United States

Miami-Dade County: More than just gators!

Miami-Dade County: A great 'staycation' destination!Did I say that right? The name Dade County may take you by surprise, but I still believe this place is definitely a top summer vacation destination. My last summer was supposed to be filled with exciting international travel adventures. Fortunately, however, I was home in Miami for a couple of months instead, and was able to enjoy both nature and a dynamic city life at the same time.

When I moved back to Miami in 2007 fleeing the cold of Chicago, I temporarily moved in with my cousins. While relaxing by the pool, I contemplated their orchard filled with delicious fruits. The mangoes, avocados, limonsillos or mamonsillos, Dominican cherries, cuajuilitos (miniature Dominican fruit that tastes like watermelon) are not only enjoyed by family, friends and neighbors; birds, raccoons and squirrels also bite into these sweet treasures. The neighbors may have had horses, but my cousins have all the other animals native to South Florida. Staying with them for a few months was the perfect way to adjust to my new Floridian life and see what a truly great spot we're in.

These days, I am doing the same thing in my own backyard. Although many homes surround this place, you can barely see them thanks to all the trees surrounding the property. The brightly colored birds sing to me in the daytime and the frogs that hang out on my front porch greet me at night. A large portion of the coast south of downtown consists of nature preserves and wetland conservation areas. Most of these are not accessible to the public, but the space helps attract birds and other wildlife to the area, as well as protect us from the ravages of tropical storms. For humans, I like Fairchild Botanical Garden on Old Cutler Road. The facility host events such as the Mango and Chocolate festivals and they have outdoor art exhibits that are the perfect learning experience.

Given the new trend toward “staycations,” where one takes a vacation in one’s own place of residence, I think we Miami-Dade County residents have it pretty good. Not only do we have the popular tourist areas of Miami Beach, Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Little Havana and Hollywood, we also have little cities within cities such as Dolphin Mall, Dadeland Mall, Bayside and Sunset Place. Yes, they are called malls but while the ones in other cities are strictly designed for shoppers, the ones in Miami are for shopping and for living. Dolphin Mall, for example, has restaurants and bars to enjoy at night. It also has live entertainment in an outdoor atrium. Bayside is the same way. I equate these malls to the traditional European town centers where people meet and stroll around with their children.

I live by The Falls. Thanks to our diverse population, I can find all kinds of ethnic restaurants to choose from within walking distance. One of my favorite restaurants in town is Little Saigon in the Dadeland Plaza Mall. The food is a bit pricey but tasty. In that same mini-mall you also have French, Spanish and Japanese, as well as about a dozen other cultures represented. These are all highly recommended, authentic restaurants.

If I am hungry for Mexican food, I can drive 20 minutes south to Homestead. In its attractive historic downtown, I find a wide array of Mexican restaurants to choose from. One of my favorites is Quebradita on Krome Avenue. It’s a simple place with nice staff and good, inexpensive food.

I cannot sell anyone on either vacation or a staycation in Miami-Dade County without mentioning the pristine beaches. Miami Beach sells one of the highest amounts of alcoholic beverages in the country. This is because South Beach was designed for people to enjoy the beach. So, after a nice dip in the warm waters, people cross the busy Ocean Drive to enter one of the attractive Art Deco bars. You can feel the energy of its beautiful people when you walk down Lincoln Road, yet another interesting mall with not just stores, but restaurants, a flower and fruit stand, wild parrots, and great people watching.

Whether in Key Biscayne or in the Everglades, you will not just find alligators. People flock from all over the world to appreciate the natural and man-made environments of Miami-Dade County. It is indeed a HOT place in every sense of the word.

follow About the Author

With a background in foreign languages, education, anthropology and the performing arts, Dr. Jason Trinidad Pucheu devotes his free time to promoting cultural awareness. He has studied music and dance in many different countries. He views travel as the ultimate educational experience. Visit www.drcool.us.

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see  Full name: United States of America

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