The best weekend getaway in Florida has to include the perfect balance of sunshine, the art scene, the iconic Miami beaches, Latin culture, beautiful people and mouthwatering food. An escape to South Beach, Miami exposed me to all of these essential elements. It also opened up my eyes to the explosive fitness scene that was waiting in South Beach. It was a weekend replete with healthy food, yoga, fitness and cultural immersion.
A Weekend Getaway in Florida
Getting to Miami
Fly right into the Miami International Airport from any direction, depending on where you are staying and what your itinerary is, you’ll want to look into renting a car. Search flights to Miami.
The Gates Hotel
If you are wondering where to stay in South Beach, you will find that there is no shortage of high-end, boutique and even local hotels. My stay at The Gates Hotel South Beach was perfect for a lot of reasons, but mostly because it is located in the heart of South Beach on Collins Avenue with great access to the beach and many hot spots in South Beach, as well as quick access to downtown Miami. The hotel is also located about nine miles North of the airport.
The Gates Hotel South Beach, a Double Tree by Hilton property, is a quintessential Miami hotel. You are greeted by the trademark smell of freshly baked cookies and welcomed into the modern hotel by way of a beautifully expansive lobby, lounge bar, guest gathering spot and outdoor pool, dining and lounge area. The décor is fresh and modern with pops of pastel colours, clean lines, lots of texture and cheeky local art that feels whimsical and very Miami.
The property has 235 guest rooms, including 17 suites. My room was ample, full of natural light, and I found the king-size bed to be a welcome reprieve at the end of each long day.
The Gates Hotel South Beach happily accommodates corporate guests as well as guests on holiday, there is plenty of meeting space both inside and outside. I particularly loved the rooftop decks at various levels outside.
My favourite part about this stay and property was the vintage feel I got from the décor and the space. The pool area spans the entire outdoor courtyard and is flanked on all sides with cozy lounge areas decked in Miami colours. The outdoor bar is the perfect place to grab a drink any time, meals are served from Agaveros Cantina, the restaurant on property, both indoors and outside under stringed lights and poolside. I enjoyed breakfast by the pool one morning and had the pool all to myself.
Wynwood Walking Tour
I wouldn’t even dream of visiting Miami without a trip to the Wynwood Walls art walk. Be sure to carve out a whole day to explore this incredibly inspiring neighbourhood. In visits past, I have wandered the streets of Wynwood solo which has its advantages. This trip, I opted for a guided tour of Wynwood to learn more about the artists, the food, and the culture of the neighbourhood made famous by Art Basel.
I explored Wynwood with an incredibly charming and knowledgeable guide named Mirka from Miami Culinary Tours. We made our way through the painted streets stopping to gaze at the murals. We also experienced the variety of culinary offerings at the Wynwood restaurants including Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, where we tasted really incredible empanadas, GKB, where the ceviche and quinoa salad are amazing.
Zak the Baker was next up. It’s a bakery you must put on your list, serving heavenly Bourekas (I challenge you to have just one), Jimmy’s Kitchen, where I tried the house specialty Monfongo, and the grand finale, Fireman Derek’s Bake Shop & Cakes, where I feasted on the perfect key lime pie. This tour was a highlight of my trip and I highly recommend it.
Healthy Food in Miami
I love how easy it is to be vegetarian in Miami and South Beach, and to eat healthy in general. One of my favourite local chains, Joe and the Juice is a short drive from The Gates South Beach and they serve beautiful sandwiches on a thin, cracker bread that is gluten-free and packed with healthy and organic goodness.
Raw Juice | 959 West Ave, Suite 13, Miami Beach
Before my Youfit workout I stopped at Raw Juice, a beautiful all natural, vegan and vegetarian café with the most beautiful dragon fruit “Papaya Bowl” and delicious fresh coconut water with hearty coconut meat floating in it – these are made fresh daily and I had one at the café and took another one to the gym for after my workout.
Organic Bites | 7010 Biscayne Blvd, Miami Beach
A stop at Organic Bites for breakfast, lunch or dinner is a great idea. This was my post workout brunch choice; I enjoyed a wheatgrass shot, fresh juices, and a delicious salad with an organic vegetable soup.
DIRT Miami | 232 5th St, Miami Beach
DIRT Miami is another favourite of mine, the farm-to-counter concept is casual and the eating is clean and organic. Definitely try the Dirty Vegan Bowl and the Avo-Kale Tostada, these are my favourite and so delicious.
Plnthouse | 1609, 2341 Collins Ave, Miami Beach
My last meal of this trip included one of the most delicious veggie burgers I’ve had in a long time, at Plnthouse located in 1 Hotel South Beach. This completely vegan restaurant has a menu that I have a hard time choosing from, the décor is Instagram-able and the outside terrace has a spectacular view of the beach and pool.
Staying Fit in Miami
Staying fit in Miami is easy, and studies show that Florida was one of two states last year that improved the most in the direction of health and fitness.
Youfit Health Clubs, founded in Miami, is making fitness accessible to everyone. The community they have nurtured since opening the first gym has become a great testament to what can happen when you make your mission about people.
It is impossible to be unhappy and unmotivated when you walk into a Youfit Health Club; by design in large part, the staff smiles, the space glows in its trademark lime green and purple, and every single person working out is happy to be there. This culture is intentional, and created from the bottom up. J.J. Creegan, who was once an employee picking up weights off of the gym floor is now the Chief Operating Officer and biggest champion for the now 113 gyms across 15 states, its members and his “home away from home,” and tribe. He literally has spent his lifetime putting his heart into this company, and you can feel this when you walk into each one of the Youfit locations.
A basic membership starts at just $USD10 per month and includes full access to the gym, making it very accessible. YouGX Group Exercise Classes include Zumba, Pilates, Yoga, Barre, Cardio Kickbox, Circuit Training, Cycle, and more. Members also have access to a personal YouCoach which includes a team of personal trainers that meet with members to assess their fitness level, goals and intentions and concerns and then they create a special fitness plan for the member utilising the gym and services available.
I spent one morning with James, my YouCoach for the day, and I was so impressed with his patience and his knowledge about the body, various fitness modalities and nutrition. These were all important topics that we discussed during my private session with him. Because I identified heart health and cardio as one of my goals, he walked me through a handful of exercises while he watched me perform each one and made careful notes about alignment, my strengths and weaknesses and how each one made me feel. After our 30-minute session we discussed the plan and James showed me around the gym and shared his expertise for implementing the plan on a daily basis. This personal touch was a meaningful one. I’ve been guilty of joining gyms in the past and feeling overwhelmed with the options or unaware of what I should be doing and the memberships don’t last. At Youfit the goal is to keep members informed and inspired to create a personal fitness journey and stick with it, and the gyms and memberships come with personal cheerleaders to help you do this.
We were also treated to a sunrise yoga class during our stay in South Beach which was a beautiful and refreshing way to start the day.
This escape to South Beach Miami was a welcome getaway, a reminder that travelling can include healthy choices and fitness gains and even eating healthy can be easy and delicious when you are away from the comforts of home, especially in South Beach Miami.
The Fit Traveller was a guest of Youfit Health Clubs for this trip to Miami. As always, our opinions, words and images are authentically our own.
Pat Russo is a Mystic, Muse, and Spiritual Teacher guiding women into their hearts with a journey of softening. She is a published poet, a lover of hearts, and a forever student.
Feeling the impossibility of choosing between her two favorite cities, she considers San Francisco and Paris home.