Before I travel, I plan. I read blogs and books and look at maps and create hour-by-hour itineraries. I search for the best doughnutterys and local yarn shops (don’t you?) and put out a call for recommendations on social media.
As Theatre Communications Group prepares for its annual conference in Miami (June 5-7), I enlisted the help of the conference host committee to learn how to explore the Magic City like a Miamian. I’ve been to Miami just once, an impromptu three-day solo trip in which I enjoyed stone crab legs from Joe’s Stone Crab and spent a magical afternoon at the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Those are both worthy additions to conferencegoers’ itineraries, but please check out the map below with recommendations straight from the source.
In addition to sharing where to see theatre, of course, the Miami host committee recommended the best places to caffeinate between conference sessions, where to unwind after programming, and where to eat—from food trucks to reservations-required eateries. And, if you have a few days to spare, the host committee has some ideas on where to venture for a day trip.
The home base for the three-day, jam-packed conference is in Downtown Miami at the InterContinental Hotel. Downtown Miami has lots of restaurants and bars in walking distance from the hotel, including Il Gabbiano, an Italian spot with waterfront views.
Food offerings throughout the city run the gamut from croquetas in Little Havana to dim sum in Midtown, plant-based foods in South Beach to a seafood shack on Biscayne Bay. Miami has your dietary needs and food wishes covered!
A trip to visit the colorful muraled walls and graffiti-covered buildings in the Wynwood District—which is a must—wouldn’t be complete without going to Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop & Cafe. “This is the best place for pie and cakes,” says Elizabeth Doud, a Miami-based theatre artist. “Mostly sweet, with a few savory baked goods, but a definite dessert destination that won’t disappoint.”
Wynwood is also where you’ll find the best donut, as seconded by Joseph Cloud, the artistic programs manager of National YoungArts Foundation. At the Salty Donut, Cloud raves, you’ll find “amazing craft donuts. Get in here!” And the nearby Bakehouse Art Complex features galleries and artist studios. “It’s an amazing place with multiple artists studios to explore,” says Cloud.
Susi Westfall, producing artistic director of City Theatre, offered another fun activity: visiting the eco-adventure park Jungle Island, perfect if you have kids in tow. “It’s the place you go to pose with parrots on your shoulders!” effuses Westfall. Sign me up! Other family-friendly outings, or activities for the young at heart, include the interactive Miami Children’s Museum, the Frost Science Museum, and the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
The temperatures in Miami in June could soar upwards of 80 degrees. Don’t despair. A highly recommended way to cool off is the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, a historic pool built in 1923 from a coral rock quarry. An underground aquifer feeds spring water into the 820,000-gallon pool. “Brilliant spot for a cold dip in a natural pool,” says Cloud. “There are waterfalls and grotto to swim around.”
Another hot tip? Spend some time in air conditioned stores in Bayside Marketplace, a waterfront mall that is also a departure point for boat excursions. And beat the heat with ice cream! Cloud recommends the unique ice creamery Aubi & Ramsa, which offers boozy treats for folks 21 and up.
So how do you get around town? The Miami Trolley and the Metromover (which operates in the Downtown and Brickell Area neighborhoods) are both free. While Lyft and Uber are both available, there are two free electronic carpooling services in Miami called Freebee and the Swoop Ride, which sound way more fun. The Metrorail will get you to and from the airports, and the new high-speed intercity train, the Brightline, will take you all the way to West Palm Beach in a jiffy.
Zoom in and explore the map! The TCG logo shows where the conference will take place. Lime green denotes eateries; emerald green is for parks and wellness spots; blue is for activities, including museums; yellow for family-friendly activities; magenta marks fun neighborhoods to explore; persimmon is coffee spots; orange marks places to explore as daytrips. Happy itinerary building.