A Morning Walk on South of Fifth

After months of sheltering at home due to the global pandemic, this weekend we ventured out to one of the beautiful neighborhoods right in our backyard. South of Fifth, known to the locals as SoFi, is a small and affluent neighborhood in South Beach, Miami Beach. Surrounded by water, modern and historic apartment buildings, iconic restaurants, marinas, and the beach, Sofi is a highly desirable place to live and play in Miami.

This “walkable” neighborhood goes from South Point Park, the southern tip of Miami Beach, north to 5th street from east to west. Once a dying area of Miami Beach, SoFi came to life in the early 1990’s when a German man, Thomas Kramer, envisioned creating a tropical version of New York’s Battery Park City. His vision transformed this once seedy and crime ridden neighborhood into a Miami gem.

You can live in a city for years and still be surprised by its beauty. I often take for granted that I live in a place most people consider paradise. This morning’s walk reminded me of how lucky we are to be able to enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds us. Walking on a serene path along the beach I felt a sense of peace and contentment. The beach, with its powdery white sand and tranquil ocean, was devoid of crowds in the early morning hours–just the way I like it.

Thoughts of the sadness, turmoil, and worldwide devastation that the year 2020 embedded in my heart and mind disappeared, if only for a moment.

At the end of South Pointe Park is South Point Pier. You can fish, enjoy a sunset, watch the cruise ships sail out to sea, catch a glimpse of dolphins, or relax and take in the view.

Standing 55 feet tall is the quirky “obstinate lighthouse” greeting visitors and locals with a choreographed light display. This lighthouse, by artist Tobias Rehberger, is the 18th art installation in the Art in Public Places Project started in 1979 with the Mermaid, by Roy Lichtenstein.

One of my favorite things in any urban hike is meeting interesting people. Although Covid has limited the opportunity to engage in friendly chatter with strangers, we managed to meet a couple and their unique pet. We met Jolly Roger, an adorable and friendly mini pig, who charmed and delighted my husband. Now to convince him that we don’t need an addition to our family! Though I must admit, Jolly Roger was very cute.

In a neighborhood where modern luxury high rises coexist in perfect harmony with historic art deco buildings, with the panoramic view of the Atlantic Ocean, Biscayne Bay, Fisher Island, and downtown Miami, it’s easy to see why Sofi attracts locals and foreigners alike.

Wynwood, Graffiti Wonderland

In an effort to revitalize a Miami warehouse district, Wynwood Walls became the project of the late neighborhood restorer Tony Goldman.  His idea was to resuscitate Wynwood by bringing the under recognized art form of graffiti and street art to its warehouse walls.  The idea brought to life this Miami neighborhood, making it one of the most visited by tourists and natives alike, and a haven for artists worldwide.

Map Wynwood

Walking the streets of this urban outdoor art gallery is a visual treat.  One of my favorite murals reminded me of one of my favorite cities, New York.  I later learned that the scene is a NY scene created by Brooklyn, NY native Logan Hicks. Hicks creates his murals from templates based on his photographs.  The end result is a mural which makes you want to jump into that city scene.

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If you build it, they will come.  Art revived a dying neighborhood, and with the art came trendy eateries, shops, and micro-breweries making Wynwood one of the hippest places to visit in Miami.  While running from a downpour, we came across a restaurant opened just three months ago Kyu, a modern Asian fusion eatery.  We had some interesting and delicious appetizers–pork belly on a steamed bun, soft shell crab on steamed bun, roasted cauliflower and goat cheese, and spicy Korean fried chicken.  The environment is relaxed, with an organic industrial vibe.

If walls could talk!  The walls of Wynwood speak volumes. Stories of love, despair, happiness, sex, war, life, passion fill every corner of these streets.

We especially enjoyed the messages right at our feet.  Words stamped in concrete, some inspirational, some political, some purely whimsical.

It took the vision of one man to completely transform a decaying neighborhood.  Makes you think how much one person can inspire change.  Whenever you think, I’m only one person, what can I do?,  think again.

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