And I’ve seen a lot of it – I’ve lived in the Fontainebleau area that borders Doral(zuela), lived on the edge of the Everglades, bounced over to Coconut Grove, then Coral Gables, then Little Havana (yes, a theoretical step back), then Brickell and finally, now in Miami Beach. I know a healthy dose of Cuban Spanish, and I can take you from El Pub on Calle Ocho to Randazzo’s Little Italy and Miccosukee without batting an eye.
Yet, I know why people hate this city. Trust me, BRO, I know why people hate this city. In pockets, its reputation for self-absorption and “shadiness” have certainly been earned, and its never-ending construction on the Palmetto Expressway – and Alton Road, so help me God – are a thorn in everyone’s side. And I’ve read all of the articles from butt-hurt Huffington Post social outcasts who couldn’t see beyond their keyboards to find the true heart of this city. But that would be like looking at Michaelangelo’s “David” and hating it because it’s not painted. Ya feel me? Here’s my officially unofficial list of reasons you should love Miami – 9 of them for all 9 years I’ve lived here.
- The Weather. With zero hesitation, this is the number one reason I moved to Miami and it’s core to the reason that I still live here. Lifelong residents know they’ve got it good, or at least they think they know. But I grew up in New York State in the City of Rochester, which was recently voted the 5th snowiest city in the United States. http://www.13wham.com/news/features/top-stories/stories/rochester-reacts-no-5-snowiest-city-list-9489.shtml So while my family is dressing up in a snow suit just to walk to the car and turn it on 30 minutes before they have to leave to work so that it warms up and they don’t freeze to death while driving and die…I’m on the beach. The 80 degrees, sky-so-blue-it-looks-like-a-Pantone-color-strip, white sand under my toes, sun smiling on my face beach. I have a tan right now. The weather report says that in Rochester, it feels like it’s -4 degrees right now. I can’t. I just can’t.
- History. Don’t get me wrong, Miami is a young city and, compared to other U.S. cities, Miami’s history pales in comparison in terms of years. But Miami was and is the focal point of the most dramatic moments in modern U.S. Hispanic culture in the past 60 years, from the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Mariel Boat Lift, the Elian Gonzalez crisis and so much more. A young Cassius Clay shook up the world at the Miami Beach Convention Center 50 years ago when he defeated Sonny Liston for the World Heavyweight Title and is now the most iconic sports figure in the world because of that night. Black culture roared in the 60s all throughout the Historic Overtown neighborhood. Getting the point?
- Women. Seriously? Don’t even get me started.
- Calle Ocho. On what other street can you get the best Cuban food in America (take your pick), the city’s best Sushi (Mr. Yum), it’s most disgusting parade (Calle Ocho) and its worst drivers (looking at you, anyone in a Toyota Corolla)? If you really want to taste Miami as a visitor, I’d venture to say you’ll get every flavor in one walk down this historic, beautiful, disgusting street.
- Restaurants. If you ask anyone outside of Miami what the city’s reputation is founded on, they’ll tell you “parties.” In the past five years, though, everyone inside this city knows that it’s “restaurants.” You could visit a new one every night and not even scrape the surface. Eating House. Pub Belly. Whisk. You name it. Miami is quickly becoming Restaurant City USA.
- Romance. Wouldn’t it be amazing to wake up with a beautiful woman, walk the beach with her, sip Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas at brunch, spend the day paddle boarding and sunning, then wind down at a restaurant with breathtaking views of the city as she lays on your shoulder? Oh hey, New York, is that you in a distant second place? So hard to see you from the front of the line.
- Energy. What do you want – Wild and crazy, drinks to the face and unhinged behavior? We have nightclubs that are open for 24 hours, and no city parties harder. Want to spend all day soaking up the sun without a care in the world? Pick your beach. Want to experience culture, international cuisine, dance and people? Get on our level. You can have a worldwide experience in one day, all in one city.
- People. Surprised? If Miami was a book, its cover might be filled with fake breasts, fat men in their 50s with dimes in their 20s, and political corruption. Its pages, however, are filled with a rich layer of volunteerism from the doors of Camillus House to Miami Children’s Hospital, loyal, family-focused friends and compassionate neighbors.
- Growth. When I moved here in 2004, Brickell was an idea, Midtown and Wynwood were warzones and South Miami was Sunset Place and little else. Now, Brickell is the center of a second condo boom and a burgeoning financial district on a global scale; Midtown and Wynwood are as trend-setting and art-driven as any neighborhoods in the country, and Sunset Place has filled in its lost corners with destination-worthy restaurants. Imagine what another 10 years will bring.
You feel that? Come at me, America!