Mariela around the world

Palm trees at sunset

Palm trees at sunset

I just came back from a memorable long weekend in Miami and Key West to celebrate one of my best DC friends’ 30th birthday. Nothing beats tropical vibes, that’s for sure!

Getting to Miami was not straightforward as the night before flying out there, I realized I couldn’t check in. When I called the airline (the infamous Spirit), I discovered they had not only canceled my flight but also my friends’ tickets. Why? One of our friends was sick and called Spirit in order to cancel her flight, but the airline decided to cancel all of them instead. So we had to buy last-minute tickets so we could enjoy the birthday weekend as planned.


Our first stop upon arrival to Miami on Thursday was at the Wynwood District. As you may know, this area is home to art galleries, retail stores, antique shops, eclectic bars, artisanal eateries and open-air street-art installations.

After lunch (see trip details below), we headed to our Airbnb apartment for a chilly evening.

On Friday, we had breakfast in the apartment and then went to the beach in the South Beach area. We spent a lovely time there, just sunbathing, playing and relaxing until sunset. In the evening, we went for some delicious dinner and drinks (see trip details below).

HEADING to the southernmost point in CONTINENTAL usa: KEY WEST

On Saturday morning, we left Miami with our next destination in mind: Key West. This idyllic island city in the Straits of Florida lies at the southernmost end of U.S. Route 1, the longest north–south road in the United States. Key West is also famous for water sports, lively nightlife, beaches, historic sites and its pastel, conch-style architecture. Duval Street is not to be missed with its energetic strips of shops, bars and cafes anywhere.

On Sunday, we enjoyed going for a stroll around Key West with some fresh coconut water close at hand. During our walk, we went to the Southernmost Point of the Continental US from where you can see Fort Zachary Taylor. In case you didn’t know, Cuba is roughly 140km south of this point! We also saw the Key West Lighthouse and the Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum while passing by beautiful colorful houses surrounded by lush vegetation along Whitehead St. There were even roosters on the street, so don’t be surprised if you run into one!


It was then time to drive to Bahia Honda State Park for a memorable swim on one of the beaches overlooking the railroad and the U.S. Route 1. We tried the one on the other side too, which had way less tourists.

In the evening, we drove to Key Marathon where we had dinner enjoying the sunset in the company of pelicans.

Finally, we made it to our Airbnb apartment in Ft Lauderdale, where we would watch the Oscars ceremony before our early morning flight to Baltimore.

Flying back to DC

Flying back to DC







And last but not least, here’s our playlist of this tropical trip. Enjoy the bonus track!

Trip details

Flight: Baltimore-Miami with Spirit (I wouldn’t recommend this airline although they offer very low cost tickets).

Rental car: we rented a Dodge Grand Caravan with Rentalcars for our group of 6 for the Miami – Key West – Ft Lauderdale leg of the trip.


  • South Bay Club Condominium (through Airbnb): we stayed in an apartment condo in Miami Beach. Decent flat with stunning views and swimming pool.
  • Sunrise Suites Resort: we slept in this property in Key West during our stay. Nothing outstanding but too far away from the Historic District and all the fun in Duval St.
  • Ft Lauderdale: we stayed in an Airbnb house close to the airport.

Bars & restaurants:

  • Wynwood Kitchen & Bar: located right in the heart of the Wynwood district, we had a lovely first lunch consisting of braised short ribs.
  • The Daily Creative Food Co.: we had some iced coffee here while waiting to get into our Airbnb apartment.
  • Mango’s Tropical Cafe: fun nightclub in South Beach where we came to celebrate our birthday friend.
  • Pinocchio (760 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach): I got a take-out lunch from this cute café next to South Beach.
  • Versailles: I believe I’ve been to this Cuban restaurant every time I’ve visited Miami, but I truly love it! This place is really authentic, the atmosphere is friendly and the food is delicious. This time around we shared croquetas, tostones, ceviche,vaca frita and surtido cubano El Criollo con ropa vieja. So yummy!
  • Garden Food & Bar: we came here for a beer after dinner. Great outdoor space in Wynwood with comfy picnic chairs, games and stringed lights.
  • Lorelei Restaurant & Cabana Bar: we stopped for a taco lunch with live music by the beach in Islamorada.
  • Amigos: we dined in this Mexican restaurant next to Duval St. I ordered a carnitas quesadilla.
  • The Porch (429 Caroline St, Key West): we had a few drinks in this tropical house transformed into a bar.
  • Sarabeth’s: we had a yummy brunch at this place in Key West.  We tried the Goldie Lox (smoked salmon scrambled with eggs and cream cheese), eggs Benedict with duck bacon and their flower juices.
  • Keys Fisheries:  located in Key Marathon, this seafood restaurant, market and marina was a delicious stop on our way back to Ft Lauderdale. We had the blackened snapper, an Asian salad with grilled shrimp, stone crab and of course some Key lime pie.
  • Casavana: we had an early breakfast in this Cuban cafeteria inside the Ft Lauderdale airport. I had guava and queso tequeño with café con leche. Unfortunately, this place is not as good as Café Versailles in the Miami airport.

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