Updated: Oct 5, 2020
A couple of weeks ago Charlie and I had the opportunity to hit up Miami and met up with Charlie’s best friend and his mom. I’ve had the opportunity to travel a ton with Charlie, but I’ve never travelled solo with him during his toddler years. I gotta say I was super impressed and also secretly really stoked and proud that my little dude has turned out to be an independent traveler who knows how to navigate the airport world like a boss.
I picked him up early Friday morning and we headed over to YYZ. With his SkipHop backpack and his Paw Patrol luggage Charlie was ready to tackle baggage check in, customs and boarding the plane in style. I packed Charlie’s backpack with his favourite toys, we grabbed some breakfast at the airport and off we were to Miami.
The last time I was in Miami, I had won a trip through the sales company I used to work with. It was an all expense paid trip and I had my own ocean view room at the Delano. That’s right fam, back in my “financial prime” I had all kinds of luxuries afforded to me, what I didn’t have was true authentic happiness.
This time around, happy as a clam with my partner in crime we hit up Miami mommy and me styles. We stayed with our friends in an apartment style hotel, definitely not high end and not in South Beach, but what I've learned through this journey of starting over, it's not money that brings happiness, but moments and experiences so I’ve put together a list of our favourite things to do in Miami that don't cost "ONE BILLION DOLLARS"
CHEAPO ACTIVITY NUMERO UNO: HANG BY THE POOL AT THE HOTEL
Legit a great spot for a multitude of reasons. For starters you don't have to pay for parking nor walk very far to get there. It's super easy and convenient especially when you have young children. Have you ever seen a mother trying to herd a 3 year old while carrying towels, a cooler with food and drink, toys, and everything else that is required for a day out with a toddler? EXACTLY. Also if you head down early grab some recliners in a primo spot and relax in and out of the pool as needed. ADDED BONUS: If the kiddos requires a nap, the bed in the hotel is super close, which means no drama for nap time. Thats a win, win for me
CHEAPO ACTIVITY NUMERO DOS: FIND A NICE SPOT ON THE BEACH
If you walk to a spot on the beach near your hotel, you don't have to pay for parking. Want to make an adventure out of it? Pack those bags, find a hotel on the strip that has decor you enjoy and prepare for an amazing day at the beach. Rent a daybed from a hotel on the beach, put your feet up and relax. The kiddos will enjoy swimming in the warm ocean, building sandcastles, and running around. If they are like Charlie and Milan they may start doing some interesting MMA type wrestling, minus the punches and hurting each other. We hit up The Confidante and got their daybed package. There was enough room and shade for everyone to enjoy. However I will share that the boys favourite spot was behind the daybed in the area they called "the tent". In order to get your monies worth I'd recommend packing enough food/drink for the day and hitting the bed first thing in the morning as most beach front amenities close at 6PM.
CHEAPO ACTIVITY NUMERO TRES: BUNNIE CAKES
What is Bunnie cakes you ask? Only the most magical, delicious, vegan, gluten free dessert place ever!!!! For real tho, it was sooo good and they offer multiple options. I got a mini cupcake and a mini donut. We spoiled the boys and got them a couple mini cupcakes each. Not only was their food on point, but their decor takes the cake... haha.. get it... Every corner of this spot is Instagram ready, including the outside walls. They also have the studio behind the store front that offers tons of photo ops and also an inside peak into what a wicked teaching bakery looks like. If I ever make it back to Miami I'm going to make sure I take a class and design an epic cake!
CHEAPO ACTIVITY NUMERO QUATRO: AZUCAR ICE CREAM
An ice cream fanatics dream come true, you can't miss Azucar Ice Cream on Calle Ocho because it has a HUGE ice cream cone above it's front door. Located diagonal from Domino Plaza this place was not only inexpensive but also extremely delicious! They had over 20 ice cream flavours to choose from along with various cone and topping options. Charlie had a field day trying various flavours before making up his mind and the staff at Azucar never once complained or fussed about providing Charlie samples. The customer experience and customer service was top notch! I totally recommend the Domino and Dulce de Leche combo, Charlie kept it safe with a Mango/Strawberry mix. PS: Charlie and Milan's super cool shirts are from H&M.
CHEAPO ACTIVITY NUMERO CINCO: MIDTOWN GARDEN CENTER
"WTF? a garden centre Charlene?"ya boo, a garden centre! This is a place that the kids could have enjoyed for hours, and also if you love all things plants this place is a spot you can enjoy for hours too. Let me set the mood for you k. You're walking down this street and then all of a sudden you see this massive oasis, maybe the big mural catches your eye first, or the abundance of plants and flowers in an other wise concrete jungle or maybe your drawn to the adorable cafe/eatery called Nomade that sits at the front of the Midtown Garden Center., that spot was a personal fav for me. My girlfriend and I spent time walking through the lush gardens admiring all the plants and often saying "I want one this one" "and this one", like little kids in a toy store. The boys marvelled at the opportunity to run wild and free through plants and explored all the little adorable crevices and corners the garden offers, they also loved meeting all the wild feline that roamed free.
CHEAPO ACTIVITY NUMERO SEIS: CAJA CALIENTE
OMG only the most delicious tacos ever! Or as Charlie would say "these tacos are juicy". We had so much fun going to Caja Caliente, it's right beside the Midtown Garden Center and they offer taco plates made with Quinoa so not only can you indulge in a taco treat, but there's also healthy options as well. The Decor in this place was off the hook, it was so cute, so bright and so much fun! The boys didn't want to leave, they had meltdowns when it was time to go and to be honest, I didn't want to leave either. The narrow outdoor restaurant is broken down into sections. The front offers some hightop seating and it's also where you order and pay for your food, in the middle of the restaurant there's a canopy with couches for lounging and hanging out and in the back it opens up and there's a cute little bar, painted picnic tables and lawn bowling. I wish there was a restaurant like this in Toronto.
There is only one place on my bucket list we didn't make and that was Wynwood Graffiti Alley. Our trip to Miami had it's laughs, it's meltdowns but mostly importantly we made so many memories and hardly spent any money at all. Charlie didn't want to leave, he cried at the thought of not being at the beach anymore, I think he may have been a merman in his past life. I didn't want to leave 'cause well I love the sun and the Spanish culture and my girlfriend and her son didn't want to leave because WHO wants to leave the sun to come back to the cold in Toronto?
I hope this list helps you out in your travels and that you enjoy Miami as much as we did!
Till our next adventure!
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