I've done the whole Miami thing before. Like most Miami novices I likely made the same mistakes. I headed directly for South Beach! I paid too much for a hotel at Fountaine Bleu, went to some questionable clubs and tried unsuccessfully to weasel my way into LIV on a Sunday night (I always heard Drake rap about LIV being the 'It" club in MIA, so I figured it was a must) By the end of it all I was disenchanted to say the least.
This time around I was invited to be a part of a bachelor party. But about a week before my departure I tried to get out of it. I was about 18 days in to a unsustainable post New Year diet (vegan keto 🥴), with the exception of the groom- I didn't know any of the other people in the party, and after the holidays I didn't mind saving the money- previous experience had taught me Miami is expensive. I called the bachelor, my good friend Chris, and offeredwith my deepest regrets. Chris is a well mannered, true New Yorker. We met one random Sunday at the bar at Big Grove and became fast friends. Now we are basically family. He is always perfectly dressed and rarely have I ever seen a hair out of place. He also really loves to travel. I think since I've known him (pre-corona travel shutdown🙄) he has never let more than a few weeks pass without being on a plane to somewhere. Even if its just a "quick trip to NYC" to celebrate his best friend's bday, a friends trip to Spain, an early summer vacay in Paris, or a day trip to Chicago- he is not about to sit around in the house and dream about going somewhere. It's inspiring. It was no surprise to me that his bachelor party would be in a fabulous destination. Chris is also very persuasive (did I mention he is a TRUE New Yorker). He didn't want any parts of my last minute attempts to back out. He was not having it. So I was going! Period!
The night before our departure Chris asked it I had precheck. "No" I said timidly. "Oh we need to get there early" he replied with a slightly judgmental chuckle. He started telling me about Global Entry on our drive to Indy. My United Explorer credit card offers reimbursement for Global entry, so I went ahead and applied- not knowing when I'd ever have the time to go to the mandatory interview. We made it to the airport, through security (I was a bit slower without pre-check ), and eventually to MIA with no problems. ,
Chris has long time friends from all over the country, and we all immediately connected. The first night we did the typical Miami thing and headed to South Beach. We had a blast, but day two was the true game changer for me. We went to brunch (my favorite meal of the day) at a beautiful restaurant called Swan. It is breathtaking, artfully decorated and opens up into an enchanting garden-like patio. We sat outside to soak up the Miami sun. After brunch we went to the Dior Cafe and had coffee and tea on the rooftop 😍.
From there we cabbed around and eventually ended up at an Afro Beats Day party in Wynwood! Wynwood is an up and coming arts district in Miami. Locals like to tell stories about how 5-10 years ago "you couldn't even drive through Wynwood", but now it's amazing. Tons of cute shops and galleries at every turn, fun bar hopping, authentic restaurants and ART EVERYWHERE! I literally mean everywhere. Art on the walls of the streets, murals, sculptures and installations are just apart of life. Sunday was our last day. We brunched in Wynwood, and did an impromptu bar crawl that turned in to an impromptu photo shoot and ultimately ended at Coyo Taco - a local favorite. Apparently it was my favorite too, since we ended up there the night before as well (lol hehe 😬).
Exhausted, Chris and I took a cab to the airport Monday morning. Were were getting to the airport about 3 hours early. Despite the fact the website said I could not get an appointment at the Miami airport until the followingMonday, something told me to call the Miami AirportGlobal Entry department from the cab to see if they were in the business of serendipity and miracles. A cheery Global Entry employee said "SURE, we can do that today!" The interview took all of 10 minutes and I was in there! This honestly felt like an affirmation of the best kind. It was like the Universe leaned down and kissed me and said to me "you are exactly where you are supposed to be in the moment, and to think you were trying to skip this weekend!" We made it through security with about 2.5 hours before our flight, so Chris took me to the Centurion Lounge. Listen, I'm a peasant. If I didn't know before the Centurion Lounge, I surely know now. We finally made it back to Champaign-Urbana exhausted, slightly hungover, but with a lifetime worth of memories.
I cannot share ALL the details on what a bachelor party with a true New Yorker is like, but I can tell you two things for sure: 1. Next time you are in Miami skip South Beach for at least a day and check out all the amazing things Wynwood has to offer. 2. Do yourself a favor, get Global Entry. Two weeks later I traveled to Mexico and let me tell you... I don't know what I've been doing with my life without precheck, and going through customs with global entry was NEXT LEVEL! Chris was right, I'm now working on mastering that judgmental chuckle.