A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to go on an all-expenses-paid (well, most-expenses-paid) trip to Miami, FL for my company’s annual offsite. Although the offsite only lasted Tuesday through Thursday (at the Eden Roc Hotel, nonetheless), we were given the option to extend our stay through the weekend and adjust out flight to Sunday. My friend, Alex, and I jumped at this opportunity and found a little Airbnb in South Beach for the remaining three nights.

It was great spending a few days with my company at such a beautiful hotel, but Alex and I were excited to do some exploring on our own come Friday. Our first night at our Airbnb was lovely, and we decided that the next day rather than going straight to the beach we would journey to the Wynwood Arts District, which had been strongly recommended by one of Alex’s friends.

In case you haven’t heard of it:

The Wynwood Arts District is home to over 70 art galleries, retail stores, antique shops, eclectic bars, and one of the largest open-air street-art installations in the world.

In what was once the warehouse and manufacturing district of Miami, developers have “rehabilitated neglected warehouses, shuttered factories, and other unused buildings, transforming them into the numerous art complexes, galleries, performing art spaces, restaurants, cafes, and other creative businesses that are seen here today.”

Although we (I) accidentally gave the wrong address to our Uber driver and ended up having to walk about twenty minutes in the heat, we finally made it. It was incredible. As we walked through the neighborhood, everywhere we looked were huge, sprawling murals. It seemed as though every building was covered in some sort of illustration.

In hindsight, I wish I had taken more photos of the beautiful works of art, but I was so in awe and overwhelmed that all I could do was take it all in, in the moment.

One of the best parts of Wynwood was, without a doubt, the Wynwood Walls. The walls were created by community revitalizer and placemaker, Tony Goldman, in 2009.

Tony “was looking for something big to transform the warehouse district of Wynwood, and he arrived at a simple idea: Wynwood’s large stock of warehouse buildings, all with no windows, would be my giant canvases to bring to them the greatest street art ever seen in one place. Starting with the 25th–26th Street complex of six separate buildings, his goal was to create a center where people could gravitate to and explore, and to develop the area’s pedestrian potential.”

The sheer immensity of these works of art was simply breathtaking and incredibly inspiring. There were so many different styles and palettes and mediums, it was truly something to behold.

One of the indoor spaces at the Walls featured smaller works of art, including a few New York City subway station signs (one from Bowery and one from 40th & Broadway) that we loved. The open concept gallery was eclectic and industrial, and had the feel of a renovated warehouse.

The smaller pieces in the gallery nearly as impressive as the walls, and I loved how even though each work of art in the collection was so different, the exhibit still flowed and made sense.

The whole neighborhood of Wynwood had an incredibly cool vibe, and as Alex and I walked through the bustling streets we came across what looked like some sort of bohemian garden. Upon taking a closer look, we realized that behind the jungle of plants in the entryway there was a tiny, island-themed bar.

Even though it was only noon, we figured that it was five o’clock somewhere and decided to give it a try.

The sweet young bartender explained to us that they made the “best mojito in Miami.” Although we were pretty sure this fact was self-proclaimed, we decided to give it a try and were pleasantly surprised with (although maybe not the best) a pretty damn good mojito. Apparently the trick had something to do with all natural sugar cane, which sounded legitimate to me. I think it tasted even better thanks to the overall ambiance and atmosphere, and the fact that it was approximately 12:03pm on a Friday.

It was truly inspiring and uplifting to visit a neighborhood so full of vibrance and life, and one with such a strong passion for the creative arts. This experience was so much more meaningful to me than a day of laying out at the beach.

There is nothing quite like seeing all of the different ways that people have found to express themselves through their art; it seems we do live in a beautiful world, after all.

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