Miami is like an alligator interrupting your daily toiletries in the morning, dolphins dancing in the horizon, and stars shimmering on the tide.

Miami Personal Stories

Trust Me, I’m a Local: Luca Ciklovan

Whether or not you take Will Smith’s word for it, the Art Deco debauchery of South Beach, year round warm weather, and exotic cultural atmosphere and cuisine stemming from large Cuban and Haitian populations all make Miami as an exemplary American melting pot. However, often overshadowed by the glamour and glitz of South Beach, Miami’s softer side – found in its unique natural landscapes – can alone make a trip worthwhile. And this connection to nature has enriched my experience living in the Sunshine State for 18 years.

Miami is one of the few places that offers visitors the chance to see some breathtaking natural occurrences: from the Everglades to the crystal clear blues of the Atlantic and its coral reef underbelly. The beauty of these natural sites can then be compared only to the glitz and glamour of the world’s most expensive clubs. No other city strikes this duality quite like the Magic City.

(Carolyn Sugg/Flickr Creative Commons)
(Carolyn Sugg/Flickr Creative Commons)

Inspired to experience the city like a local? Better start checking out flights to Miami!

One of the best ways to explore the wild side of South Florida is through an Outward Bound program, a high school experience of mine that has remained with me ever since. These programs, located just a short drive from Miami, are essentially week long courses, usually in a group setting with friends, in sailing, canoeing, and camping that double as perhaps the most intimate tour of the Everglades National Park and The Ten Thousand Islands National Wildlife Refuge possible. Nothing can familiarize you with an area and figure out your place in the universe quite  like an alligator interrupting your daily toiletries in the morning, dolphins dancing of in the horizon during the day, and a full canopy of stars shimmering on the tide to shed some light for late night conversations with close friends.

If you’re up for a less intensive way to see some of the Everglades’ natural beauty, airboat tours are provided by a number of companies, and biking adventures through Shark Valley Trail offer another way explore the teeming swamps of South Florida that are definitely worth seeing.

Closer to home in metropolitan Miami, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and The Kampong Garden, to name just two sites, feature rare tropical plant collections aesthetically arranged to take your breath away and give it right back with some large scale photosynthesis.

(Matthew Baran/Flickr Creative Commons)
(Matthew Baran/Flickr Creative Commons)

But after a long day of finding oneself in nature, Miami ultimately wouldn’t be Miami without losing yourself  in the social and art scene of South Beach…and we go hard.

With its neon lights, old jalopies, and scantily clad crowd, South Beach really feels like a snapshot of the 80’s.

As beach goers toss a volleyball around and local musicians busk near the waves, there’s always a festive aura pervading the area that never fails to invite me, along with thousands across the world, to forget about the world’s troubles and just take it easy. South Beach, being the beacon of forgetfulness we all need once in awhile, puts you into contact with cultures and peoples from all across the world, and hence has been a great way, in my experience, to meet people of all walks of life and expand your horizons all while having a good time.

(Claudio Bagliani/Flickr Creative Commons)
(Claudio Bagliani/Flickr Creative Commons)

Equally important and not too far from South Beach lies Wynwood, a neighborhood renowned for its historic art scene, that holds monthly art walks on the second Saturday of every month, allowing visitors to parade through its various exhibits, public murals, and pick at local food trucks. This festive side of Miami, though vastly different from its business or even nature settings, is, for me, an integral part of what it means be from here, and these cultural sites have really imprinted themselves in the general laissez-faire attitude that pervades the populace.

Ultimately, regardless of whether or not you speak Spanish, Haitian, or English, Miamians always come together through the globally shared language of partying; yet, it is often not a party of forgetfulness, but rather a celebration of the natural world around us and the moments such scenic places provide, and that is what makes Miami, to me, one of the most special places on Earth.



Luka Ciklovan

Author: Luka Ciklovan

Human who helps humans help humans through writing. Oh yeah, also a freelance writer for Arts, Culture, and Entertainment and activist for the humane treatment of video games.

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