Under the spell of singer Becky G’s Sin Pijama —“baby hoy no vamo’ dormir, she sings. Translation: today, we will not sleep — I recently experienced a trip to Miami as a semi-celebrity. You’re probably asking, how could the average gay Houstonian Latino accomplish this?
The answer is the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conference (i.e. NAHJ 2018: Miami). The conference was recently held at the luxurious InterContinental Miami Hotel, featuring workshops with Walt Disney, BuzzFeed, and other companies that provide opportunities for (hashtag) more Latinos in the news. The conference also provided numerous opportunities for (hashtag) schmoozing with celebrities.
While there, I was invited to Univision anchor Maria Elena Salina’s all-white party, took in a performance by Mexican-American band La Santa Cecilia, had power lunches with the hosts of BuzzFeed's Pero Like, and was invited to Premios Juventud, the Latinx Spanish awards show. I rubbed elbows with J Balvin, Univision anchor Lourdes Stephen, Telemundo morning host Ana Maria Canseco, even Mickey. Mouse.
But despite my weeklong schedule of hanging with the stars, I also discovered the many places that make Miami a truly unique and sultry destination. If you’re traveling to South Beach or the greater Miami area sometime soon, you might want to remember some of these spots.
Little Haiti is the perfect location to find an Airbnb with a 10-minute drive to Downtown Miami or a 15-minute drive to South Beach. Within walking distance from our bnb was Jamaican hub Clive’s Café, home to some of Miami’s best jerk chicken and potato salad. airbnb.com/little-haiti
The Hotel Chelsea in Miami Beach is a three-minute walk to Twist nightclub, where my friends and I ended up hanging out with a drag queen named Pussila and a doing a “booty” contest, but that’s a story for another time. thehotelchelsea.com
A long night at Mango’s Tropical Café is in order on South Beach, where after 10 p.m. this turns into the city’s hottest Latin club. mangos.com/mangos-miami-beach
Experience the best salsa dancing ever in Little Havana at Ball and Chain. ballandchainmiami.com
Wynwood is a hip neighborhood full of wondrous, bigger-than-life murals, and Shine Design & Shop (located in Wynwood Shops) is a hideaway, where a local group of artists and local-based brands with different backgrounds gather to share their creations. I walked out with a new bag, three different pairs of earrings, and a couple accessories.
The Olympia Theater was once a silent movie theatre and is now regarded as the oldest theater in Miami. Elvis Presley, Etta James, and Luciano Pavarotti have all performed here. Take a tour, and maybe if you’re lucky, you can take in a performance. I saw a euphonious performance by La Santa Cecilia. olympiatheater.org
Check out the new pop-up art installation The Umbrella Sky Project at Giralda Plaza in Coral Gables.
Lunch in Downtown Miami at Giardino Gourmet Salads, where greens doused in spicy peanut dressing and fresh veggies go down easy with a Colada—a really strong Cuban coffee you take in a small shot glass. giardinosalads.com
There’s an ice cream shop in Little Havana dedicated to one of our Latin idols, Celia Cruz. It's called Azucar—named after one of her famous songs—and the dulce con leche cone left manchas (stains) on my shirt. It was delicious. azucaricecream.com
Peruvian food at La Luicadora. licuadorarestaurant.com
Bacon Bitch, nestled in South Beach’s The Franklin hotel, is flooded with the b*tch word from décor to the menu, including the delicious Country B*tch croissant. There’s also an addictive colada. I left with a little souvenir, a shirt from Bacon Bitch that reads Boss Bitch, because in the end, that’s exactly how I felt leaving Miami, and I hope you do too. baconbitch.com