On January 2nd, we flew to Miami to start the new year off right. The kids didn’t go back to school until the 7th, so we actually knew a few families who were going to be out there as well, which made for the perfect trip. Play dates in Miami! It was a Mazzy and Harlow dream come true.

We stayed in Mike’s friend’s apartment, which was right across the bridge from South Beach. Typically, when we’v gone to Miami, we stay in a hotel right on the beach and don’t leave the resort except for dinner, so this gave us a more unique vantage point of what Miami has to offer. The apartment was a little bigger than a standard hotel room, on the 29th floor and resembled a glass box.

The views were, shall we say, INSANE.

Day 1:

We got there pretty early in the day so we could spend the afternoon walking around. We drove straight from the airport to South Beach, changed in the car and then got lunch on Lincoln Road, a pedestrian street with tons of stores and outdoor restaurants. The best part was that everything was still decorated for the holidays, so we got to take some pics with both Christmas trees and palm trees in the shot.

As Harlow would say, “They caught the Christmas here too!”

They also caught the Hanukkah. I have no pics but next to the tree was a huge menorah and dreidel made out of seashells. Someone told me on Instagram that her grandpa make them and collected the shells himself— how cool is that???

At lunch, Mazzy immediately ordered Shirley Temples, since every proper vacation must include a fruity drink in a fancy glass. Even if the strongest thing in there is grenadine syrup.

Harlow asked for a strawberry daiquiri and when I ordered a “virgin daiquiri,” she asked, “What’s a virgin?”

“No alcohol,” I told her.

After walking around for a bit, we settled into the hotel, did a Target run and had an early night in.

Day 2: 

The next day, we slept in, had breakfast in the room and then visited friends whose parents live on Ocean Drive, which is definitely one way to ensure that your kids visit often. The place was beautiful with a private pool and beach access. The kids had a blast playing with their friends and their friends’ cousins, while the adults got to relax poolside.

We went to the beach for a bit and while Harlow jumped in the waves at the water’s edge, Mazzy went in up to her neck. I remember doing that all the time as a child, but as a parent, it is super hard to watch! Just as I started to get nervous, Mazzy chose to come in herself. Thank god.

Are you Team Pool or Team Beach??? Personally, I think watching kids who can swim in a pool is living your BEST PARENTING LIFE.

That is, until one of them stands on a boogie board and puts you on high alert.

After leaving our friends’ place, we waked to South Pointe Park, which is a beautiful area on the water where the cruise ships depart. It’s also a perfect place to watch the sunset.

At first we played in the playground, but then Mazzy determined it was too babyish, so we decided to rent bikes.

I’m not going to lie, I was a little nervous since the last time I rode a bike, I fell on my face. Also, Mazzy had just learned to ride that summer and was still a little unsteady. And Harlow had never been on a bike without training wheels and that wasn’t an option at the rental place. I was certain it was all going to end in disaster, but I was wrong.

It was glorious.

Harlow rode tandem with Mike, which she could totally handle. She actually called it “relaxing” because Daddy did all of the work. Mazzy was on her own bike and did awesome. I didn’t fall on my face. Mike somehow carried all the bags. It was perfect biking weather. Everything was flat. We caught the sunset and the cruise ships departing at South Pointe Park and it felt like I hit the family outing jackpot.

Mazzy even declared afterward that she had “a good time” without a hint of sarcasm! Mazzy also decided that for her next vacation, she would like to go on a Disney Cruise thank you very much. When the ship passed by, she screamed, “TAKE ME WITH YOU!!!!” And then Harlow noticed something. “OYMYGO THERE’S A SLIDE.”

I wish I had more pics of our bike ride, but that was impossible, due to that whole “not wanting to fall on my face” thing. So you’ll just have to trust me.

I do have this photo of the four of us when we stopped our bikes to watch the sunset. My favorite thing about this picture is that it represents a moment in time that was TRULY GREAT.

It was such a great moment, that in a very rare occurrence, Mike asked Mazzy to take a photo just with me. This is what she took:

And then she took this one:

This is what happens when your photographer is in cahoots with your photobomber.

That night we went to dinner at Prime Fish, which was gorgeous, delicious and VERY PRICEY. I highly recommend the sea bass. And don’t let the waiter fool you into getting the Hawaiian Tuna Poke. It was ridiculously expensive and pretty bland.

Day 3: 

On the third day, we visited friends who were staying at the Fontainebleau, which is a huge fancy throwback hotel on Miami Beach that’s been there forever. Harlow particularly liked all the gold decor.

If you like a big resort and want a dedicated kiddie pool, this is the place for you. The resort has several pools, a water slide, crafts for kids and a bunch of indoor and outdoor restaurants. Only hotel guests (and their guests, which was us) have access to the pool but anyone can come have lunch at their restaurants.

I spent most of the time following Harlow and friend around the resort to make sure no one got into any trouble.

Mazzy made a plaster pineapple out of sand and seashells, which shockingly survived the trip home.

After a quick trip home to shower and get dressed, we took a little road trip to Coral Gables to go to the Night Garden at the Fairchild Botanical Gardens. The Night Garden is only around the holiday season, but the gardens are open year round. It was also fun to drive through Coral Gables, which is gorgeous with crazy big houses. Harlow proclaimed it, “a whole town for rich people!!!” Yes, indeed.

The NightGarden was a lot of fun and reminded me of a smaller scale Tonga Lumina, that night walk Mazzy and I went on in Mont Tremblant. The premise of this experience was around finding six fairies that would each deliver part of a secret message.

Then you walk through various holographs, light exhibits, talking trees, neon fields of tulips and at one point, an archway of tiny pink bubbles until you make it to the end.

As an added bonus, there was a food truck are where we could get dinner and I had an absolutely delicious burger.

When we got to the end, Mazzy had only found five of the six fairies and had to head back in. I was nervous we would be looking forever but she found it pretty quickly, thank god. The secret message said, “Always look for the light in the darkness.”

I asked Mazzy if she was “a light in the darkness” and she, in complete seriousness, said, “No! Daddy is the light in the darkness!” That’s because the whole time, he was quite literally turning on his iPhone flashlight so that she could keep track of the scrambled fairy message on a little slip of paper.

So. The moral is— anyone with an iPhone, can be a light in the darkness.

Day 4: 

On Day Four, we spent the morning at Wynwood Walls which opens 10:30am. I recommend going to Zak the Baker for breakfast first, a Jewish bakery that makes its bread on the premises. Keep in mind, it’s closed on Saturday.

Wynwood Walls, and pretty much the whole area of Wynwood, is basically a street art heaven.

Wynwood Walls started when a man named Tony Goldman bought a few buildings in a not so stellar Miami neighborhood and then commissioned a bunch of big name street artists to paint them. The result is is a free outdoor museum with interior galleries and shops.

It’s pretty spectacular and ended up transforming the entire area into a destination spot with cool hipster restaurants and shops. But what everyone is really here for is the photo taking opportunities.

To make sure the girls appreciated the experience to the fullest, I gave them each their own iPhone for the day to take their own pictures. Best decision ever. I think their photos warrant their own post, so I’ll post more about Wynwood tomorrow.

You know who else took a good pic? MIKE!!!

I also got a great shot of Harlow in front of this fierce girl mural from Kobra Street Art. Kobra is a Brazilian artist that has been popping up everywhere in NYC over the past few years. I see new murals from him almost every month and the girls can spot his work now too.

After Wynwood Walls, I recommend going to the Salty Doughnut. We didn’t go but about 50 million people told me I should go on Instagram. We, however, had other lunch plans and met friends at the Betsy Hotel.

By this point, Mike and I had started calling our Miami trip “the vacation sampler” because we had so many friends in town and got to experience all different accommodations— the luxury of a private beachfront residence, the breadth of a sprawling resort and on this particular afternoon, the chicness of a small boutique hotel with a rooftop pool.

I think the Betsy was my favorite.

The kids played in the pool for hours, while Mike and I relaxed on lounge chairs, sipping cocktails with our friends. Here’s Mazzy and Harlow soaking up the best of Miami, with a poolside pizza. Does it get any better than that?

For dinner, we went to Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in the Design District, which was FANTASTIC. I highly recommend the burrata and the chicken. Even Mazzy, who got plain pasta with red sauce, had some of the most delicious plain pasta with red sauce I have ever tasted. Have I mentioned the bread? Yes, it costs extra, but it was DIVINE. Order it.

Day 5:

We started our last full day with brunch at the Morgan— pancakes, french toast and an omelette. All the basic brunch groups covered.

Then we took a walk through the Design District, which is pretty close to Wynwood, but has an entirely different aesthetic.

While Wynwood is cool and grungy, the Miami Design District is glossy and high end, lined with luxury brand stores like Fendi and Miu Miu and expensive art galleries.

There are lots of murals there too, but the graphics and colors are quite different.

One thing we noticed was that the architecture in the Design District really added to the art scene. See this space? We thought it was a huge colorful play space from afar, but when we got up close, we realized it was just a parking garage.

See this enormous bubble? Also a parking garage!

Yep, the parking garage game is STRONG in Miami. They are both beautifully designed and very disappointing.

Here is a picture of my kids hanging out in a larger than life SOLO cup.

I call this photo “College.”

After wandering around the art district and educating my kids on the fine art of “not being able to afford anything there,” we got ice cream with a gold glitter spray topping. It’s tough to see it in the photo below, but at least the kids got something glitzy.

Then we went back to our apartment to finally swim in our own pool. There was no cocktail service or poolside pizza, but it was still a pretty sweet space for a swim.

I want to give a huge thank you to Mike’s friend Marc who let us stay in his place. I have to say that being across the bay from South Beach gave me a completely different perspective on how much there is to see and do in Miami. Not staying at a resort really helped us get out and see the city.

Miami is way more than a beach! Lesson learned!

On the last night, we went to MC Kitchen, an Italian place in the design district. It was fantastic, as was all the food we ate in Miami. A great end to a great trip. The next morning, we woke up super early and drove to the airport at 5am, so we could catch an early flight home. We wanted to give the kids time to acclimate to NYC weather before school started the next day.

But, please don’t think I’m done posting vacation pics just because we are home now. I took so many pics, I’ll be in Miami on Instagram until at least February. You can follow me on @mommyshorts!

Tell me all your Miami recommendations or ask any questions in the comments!