florida

Hello, Summer!

Sunny Isles, Fla. | nycexpeditionist.com

Oh, yes. It’s here, again—my favorite weekend when the best time of year officially begins.

Hello, summer!

I haven’t been posting as much as I’d like to, in the past several months. Life has been a bit crazy in all areas: work, ballet, personal. Though I haven’t shared details here, it’s actually been a very trying time with lots of ups and downs.

But I’d be remiss if I didn’t usher in my favorite season—because I’ve so been looking forward to every bitВ of it: long, hot days; weekends at the beach; quick shore getaways; bbqs; summer Fridays (!!!); a likely vacation at the end of August. Plus, some very exciting ballet and family stuff going on.

Will keep you posted on all that. But in the meantime, here’s to sunny days!

(Photo of Sunny Isles, Fla. via Mallory Eng Burger)

Stiltsville

I wouldn’t mind spending a few days out in Stiltsville. The seven houses perched upon pilings are located about a mile offshore Cape Florida, in the mud flats of Biscayne Bay.

Stilt House in Biscayne National Park.

Back in the 1930s, “Crawfish Eddie Walker” built the first house to sell bait, beer and chowder. Others soon followed—and opened up as exclusive clubs and hideaways.

Bay_Chateau

Over the years, the shacks acquiredВ notorious fameВ for the supposed debauchery that went on in them. In 1949, theВ Quarterdeck ClubВ was raided for illegal gambling, though no evidence was found. In the 1960s, theВ Bikini ClubВ offered free drinks (without having a liquor license, of course) to women dressed in the two-piece suits.

Leshaw_House

At that time,В Stiltsville had 27 houses—the most, ever. But over the years, hurricanes, fires and weather destroyed the structures.

A_Frame

Today, theВ National Parks ServiceВ owns the remaining seven buildings. (None of which existed since Stiltsville’s founding.) And no one lives there; their future usage is being debated. Some ideas are community centers, artist residences, research facilities, satellite NPS offices. In the meantime, people are granted access to the houses, on occasion—I actually learned of Stiltsville fromВ West Elm, who shot their catalog there!

…and if they ever decide to open them up as vacation rentals, you know I’ll be down there soon after!

(Photos by Brian F. Call via Stiltsville Trust, Inc.)

A Resolution to Travel?

Loews Royal Pacific Resort

This weekend, I was in Orlando for a super-fun (and successful!) work event that my group put on. While chatting with one of my colleagues there, I learned of a very cool, year-long resolution she made: Last August, she decided that she would travel at least one time each month, for an entire year.

I thought that was a brilliant idea—and actually wondered why I hadn’t thought of it, myself! She told me she came up with it, last summer, when she realized she’d gone out of town every month for the past few. She decided that she’d keep the streak going for a full year. In the last several months, she’d been everywhere from NYC and Boston to Europe. (She’s based in Orlando.) As she spoke about the places she’d visited, it was clear how much she’s enjoying keeping this resolution!

I try to get out of town every few weeks—I get antsy, if I don’t! But I’d never thought about making that a goal that I’d have to stick to. I love the idea. In my book, any excuse to get away is a good one. And it would mean I’d always have something great to look forward to, every few weeks!

What do you think? Would you ever make a travel resolution?

(Photo: The Loews Royal Pacific Resort, Orlando—I managed to snag an hour in the sun, the day after the event, before heading back to chilly NYC!)

A Long Weekend in South Beach

south beach

Three days in South Beach was exactly what I needed before starting my new job. (Don’t get me wrong—I’m thrilled about it, but definitely needed some R&R, especially after the holidays!) I’d been to Miami once before, about a year and a half ago, for Mal’s bachelorette party. While that wasn’t exactly a wild and crazy time, this trip was even more chill—I’m sure I was in bed before the rest of South Beach was going out for the night!

Some highlights/favorites:

EATS

Yardbird

yardbird

butter lettuce and mango salad

On our first day, we ate lunch atВ Yardbird, a hopping, Southern food restaurant with hip decor, run by formerВ Top ChefВ contestant Jeff McInnis. I wanted to eat everything on theВ menuВ (which included deviled eggs, pulled pork and shrimp n’grits) but opted for the butter lettuce and mango salad topped with local swordfish. I also had a few bites of the signature fried chicken and biscuit—and can vouch for both being amazing.

Ola

ola

My mom’s birthday was on Thursday (happy bday, Meme <3!), so to celebrate, we went toВ Ola, a Latin American restaurant that happened to be inВ my hotel. (More about that below.) It was the perfect place for a special dinner—the food and service were superb. The corn empanadas were probably the best I’ve ever had, and the hamachi ceviche was delicious. And the deconstructed key lime pie? Just the right balance of sweet and tart.

Joe’s Stone Crab

jumbo stone crab claws

I left a day earlier than my parents, so they wanted to send me off with a good meal—and I couldn’t have been happier with their restaurant selection. We went to lunch atВ Joe’s Stone Crab, a perpetually crowded, wonderfully old school institution where waiters still wear jackets and bow ties. Stone crabs are in season from October through mid-May and we were in luck: A batch of jumbo crabs had come in that morning. I’m used to eating littleВ Maryland blue crabs, so I was shocked at how large and meaty these guys were. (I’m still dreaming of those claws!)

Other South Beach Eats I’d recommend (from this and the last trip):
Puerto Sagua:В Classic (and cheap!) Cuban food in a casual, diner-likeВ atmosphere. (Perfect for the morning after a night out!)
Dilido Beach Club:В Delicious cocktails and eats—plus impeccable service—at the Ritz-Carlton’s oceanfront bar; great for lunch when you don’t want to stray far from the beach.
BLT Steak:В True to its name, meat is the main event, but the gigantic Gruyere popovers, alone, are worth the trip.
Spris:В Al fresco Lincoln Road spot that serves thin-crust pizzas.
Sushi Samba:В I’ve never been to the NYC restaurant, but I really enjoyed my late-night rolls and cocktails at this outpost, also on Lincoln Road—plus, the people-watching was fantastic, at that hour!

SIGHTSВ 

The Beach

south beach

Obviously. When I’ve left behind freezing, cold NYC for a few precious days in the sun, there are not many things I’d rather do than lie onВ the beach.В And luckily, South Beach, itself, is really nice. The sand is soft and well-kept.В On sunny days, the water is calm and brilliant blue—I find it hard to believe it’s the same Atlantic we have up north! I spent most of every day chillaxin’ in a lounge chair, soaking in the warm weather and listening to the sound of the surf.

Lincoln Road

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It’s hard to go to South Beach and not end up onВ Lincoln Road, at some point. I love the idea of a pedestrian mall and wish more cities would adapt it; it’s a luxury to walk past shops, outdoor dining, public art and palm trees without the noise and chaos of cars. Lincoln Road isВ quintessentiallyВ Miami and nice anytime of day: in the morning, when you want to take a quiet stroll; in the late afternoon, when you want to shop after a day at the beach; or at night, when the restaurants and lounges fill up!

ACCOMMODATIONS

sanctuary south beach
South Beach has a ton of amazing hotels but, in my experience, it’s not easy to find deals. I booked this trip at the very last minute (just two days before) and it took me about four hours to find a good hotel in my price range, which was around $200/night. (Since I wasn’t splitting the cost with anyone.) I ended up at the Sanctuary, a small, quiet all-suite hotel one block removed from the fancy beachfront properties. The service was friendly—though not particularly polished—and the place had a bit of a motel-vibe, since all the rooms face into a courtyard. Still, I had beach and pool access via its sister hotel, the Shelborne, and my suite was very clean and spacious.

betsy hotel

My parents, on the other hand, stayed at the Betsy, a swank boutique hotel with a retro vibe and gorgeous rooftop. Rooms are small, but have lots of sweet extras, like Frette linens and Malin + Goetz products. (I had a little hotel envy over that!)

loews miami

For Mal’s bachelorette, we stayed at the Loews, which I’d highly recommend. It’s pricey, yet more affordable than many of its beachfront neighbors—and the service was on par or with what you’d get at a W or Ritz.

Have you been to South Beach recently? What are your favorite restaurants and hotels? (I’d love to know for my next trip!)

(Sanctuary photo via SanctuarySoBe.com, Loews photo via their Facebook page; the Betsy photo via TheBetsyHotel.com)

Off to South Beach!

south beach

I’m kicking off 2013 with a big change: I’m starting a new job on Monday! I’m excited (and a little nervous) about this new opportunity, but to celebrate, I’m heading to South Beach for three days. (With my parents—they were nice enough to let me tag along on their vacation!) I’m planning to do nothing but enjoy the warm weather, eat some good food—and relax and recharge for next week. (I’ll post some trip highlights upon coming back.)

And happy 2013—I hope your year is off to a wonderful start!

(Photo by Jetsetter via Pinterest)

Ragnar Relay: Let’s Do This!

Anyone who has had the pleasure (misfortunte?) of spending time with me, Mal or Peter over the past few weeks can attest to one thing: We’re fixated on putting together a Ragnar Relay team.

Ragnar has been around for a few years and all their races follow this format: Teams of 12 people run 200 miles–in some of the country’s most scenic areas–over 36 hours, including overnight. Each person runs three legs that range in distance from about 2 to 12 miles. (So someone might run 3.8 miles, then 7 miles, then 3 miles.) And since the race is designed for people of all skill levels, your group can include both beginners, who just run a few miles each leg, and seasoned runners, who can take on 10 or so miles in a leg.

We looked through almost all the courses and decided that the Miami to Florida Keys relay seems the most appealing. The route is flat, gorgeous (right along the water and over several bridges!) and it’s next January, which leaves plenty of time to train. Plus, it’d be a perfect excuse to escape to someplace warm and sunny in the middle of winter with all our friends, accomplish something huge (200-miles between 12 people!) and rent a sweet vacation homeВ to celebrate in for a day or two after the race. Oh, and get some good exercise in, too.

Seven Mile Bridge

Seven Mile Bridge--who wouldn't want to run over this?

I’m not an avid runner. I actually stopped running regularly a few years ago when I decided I’d rather spend four days a week doing ballet instead of logging miles on a treadmill. But I still enjoy a good run, especially outdoors and when there’s a goal to work toward. And we’re all convinced this would be an amazing, challenging experience of a lifetime.

This video, showcasing this year’s Florida Keys run, sells it pretty well (though I’m admittedly a sucker for triumphant sporty videos set to inspirational music):

At this point, a few otherВ crazy peopleВ awesome friends have decided they’re up for joining us. If you’re up for it, too, let me know!

(Top photo via Ragnar’s Facebook page, bottom photo via flickr.com/toastforbrekkie)