UK@Kidscreen – Miami Info
Jose Luis Martinez is Executive Producer at Atomic Digital Media, a Miami-based company, founded in 2016, which will produce, acquire and license content, including programming for a new children’s digital platform scheduled to launch in Q2 of 2017.
Here he shares everything delegates to Kidscreen need to know about his home town…
Dear UK@KIDSCREEN Delegates:
As you prepare to embark on this year’s journey to the always changing, always unpredictable place we call home, your friends at Atomic Digital Media would love to offer some basic info on what to do, where to go, and what to eat during your visit to Miami. We know your time is limited, as you are all making great deals happen and meeting other talented folks, so all the venues here are within a relatively short distance from the conference venue…
Getting to the InterContinental and downtown Miami area has never been easier. After a drawn out battle with local government and taxi cab operators, both Uber and Lyft provide quick, unobstructed access from Miami International Airport (MIA) directly to your hotel or Kidscreen venue. If you don’t mind sharing a ride, Uber Pool or Lyft Line, it may take a little longer but rates are significantly lower. In addition, if you have between 45 minutes to one hour to spare, the new Metrorail Orange Line ($2.25 U.S. one way) has services that can take you right from MIA to downtown Miami. After switching to the People Mover (free) you can be dropped off right in front of the Intercontinental or most hotels from Brickell to the Omni district in the north, well within walking distance of where most hotels are located.
Once in downtown, feel free to use the People Mover for local transport as well. There are only three individual routes so learning the system is quite easy. In addition, there is another free service the Miami Trolley, which can take you up and down Biscayne Boulevard (Miami’s main downtown thoroughfare) from the trendy Brickell financial district in the South through to Midtown and the Design District (Miami’s new version of Rodeo Drive) to the North. Because it is a free service and downtown traffic can sometimes be quite heavy, patience is a virtue with the trolley with scheduled pickups at any of the official stops taking around 20 minutes between trolleys. For longer trips or again, to save time we strongly recommend Uber or Lyft as the downtown area always has a plethora of drivers ready and willing to take you anywhere.
The downtown area has never had more options to choose from. We just picked out a few of our favorites (based on category) all within walking distance or a short ride from Kidscreen. We have also identified ones local Miamians prefer with * Local Fav
Coffee and Breakfast
If you are into artisan coffee where beans are roasted in-house, try Eternity Coffee Roasters (117 SE 2nd Ave). If you want the more traditional, strong, “South American flavor with a Starbucks feel”, Juan Valdez Café (364 SE 1st Street) will perk you up. For Cuban style coffee or breakfast try the Latin American Bayside Café (401 Biscayne Blvd) * Local Fav for breakfast. For a quick café style breakfast and coffee check-out Café Bastille (248 SE 1st Street) and Café 104 (104 SE 1st Street) in downtown. If you have time to go a little farther north or are staying near the Arts & Entertainment / Omni District and want the authentic “NY Diner Breakfast” experience be sure to try The Daily Creative Food Company (2001 Biscayne Blvd).
Quick Lunches and Dinners
As most delegates’ lunchtimes are limited here are some quick and relatively inexpensive options close to the venue. The Cheese Course (200 S Biscayne Blvd) just across the street from the InterContinental has a great selection of sandwiches and salads, and great craft beers and wine at reasonable prices as well! Just next door to The Cheese Course is also a great little casual pizza place called Spris Artisan Pizza (200 S Biscayne Blvd). For some fast / casual Caribbean style roasted chicken try Pollo Tropical (320 SE 1st St.). Pollo Tropical is a * Local Fav for its authentic Caribbean recipes and traditional side dishes (think Yuca plantains, white rice and black beans) all served quick, hot and fresh! If you are in the mood for a tasty burger and fries, head over to Five Guys (401 Biscayne Blvd) at Bayside Marketplace.
For those who want to “stock-up” at a local supermarket, or “pack your lunch” I recommend any Publix Supermarket and Deli (The Shops at Mary Brickell Village 911 SW 1st Ave and another one at 1776 Biscayne Blvd). The * Local Fav at Publix is their freshly made sub sandwich…absolutely delicious! I dreamt of these subs while living in LA. There is also a Whole Foods (299 SE 3rd Ave), very close to the InterContinental, with more organic, high end fare, but very tasty that also does prepared hot meals.
Sit-down lunches and dinners
If you need to have an important meeting, impress or “woo” someone, or just want to treat yourself or your friends (myself included) there are many options in close range to the Kidscreen. The closest one, and I can attest to the quality since my wife is from Northern Italy, is Il Gabbiano (335 S Biscayne Blvd), just behind the InterContinental. The food is authentic, delicious, and the service is impeccable… just don’t be in too much of a hurry. This is a “wine and dine” environment. If you want something a bit more exotic, and Japanese, try Zuma (Epic Hotel 270 Biscayne Blvd Way).
If you are more interested in a classic, upscale steak or seafood meal, there is always the Capital Grille (444 Brickell Ave). Just across the street is Cipriani 465 Brickell), an upscale Italian eatery made famous in NYC . Just a little further down the street in Brickell is a great upscale seafood restaurant called Truluck’s (777 Brickell Ave). If high quality Peruvian ceviche and seafood sounds appetizing, I do highly recommend CVI.CHE 105 (105 NE 3rd Ave), which I hear is a favourite watering place for the UK@Kidscreen crowd..
If you have the time or interest to venture a little further from the venue (Taxi Cab or Uber it in just a few minutes), you can head to Garcia’s Seafood Grille (398 NW North River Drive). Started by a local Cuban family, Garcia’s is a * Local Fav for its super fresh seafood and familial atmosphere. A little north of the InterContinental, in the Arts & Entertainment District, there is a wonderful oyster bar/seafood haven called Mignonette (210 NE 18th St). Started by two very popular Miami chefs, it has been raved about by local foodies. Further north in Midtown is a savory raw bar and grill, SugarCane (3252 NE 1st Ave), that also happens to make some spectacular and original mojitos.
Just to the west in the trendy Wynwood neighborhood is the Wynwood Kitchen and Bar (2550 NW 2nd Ave) and features a menu of skewered chicken and octopus along with some other interesting small plate dishes. It’s surrounded by some eye catching wall murals known as the “Wynwood Walls” that have become the hall mark of this hip neighborhood. In the Design District there is a great New American eatery called Michael’s Genuine (130 NE 40th St, Miami) featuring fine comfort food & inventive desserts.
If you want the true “Miami Cuban experience” head to Little Havana (just west of the Brickell neighborhood) where you will have several authentic Cuban restaurants to choose from. The iconic Versailles (3555 SW 8th St) is considered the “go to” place for Cuban food in Miami. The food is decent and worth the trip if you have the extra time. I much prefer Exquisito Restaurant (1510 SW 8th Street). It is a small restaurant, closer to Kidscreen, with great Cuban food, located right next to the historic Tower Theater and Domino Park.
When it’s time to unwind with a couple of well-priced drinks and small bites, there is nothing like Miami’s Happy Hour circuit! Most happy hours start at 5 pm and go until 7 pm, although times vary per venue. Close to Kidscreen there is Area 31 (Epic Hotel 270 Biscayne Blvd Way). A new, trendy, and well received happy hour spot is the rooftop Pawn Broker (Langford Hotel at 121 SE 1st St). If you are looking for a “no frills” pub type atmosphere then Pub One (207 NE 1 St) may be your spot. It offers an unpretentious atmosphere with a great Happy Hour which starts at 3 pm. Another great watering hole a little South of Kidscreen in Brickell is Blackbird Ordinary (729 SW 1st Ave) which also features an early start to their happy hour at 3 pm.
If you’re feeling adventurous and want to travel a little further, then there is a GREAT place in the heart of Little Havana called Ball & Chain (1513 SW 8th St,). It’s a refurbished iconic jazz club from the 1930’s that now has a cool Cuban vibe with Happy Hour from 4 to 7 pm. If you’d rather travel to the Midtown / Wynwood area, Beaker and Gray (2637 N. Miami Ave) was recently named “Best Happy Hour Spot” by Miami New Times, making it our * Local Fav in this category. Not to mention it features two Happy Hours, the first from 4 to 7 pm and a special late night happy hour from 11 pm to 2 am! Once in Miami’s artistic / trendy neighborhood it may also be worth checking out Wood Tavern (2531 NW 2nd Ave) and R House (2727 NW 2nd Ave) in Wynwood.
If you need to pick up something for friends or relatives back home, there are a few places worth checking out. For more traditional tourist knick-knacks, Bayside Marketplace (401 Biscayne Blvd) is fine and in close proximity . They also offer some of the big brand stores from Gap and Guess Jeans to Victoria’s Secret. For a little more “high end” shopping, the brand new Brickell City Centre (701 S Miami Ave) is worth checking out with its flagship Saks Fifth Avenue already in full swing. That said, several stores have yet to open but City Centre is also worth experiencing for its design and architectural innovations.
You may also want to travel north to the Design District (140 NE 39th St), which as mentioned is growing into the Miami version of Rodeo Drive with names like Valentino, Versace, and of course Burberry topping the list. The Shops at Midtown (3401 N Miami Ave) offers a much more “reasonable” shopping experience, featuring one of the USA’s top “big box” stores…Target. Great deals on toys for the kids there! If you did want to venture to South Beach for shopping, your best bet for a variety of stores, and people watching, is of course, the outdoor Lincoln Road Mall (1111 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach).
Day Trips / Sights
As a segue from shopping to sights, we can start with South Beach and suggest South Pointe Park (1 Washington Ave, Miami Beach) for some of the best views of the ocean and ocean vessels. It’s very relaxing and a wonderful place to clear your mind after a day of networking and dealmaking. You can also head a little north and walk up the iconic Ocean Drive (North from 5th street and Ocean Drive, Miami Beach) . If you want to visit a fun little zoo / animal park on the way back from South Beach, featuring some interesting and exotic furry creatures (Lemurs, etc) try Jungle Island (1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, Miami). For an immersion into Cuban culture, head to the heart of the Little Havana District (1508 SW 8th St) and immerse yourself in Latin music, food, cigars and the official “Latin Walk of Fame.”
If you want to experience Miami’s hippest art scene, also recently named one of the top neighborhoods in the USA, head to Wynwood. With it’s colorful murals and equally colourful locals, it is the perfect spot for the “selfie” minded social media maven. There are some great art galleries, local shops, and of course food and music to entertain you for a morning or afternoon #SuperTrendy.
For those looking to dance the night away there are several spots all within previously mentioned neighborhoods. Some of these venues are not open every night of the week so it is best to check before making the trip. In Little Havana Ball & Chain (1513 SW 8th St) and Hoy Como Ayer (2212 SW 8th St), recently featured in the American film CHEF, both offer great live music and cozy atmospheres. For a more traditional, high-end, megaclub (and burlesque) type experience, downtown Miami has the, always open, E11even Nightclub (29 NE 11th St). In similar vein, but not open every night, is Miami Beach’s legendary Liv Nightclub (Fontainebleau Hotel, 4441 Collins Ave, Miami Beach). For something still trendy but perhaps “less exclusive”, It Lounge (3201 Buena Vista Blvd) at the Midtown Shops has a funky Italian vibe and open until 5 am most nights. Miami’s fast growing Upper East Side has a recently re-branded indoor/outdoor lounge with a Cuban vibe called Punch (5580 NE 4th Court) that may be worth checking out. If you want the more funky, local hipster scene, then Gramps (176 NW 24th St) is the * Local Fav in the heart of Wynwood.
I hope you enjoyed my (informal) guide to Miami’s urban core. Of course, all of these suggestions are open to debate and personal taste. I do hope you will get back to us if any of the info was useful, or needs refining. And of course, during your stay, feel free to reach out any time for last minute tips, advice, or how to say something in Spanish (that helps more often than you think here, en serio).
I look forward to meeting you all soon and as a final reminder, when in doubt, just remember the words of one Mr. Robert Frost “Two roads diverged in a wood and I – I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Welcome to Miami!
Jose Luis Martinez, Atomic Digital Media