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Tag: travel

7 Tips for Saving Money for Travel While Maintaining Your Sanity

7 Tips for Saving Money for Travel While Maintaining Your Sanity

Can’t afford to travel? Sorry, but that’s not a good excuse. So many millennials “can’t afford” to do certain things, like go on a life-changing trip or make their monthly payments on time, yet they’ll post a picture of their Starbucks venti macchiatos on Instagram […]

15 Free Things to Do in Boston

15 Free Things to Do in Boston

Boston has become a popular hub for millennials over the past several years. Sadly, the cost of living in Boston has risen as well. Actually, it’s the 4th priciest city in the United States, following New York, San Francisco, and San José. If you — […]

Visiting the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, Florida

Visiting the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens in Miami, Florida

On my recent trip my Miami, my friends and I spent a majority of our time relaxing and drinking adult beverages. However, one of the highlights of the trip was an unexpected good time: the historic Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.

Before going, we researched this spot a little, keeping it in the back of our heads as an activity to do. Luckily, it rained throughout the afternoon one day, so we used that day to hit the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. Since we were staying on Miami Beach, we had to take a Lyft. The drive took a little less than a half hour each way, which really wasn’t too bad. Going to the estate was a good call on a rainy day; it’s mostly indoors, but even in the gardens, the rain wasn’t a big deal.

Vizcaya was the winter residence of James Deering, a millionaire who gained his wealth from his agricultural manufacturing business. He owned homes all around the country, but decided to build the Vizcaya estate during his retirement. Deering’s construction of the home occurred in the early twentieth century — think Downton Abbey times — and he only lived there for 8 years before his death.

Vizcaya Museum gardens
The Barge, a spot used for entertaining (with the help of a boat to take guests out there)

If you plan on going to the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, definitely wear comfortable shoes. I got a surprisingly high amount of steps on my FitBit during our visit, so I was glad I wore good shoes for walking. In addition, we covered the entire estate, except one section that was closed for restoration). Plan ahead to stay for a few hours. There’s a cafe with coffee and food, so making a whole day of it isn’t a bad idea.

My friends and I decided to go through the estate on our own, so we could spend more time in areas that were more interesting to us. However, they do run hourly tours throughout the grounds for an additional price. I assume the guided tour has more history attached to it, but I feel like we got our money’s worth independently.

Vizcaya Museum Gardens Courtyard
The Courtyard, which features columns and arches, clearly of a Mediterranean influence

The Home

The style of the home derives from eighteenth century Italian architecture and style. The courtyard, which is the central part of the home, originally had no roof; this is one way in which Deering utilized the subtropical climate in his design. Vizcaya is located on the Biscayne Bay, making it very easily accessible for Deering’s visitors.

Vizcaya Museum Gardens
The Living Room
Vizcaya Museum Gardens
The Reception Room, where any visitors waited to meet with James Deering

The juxtaposition of the modern and the traditional shows in the home’s design and features. Vizcaya’s internal appearance resembles the Baroque style, a very traditional trend, but some of the estate’s technology was very forward-thinking for the time. The estate has 2 elevators, which is even very extravagant and modern in homes in the present time. The architects also built the home from reinforced concrete, a modern technology of the time; part of the reason the mansion is in such good shape today is because of this strong material.

Vizcaya Museum gardens
The Dining Room

There seems to be an intermingling of different cultures through the Vizcaya estate. Artifacts from various countries, including Italy, France, and even China, and styles from the Neoclassical, Rococo, and modern periods decorate the home. The principal artistic director, Paul Chalfin, inspired different rooms around different Italian cities. For instance, the Music Room is inspired by Milan, 2 of the bedrooms are inspired by Venice, and so on. The style’s lack of succinctness is due to the home’s whimsical atmosphere; since it was Deering’s vacation home, Chalfin and Deering wanted it to remain playful and light.

vizcaya museum gardens music room
The Music Room
vizcaya museum gardens
Another angle of the Living Room, with an organ in the corner

The Gardens

Though the house itself is elaborate, it pales in comparison to the intricate gardens. This space is split into multiple sections, or “rooms,” including a Theatre Garden, a Maze Garden, and a Fountain Garden.

vizcaya museum gardens
The main section of the garden
vizcaya museum gardens
Deering had ivy planted around certain spots to create an aged look

To maintain the appearance of a traditional, old garden, Deering and his builders brought in aged sculptures to decorate the yard and planted old trees. However, a great deal of modern architects created pieces for the gardens as well. The swimming pool is an especially modern piece featured in the Vizcaya estate.

vizcaya museum gardens
Cacti, an example of some of the plants making up the garden grounds
vizcaya museum gardens
View of the home from the garden
vizcaya museum gardens art sculpture
An example of traditional art that decorates the garden
vizcaya museum gardens
A staircase behind the “Casino.” No gambling there, sadly
Vizcaya Museum Garden
One of the many man-made bodies of water on the property

If you want to learn more about the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, check out their informational website. For our adult tickets, we paid $18 each, but guided tours cost extra. If you experience a Miami day with less-than-desirable weather, check out this historical, beautiful place!

vizcaya museum gardens
Inside a Cupola

 

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17 Tips for the Best Vacation to Miami, Florida

17 Tips for the Best Vacation to Miami, Florida

My recent trip to Miami — which I also wrote a post about here — was exciting, fun, and very relaxing. That being said, I definitely could have done a little more research before the trip. With my birthday weekend right before the trip, I was […]

My Weekend in Burlington, Vermont

My Weekend in Burlington, Vermont

This weekend, I went up to my college city, Burlington, VT, for a short visit. Months ago, my friend Troy bought tickets for the two of us to see Barenaked Ladies downtown. Since the weather was nice and a lot of other alumni were going […]

Where to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Miami, Florida

Where to Eat, Drink, and Be Merry in Miami, Florida

I just got back from a 6-day trip to Miami and I just wanna talk about it! In my first of multiple upcoming blog posts about my vacation, I’m going to cover the essentials that every twenty-something visiting Miami needs: good food, strong drinks, and nightlife experiences you’ll never forget.

La Cosina Cubano

Due to the large Cuban population in Miami, Cuban food is one of the city’s specialties. In fact, some say that the best Cuban food in the U.S. is in Miami. That being said, having at least one Cuban meal is essential when visiting Miami. I have to admit, I had four Cuban meals during my stay.

Havana 1957

Not only was this probably my favorite meal in Miami, it may have been one of the best meals of my life. The house special (below) consisted of chicken, white rice, sweet plantains, black beans, and a side salad. Everything was seasoned so well — even the white rice — and I was only able to eat about half of what I was served. (Side note: Even the leftovers were to die for!) Since this restaurant boasts its mojitos, I had to order one. Let me admit, mojitos aren’t anywhere near my favorite drink, but this was by far the best drink I had during my stay and was absolutely the best mojito I’ve ever had. With reasonable prices and incredible service, I can’t recommend this spot enough.

Havana 1957 Miami Cuban food
The chicken house special, which I ate for “lunner” and doubled as great leftovers
Cuban food mojito Havana 1957
The best mojitos in Miami, strawberry (left) and mango (right)

Puerto Sagua Restaurant

This restaurant kept coming up on Yelp, and since we were craving Cubans like it was nobody’s business, we headed over to Collins Ave to check this restaurant out. The service was fast, the food was cheap, and our sandwiches were massive! This spot is great for anyone trying to get a no-frills lunch or dinner in a diner setting. As a little disclaimer, the wait for a table seems a lot more daunting than it really is, so don’t let that turn you away!

Cuban sandwich Puerto Sagua
My Cuban sandwich — here, they serve Cubans long and skinny, so I had to cut my two pieces in half to avoid spillage

Larios on the Beach

My friends and I hit this spot twice, for dinner on our first night and for lunch on our last day. For Miami, this place is dirt cheap, but doesn’t compromise its quality or portion size. In addition, it’s got a massive menu; there’s something for everyone, from the most adventurous eaters to the pickiest.

Cuban sandwich Larios on the Beach
Their Cuban sandwich — arguably the best Cuban I’ve ever had
Cuban food Larios on the Beach
The pan-seared chicken breast, which comes with 2 sides. (I went for black beans and brown rice!)

 

Best Way to Start the Day

If you’re in Miami, there’s a big chance that you’re having some late nights. In other words, breakfast is absolutely essential. These breakfast and brunch spots were memorable… and very photogenic!

Refresh

This little spot offers a massive menu, with various types of juices, smoothies, salads, and bowls. When I had a… headache (cough, cough, hangover)… their strawberry smoothie brought me back to life. I went back another day to grab an acai bowl to bring to the beach. The employees are nice (and always willing to give you a free sample) and the ingredients are really fresh. Plus, who doesn’t crave a smoothie or acai bowl on a hot Florida day?

Acai bowl
My acai bowl, which was topped with granola, coconut, dates, strawberries, kiwis, and every other fruit you can think of

Palace

Palace is Ocean Drive’s first and only gay bar and, yes, offers up one hell of a brunch on Sundays. For one fixed price, you get a choice of an entree and unlimited bottomless mimosas. That’s not all! Sunday happens to be a drag brunch. While you’re eating your meal and sipping your drinks, drag queens will perform fantastic dance numbers and keep you smiling and clapping along. Along with the fabulous brunch, the community and atmosphere at Palace was remarkable; it is unlike anything else in Miami Beach.

Palace Miami Huevos Rancheros
That’s the lowest my glass got before the waiter came and refilled it — gotta love bottomless mimosas!

Shepherd Artisan Coffee

Looking for a good, casual coffee shop by South Beach took a Yelp search, which is how we found Shepherd. They’ve got it all, from fancy lattes to plain ol’ cups o’ joe and offer up diverse breakfast and lunch options. I went for a classic two-egg breakfast, which came with eggs, a bagel, a side salad, and a coffee. I decided to upgrade my coffee to iced and the greatest thing happened: they gave me their special, the Cinnamon French Toast latte, instead of my iced coffee, but for no extra charge. Best mistake ever!

Shepherd Artisan Coffee
We sat at one of their outdoor tables, though they have quite a few tables inside too

 

Treat Yo Self!

We all need a cheat meal every once in a while. Whether that “cheat” is on your diet or on your wallet, we all need it! This particular spot focuses more on the latter form of cheating, which is pretty easy to do in Miami.

Poseidon

This self-proclaimed “Greek and seafood restaurant” is exactly what you need for a classy meal in Miami. We were immediately seated and treated to complimentary shots of sambuca, which — despite my love of clear liqueurs — I couldn’t handle. The atmosphere and service were spectacular; I felt extremely classy despite the fact that half my trip to Miami was spent haggling my way into free drinks at bars. I got the seafood pasta, which had shrimp, scallops, mussels, and calamari mixed with a sauce that I probably wouldn’t be able to pronounce and topped with a small branch; I felt like a Beverly Hillbilly, but I loved every bite.

Seafood pasta Poseidon Miami
The presentation of my seafood pasta was on point. Also, on the top left of this photo is the shot of sambuca I just couldn’t drink.

 

Dancin’ the Night Away!

If you’ve seen any movie or TV show that’s set in Miami, you’ll know that its nightlife is outrageous, just one step below Vegas. These are just a handful of nightclubs that this party city has to offer.

Nikki Beach

By day, Nikki Beach is a breathtaking beach club that looks like something out of Bachelor in Paradise. By night, it’s got a pretty hoppin’ vibe. The Pearl — which is attached to Nikki Beach — is a lounge and nightclub with a hip monochromatic white color scheme and good music. If you’re getting hot on the dance floor or just need a break and want to chat with your friends, you can head outside and sit at a table at Nikki Beach. (Pro tip: Do not order water inside the Pearl. Order it at Nikki Beach. Your wallet will thank you.) Nikki Beach also doubles as a cool brunch spot and bar during the day; its cabanas are inviting enough to pull you in.

Nikki Beach Pearl

Nikki Beach

Nikki Beach

LIV

When you ask any local of Miami about the hottest clubs, the three that come to mind are LIV, Story, and E11even. LIV was our first night out in Miami and we were able to get in with a promoter for free. I have to say, this wasn’t my favorite spot. Maybe it was the DJ that performed that night or the crowd, but the vibe wasn’t the best for me. That being said, a lot of people say that LIV is their favorite club, so you should check it out!

Miami LIV nightclub
Source: MiamiAndBeaches,com

Story

On the other hand, my night at Story was a huge step up. My friends and I bought tickets, though a promoter approached us to join his table for free bottle service… Woo! Zeds Dead, a pretty famous DJ, performed that night. I loved the music, the drinks, and the people much more than the people at LIV. I had a little too much fun, but that’s what happens when someone with no self control gets free bottle service.

Story nightclub Miami
Source: Miami New Times

E11EVEN

The night my friends went to E11EVEN was the Night of the Terrible Hangover, so I couldn’t handle it. A lot of people in Miami go to E11EVEN after going to other bars and clubs; it’s where you go to end the night. Unlike the other clubs, this is a strip club. My friend described it as “a strip club, but not sad.” I wish I hadn’t missed going, as I heard it’s an interesting experience, but if you go there, think of me while you toss your dollars in the air.

E11even Miami nightclub
Source: E11even.com

Rockwell

Yet again, I didn’t go to Rockwell, because it was also the Night of the Terrible Hangover. However, according to my friends (and the internet), this club is unique because it has a much more exclusive feel; for that reason, Rockwell is known for its celebrity sightings. That being said, the bouncers will be extra tough on you, so really dress to impress.

Rockwell Miami nightclub
Source: Wantickets.com

 

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Visiting the Harvard Museum of Natural History

Visiting the Harvard Museum of Natural History

This Friday, I was able to take a half day (hooray for vacation rollover!), so I decided to use my time off to do something fun and different. Earlier that weekend, my boyfriend, Matt, found out about the Harvard Museum of Natural History while looking […]

Revisiting D.C.

Revisiting D.C.

I hadn’t planned on going back to D.C. for a long time, but when my boyfriend, Matt, got a great deal from JetBlue, I found myself googling museums and monument locations. I’d only been to D.C. once, in middle school with my parents, and though […]