As a lover of neon, street art, and graffiti murals the size of entire buildings, I was very eager to check out the Wynwood Art District in Miami, Florida. Sporting my most comfortable walking sandals, a fully charged iPhone XS Max, a small cross-body bag, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, and aluminum water bottle, I felt ready to take to the streets in search of engulfing myself in the neon, Miami, street art culture. First, stop, the curated urban collection residing inside of the Wynwood Walls.
Just stepping out of the car after we secured a spot on a street side, I noticed that art was already surrounding me from right to left, and top to bottom, including under the tips of my toes.
WHERE IS THE LOVE? Two words. Wynwood Walls.
As we entered into Wynwood Walls, I squealed in jaw dropping delight at the vibrant colors swirling all around me. I’d already warned my friends, Sonny and Trina, that sightseeing with me can be like taking a journey with a butterfly. There one moment and gone the next. I’ll let the images speak for themselves despite the fact even the best camera can’t capture what it is like to physically stand before these ginormous works of art.
Some people become cops because they want to make the world a better place. Some people become vandals because they want to make the world a better looking place.”
― Banksy, Wall and Piece
Then came the paradise of galleries that made me wish I had unlimited funds to purchase the painted of dreams and thoughts of the pieces that spoke to me. Some pieces speak more loudly than others, with a few that whispered gently into the depths of my creative soul. And then, there were the ones that tugged at the tips of my fingers, inspiring me to go home and create a worded, neon vision of my own.
“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish… but that’s only if it’s done properly.”
― Banksy, Wall and Piece
Photography is about finding things. And painting is different – it’s about making something. – Saul Leiter
After about an hour of roaming around with iPhone in hand in the heat of the high 70’s temperature, we were ready to fuel up on iced brewed coffee (I take mine with a splash of half and half or coconut cream and a packet of stevia), take a bathroom break, and sit in the shade. Our stop of choice was Panther Coffee.
Ready to take on more sightseeing and shopping, we continued to roam the streets. It didn’t take long for me to spot a few shops I knew we would need to check out. I’ve never seen a gift shop I didn’t like. Many of the shops had local artisans on-site to talk about how they craft their, which was cool. One of my favorites was the Wynwood Shop. I was delighted at the range of selections from Fuenmayor Art (super cool illustrations), to handcrafted jewelry from Le Chic Boutique, custom Pearl Jam flannels, and other fun tchotchkes like decorated cans of spray paint by RodriDesigns.
“Whoever said money can’t buy happiness simply didn’t know where to go shopping.” -Bo Derek
I also really enjoyed the Nomad Tribe Shop, which mainly carries clothing and accessories made with ethical and sustainability standards with a focus on turning textile waste into new products. A representative from Article22 was on hand to explain to us how their jewelry is made. From bomb to bracelet, this jewelry line is a transformative story of turning a negative into a positive. When it comes to jewelry, I love statement pieces and this store had many selections to choose from. Bonus at this stop: POPSICLES!
One of my favorite part of traveling is finding new spots to eat. As we continued walking, darting down alleyways for more photo ops and squeezing through fences to “get the shot”, we decided it was time to find a place to have lunch. We stumbled upon the Wynwood Arcade, which is fused with independent retailers, specialty shops and eateries. We were drawn to the artwork and colors of OOH RAW, a fast-casual alternative that provides fresh, healthy, and authentic Hawaiian style poké, açaí and juices. There was a group of young women exiting and we stood outside contemplating our choices that told us we HAD to go in, the food was delicious. If this spot was located back home in my office building, I would eat there every single day.
With full bellies and refilled water bottles, we took back to the streets for more art and shops. I was worried my friends Sonny and Trina might be bored showing me a neighborhood they frequently visit. Apparently the artwork all around this neighborhood changes out frequently, which makes frequent trips to the area a new experience each time.
UNITE IN LOVE
While we easily got in our 10,000 steps, there was no way to see all of Wynwood in one day. If you are planning a trip to Miami, your trip will not be complete without a stop in the Wynwood Art District. And if you’re lucky you might even just spot an artist at work.