Miami has a reputation for being a glamorous vacation hotspot – thanks to its rowdy nightlife, trendy beach scene, and bustling cruise port. It’s a tropical oasis and cultural center at the same time, making it one of the top tourist destinations in the US.
Whether you’re a college student on spring break, or an adult seeking a tropical getaway, Miami has an assortment of entertainment options that will leave you in awe.
Aside from its party and beach atmosphere, Miami also offers a riveting cultural experience. Over 70% of Miami’s population speaks Spanish, making it one of the most Hispanic cities in the United States.
Miami has traditionally boasted the largest Cuban-American population. However, in recent years, there has been a sharp rise in residents from countries like the Dominican Republic and Mexico. As such, Miami has seen a considerable shift in its cultural dynamic that has undoubtedly shaped the cityscape.
Latin American influence is visible everywhere in Miami – in its architecture, food, music, and people – making Miami the U.S. gateway to Latin America.
Latin American influence
During my trip to Miami, I experienced the city’s Hispanic heritage firsthand. Upon arriving at the airport, the first phrases uttered around me were in Spanish. As we left the airport, the Uber driver greeted us with “hola”. As someone who spent nearly 6 months of my life in Spain, it was an exciting opportunity to practice my español in a place much closer to home.
In most of my interactions outside the touristy parts of the city, Spanish was ostensibly the lingua franca. After experiencing the Latin American influence, cultural identity, and lifestyle throughout the city, it became clear to me that Miami is much different than anywhere else in the U.S.
Miami’s Hispanic heritage is strikingly visible in neighborhoods such as Española Way and Little Havana. When taking a stroll down these streets, the vibrant Hispanic community is on full display—showcasing colorful art galleries, authentic restaurants, and Cuban cigar shops, all while Latin music resonates in the background. If you close your eyes for a moment, you may mistake the charming ambiance for Santo Domingo or Havana. ¡Que chévere!
Miami: a city transformed
Through my interactions with local residents, I learned that Miami’s cityscape has drastically transformed over the past several decades. Ocean Drive, the focal point of Miami’s tourism and nightlife, has been fully restored to its original art deco façade.
However, according to some locals I met, the surrounding neighborhoods have undergone the most extraordinary changes. One man went so far as to say that Miami has been given a “face-lift” since he was a kid, noting that not all changes have been positive.
With real-estate and food prices at all-time highs, I can understand the pros and cons of this influx of tourism. It’s truly one of the top east coast destinations in the US.
Having spent only four days in Miami, I didn’t even come close to experiencing all that I wanted to. There are plenty of sights and attractions that are on my list for next time, including the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, which were closed when I showed up on a Tuesday (*Note to self: always check Opening Hours beforehand!*).
Though Miami’s cityscape is endless while time is not, I was fortunate to enjoy a taste of Latin America in a city only a couple hours from home. For anyone wishing to experience Latin charm in the US, look no further than Miami – the gateway to Latin America! And also, one of the top destinations in all of Southern Florida!
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