Every year, Bob and I leave town for a holiday getaway in December. Crazy, I know! The truth is, his company holds their annual holiday party in Miami every year, and, ya know, we have to go. Feeling sorry for us yet? Christmas in a tropical location is, well, different. While it took some getting used to, we have actually come to love it. This year, I’m taking you with us! I can’t wait to show you our favorite Miami holiday hangouts.
I’m a little embarrassed to tell you that one of my favorite things about Miami is the outdoor malls! It is something about the combination of walking around in the fresh air, people watching, and window shopping that just makes for a unique experience. The iconic Coco Walk., in the heart of Coconut Grove, is lined with boutiques and outdoor bistros. With a 15-screen movie theater, it has become our favorite place to catch dinner and a movie. The best place for dinner? Le Bouchon de Grove, a fabulous little French bistro right nearby.
For window shopping, the incomparable Bal Harbor Shops should not be missed. Featuring high-end retail like Tiffany’s, Chanel, Fendi, Gucci, and Valentino, it makes for a fun afternoon of people-watching. I have never seen so many Rolls Royce’s in one location!
The best outdoor mall at the holidays, though, has got to be Merrick Park, located in Coral Gables. At Christmas, they have a huge tree right in the middle of the courtyard, and giant Nutcrackers (actors dressed up and on stilts) roaming the mall. With shops like Kate Spade, Williams-Sonoma, Lacoste, Lilly Pulitzer and Anthropologie, it is a real treasure. We love the Italian food at Villagio. Be sure to sit outside!
The newest downtown retail center in Miami, Brickell City Centre, is being billed as a “model for urban malls of the future.” It’s a mix of open-air retail, restaurants, and entertainment surrounded by residential towers, a hotel, and office buildings. This 500,000 square foot mall boasts an eye-catching feature that no other mall has: a climate ribbon. This 150,000 square-foot covering of shaded glass and sun-blocking fabric “flows” over the mall’s open space kind of like a river. With a price tag of $30 million, it was designed to block heat and reduce light, while also maximizing the breeze off nearby Biscayne Bay to the temperature is always comfortable. When we were there this weekend, it was raining, but we didn’t feel a drop. Why? The climate ribbon captures and stores rainwater used in irrigation for the mall. It provides natural light, natural breezes, and a tropical ambiance, complete with native plants. Oh, and if you look up, you can see the sky. Amazing!
A trip to Miami wouldn’t be complete without a visit to South Beach. (SOBE to the locals), where you can stick your toes in the sand or walk along the boardwalk. There are lots of cool restaurants that overlook the water. Other great spots to hit include the Miami Seaquarium and Key Biscayne. If you have time, it’s fun to catch Island Queen Cruises and see the Miami skyline by water, along with the Port of Miami, Fisher Island, Miami Beach and “Millionaire’s Row” (homes of the rich and famous). With average temperatures in the high 70s and low 80s, this is a perfect activity for December.
I’d love to know if you have any special places you love for a holiday getaway! Leave me a comment and let me know, okay?