When I visited Miami for the first time last month, there was one place all the locals encouraged me to visit: the Wynwood art district. And after spending the day in Wynwood, I understand what all the fuss is about. With more than 70 galleries, museums and studio spaces, it’s an artistic gem that represents the best of Miami: colorful, diverse, creative and ever-changing.
The district hosts a weekly art walk on Saturday nights, but it’s worth a visit no matter what day you go. Here are my recommendations for taking in this unique and quirky neighborhood:
Savor a fresh morning brew.
I started out at Panther Coffee, a hip café on NW 2nd Avenue. The specialty cafe roasts coffee beans on-site from small farms in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Brazil and Ethiopia (a process you can watch while you’re waiting for your order). You can choose from coffee brewed by one of five methods ranging from French Press to Vacuum Pot to Chemex, as well as snacks made by local vendors.
I opted for a simple cold brew and an unbelievably tasty spinach and ricotta empanada, which I practically inhaled while sitting on the expansive, shady terrace — a great place to relax and soak in the neighborhood ambience while fueling up for a day of discovery.
Explore the street art and galleries.
From colorful wall murals to upscale galleries, I discovered that the eclectic art in Wynwood shares one thing in common: a taste for the unexpected and imaginative. The neighborhood emits a creative energy that seems to be constantly evolving — in fact, as I continued along NW 2nd Ave, I noticed a few people painting over the mural on an abandoned building, presumably readying a blank canvas for a new masterpiece.
Not long after, I popped inside a few galleries to check out their quirky and extremely expensive collections. The Robert Fontaine Gallery featured interesting pieces made from multicolored paint swatches and computer discs along with more traditional media, while the offbeat Galleria Gum showcased pop-culture-inspired works including celebrity faces etched in glass, creating a cool and slightly creepy 3-D effect. While none of the art was in my budget, it was fun to browse and get a peek into such innovative artists’ brains.
Wander around the Wynwood Walls.
Now for the highlight of my day: visiting the Wynwood Walls. This fascinating open-air art installation serves as the hub of the district and offers a truly unique experience. Nestled within the courtyards, I found impromptu live music, al fresco dining, and indoor galleries and shops. But the star of the show is truly the art — specifically, the huge, vibrant murals that splash each wall with magnificent colors, shapes and stories. Crafted by well-known and emerging artists from around the world, the paintings are as diverse as their creators.
After spending an hour exploring all the different nooks and crannies of this inventive wonderland, I enjoyed a small tapas lunch at Wynwood Kitchen. The eatery is nestled in the corner of one of the courtyards, and its outdoor seating offers panoramic views of the walls. I was a huge fan of the spicy and flavorful succotash, featuring edamame, choclo (Peruvian corn) and cotija cheese, topped with a surprising sprinkle of corn nuts.
Sample a craft beer masterpiece.
A few blocks away from the Walls, I encountered the unassuming warehouse that’s home to Miami’s first craft brewery. Wynwood Brewery celebrated its third anniversary in December, and it’s no wonder: these people love their beer. Michelle, the bartender on duty, told me that it’s a family business; all 23 employees are long-term staff. “We like to educate people about beer,” Michelle told me. “All of us were home brewers before we started working here. At the end of the day, this is our dream.”
The décor of the brewery reflects the neighborhood’s artistic charm – from the funky art on the walls to the spray-can beer taps. While I was there taking advantage of the sweet, sweet air conditioning, I also cooled off with a 4 for $9 flight. My favorites were the popular La Rubia American blonde ale as well as the Father Francisco Belgian ale – both refreshing choices for toasting to a day well spent.
Where to Stay: