I received a "Dear Dan" email that is good to share on these here Internets. It's all about travel advice for Miami. Are ya interested in reading it? Click below, if you wish:
I'll be going with some friends to Miami for Sizzle, an annual black gay pride event. My friends are amped about partying and meeting new guys, but I'm far more interested in seeing a new city and doing exciting things. Maybe it's because I'm already in a relationship.
Anyway, I know you know Miami and I'd really appreciate some input. I love fashion, art, and local and unique restaurants. So anything you can share would be very much appreciated.
Sizzle is a series of parties during Memorial Day Weekend aimed at the "urban" gay market. Sizzle attracts both men and women, of a wide array of ethnic backgrounds, the majority of attendees being black men. This is not to be confused with the "Hip Hop Weekend" event in South Beach, which is also during Memorial Day Weekend; that is marketed to straight black men and women and is huge. Sadly, Memorial Day Weekend is probably the least popular event of the year among Miami Beach locals—hundreds of people are arrested for fighting in the streets, in the clubs, etc., and paddy wagons cart people off to jail each night. It's a bizarre weekend in South Beach.
However, Sizzle is a well-organized event with much more pleasant people. And it is across the bridge in Miami, so you'll be away from the mayhem—but of course you'll want to come over and see South Beach for yourself. Things you MUST do while you are here:
1) Walk down Lincoln Road, and witness the parade of people trying to show off and be cool. I live a block away from Lincoln Road, and I still love the people-watching.
2) You are in Miami Beach, so skip the Starbucks and drink café con leche! There are dingy little café windows all over town, you just walk up and give them $2 for your drink, and you'll stay awake for days. Delicioso.
3) The street that runs along the ocean is Ocean Drive. The next street over is Collins, and then Washington. Both Collins and Washington are lines with shops that are a little more price-friendly than the rest of South Beach. Start on one of them at 16th Street, and walk down until you get to 5th; then go over to the other street and walk back up. Be sure to visit the little clothing stores, they can have really low prices; but don't spend more than $40 on a pair of jeans or shoes, the clothes they sell won't last very long.
4) For a local cheap food, try an empanada: it's basically the South American version of a Hot Pocket. I like Half Moon, 1616 Washington Ave. Each empanada is $2.5) Lincoln Road is also a good spot for lunch or dinner. My favorite places are Ice Box Cafe, Nexxt, and the Cafe at Books and Books. All three have outdoor seating. IMPORTANT: If you pass a restaurant and there is a hostess outside who tries to stop you and tells you to read the menu, do NOT eat there. The good restaurants don't need to beg for customers. (And beware, some restaurants add gratuity, some don't.)
6) One of the big gay bars here is Score (727 Lincoln Road); the restaurant next door is called Spris, and they serve really good pizza. I always get the Diablo with spicy pepperoni, yum. The outdoor tables for both restaurants get mixed, so the crowd at Spris spills over into Score and vice-versa.
7) Besides Score, the gay bars are Twist (fun late-nights), Mova (for pricey cocktails), and The Palace on Ocean Drive. However, last year The Palace was not a gay bar during Memorial Day Weekend, they didn't have any of their popular drag shows; they were too busy with the hip hop weekend crowd. Have I mentioned how Memorial Day Weekend is unpopular with locals? So stick with Score, Twist, and Mova.
NOTE: The neigborhood around the Hyatt (Sizzle's host hotel) has some nice upscale restaurants, but if you're looking to save money then you'll need to walk around and find some cheap sandwich shops. The area doesn't look great but it's safe enough. (Note: a "Cuban sandwich" is just a ham and cheese, you'll see them everywhere.) And don't bother shopping downtown, the stores aren't exciting.