Like many working moms burned out from too much time at home, I started daydreaming I really was poolside, as my fake Zoom background showed me to be in back-to-back meetings. Both my 12-year-old and I longed to break free from our bubble in Brooklyn. Our desires were simple: First, book an early-A.M. flight that could guarantee we’d be in a pool by noon. Also high on my vacation list was being Caribbean adjacent—which landed us in Miami.
However, in my haste to get out of town, I didn’t consider how a huge music festival happening the same weekend would impact “the scenery” at the cute boutique hotel I’d booked in South Beach. If I’d been alone, days of unfiltered hip-hop, skimpy bikinis and fruity cocktails would have suited this auntie just fine. But with my tween daughter in tow, I needed more of Disney’s Florida than Drake’s. We headed back over the MacArthur Causeway to downtown Miami, where we found a haven of kid-friendly culture for her, grown and sexy vibes for me, and a hotel scene that made us both feel super cool.
Where to Stay
The Gabriel Miami, Curio Collection by Hilton
1100 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132
Reopened in July 2021, the 14-floor luxury hotel gave us front-row views of Biscayne Bay’s breathtaking sunrises, which recharged us daily. Even watching a classic south Florida downpour was magical from our 10th-floor balcony. The blonde wood furniture, the slate-gray and white aesthetic of the decor, and the airiness of the room made us feel as if we were vacationing on a cloud. Bonus: There’s an artful-curated library of pop culture books for perusing before a night out on the town.
How to Play
Pérez Art Museum Miami
1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132;
You want a guaranteed afternoon of exquisite art, yummy food and harbor views? Look no further than the Pérez Art Museum, which houses a unique collection of modern pieces from 20th- and 21st-century artists from across Latin America, the Caribbean and the rest of the African diaspora. After spending a few hours taking in the exhibit “Allied with Power: African and African Diaspora Art from the Jorge M. Pérez Collection”—which featured pieces from Kara Walker, Rashid Johnson, Yinka Shonibare and more—we sat down for a tasty lunch at Verde, amid the beautiful ambience of the patio’s massive hanging gardens.
What to Eat
Red Rooster Overtown
920 NW 2nd Ave, Miami, FL 33136;
The Miami outpost of celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson, Red Rooster restaurant is designed as a contemporary art space filled with modern works, including a dramatic Kara Walker mural on its island-inspired patio. Located in Overtown, which was once regarded as the “Harlem of the South,” the eatery is equally lauded for its great food. A dear friend told me to try the well-seasoned fish, and I still dream of its bursts of tastiness. After an elixir (or three), you’ll be dreaming about your next trip to downtown Miami, with another Red Rooster stop as your evening destination.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2022 issue of ESSENCE magazine.