In Miami, we don’t do seasons. It is hot. And then it is really hot. And, finally, it is so damn hot that opening your car door in the afternoon feels like bungee jumping into a volcano. That is, of course, until the sweet relief of winter (basically, anything below 70°F) greets us. Northerners may be swapping bikinis with boots and begrudgingly waiting for snow to arrive, but we’re gearing up for picnics in the park, days in South Beach and outdoor day drinking at a Miami rooftop bar. Antithetical to the season? Maybe. But after months of hurricanes, hot-as-hell weekends and daily afternoon monsoons, it’s finally our time to enjoy the outdoors and the best Miami beaches. These are the events and activities getting us pumped.
Best things to do in winter in Miami
Play tourist on a walking tour
Sadly, the out-of-towners who sweat through a walking tour of the city seem to know more about the nuances of Miami’s neighborhoods than its residents. This winter, book an outing in South Beach with Miami Culinary Tours, taste “Floribbean” cuisine, and do more than ogle the pretty buildings on Ocean Drive (without perspiring).
Enjoy the life aquatic
Hop in your kayak (or paddleboard) and choose from several available routes that take you through junglelike mangroves or along the open waters of Biscayne Bay.
What started as some gallery hopping with a side of free wine has turned into an all-out block party with food trucks, local vendors and thick crowds flowing in and out of Wynwood’s many watering holes. Arrive early (it officially starts at 6pm on the second Saturday of each month) to beat the lines and catch some art (which isn’t hard to do since it covers Wynwood’s buildings). Don’t forget to meander through the famous Wynwood Walls—a stroll in the outdoor museum is particularly charming on a chilly winter evening.
For a cheaper, less stuffy alternative to your typical country-club greens check out one of Miami’s Frisbee golf courses. Fling discs on an 18-hole course in the woods in Hialeah, Florida, at Amelia Earhart Park, or take your efforts beachfront at the Historic Virginia Key Beach Park, where a nine-hole course is just a few steps from the sand.
Finally, no more side-eye for the cheerful hostess who asks if you’d like a table outdoors. (Do we look like we want to sweat through our meal?) This season, in addition to lunching and drinking on Lincoln Road and happy hours along Miracle Mile’s brand-spanking-new promenade, you can plan an afternoon at PAMM’s Cucuyo, a new cocoon-shaped café and architectural art piece located outside the museum. Grab sandwiches, coffee and snacks, and park yourself on the bayside steps or at the adjacent Museum Park to finally have that picnic you’ve been looking forward to all year.
For a taste of the old Homestead, with its abundant fruit orchards and crop fields, visit the family-run Knaus Berry Farm. You can still pick your own strawberries and tomatoes here, but most people come for the quaint bakery. From November through April, Knaus Berry Farm is the place to score homemade (and hugely addictive) cinnamon rolls, pineapple upside-down cake and fruit milkshakes.
If you thought potholes were hazardous to cyclists, you haven’t biked through Shark Valley. The scenic 15-mile loop that runs through the heart of Everglades National Park is strewed with alligators soaking up the rays. While breathtaking, this sector of the large national park offers zero protection from the elements (it is, simply, hot as hell); it’s best to attempt a ride on a cool day.
Celebrate Christmas with chimps
Every year, Santa Claus pays an early visit to the adorable primates at Lion Country Safari, packing his canoe with presents (it’s Florida, after all) and delivering them to the small island the chimps inhabit within the cageless zoo. Watch the chimps’ faces light up as they shake boxes and tear through wrapping paper faster than a kid on Christmas morning. Lion Country Safari, 2003 Lion Country Safari Rd, Loxahatchee, FL (561-793-1084, lioncountrysafari.com)
On the nights the temperature dips below 60°F, warm up Cuban-style at La Palma Cafeteria in West Miami. Skip the dining room and head straight to the cafecito window to order rich, nearly spoonable hot chocolate (the secret is evaporated milk) and warm, fried churros for dipping. It’s a Miami wintertime tradition that’s worth the long line. Ordering to go? Buy a gallon of hot chocolate for just $12.
Downward dog in nature
Come winter, your beloved gratis outdoor yoga sessions feel a little less like Bikram and a little more like the vinyasa flow they’re meant to be. And with classes available in nearly every corner of the city, you have your pick of day and “studio,” including Mondays and Wednesdays at Bayfront Pavilion and Tuesdays and Thursdays in Peacock Park.