5 Things To Know About Halloween Horror Nights

As the sun starts to make its descent the monsters come out to play… And this year Halloween Horror Nights in Orlando definitely doesn't disappoint. As you walk into the Universal theme park immediately you are greeted by the eeriness of the park after hours – not to mention you will find yourself already in a “scare zone” where you are guaranteed to flinch or scream. 

I personally love Halloween Horror Nights and have been going for several years, and this year was no different. There are a few things I want you to keep in mind when you go up to Orlando for this spooktacular event.

1.    Get there on time (6:30 p.m.). This place will get packed. Go and grab a quick sandwich at the Bread Box, which just opened in July. You will feel like you have been transported back to your childhood kitchen or favorite street corner deli. They offer cold and hot sandwiches, a delicious Nutella milkshake and they even have Twinkies!

Photo courtesy of: Orlando Informer

Photo courtesy of: Orlando Informer

2.    Go to your #1 go-to haunted house first. Whether you are dying to check out Halloween, which is just like entering Michael Myers room from the movie, or you want to experience The Walking Dead: End of the Line – then go straight to that line. The wait time can go from 30 minutes to two hours in no time.

Photo courtesy of: Halloween Horror Nights

Photo courtesy of: Halloween Horror Nights

3.    You have to check out Dollhouse of the Damned. I know it may sound creepy, and that’s because it is, but you have to check out this house. No matter what you say everyone is scared of that one doll that is still cooped up in your closet, and this house brings that fear to life. There are life-sized babies, dead ballerinas, and you might even say it smells a little like… feces. 

Photo courtesy of: Theme Park Insider

Photo courtesy of: Theme Park Insider

4.    Visit the scare zones. These might be my favorite. All of a sudden you find yourself in a street filled with people, smoke and all you hear is screaming. If you watched the movie The Purge then you need to go check out that area. The actually reenact parts of the movie – and they might choose you.

Photo courtesy of: All Around Orlando

Photo courtesy of: All Around Orlando

5.    Pick one ride to go on. You figure you are in Universal so you should go on one ride, right? But only pick one because the lines can get really long and remember the #1 reason why you went there – to be scared.

The 5 Best Outdoor Dining Spots in Miami

Now that the weather is starting to cool down, well almost, it's time to discuss where you should be going for the best outdoor dining in Miami!

Scotty’s Landing
3381 Pan American Drive | Coconut Grove, FL 33133

Who doesn't absolutely love Scotty’s? I have been going to this restaurant for as long as I can remember and eating their onion loaf with a dolphin sandwich and French fries. The onion loaf is literally a loaf of fried onion, which is absolute perfection, by the way. And you have to pair this with either a nice cold Pepsi or a beer. Plus you get to stare out at the Grove Key Marina while you eat. Go around sunset and you be able to get some pretty awesome pictures. Maybe even a selfie or two.

Photo courtesy of: Sail Miami

Photo courtesy of: Sail Miami

Berries in the Grove
2884 SW 27th Ave. | Coconut Grove, FL 33133

Keeping it in the Grove area you have to check out Berries. They are actually in the process of expanding but still have a pretty sweet set up. They have an awesome little patio area in the middle of the restaurant where they open up the skylight so you can feel the breeze and stare right into the night sky. They also have some pretty delicious specials everyday – I would try their sushi and wood oven pizza. Also, did I mention they have an off-the-chain brunch?

Photo courtesy of: Yelp

Photo courtesy of: Yelp

Smith & Wollensky
1 Washington Ave. | Miami Beach, FL 33139

For those of you who are less on a budget then you have to stop here. Now that the weather is going to start getting a bit cooler, hopefully, you can sit outside while you enjoy a mouth-watering piece of steak. Smith & Wollensky is located right on South Pointe Park, one of the nicest spots in South Beach. For the best view you should go upstairs to the patio deck, which over looks the Miami Harbor.

Photo courtesy of: Smith & Wollensky

Photo courtesy of: Smith & Wollensky

Perricone’s
15 SE 10th Street | Miami, FL 33131

This little gem can be found in the heart of Mary Brickell Village. I do have to tell you it gets pretty packed on $10 Pasta Thursday’s! Either way this place is really cool. When you enter the restaurant you find yourself in a small marketplace you might find on the Italian countryside. Once you go in you can either sit inside or in the patio area surrounded by lights. I would obviously recommend the pasta as this is an Italian restaurant, but I do have to say I am a little obsessed with their chicken salad that comes with their homemade balsamic vinaigrette. 

Photo courtesy of: Trip Advisor 

Photo courtesy of: Trip Advisor 

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar
2550 NW 2nd Ave. | Miami, FL 33127

I really like the restaurant, not only for the food but also for the art. When you go to Wynwood Kitchen & Bar you have to go through the inside so you can see all the beautiful art they have, but then you must sit outside. You will find yourself in the middle of Wynwood Walls. That means that after you munch on things like their tuna ceviche, braised short ribs or vaca frita you can walk around the walls and admire the art. It's a pretty awesome experience.

Photo courtesy of: Travel Squire

Photo courtesy of: Travel Squire

7 Signs You Are At Miami Columbus Day Regatta

We have finally made it to that infamous weekend we all know as the Columbus Day Regatta. Having gone to high school at Our Lady of Lourdes Academy, or OLLA (go Bobcats!), I knew this weekend very well. I will start this conversation by saying that I never went. A little too ratchet for me…

Anyways, here are a few signs that indicate you are in the middle of this regatta madness.

1.       You find yourself thinking these phrases: complete chaos, that’s so ratchet and did I really just see that?

2.       You start at your friend’s boat then you float over to your cousin’s boat, then you end up on your cousin’s best friend’s boyfriend’s dad’s boat. Confused yet?

3.       If you are at the regatta that means you are sipping on a loaded Corona. What is that you ask? Step 1: Remove half of the beer from the glass. Step 2. Add vodka in its place. Step 3. Shake. Step 4. Drink up!

Loaded_Corona

4.       Everything is DALE! Want a shot? DALE! Want a Coronita? DALE! Everything is game here. Everything.

5.       When you look around you are probably seeing girls dancing on the bow, or the front of the boat. You are probably also seeing people funnel beer, and possibly a girl fight. Please promise me that if you see a girl fight you will play Brooke Valentine’s “Girlfight” song in the background.

6.       You may also see people drinking watermelon infused vodka, straight out of the fruit.  

Watermelon_Vodka

7.       Essentially the Columbus Day Regatta is like any other boat event times 10.

Did I miss anything? Make sure to add it in the comments!

3 Miami Spots to Check Out for Oktoberfest

Grovetoberfest Coconut Grove

Grovetoberfest Coconut Grove

Every year I look forward to October. Not just because of the semi-promise for a cooler breeze, but because of Oktoberfest. I love grabbing a big boot filled with Warsteiner and a pretzel while listening to German music. Can you ask for more?

Well the time is among us once again and there are a few places I think you should check out. Prost! or cheers, my friends!

Fritz & Franz Bierhaus
60 Merrick Way | Coral Gables, FL 33134
Dates: October 2 – October 12

Who doesn't go to Fritz & Franz during Oktoberfest? This year they are celebrating their 20th annual Coral Gables Oktoberfest with event contests, celebrity beer-stein holding contests and even a raffle to benefit The Woody Foundation (a foundation that raises funds for research and treatment of people with spinal cord injuries). For those of you who want to sip on some authentic German craft beers, munch on Bavarian food and listen to traditional Munich music then this is your spot.

Wynwood Brewing Company & Ritz-Carlton Beer Garden
3300 SW 27th Ave. | Coconut Grove, FL 33133
Dates: October 18th and 19th from 3 p.m. – 9 p.m.

How cool is this! Our favorite Wynwood Brewing Company has teamed up with the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove to bring to us probably the classiest Oktoberfest beer garden of the year. The beer garden features German-inspired tapas that include chicken schnitzel sliders with tomato jam, cabbage slaw, and warm German fingerling potato salad. You will also be able to munch on beer-braised grilled bratwurst with sauerkraut and soft warm pretzels served with beer in porter cheddar soup. Oh and did I mention there is dessert? You can try their Belgian beer cookies with orange icing or and apple strudel!

You can then pair all of this delicious food with Wynwood’s La Rubia, Pop’s Porter or their special holiday brew, the Wyntoberfest. Perfection.

Wynwood Brewing Company Wyntoberfest

Wynwood Brewing Company Wyntoberfest

Chicken schnitzel slider

Chicken schnitzel slider

Beer braised grilled bratwurst w/ fries

Beer braised grilled bratwurst w/ fries

Grovetoberfest 
Peacock Park
2820 McFarlane Rd. | Coconut Grove, 33133
Date: October 18 from 2:30 - 7 p.m.

This might be the most scenic Oktoberfest celebration you will go to. In the heart of Coconut Grove sits Peacock Park, which will be filled with over 7,000 beer lovers from across the world. This festival will have over 300 beer styles from several breweries. They will also have their Kitchen Lab where you can learn beer-cooking tips, Miami’s Best Homebrew Contest, Beer Tasting 101, and live music all day long!

Eat and Drink While Supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month

For many people all over the nation October has a strong meaning for them. Some people have personal ties to breast cancer while many others know individuals who have suffered from this disease. During the month of October there are many restaurants that are giving you the opportunity to eat and drink while supporting the cause. Pretty awesome!

Porfirio’s Restaurant 
850 Commerce Street | Miami Beach, FL 33139
               
Porfirio’s is known for having some pretty delicious authentic Mexican food. Even though they respect the flavors of yesteryear they still add a creative touch of bold flavors and carefully select their ingredients. During the month of October they will be offering three unique alcoholic beverages to accompany three mouthwatering appetizers. The selection of beverages will include Rose Pink Lemonade with Vodka, a Watermelon Margarita and a Pink Lychee Martini. Appetizers will include Degustacion de Ceviches, Queso Maria Sabina, and Carnitas de Pulpo. 

Each drink will be paired with their corresponding appetizer. Porfirio’s will donate 20 percent of proceeds from their Pink menu to the Susan G. Komen Miami/Ft. Lauderdale Affiliate. The Pink menu will be running from October 6th to the 31st.

Porfirio’s Restaurant Pink Lemonade Vodka

Porfirio’s Restaurant Pink Lemonade Vodka

Porfirio’s Restaurant Watermelon Margarita

Porfirio’s Restaurant Watermelon Margarita

Porfirio’s Restaurant Lychee Martini

Porfirio’s Restaurant Lychee Martini

Shore Club
1901 Collins Avenue | Miami Beach, FL‎

To support the cause the Shore Club is going pink by offering a seasonal pink cocktail called the Raspberry & Rose Gin Rickey. 20% of each $14.00 cocktail purchased will benefit the Florida Breast Cancer Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on raising awareness about the disease and mobilizing Floridians to advocate for research funding, quality healthcare for all. They be will serving this drink all month.

Check out the recipe below to this fabulous drink so you can make it for your own pink-themed happy hour at home!

Raspberry & Rose Gin Rickey
1.25 oz Plymouth gin
.25 oz simple syrup
4 muddled raspberries
3 slices muddled limes
Dash of rose water
Garnish with one raspberry

Shore Club's Raspberry & Rose Gin Rickey

Shore Club's Raspberry & Rose Gin Rickey

Rocco’s Tacos
See below for addresses

Rocco’s is bringing back their “Tacos & Tatas Tuesdays” for the entire month of October. All five Rocco’s Tacos locations will donate a percentage of their Taco Tuesday sales to breast cancer research via Susan G. Komen for the Cure. 

On Tacos & Tatas Tuesdays, for $14.99 per person, guests can indulge in all-you-can-eat tacos including Rocco’s signature chicken, pork, steak, beef, mushroom, shrimp or mahi tacos, each outfitted with all the fixings. The special is available every Tuesday from open to close and drinks specials start at 7 p.m. including tequila drinks & shots, margarita pitchers, Mexican beers and Tito’s vodka drinks.

Locations:
Fort Lauderdale - 1313 Las Olas Boulevard | Fort Lauderdale, FL
Boca Raton - 5250 Town Center Circle | Boca Raton, FL
West Palm Beach - 224 Clematis Street | West Palm Beach, FL
Palm Beach Gardens - 5090 PGA Blvd | Palm Beach Gardens, FL 
Orlando - 7468 West Sand Lake Road | Orlando, FL

5 Delicious Brunch Spots In Coral Gables

Chocolate Fashion French Toast Photo courtesy of: Trip Adivsor

Chocolate Fashion French Toast

Photo courtesy of: Trip Adivsor

Who doesn't love brunch? There are even Instagram accounts, like Bitches Love Brunch, that dedicate themselves to bringing you the best of the best in the brunch scene. There are tons of places you could check out for brunch, but I want to bring you the best from Coral Gables because lately Downtown Gables has been booming with great new spots to try. Brunch on my friends!

Pincho Factory 
30 Giralda Ave. | Coral Gables, FL 33134

What you should be eating: For lunch you are having the toston burger, but for brunch you are eating the pastelito burger. Yes, this is real. And even maybe pair it with some nutella waffles.
What you should be drinking: Definitely a mimosa. 

Swine Southern Table & Bar
2415 Ponce De Leon Blvd. | Coral Gables, FL 33134
What you should be eating:
You should definitely be eating the swine burger, which has short rib, brisket, American cheese, dill pickle, lettuce, tomato, thick-cut bacon, and Swine’s special sauce.
What you should be drinking: Either a mimosa or bloody mary, your choice. 

Chocolate Fashion
248 Andalusia Ave. | Coral Gables, FL 33134
What you should be eating:
Here you are having either their eggs benedict, or their Spanish omelet with a side of ham. And then for dessert you have to eat their French toast. After all, they are a French bakery.
What you should be drinking: They have some pretty delicious coffee. I would pair this with either a hot or cold iced latte, depending on what you are feeling.

Lhardy Kitchen + Bar
301 Miracle Mile | Coral Gables, FL 33134
What you should be eating:
This restaurant is new to the scene, but nevertheless still has a good brunch. You should eat their breakfast pizza. 
What you should be drinking: 2 for 1 brunch cocktails!

Talavera Cocina Mexicana
2299 Ponce De Leon Blvd. | Coral Gables, FL 33134
What you should be eating:
If you are looking for something a bit more spicy then you should try the chilaquiles rojo con chorizo, or maybe the huevos a la Mexicana! 
What you should be drinking: Try their margarita pitchers for just $9.

3 Miami Juice Spots To Check Out

The Juicery Bar

The Juicery Bar

Everyone in Miami is on a health kick. Whether people are trying to eat paleo or gluten free we are all looking to lead healthier lifestyles. I want to share with you some pretty cool juice spots in Miami you have to check out soon. Not only do they have good for you menu items, their juices and food actually tastes good! 

The Juice Spot
1800 SW 1st Ave., #104 | Miami, FL 33129

As I am sure you all know this juice spot is owned by Savannah James, Lebron James’ wife. She started this place with her trainer David Alexander with a mission to create a healthier Miami community. Besides having some pretty awesome juices for those who want to start a cleanse, they also have a great food menu, which includes their version of an oatmeal filled with blueberries and strawberries.

Jugo Fresh
1935 West Ave., #102 | Miami Beach, FL 33139

When I moved to Miami Beach I knew I had to try Jugo Fresh. They have some pretty unique juice combinations you won't be able to find in other juice spots. For example, one of their “deep green” juices is Ya Fui Green, which has cucumber, romaine, spinach, dandelion, sunflower sprouts, parsley, lemon, and grey sea salt. Way too cool to be a juice.

The Juicery Bar
635 Brickell Key Dr. | Miami, FL 33131

This has to be my favorite juice spot in Miami. In the heart of Brickell Key owners Mariela and Vanessa wanted to open a juice spot that was not only filled with nutritious, good for you items, but also delicious! Besides having a pretty long list of natural juices and smoothies Mariela also bakes homemade goods that are to die for. Like her apple cinnamon muffins. A perfect afternoon treat!

5 Best Wine Bars in Miami

Photo courtesy of: City Never Sleeps

Photo courtesy of: City Never Sleeps

Who doesn’t love sipping on a nice glass of Pinot Noir or Sauvignon Blanc while nibbling on some cheese? It’s the middle of the week so you should treat yourself and visit one of these stellar Miami wine bars to unwind. You deserve it.

Lagniappe
3425 NE 2nd Ave. | Miami, FL 33137

Lagniappe is truly magical. You walk into a small set up where you see a chalkboard with the daily food and wine specials, and more than likely on the left-hand side there is a band playing (they have live music every night). After you order your food and get your bottle of wine, which by the way they have over 150 wine and beers to choose from, you go outside to sit on the patio which is filled with hanging lights. Now all you need is good company and you are all set.

El Carajo International Tapas and Wine
2465 SW 17th Ave. | Miami, FL 33145

When you drive into the BP gas station you would never expect to fine one of the best restaurants in Miami. Not only does El Carajo have delicious tapas, but they also have a great wine selection – and I am talking about the good stuff. They have wines like Cakebread Cellars Sauvignon Blanc, Numanthia and Duval-Leroy Brut. While you are sipping on your glass of wine make sure to try some of their tapas like their chorizo al vino and Suprema de Bacalo a la Vizcaína.

The Cellar Club at the Biltmore
1200 Anastasia Ave. | Coral Gables,  FL 33134 

Whether it was to enjoy sitting by the pool, or to enjoy a great brunch I am sure you have been to the Biltmore once or twice. Now, I introduce you to The Cellar Club. Located in the lower lobby of the Biltmore Hotel this wine bar not only serves coffee, fresh fruit and pastries in the morning, but they also offer over 100 wines by the glass and a light bar menu. Check out the website for monthly event listings.

The Cheese Course
3451 NE 1 Ave., #100 |Miami, FL 33137

I absolutely love the Cheese Course. Whenever I am in Midtown I always try to stop by. They have delicious French baguette sandwiches and really yummy salads. Besides having great food and a large selection of cheeses they also serve wine. They have an ever changing rotation of wines that can be purchased by the glass or by the bottle. For those of you that are looking for a wine bar on a budget this is your spot.

Cibo Wine Bar
45 Miracle Mile | Coral Gables, FL 33134

If you are in the Gables area then you have to check out Cibo. They have a 7-page wine menu with more than you could ever imagine. They have wine from France, Spain, South America, and Italy to name of few. Not only do they have a great wine selection, but they have some pretty delicious bites to munch on. Like their polenta fries with gorgonzola dip or arancini rice balls studded with ragu and melted mozzarella. Yum.

 

15 Miami Restaurants To Check Out For Mexican Independence Day

Photo courtesy of: Miami and Beaches

Photo courtesy of: Miami and Beaches

I am hoping you know that Mexican Independence Day is not on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo. But just in case you didn't know it’s actually tomorrow and a ton of restaurants are celebrating! 

Authentic Mexican Flavours Month invites Miamians and tourists alike to participate in a month long chance to win round-trip tickets to Mexico and tons of other surprises. All you have to do is take a picture with the “Authentic Mexican Flavours Month” menu at any of the participating restaurants below, post it on Facebook using #saboresautenticosdemexico-miami and recommend the dish you loved the most.*

Look out for special offers when you visit these restaurants tomorrow!

•    Talavera Cocina Mexicana
•    Casa Frida
•    Tenango’s Taqueria 
•    Casa Maya Grill
•    Don Burrito
•    Tequiztlan
•    Porfirio’s
•    La Mexicana Cantina & Grill
•    Las Cazuelas Mexican Cuisine
•    La Migaja Mexican Bakery
•    Viva Mexico
•    Cancun Grill
•    Puerto Vallarta Mexican Bar Grill
•    Guacamole by Chef Omar
•    Los Magueyes Mexican Restaurant

*The winner will be announced on October 1st. 

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7 Common Misconceptions About Miami

There are millions of misconceptions about Miami, and having lived in Miami most of my life I am very familiar with several of the ones listed below. Do you feel the same?

1.    When you find yourself talking to a non-Miamian and you tell them you live on the beach they say, “Well, why aren’t you tan? Don't you spend all of your time laying out in the sun?”

Photo courtesy of: I'm Not Obsessed

Photo courtesy of: I'm Not Obsessed

2.    Some people think that since there are many Latinos here, non of us speak English. Yes, my friend, we do.

3.    When you say you are a Miami Heat fan the haters and fangs come out. Everyone thinks we are bandwagon fans. What about those fans who started with the Heat back in the 80s?

Photo courtesy of: Bleacher Report

Photo courtesy of: Bleacher Report

4.    We are constantly in party mode. I know there are many people out there that basically spend their life at LIV, but that doesn't mean we all are like that.

5.    It never rains. Tell these people to come check us out for more than a day in August or September and you might notice it isn’t sunny in Miami amigos.

6.    To go off #4 – it’s spring break all the time – parties, bikinis and martinis all day. We do have to work, you know.

Photo courtesy of: World Red Eye

Photo courtesy of: World Red Eye

7.    Last, but certainly not least, when outsiders learn of the word “chongo/a” they think we all are supposed to fit that stereotype. I will admit that back in middle school I wanted my mom to buy me a gold bracelet from the jewelry store inside the Publix. That’s all I am going to say. 

Photo courtesy: Miami New Times

Photo courtesy: Miami New Times

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5 Hot Miami Happy Hours

Photo courtesy of: Tongue & Cheek

Photo courtesy of: Tongue & Cheek

Let’s be honest, it’s Wednesday so if you don't already have a happy hour planned then you are definitely thinking about it. Whether you plan on going tonight or Friday I thought I would share with you a few happy hours here in Miami for you to check out.

So go ahead, read and decide, and then send that Outlook invite to all your friends.

Bread + Butter
2330 Salzedo St. | Coral Gables, FL

If you haven’t noticed this hot spot in the Gables then you are missing out. Chef and owner Alberto Cabrera teamed up with mixologist Rob Montero to launch a killer Gables happy hour. Every Monday from 5 – 7 p.m. you can eat treats like their B+B pickles, warm peanut cones, empanadas with goat cheese and toston tostadas topped with chicharrones for $3 to $5. For drinks you can have their rotating cocktail of the week for $3 and half-priced beers and wines.

The News Lounge
5580 NE 4th Court | Miami, FL 33137

I am sure you have been to The News Lounge late at night for little get togethers, but now I want you to try it for happy hour. From 5 – 9 p.m. every day you can eat things like their hummus, chicken skewers, meatballs, sliders and even dates for about $4 - $6. Plus they offer $3 bers, $5 wines, and $6 mojitos. Oh yea.

Doraku
900 S Miami Ave. | Miami, FL 33131

This spot is not necessarily new but I wanted to make sure you have checked it out because their specials are pretty awesome. From 5 to 7 p.m. you get $4 sake, $3 California rolls, $2 edamame and $5 lychee martini (amazing, highly recommend this).

The Corner
1035 N Miami Ave. | Miami, FL 33136

A while back I told you these people had killer cocktails, but I never mentioned that they also have a pretty sick happy hour. From 4 – 8 p.m. every Monday through Friday you can get a can of beer for only $3 – everything from Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale to Magic Hat #9. Oh, and did I mention that their PBR drafts are only $2?

Tongue & Cheek
431 Washington Ave. | Miami Beach, FL 33139

Not only do they have an awesome Miami Spice Menu going right now, Tongue & Cheek also has a happy hour that you must check out. From 6 – 8 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday you can eat their $2 cheek sliders, poutine topped with braised brisket for $8, or even their crispy pig ear lettuce wraps for $8. Then you pair that with their $4 beers or $8 cocktails and you can call it a night.

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10 Signs You Are A True Miamian

Let’s be honest there are a ton of impostors out there that say they are from Miami. Oh I went to UM or FIU, so that must mean I am a true Miamian, right? Wrong! There are definitely a few experiences you have to go through to really be able to hold a conversation with someone and say, “I am from Miami!”


1.    You have been stuck in a complete gridlock on the Palmetto. 

2.    One of your favorite phrases is, “What do you think of life?” 

3.    You have survived a category 5 hurricane, and at the same time you have had hosted a killer hurricane party. 

Hurricane_Party

4.    You have taken 4 highways to get to your final destination – you take 195, and get I-95 to get to the 836 and then finally you take the 826 (this is legit the story of my life).

5.    When someone speaks to you in Spanglish you know exactly what they are saying.

6.    You have been towed at least once. 

Miami_Car_Being_Towed

7.    You have gone to the beach and experienced the true ratchetness of South Beach. 

8.    You have experienced the craziness we call ULTRA. 

9.    You have been on a trip to visit a Gringo friend in another city and tried to kiss everyone on the cheek to say hello. This probably turned into a real awkward situation. 

10.    You have eaten an entire box of pastelitos by yourself. Possibly with a café con leche in your other hand

Cuban_Pastelitos


5 Places To See When You Visit Calle Ocho

When someone says “Calle Ocho” what are the first words that come to mind? Music? Domino park? Cuban food? For me Calle Ocho is the heart of Miami, where many Cuban exiles made their first homes here in the states. It is a place full of culture and excitement – it is Miami.

Growing up with a father who was born in Cuba, but raised in Little Havana I not only heard many stories, but also visited this part of town many times to see his childhood home. I decided to compile some of my favorites spots I feel everyone should visit at least once when they stop by Little Havana.

Maximo Gomez Park
When you think Calle Ocho you probably think old Cubans playing in the domino park. Everyday the old men get together to play a serious game of dominos, but even though they are serious about their game they still love taking pictures! 

Calle_Ocho_Maximo_Gomez_Park

The Cuban Memorial Plaza
This strip commemorates Cuban exiles with a string of small monuments. The seven monuments include the bust of Cuban independence fighter Antonio Maceo, statues of the Virgin Mary, anti-communist crusader Tony Izquierdo, and a 16-foot-long raised map of the island of Cuba. The map bears a weathered inscription by Cuban poet and patriot Jose Marti: "La patria es agonia y deber.” 

The “Walkway of the Stars”
This is a pretty cool mural that highlights stars like Sammy Sosa, Maria Conchita Alonso, Thalia, Willy Chirino, Gloria Estefan, and, of course Celia Cruz.

Calle_Ocho_Walkway_of_the_Stars

La Casa De Los Trucos (The House of Costumes)
This is one of my favorites spots. This “House of Costumes” is filled from head to toe not only with costumes, but also things you can use to prank people like whoopee cushions and fake bugs.

Azucar Ice Cream
Once you finish your tour of Calle Ocho you have to stop for some delicious ice cream at Azucar. At Azucar you will have the best homemade Cuban ice cream with flavors that include Abuela Maria, Café con Leche, Mantecado, Dulce de Leche, and much more. This hits the spot on a hot Miami day. For more info on Azucar ice cream see Randomiami’s review here.

Azucar_Ice_Cream_Little_Havana

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5 Things To Do This Labor Day Weekend

Miami_Labor_Day_Weekend_Parties

Labor Day weekend is a pretty happening time for the Miami community. Even though we Miamians continue to go to the beach and enjoy the sunshine long after this weekend, Labor Day is the like the last day of summer. 

Here are few parties and activities I think you should definitely check out this weekend. Have fun and stay safe!

Miami Nice 2014 Annual Labor Day Weekend Yacht Party
August 30 at 11:30 p.m. – 4 a.m.
South Beach Yacht Lady | Bayfront Park

This is a ticket only “All White Yacht Party” aboard the 125’ South Beach Lady Yacht. This yacht will be leaving from Downtown Miami by Bayfront Park. There will be cash bars available on every deck complete with VIP areas, bottle services, 8 flat screen TV’s, a DJ sky booth, and much more. There will also be music by J Prince and DJ SNAP. Get ready my friends for a pretty awesome party.

Buy tickets here.

The Miami Invasion 2014
August 29 – September 1 
Chesterfield Hotel | Miami Beach

This weekend long party is going to be filled with boat parties, club parties, hot tub parties…and more parties. Chesterfield Hotel is going to be an awesome host – the party will include open bar, private hot tubs, VIP club passes, access to South Beach Properties and much more. This will be a pretty big and crazy co-ed party – if you’re into those kind of things.

Buy tickets here.

Floatopia Miami
August 30 at 10 a.m.
South Pointe Miami | Miami Beach

If you have never been to Floatopia then this is a must go-to event for you – at least once in your lifetime. All you have to do is bring your float, inner-tube, or foam noodle – pretty much whatever floats. Then bring your sunnies and sunscreen and you are all set. Oh, and bring your friends!

Neighbor Days at Jungle Island
August 29 – September 1 
1111 Parrot Jungle Trail | Miami Beach

For $10 you can walk through Jungle Island’s Neighborhood Block Party with sidewalk chalk activities, DJ dance parties, face painting, character appearances, hula-hoop competitions, and animal encounters. Perfect for adults and kids alike!

Museum Tour at PAMM
August 29 – September 1 
1103 Biscayne Blvd. | Miami

Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is offering free exhibition tours all weekend from 11:30 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Those who come on the Metromover on Monday will also receive free museum admission! If you have never been to PAMM then you must visit. It really is a magical place.

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3 Miami Yoga Studios You Should Check Out

I love working out – I love the adrenaline rush I get after I complete a WOD (workout of the day – a.k.a. Crossfit) or the release of endorphins after a really good run. The feeling that you can never shake off is the peace and serenity you feel after an hour and a half of yoga.

I have been practicing yoga for a few years, so I have been and experienced several studios in the Miami area. Even though I have been to many I definitely have my top three that I rotate around depending on the type of yoga practice I am looking for.

*IMPORTANT: For those men reading – yoga isn’t just for woman. That's a huge misconception that needs to be nicked. I have seen plenty of guys getting sweaty and really enjoying the stretch, so I highly recommend you try it. Oh, and you are allowed to grunt in a yoga studio too. Check out this Men's Fitness article that tells you why you should practice yoga.

Prana Yoga Miami
247 Malaga Ave. | Coral Gables, FL 33134

This is the studio I started at 5 years ago, and it is always the studio I fall back on. There is something very special and serene about this place. Prana has four rooms where different classes are held depending on your needs – restorative, vinyasa, and they even have prenatal. If you are in the Gables area then you need to check them out.

Photo courtesy of: Prana Yoga Miami

Photo courtesy of: Prana Yoga Miami

Bala Vinyasa Yoga
1430 S Dixie Hwy, Suite 116 | Coral Gables, FL 33146

For those of you who are looking for a serious challenge then Bala Vinyasa is your yoga studio. Their rooms are set to a temperature of over 100 degrees for an hour and a half of vinyasa flow yoga. It is guaranteed you will start to sweat this second you settle into your first downward facing dog (don’t know what this is – look it up!).

Photo courtesy of: Bala Vinyasa Yoga

Photo courtesy of: Bala Vinyasa Yoga

Skanda Yoga
1800 SW 1st Ave., Suite 102 | Miami, FL 33129

Skanda is my new go-to yoga studio now that I work in Brickell, and I have completely fallen in love. Even though I had been used to being in larger rooms this small, one-room studio really helps you stay grounded and focus on your yoga. I have taken a class with each of the teachers and they are all amazing. You are definitely in for a treat if you get either one of the co-owners – Lina or Ken. 

Photo courtesy of: Skanda Yoga

Photo courtesy of: Skanda Yoga

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7 Miami Happy Hours You Have To Try

Photo courtesy of: South Beach Magazine

Photo courtesy of: South Beach Magazine

Who doesn't love happy hours? They are the perfect excuse to tell your boss, “Hey, I really need to leave at six today…” I have put together a few of my new favorite happy hour hangouts that you should definitely try this week!

Bread + Butter
2330 Salzedo St. | Coral Gables, FL 33134

If you haven’t noticed I am totally loving this new spot in the Gables. For $3-5 every weekday from 5-7 p.m. you can get try things like the double-bacon frita, Hialeah-style warm peanut cones, and tostone tostadas. You can then pair this with half-priced beer and wine or, of course, their $3 “cocktail of the week.” 

Yard House
1601 Lenox Ave. | Miami Beach, FL 33133

I am sure you have had a beer or three at the Yard House in the Gables. The new location in South Beach starts its happy hour at 3 p.m. with half-off pizzas and appetizers plus craft pints and wells for $4.25, or half-yards for $7.50.

HuaHua’s
1211 Lincoln Rd. | Miami Beach, FL 33139

I know we all love to bring our furry friends everywhere, so check this out – at HuaHua’s from 4-7 p.m. Monday through Friday you can bring your dog and get $3 beers, $4 margaritas, and $1 off of their loaded nachos. 

The Federal
5132 Biscayne Blvd. | Miami, FL 33137

At The Federal from 5 – 7 p.m. you will get $5 snacks, like their maple BBQ bacon, Buffalo-style “pig wings,” and smoked-fish dip & chips. They also offer $3 craft beers and $5 specialty cocktails.

Orange Blossom
2000 Collins Ave. | Miami Beach, FL 33139

On their special happy hour menu they have their salmon tartar, margherita flatbread, mac & cheese, and much more for $6. You can also get $4 beers and $6 drinks.

15th and Vine
485 Brickell Ave. | Miami, FL 33131

If you are looking for a fancy happy hour with a fire pit then this is your spot. You can order $5 cocktail’s or wine and pair it with half-off cheese and charcuterie. 

Tongue & Cheek
431 Washington Ave. | Miami Beach, FL 33139

For their happy hour they are giving you their beef cheek sliders for $2, along with $5 hot or Korean wings, $5 draft beers, and $8 bar snacks and craft cocktails daily from 5-8 p.m.

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13 Experiences You Have When Raised By Latinos

Let’s be real. Miami is a melting pot of cultures, right? Growing up in Miami you were in class with Colombians, Venezuelans, Cubans, Mexicans and the list goes on and on. That is something that I think makes Miami so cool – we all come from different cultures with different traditions, yet there may be a few similarities. 

See which experiences below you can relate to!

1.    After dinner the question is, “Who is making the cafecito?”

Cafe_Bustelo_Cuban_Coffee.jpg

2.    When you are having a conversation with your mom and you tell her your central air conditioner isn’t working her answer is, “No te preocupes. I will get [insert name here] out there to help you out.” She has a handyman – for EVERYTHING.

3.    When you are invited to a party at your parent’s house and there are only 13 people in the kitchen yet it sounds like there are 50.

4.    Everyone has that family member that asks, “Are you eating enough? Te ves bien flaquita.” 

Abuela_Meme

5.    When you introduce your new boyfriend or girlfriend and they find out he or she isn’t Catholic. Que tragedia. 

6.    In preparation for Christmas day everyone takes out their nacimientos. And there are probably more than one per household.

7.    That awkward moment when you’re skyping your boyfriend and your cleaning lady stops by to talk to him in Spanish. He is from Pennsylvania.

8.    You never, ever walk around the house barefoot.

9.    Vicks is the answer for everything.

Vicks_Vapo_Rub

10.  Every time you walked into class, came back to your parents house or showed up at a party, or “ghetty,” you had to make sure you gave everyone a kiss on the cheek or you would be seen as rude.

11.    If you don't know Walter Mercado or Don Francisco then there may be something wrong with you.

Walter_Mercado.jpg

12.    You always had that Tia or Tio who brings up random stories from “their country” from centuries ago. Mind you – you have heard the same story at every family gathering.

13.    Whenever you call your mom to catch up she says, “Hold on let me pause my novela.” 

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5 Miami Landmarks to Visit During the Summer

Sometimes we get wrapped up in our crazy lives and we forget what a great city we live in. Not only is Miami filled with great food, but we also have some pretty cool landmarks. 

Before the excitement of summer fun dies down take a weekend to explore some new spots you haven’t visited, or maybe haven’t been to in a while. Honestly, I have to do the same! 

Little Havana & Calle Ocho
8th Street from 22nd until 8th
 
Walking down Calle Ocho is a treat within itself. There are so many things to see and people to meet while you’re walking down the street. A few stops you must make are to La Casa De Los Trucos (House of Costumes), the Cuban Memorial Plaza, El Pub for some Cuban coffee at their “window,” and lastly, you have to eat ice cream at Azucar. Read here for the full review on Azucar Ice Cream.

Randomiami

Randomiami

The Freedom Tower
600 Biscayne Blvd. | Miami, FL

The Freedom Tower is a National Historic Landmark in Miami that has a lot of emotional ties for many Cubans in the city. Built in 1925, it is one of the oldest skyscrapers in the southeastern United States with its main role being the immigration-processing center for thousands of Cuban refugees who arrived in the 1960’s. The Tower is now a part of the Miami Dade College campus and holds an exhibition that is free and open to the public.

Photo courtesy of: Latin American Studies

Photo courtesy of: Latin American Studies

David Kennedy Park
2200 S. Bayshore Drive | Coconut Grove, FL

Who doesn't love to wander around a park? I love Kennedy Park because it has everything you need for a fun filled day – beach volleyball, a running path around the park, dog park, and my favorite – A.C.’s Icee’s, which on a hot Miami day is pure heaven. 

Photo courtesy of: Miami and Beaches

Photo courtesy of: Miami and Beaches

The Kampong
4013 S Douglas Rd. | Miami, FL 

If you haven't visited The Kampong then you must. This tranquil garden, which used to be David Fairchild’s home, is filled with tropical fruit cultivars and trees and over 50 varieties of mango! The Kampong is not only for those studying plants or enthusiasts, but also for those who just want to wander around its gardens and making take a picnic with them.

Photo courtesy of: The Kampong

Photo courtesy of: The Kampong

Wynwood Walls
NW 2nd Ave. between 25th and 26th 

If you haven’t been to Wynwood Walls then you are missing out on a big piece of Miami. In 2009 the late Tony Goldman was looking for something to transform the warehouse district of Wynwood, and he arrived at the idea: “Wynwood’s large stock of warehouse buildings, all with no windows, would be my giant canvases to bring to them the greatest street art ever seen in one place.” And then the Wynwood Walls were born. While you are visiting make sure to eat at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar right by the walls. You’ll really enjoy it if you have never been!

Photo courtesy of: Goldman Properties

Photo courtesy of: Goldman Properties

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What To Eat During Miami Spice Month

Miami_Spice_Month_2014

This is by far my favorite time of the year. Miami Spice is a mouth-watering restaurant promotion that showcases the best cuisine Miami has to offer. From August 1 until September 30, restaurants are offering three-course meals featuring signature dishes that have been created by their world-renowned chefs at reduced prices. This means you can eat a delicious lunch for $23 or dinner for $39.

This is the time of the year where you take an extra hour or two for your lunch break and explore the different restaurants you haven’t been able to try during the year! See below for a few of my favorite spots that I think you should visit during these upcoming months. 

TK’s at the Villa Mayfair
What you are ordering:
pear and gorgonzola ravioli, roasted Cornish hen w/ garlic and cilantro, and Brazilian flan.
For the full menu: here

Tongue & Cheek
What you are ordering: watermelon & mango salad, roasted branzino, and salted pretzel ice cream
For the full menu: here

Toro Toro Restaurant
What you are ordering:
lomo saltado empanada, churrasco tasting, and la bomba for desert.
For the full menu: here 

A Fish Called Avalon
What you are ordering: bang band shrimp, macadamia-crusted snapper, and Chef Kal’s signature cheesecake.
For the full menu: here 

Essensia at the Palms
What you are ordering: Israeli quinoa salad, grilled natural flat iron steak with herb chimichurri, and coconut & lime semifreddo.    
For the full menu: here

Azul
What you are ordering:
steak & eggs tartare, black angus short rib pappardelle, and caramelized banana cake.
For the full menu: here

Scarpetta
What you are ordering: creamy polenta, spaghetti, and coconut panna cotta.
For the full menu: here

L’echon Brasserie
What you are ordering: tarte de jambon, l’echon burger, and croissant au chocolat bread pudding.
For the full menu: here

Best Miami Neighborhoods for Dining and Nightlife

Zillow_Best_Miami_Dining_Nightlife_Randomiami

Miami is world famous for its golden beaches, crystal blue water and a warm climate all year round. The city also boasts a chic bar and lounge scene with many high-end apartment buildings. Miami nightlife is high energy with glamorous clubs, frequented by both Miami locals and celebrities.

Miami is geographically close to the Bahamas, Cuba and Dominican Republic, making it a melting pot of cultures offering a unique dining experience. With new and exciting restaurants constantly popping up throughout the city, Miami is quickly becoming a foodie’s paradise. 
For those looking to indulge and let loose year-round, Miami is the destination. Tourists and transplants should visit these five neighborhoods for popular and cultural experiences.

1.    Coral Gables
With more than 150 restaurants, Coral Gables offers a vast range of dining options. Coral Gables caters to any craving, with casual cafes and diners or more formal seafood restaurants and authentic Spanish tapas bars. Once dining is complete, keep the night going at quaint cocktail bars off Sunset Drive or dance at one of the Latin clubs.

2.    Little Havana
For the authentic tastes of Cuban dining, head to Little Havana. This neighborhood is a thriving immigrant community just three miles east of downtown Miami, but at the heart of Cuban culture. Sample the traditional taste and culture at one of the many local restaurants and cigar shops. Then, finish off the unique dining experience with an authentic Cuban coffee with plenty of sugar. For the best in Cuban nightlife, head to SW 8th Street, an area rich with live music clubs. 

3.    Brickell
The neighborhood of Brickell is a bustling business hub with flourishing residential streets. Brickell offers a more sophisticated dining and nightlife experience than Little Havana. Soak up the afternoon sun in this waterfront community and enjoy the view of the famous Miami skyline at one of the countless rooftop bars. For the best in decadent dining, head to the north end of Brickell Avenue. This area also boasts many chic cocktail bars perfect for starting the night in style.

4.    Wynwood
Wynwood is an art-centric neighborhood with chic nightlife including indie dining spots and eclectic bars. Hot spots include hidden bars with a trendy speakeasy vibe. Dining options are plentiful and vary from Cuban and Latin eateries to modern American diners. Grab a late night bite at one of the hipster restaurants or bars before partying at the numerous indoor/outdoor clubs. 

5.    Miami Beach
Those looking for a louder and livelier nightlife scene should head to Miami Beach. The Miami Beach strip offers infinite options from glamorous restaurants, cocktail bars and buzzing nightclubs open until the early hours of the morning. Popular spots in South Beach draw impressive lineups of musicians and popular DJs, often visited by A-lists celebrities. Recover in the morning over breakfast and mimosas at cafes along Collins Avenue in South Beach.

Miami is a cosmopolitan and aspirational city with so much to see and do. For those considering moving to Miami, be sure to complete research regarding neighborhood demographics, proximity to amenities and real estate affordability.

*Written in partnership with Zillow.com.