Miami Mom – From SoFi to Lincoln RoadOctober 31, 2011 No Comments
I wonder what it would really be like to be a mom in Miami. Seriously, are they all svelte in their string bikinis while the kids enjoy the soft white sand and chase the sea birds along the water’s edge? I got a little taste of the experience – not in a string bikini however – while enjoying a recent stay in South Beach.
We rented an apartment just a few blocks off the beach in what is known as SoFi, south of 5th street. The scene is a little more sedate, with families, small children and Hawaiian shirt wearing tourists mixing it up with the super models. The college kids scene is blocks further north, and for parents of small children, easily avoidable.
Of course no matter what part of Miami Beach you select to relax on, low tide brings wonderful opportunities for the kids to splash in gentle, warm waves, and if you come early enough in the morning you can still find some pretty little sea shells along the shore line, despite the plethora of gleaming apartments and condos the other side of the sand.
Beach Activities and Dining
I was a bit envious of the pool and sleek look of the art deco hotels and rentals so close to the sand, we were nine fairly long blocks away, and in a different price range, located through a careful selection on VRBO (Vacation Rentals by Owner). Our apartment was white on white – which is a bit challenging with small children; the neighbors were friendly, and we could walk to the grocery store. Do I recommend this savings? Honestly, no. When I’m at the beach for a short period of time, I like to just step out the door or cross the street, and hit the sand.
Our apartment’s location allowed us to walk to the beach, albeit a fairly long walk, and avoid any parking hassles, but between carrying towels, sand toys, and snacks, I left lunch behind. So by mid-afternoon, we were ready to take a lunch break and get a little shade. Just like any good Miami mom, I took my kids to a cool, nouveau-style diner called Big Pink (157 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139), which is part food emporium, part general store, and more or less the southern tip of Miami beach’s go-to-hang out for the casual crowd. They have great pizza, and if you miss the heart of the lunch rush, no waiting.
If your children are old enough to enjoy such activities, every day at 6 pm there’s free yoga at the lifeguard stand at 3rd Street. Or you could do your downward dogs and get in a little sleeping child repose while the kids play on the beach adjacent. We love the late afternoon and twilight hours on the sand – less chance of sunburn and fewer crowds.
Other Local Places we Visited
At South Pointe Park (1 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33109), the esplanade’s recent multi-million renovation shows with wonderful paths for strolling – or pushing strollers, biking, or watching the cute pups toted by dog walkers. There’s grassy dunes to explore, and at dusk, eighteen multi-colored light towers shimmer in a rainbow of shades offering a magical addition to the beach skyline as the sun sets. It’s hard to believe that this area was once ignored and dilapidated; there’s no trace of urban decay now.
The pier is a lot of fun too, and a wonderful snorkeling spot. Gear is rentable at very reasonable prices at the Tarpoon Dive Center for kids and adults (300 Alton Road, Miami Beach FL 33139), and we saw many beautiful colorful fish in the clear surf. Little kids can more or less just stand in the water and duck down to see the tropical beauties swish past. We had schools of fish darting between our ankles late in the day.
Nearby, an excellent and child friendly dinner spot is Nemo (100 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139), with an outdoor dining area and flavorful seafood. We also enjoyed La Piaggia Beach Club (1000 South Pointe Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139) which is not really a club, just as the swimming pool there is just for show – it’s a restaurant with mini-burgers, fresh fish, and service that can make you think you’re in a private enclave with every whim catered to, at least while you dine. We loved that the waiter snatched a flower from a vase and tucked it behind my daughter’s ear, with a bow.
In the evening we enjoyed wandering the plaza and browsing in the shops at Lincoln Road. This boutique rich area has a couple of great ice cream shops for some after-dinner treats, and wonderful consignment stores that welcomed the kids to try on some floral hats, feathered boas and glittery scarves – a great lure for getting those Miami mom’s to actually buy some designer duds, which although still not entirely inexpensive, are definitely a bargain considering the famous names behind them. We liked both Fly Boutique and Beatnix. It was in the latter store that another mom rectified mistaking me for a local by recommending we check out another part of the beautiful shore line along streets numbered in the mid-20s.
A drive – and an unfortunately very over priced valet parking experience – took us north, and she was right that the beach was less crowded here and that we could rent a hotel umbrella and lounger, and buy lunch right on the sand. The caveat she left out, but which I’ll include, is that this ease comes with a price tag – the same one I was avoiding by staying at an apartment. We found rentals steep at $50 for two umbrellas, and $30 more for two loungers, which we were able to share. The valet parking was $35 as well.
So our last day found us back in SoFi, and me much more sanguine about that walk from the apartment. Maybe that’s how Miami Mom’s are worthy of those string bikinis – carry enough beach toys in the summer heat to reach a gorgeous beach, and there’s an exercise plan worth undertaking.