Contrary to popular belief, there is a Miami outside of flashy clubs, flamingos and Pitbull. There are hidden clubs, outdoor events , and cultural festivals that I still don’t understand.
But, there is a Miami where Rush Hour meets tourist season; that shows you the sense behind, “305 to my city!” As a native, I’ve found a Miami close to me, that relates to me and doesn’t involve celebrities, overly-priced drinks, or strip clubs at every block; if those sound good to you, check out South Beach or almost any rapper video done after the early 2000s.
The Miami that made me fall in love with my Cuban roots, bust out my dancing feet, and turn off my phone is hidden.
It is scattered through some suburbs and may be a couple of footsteps away from local tourist traps. Miami is a city for everyone, for those willing to look for it.
Miami is a place to find your event, to experience something weekly, monthly or yearly. To try out something new and to get a taste of something local.
These are the 10 best events in Miami:
Miami Beach seems to be the greatest flashback to the age of pastels, neon lights, and Scarface. Aside from its history, the scene is more than the beach and nightclubs.
In the month of December, when you still haven’t shed that Thanksgiving weight and the wind chills your toes in your favorite strappy heels, head to Art Basel.
Art Basel is an international event, with Miami being one of the stages. The three-day annual event showcases the world-renowned talent of Modern and contemporary artists.
Attracting collectors, gallery owners, spectators, and Tumblr girls, Art Basel is a platform for the cultivation of cultures and generations through an artistic medium. It also makes you look super cool on Instagram if your tagged location is super famous. Whether you are an art enthusiast or feel like showing off that Miami winter coat you wear once a year, come out to appreciate contemporary art.
- When: Every year in December
Live Music Fridays @ CubaOcho
The city of Miami is home to more than four Cuban immigration waves.
In West Little Havana lies Calle Ocho, Domino Park, and the best Cuban food in Miami – Versailles. In this part of the city lies strips of neon-lit motels, authentic Cuban sounds, and the best mojitos and cafecito in the world (or so that’s what every bar and cafeteria seem to claim).
In the center of the politics, flavors, and sounds lies CubaOcho.
Perhaps it is best described as Cuban baroque meets surrealism. A place of deep-rooted culture, from the paintings that encircle the venue to the no-two-are-the-same chairs, CubaOcho is a music lounge and a Cuban historical center.
Featuring Cuban painters, a bar and authentic live music every Friday night, CubaOcho is a spot for authentic history, a killer mojito, and raw Cuban sound.
A promoter of the Arts and celebrated Cuban rhythm, CubaOcho is a small taste of the Caiman-shaped island a couple of miles away.
- When: Throughout the month of April
Thursday Blues @ BackRoom Live
Seemingly out of place on 100th and 56th street, lies a place with the rawness only heard from electric blues.
Priding themselves with the finest blues, the musicians feature covers from B.B. King, Muddy Waters, Buddy Guy and a limitless amount of powerful electric blues.
With Darrell Raines on lead and bassist George Caldwell at his side, the duo hands the expression, flow and passion of great blues to the audience.
Order a plate of fresh oysters and a cold Stella (a personal favorite) and sit back. Perhaps what makes it one of the best events in Miami is the soul it brings.
A grungy backroom in the middle of a suburban plaza, BackRoom Live is a place for those seeking something to feel, an atmosphere of depth, impact and refreshing sounds.
Welcoming volunteers to jam, Live Blues Thursdays at the back room of Fish House will serve up a night of the lost school of blues.
- When: Every Thursday night 7:00 p.m. to closing
Giralda Under the Stars
The place where I met my high school sweetheart, unintentionally entered my first bar, and for the first time saw more than ten stars in the Miami Sky, Giralda Under the Stars was my tiny miracle waiting to happen.
Located in the well-reputed Miracle Mile in downtown Coral Gables, Giralda Under the Stars takes place between the months of November to March. Beginning at 9 p.m. the entire block of Giralda is taken over by restaurants and live music, all under starlight.
The event runs from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. the first Friday of the month. Reservations can be made at any featured restaurant, tables placed along the streets.
Local bars also head outside and serve drinks to spectators standing alongside with their ears open to the music.
The event kick starts your taste buds and kicks in your dancing shoes.
- When: The first Friday of every month from November to March
It was said that every month in Miami when the full moon meets Miami Beach, wolves can be heard.
Maybe wolves are a bit of an exaggeration. What can be heard, however, are the sounds of rhythm. Drums pounding in unison, hoola-hoops in motion, and even fire dancing if you’re lucky.
The event features positive vibes and positivity. Amongst all, there is respect for the music. Dancers, drummers, hoopers, spinners, and spectators are welcome. It is a sharing ceremony amongst those with a respect for rhythm and others.
There is drum circle etiquette to take into account, amongst them common etiquette that may be found on their Facebook page (see below).
- When: The full moon of every month
Laser Light Show
If in search for something psychedelic and mildly state altering, the Planetarium, next to Vizcaya and the Metrorail Station, hosts their monthly Laser Light Show.
That Golden age thinking stage of your adolescent years, with band t-shirts and obsessively devoted artist allegiance, makes a comeback.
The first Friday of each month, the Miami Science Museum hosts a laser light show starting at 8:00 p.m. The laser light show is one of my favorite shows in Miami.
It synchronizes bands like Led Zeppelin, Radiohead, Jimi Hendrix and others to the latest laser technology in the dome. There are Pop Family laser shows and midnight shows; tickets can be bought according the schedule.
The Planetarium features a free 7:00 p.m. star show and an $8.00 adult entrance to proceeding shows. With laser glasses and a seat inside the dome, this is a Friday night for those looking for awe-inspiring show.
- Where: Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science (3280 South Miami Avenue Miami, FL 33129)
- When: The first Friday of every month
Peach Fuzz Fridays @ the Garret
Peach Fuzz Friday is your girl’s favorite party. If you don’t believe me or those behind the catchphrase, then I suggest you get your old Chucks and peach fuzz and head to the Garret.
A 21+ bar and venue above Grand Central, the Garret’s Peach Fuzz Friday has DJ DZA spinning tracks from all time periods all over the world.
It’s a dance party, not part of overrated, overpriced, overzealous nightclubs in Miami.
It’s an idea of letting go; reminiscing on the past and moving with the present.
Peach Fuzz Friday moves. There are sound waves spinning all around you, hands thrown in the air, and legs in constant motion. Don’t be that guy. You know, the one not dancing and standing as stiff as can be. What separates Peach Fuzz is the movement away from Miami stereotypes. There aren’t unbelievable covers (more like no covers) and there isn’t even bottle service.
It’s the memories of that teen dance you used to do in your room….dancing without a care in the world!
- When: One Friday each month
Set in Virginia Key, the Grassroots Festival features four days of traditional and contemporary roots.
With live music set across four stages, yoga, dance and music classes, live art and a stay-positive, soul enriching community, the Grassroots Festival welcomes hippies, lovers, and campers.
The atmosphere is peaceful, with a serene and drastically mellifluous sound and a tribe of individuals radiating luminescence.
It’s an event that reminds Millenials of those Woodstock movies; it’s an event that shows you the definition of sonder. There are camping opportunities and sustainability gardens to nature aficionados, Zen Village Healing Arts to those looking for a peace of mind, and a beer garden/vinyl lounge to those hoping to mellow out.
It’s an annual event for those that support local events, conservation, the body, and the spirit.
- Where: Historic Virginia Key Beach Park (4020 Virginia Beach Drive Key Biscayne, FL 33149
- When: To be announced
A Knight-funded organization to promote the literary arts, the O, Miami Poetry Festival hosts month-long events to bring the power of words to Miami.
With a different event occurring throughout different places in the city, the goal of O, Miami is to bring a poem to a person throughout the month.
The O, Miami event is a chance to expand your vocabulary, experience a culture, and visit the best place to meet intelligent men (or so Miami New Times claims). Schedules and timings for events occur year round, but it is the monthly April Festival that attracts the most audiences.
- When: Throughout the month of April
Perhaps the most famous event attracting hundreds of international spectators, the Miami Ultra Music Festival brings a universal language to Electronic Dance Music lovers from all over – music.
With DJs visiting from all around, hypnotizing stage set ups, and barely any elbow room, the music festival sparks boosts of energy. Luckily for you, the music makes Ultra, and the rest of Miami Music Week, one of the best concerts in Miami.
The event features half naked girls, insanely good music, and world-renowned celebrities.
Keeping in mind that we’re no longer in the 1980s, how much more Miami can you get?
- When: March (to be announced)
There’s a reason Miami attracts thousands of tourists each year. There’s a reason why celebrities hit up warm waters, heated venues, and hotter girls.
That’s not the reason behind these Miami events. These events bring something you don’t experience via social media.
It’s not the Miami you’ve learned from movies and magazines.
It’s a Miami with a culture, a past, and a working present.
It’s a Miami to experience something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue. It’s a city with a history, a future, a culture, and limitless waters.
For more Miami events, locations, hangouts, concerts, nightlife and all things Miami, try to keep up! Future articles will be posted regularly.