebuild. Which is exactly what we did.
When I told my mom about our vacation theme, Relax. Refocus. Rebuild. she laughed and said, “of course, even your vacations sound like a conference!”
Related Video: Day in the Life of a Professor
In this post, I’ll share exactly how we relaxed, refocused, and rebuilt during our vacation so that if you decide to travel to Miami with your friends, you have a little guidance. I’ve also filmed a video guide, vlog style, if you prefer to watch instead of read.
Top Three Tips for Traveling to Miami
We actually made some pretty good decisions about our trip and made very few missteps. There were three main decisions that we made that really enhanced our Miami vacation experience.
Travel Rewards Credit Cards. ⅘ of my friend group have the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card so we were able to use our points to travel. I think this is the perfect card for new professionals interested in traveling. I booked my flight completely with my points and paid $0 so I felt that I could splurge on checking my luggage so that I could fit in a few extra outfits. One of the best parts about the Chase Sapphire Preferred Card is that there is a signing bonus of 60,000 points if you spend $4,000 in the first 3 months of having your card. Note: my flight to Miami only cost me ~30,000 points. Here are some major benefits of the card:
Car Rental Insurance (helpful for my next tip)
Lost Luggage Reimbursement
No Foreign Transaction Fees
Sharing Points with Friends
If you are interested in a Chase Sapphire Preferred Card of your own, you can learn more here!
Renting a Car. We are so glad we made the decision to rent a car for our trip. Miami attractions are located in multiple different neighborhoods that are miles apart. We saved so much money by renting a car instead of using Uber or Lyft. At first, we were concerned about parking fees and gas but in the end we each only spent $10 to park and $5 for gas per person (there were 5 of us).
AirBnB. Since there were five of us we decided to get a three bedroom AirBnB in North Miami. It was so great to have the space to relax and decompress after each day. We had many girls’ nights with snacks and rom-coms on Netflix. Here’s the place where we stayed!
Miami Day 1
We actually flew into Fort Lauderdale and made sure to arrive within two hours of each other (we came from 5 different states). Then we rented a standard SUV (which was a Chevy Equinox) from the airport and went shopping in the area based on a suggestion from our rental car agent. She suggested we check out Sawgrass Mills which is the largest outlet and retail destination in the United States (their words).
If you are a shopper, you will love Sawgrass Mills. There was a wide range of stores from high end designer shops to bargain shopping.
After shopping the day away, we finally made drove to our AirBnB in North Miami. And decided to do some grocery shopping and pick up dinner to-go. We wanted to try Cuban food so we went to Little Havana Restaurant. It was soooo delicious. The meals my crew and I recommend are the Palomilla Steak, Ropa Vieja, Chunks of Chicken, and Chunks of Pork. Each meal comes with the most delicious rice and beans and plantains.
Miami Day 2
On our second day we were rested enough from our travels to have a full day of exploring. We stayed in North Miami for breakfast at Cafe Creme. We loved the atmosphere and the food was delicious! The place was also very cute and Instagram pic worthy.
After breakfast, we headed to the neighborhood of Wynwood which is the art district. There were beautiful murals on the side of almost every village. This was picture day for us! There were so many cute backgrounds. We went to a park called Wynwood Walls. This is the perfect place to take a lot of pictures. I recommend wearing solid colors so that you don’t clash with the background in your pictures.
Then we headed to a neighborhood called Little River with the most amazing place for food and good vibes, The Citadel. The Citadel was probably my favorite place in Miami. On their website they describe it as, “a daily destination offering local artisanal foods, handcrafted cocktails, maker-driven retail, and culturally immersive experiences.”
The food was delicious and I would have loved to go back if we had time in our schedules. There are multiple little restaurants inside with food truck style menus. I ate from the Caribbean place and got gelato for dessert. I highly recommend this place! I think they also have a rooftop and occasionally have live music.
And finally, for more dessert, we went to Cindy Lou’s Cookie bakery. I didn’t personally get cookies but my friends enjoyed them.
Miami Day 3
We had the best weather on the third day of our trip so we decided to go to South Beach. Once we got to the neighborhood, we went to the popular diner, Big Pink. Everything there is big and pink. Even the windows of the restaurant were pink so everything had a pink glow and looked like an Instagram filter. The most popular item on the menu was definitely the chicken and waffles. A couple of my friends got it and loved it!
When you go to South Beach, I recommend parking in a lot next to Big Pink. There is street parking everywhere that you have to pay by the hour. But the valet parking next to Big Pink is only $10 for the whole day (June 2019).
After brunch, we headed to the beach across the street and went through the Marriot entrance. There we rented a cabana bed thing that fit all five of us for $100 ($20/person). I highly recommend some type of cabana or umbrella if you want to enjoy your beach day in the heat. Also, make sure that you bring water and snacks!
We stayed there for a couple hours and then went to the neighborhood of Coral Gables for a refreshing treat. We got paletas (ice pops) from Morelia Gourmet Paletas. I got the strawberry paleta half dipped in chocolate and hazelnuts. It was sooooo good!
Miami Day 4
On our final day, we went to multiple neighborhoods. We started in Bayside which kind of has a boardwalk vibe. There is a shopping center that overlooks the water and we went to the Hard Rock Cafe for lunch.
Then we went back to Wynwood for a day party called Afro Beats. There was music, drinks, and food. We hung out there for a while before finally going to Little Havana.
Little Havana had been on our list of must-see neighborhoods for our trip. It was smaller than expected but pack a lot of Cuban culture in those few city blocks. We went to Domino Park to watch the older people play dominos, watched someone make cigars, got churros, and went to the Ball and Chain.
The Ball and Chain is a restaurant/lounge that plays cuban music and on Thursdays at 9pm they offer free salsa lessons. We got appetizers and drinks there. We ordered mint lemonade, cuban sandwich, wings, corn on the cob, chicken sliders. It was a really fun hangout spot that I would highly recommend to anyone visiting Little Havana.
And then we went back to our AirBnB to pack and prepare for our early morning flights.
I hope that this blog post helped you plan your next vacation! Any suggestions on where we should go for our next girls’ trip?