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You all have the song Miami stuck in your head now, right? Good, because that’s how I felt for weeks after Visit Florida and iHeartRadio invited me to Miami to be a part of the Ultimate Summer Pool Party. I literally could not have jumped up out of my seat fast enough to accept that invitation. First of all, I am a lover of both pools and parties, as any reader of this blog is well aware. Second of all, I have a deep and not-at-all shameful love of Ke$ha, one of the show’s headliners. And finally, Miami is a city that I’ve had a long running obsession with. Despite having never been prior to this trip, I always had a feeling this was a city with the potential to be my home if I ever when I finally settle down.

I love myself a big metropolis — something about all that urban energy really gets me going. But I’ve also accepted that I’m happiest when I live my life outdoors and in the sun, and preferably next to a big beautiful ocean. I want to live somewhere where I can attend a cutting edge gallery opening on Friday night and then go SUPing on Saturday morning. There are a few places on Earth that I can think of that fill both criteria, and I hope I’ll call one of them home someday — Barcelona, Honolulu, Rio de Janiero…. and Miami.

Going to MiamiI have the best girlfriends

When the day finally arrived and my cab raced towards downtown Miami, I realized I loved the city already. From the airport to downtown in twelve minutes? Palm trees swaying in the hot, sticky air? Cuban reggae on the radio? Yes, yes, and sí, mami!

While I was officially in town for the weekend’s events, I flew down on Wednesday to spend time with my cousin Eric first. Eric’s modeling career has kept him on the move (way to siphon away all the good genes in the family, jeez!) and so we hadn’t seen each other in a couple years. Now that he is finally settled in Miami, along with my family in Tampa I’m thrilled to have two excuses to visit relatives in the Sunshine State.

Eric’s digs at the Icon building downtown had me practically dragging my jaw across the floor. When he told me what he paid for it, it drooped even further. Florida real estate is shockingly affordable compared to its counterparts in New York and California. Let’s just say that I could live in a windowless closet in Manhattan for what it costs to reside in a building like this in downtown Miami!

Icon Building Miami

Icon Building Miami

While we spent most of our time lounging around Icon and working out at Eric’s gym — he’s also a personal trainer — we did get out to explore a little bit of Miami Beach. Despite the cloudy weather I was able to enjoy many of the what would soon be my favorite Miami activities — and by that I mean gratuitous exclamations over Art Deco architecture, standing with my toes in the sand with a skyline behind me and an ocean in front of me, and sipping down multiple rounds of mojitos.

Yes, I could get used to this.

Vivia Miami Store Front

Miami Beach Lifeguard Stand

Thursday night we hopped down to South Beach — cue several rounds of me trying on different outfits and forcing Eric to answer the question dreaded by males everywhere, “IS THIS WHAT PEOPLE WEAR IN [INSERT LOCATION HERE]?!” Things kicked off with drinks at The Broken Shaker, the buzzed-about bar in the garden of the Freehand Hostel. While the prices didn’t strike me as hostel-like ($14 for a cocktail!) the atmosphere was incredibly enticing. The pool was lined with strings of bulb lights, kitschy plastic flamingos, retro furniture, and painfully good looking people.

Freehand Miami

I could have stayed there all night if we weren’t late to meet my dear friend Andi over at SLS for her husband’s over-the-top birthday celebrations. This was the moment in the night where I realized that The Broken Shaker perhaps had been a decent deal. Good thing everyone in Miami has such affordable rent, because I’m not sure how else they afford $23 vodka red bulls!

SLS Miami

Friday morning I woke up to blue skies and a shining sun — just in time for the weekend! Andi and her crew were spending the day poolside at a cabana at the Loews Miami, and I was all too happy to take her up on her offer to join them.

Loews Miami

By mid afternoon it was time for my official weekend itinerary to start, so I hopped in a cab up to Fountainbleau (New Yorkers, take note — cabs in Miami are cash only!) So far I had had the chance to peek into a few of Miami’s finest hotels, and let me tell you — Fountainbleau stands high among them. While this iconic hotel has been a part of the Miami skyline for more than fifty years, it has enough modern touches to wow even the most jaded traveler. My favorite details were the bow-tie tiles in the lobby and the complimentary iMacs and internet in each room. Hotels of America, please take note — free internet means copious Tweets and Instagrams declaring love for your establishment!

The Fountainbleau Hotel Miami

The Fountainbleau Hotel Miami

The best part of the day was being joined by my guest for the weekend, my childhood best friend Kristin. This girl is absolutely terrified to fly and so when I presented her with a weekend in Miami as a graduation gift from her Master’s of Public Health program, I wasn’t sure if she wanted to thank me or stab me. Thanks to a flirty flight attendant feeding her vodka tonics while slipping her his number (can you blame him?), she made it to Miami sans mental breakdown.

And that was well worthy of a champagne nutella gelato toast poolside, don’t you think?

Friends by the Pool at the Fountainbleau

iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party in Miami

Friends by the Pool at the Fountainbleau

Soon it was time to assemble for the kickoff party to the weekend events, a cocktail party at the Eden Roc with our hosts. Nighttime looks good on Miami, don’t you think?

Fountainblea Pool Day and Night

Visit Florida Blogger Weekend

I had been pretty excited about this weekend right from the get-go, but when I found out that long time blog buddies Kristin and Angie (who I hung with in Kauai back in October) were going to be there, things got a little out of hand. Like, a spontaneous dance party in my kitchen followed by intercontinental “SHUT UP” style text exchanges out of hand.

Here they are looking adorable in the limo bus that brought us to the Delano for dinner. Wouldn’t you want to hang out with these cuties all weekend?

Visit Florida Blogger Weekend

Dinner at Bianca at the Delano was fantastic. There was Miami glamor in the air and delicious food on the table — I was a happy girl indeed. I continued my gelato tour of the city with a dessert of the Amaretto flavor variety, which I’d gladly make a return trip to Bianca just to taste again.

Dinner at Bianca at the Delano

Dinner at Bianca at the Delano

Back at the Fountainbleau, we checked out iHeartRadio’s Welcome Party. Our VIP passes gave us access to a special area with a great view over the concert lawn, but to be honest we turned in fairly early. It was a big day, with an even bigger one looming!

iHeartRadio Kickoff Party

iHeartRadio Kickoff Party

Saturday kicked off with a blogger forum — I don’t know about you, but when I’m preparing my notes for  a “forum” I picture a conference room and three ring binders. Well, our friends at Visit Florida have a different visions of a forum, and it involves yachts. I’m thinking their versions wins.

It was a great morning out on the water and I really enjoyed our talk about travel and media and reaching out to millennials and the many other topics that I am passionate about but mostly end up discussing with my dog Tucker.

Breakfast on a Yacht

Breakfast on a Yacht

Back on land, we headed straight to the pool for the second annual Ultimate Daytime Pool Party. I kind of felt like I was in the middle of an MTV Spring Break party — the kind I wasn’t allowed to watch when I was younger — and I loved it. Music reverberated from the speakers, drinks flowed freely, big white beach balls soared through the air, and hot people in bikinis splashed each other in the pool.

It was the Miami I always dreamed of.

iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party in Miami

iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party in Miami

Visit Florida had a sweet cabana set up by the stage where we snarfed down Dippin’ Dots, spied on celebrity presenters and took turns cooling off in the giant ice chair. And no, Kristin and I did not plan to match bikinis. But after more than a decade of friendship, I guess we have a little ESP going on.

iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party in Miami

As I’m pretty relaxed when it comes to concepts like “germs” and “hygiene,” I had absolutely no qualms about jumping into a pool filled with sweaty, boozing people. And neither, it seems, did Jason Derulo, who jumped right into the water to finish off his last set from the shallow end. For fantastic stage presence (or should I say pool presence), most impressive backup dancers and a great all around set, Jason was my favorite performer of the day — though Icona Pop and Krewella did give him a run for the title.

I managed to record a short clip of the action thanks to my waterproof iPhone case, which was worth it just to see the reaction of fellow blogger Adam and his guest Denise when I whipped out my smartphone in the pool.

iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party in Miami

iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party in Miami

I was actually relieved that the pools closed at 4pm, forcing us to go inside and rest before the big concert that night.  The group reconvened again for a lovely dinner at Gotham Steakhouse, right inside the Fountainbleau. Good thing I was wearing a corset and therefore had to regulate what I was eating somewhat — otherwise I may have rolled right out of that steakhouse.

Dinner at Gotham at the Fountainbleau

Dinner at Gotham at the Fountainbleau

Post dinner, we headed to the Meet and Greet room to line up and have our photos taken with various artists. I was assigned to meet with Icona Pop, and they could not have been more warm and lovely. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to be photographed with Ke$ha though, so I snuck my way into that line as well — I think Ke$h would approve, no? That photo op was a bit more rushed and let’s just say that one of the handlers made a green “only green M&M’s!” joke — amazing what a difference a few years of notoriety can make!

iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party

iHeartRadio Summer Pool Party

The concert, held out on the main lawn of the Fountainbleau, was a parade of celebrities from presenters Miley Cyrus, LL Cool J and Enrique Iglesias to performers Afrojack, Pitbull and miss Ke$ha herself. We alternated between cooling off and sipping drinks in the VIP section, elbowing our way stage-side through the sea of fans, and playing in the iHeartRadio photo booth.

iHeartRadio Summer Concert

iHeartRadio Summer Concert

iHeartRadio Summer Concert

While I was admittedly shocked by some of Ke$ha’s onstage vulgarity, I can’t argue with the fact that this chick is a fantastic performer and in my opinion a very shrewd businesswoman (I’m still waiting for her announcement that her career has been a well-crafted piece of performance art.) The crowd favorite, however, was undoubtedly the “Mayor of Miami,” Pitbull himself. I never realized how many of the songs I love to sing along to on the radio are his and I cheered louder than anyone when he called out to the crowd, “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas, but what happens in Miami… never happened!”

iHeartRadio Summer Concert

iHeartRadio

We ended up bouncing out before Pitbull’s set was over, my one sad moment of the weekend. It was a fair trade off though, as we were walked through the velvet ropes into LIV, one of Miami’s hottest nightclubs — with the long lines, high prices and short skirts to prove it. We stayed out a perhaps a little too late and threw back perhaps a few too many cocktails, but how else could a night that included a Ke$ha concert possibly end?

LIV Nightclub at the Fountainbleau

LIV Nightclub at the Fountainbleau

Sunday found us recovering by the sea before heading back to our respective flights. As I dunked headfirst into the salty wave — my personal favorite hangover cure — I couldn’t help but think how Miami really has it all. A turquoise ocean, a trendy downtown, a kickin’ nightlife and unique brands of style and culture and history to boot. I know I’ll be back to Miami — and I can’t help but flirt with the idea that someday, it might be for good.

I only came for two days of playing
But every time I come I always wind up staying
This the type of town I could spend a few days in…*

Beach at the Fountainbleau

Beach at the Fountainbleau

* Yes, indeed. I did quote Will Smith twice in one post. Next question.

Many thanks to iHeartRadio and VISITFLORIDA for their amazing hospitality. Kristin and I were official guests of the event and as always, all thoughts and opinions (and gratuitous Will Smith references) are my own.

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42 Comments...
  • Zoe
    July 11 2013

    good post ! I like seeing the whole thing in one big shabam. reminds me that you really were in and out with so much JAM PACKED inbetween!

    and thanks for the will smith song which will be in my head alllll damn dayyyyy

    • Alex
      July 11 2013

      Actually I have come to appreciate that song much more while writing this post. There is some lyrical genius up in there! So don’t thank me… thank Mr. Smith.

  • Kristen Noelle
    July 11 2013

    Whewwww what a kick ass time. I’ve flirted quite heavily with living in the “Yayo” (as my friends and I call it) too, and after a weekend like that…who wouldn’t want to live there!? You are so owning that yacht, by the way *inserts cool emoji with shades*

    • Alex
      July 11 2013

      Oh yes… I have one just like it at home! (Not.) Ha, I hope there is a lot more Miami in my future!

  • Kristin
    July 11 2013

    I am so happy I could be your partner in crime once again 🙂 Miss you already!

    • Alex
      July 11 2013

      Miss you too chica! We need to start planning our next trip 🙂

  • Sarah Somewhere
    July 11 2013

    Phew! Im exhausted! Looks like you had an absolute blast!
    Sarah Somewhere recently posted..School’s out for Summer! Instagram photo reel

    • Alex
      July 11 2013

      Ha, believe me… that’s how I felt when I got on the plane back to New York! (And then twenty four hours later, when I got on the plane back to Indo!)

  • I am soooo happy that we got to spend unexpected time together!!! It was beyond awesome to see you darling! Thanks for the sweet shout outs. Glad you had such an amazing time in MIA. I could so live there if I was rich!!!
    Andi of My Beautiful Adventures recently posted..Meadows of Dan, Virginia: Day 1

    • Alex
      July 11 2013

      Well you definitely threw the most glamorous and luxurious birthday weekend I’ve ever heard of! But I wouldn’t expect any less!

  • Wow I’m exhausted just reading this! Sounds like a jam-packed few days. You look so pretty and happy in all the pictures. PS Is it just me or are you always surrounded by gorgeous men?!
    Michelle | Lights Camera Travel recently posted..A Lesson in Balinese Cookery

    • Alex
      July 13 2013

      Ha, I suppose that is my lot in life! What a burden! And yup — I was definitely wiped out after this trip, but it was well worth it.

  • Camels & Chocolate
    July 11 2013

    There we are with Ke$ha. NBD.

    I love every one of these photos, words, etc. Can we do it again…this time in Indo?

    • Alex
      July 13 2013

      I’m in! Oh except for this pesky little thing going on right now called Ramadan. I don’t think Ke$ha would be down… the whole music off at 11pm and not screaming obscenities onstage might cramp her style 🙂

  • John Bourke
    July 12 2013

    Alex,What a pleasure.Your magnificent photographic ability and your love of life made this blog especially special for this old guy(but new subscriber)I like south Beach,and Miami.I enjoyed seeing you enjoy it…a vacation for me sitting on my couch.Great job.Hey, did ya get any”ink”? Stay safe, john

    • Alex
      July 13 2013

      If you mean tattoos… no I did not and good thing or my Dad might disown me! Thanks for reading!

  • Dad
    July 12 2013

    I would have thought your professional model/personal trainer cousin would have merited more than one picture….well, nice to see Eric. It is good to learn that the Fountainbleau has maintained its iconic status as a one of a kind destination.

    • Alex
      July 13 2013

      Ha. He has enough pictures of himself! Just realizing now it must have been years since you guys have seen each other.

  • Jade
    July 12 2013

    Ultimate is definitely the right word!! Looks like it was an incredible weekend.
    It’s always amazing when you find a place that you really feel at home in…

    • Alex
      July 13 2013

      Totally, and I feel that the more you travel the more discerning you become. You can kind of arrive in a city and tell quite quickly whether or not you feel the vibe!

  • Linda
    July 12 2013

    Just an FYI, for several years in the 60’s your great grandmother, Beatrice,would come to Florida from Michigan once a year and stay at the Foutainbleau for a week. Then she would travel across the state to visit us.

    • mcf
      July 12 2013

      That’s where I honeymooned 30 years ago

    • Alex
      July 13 2013

      Wow! That’s amazing. Love that I was unknowingly participating in a little family history tradition 🙂

  • Adam
    July 12 2013

    I was bummed to miss out on the end of Pitbull’s set too, but LIV was a proper hot mess so all-in-all I think it was worth it. Glad we got to hang out a bit!
    Adam recently posted..Sleeping in an Art Gallery: the ArtPlus Hotel in Tel Aviv

    • Alex
      July 13 2013

      Um. Hot mess city! Glad we were all on the same page 🙂

  • Nadia
    July 12 2013

    I really enjoyed the first part you wrote about Miami. I always had this singular vision of Miami until I dated a man that lived there. South Beach is just amazing and Miami is so much more than its reputation!

    • Alex
      July 13 2013

      From the little taste I got I am hooked. I think we discussed this back in Koh Tao days, but I really miss certain things about city living, notably a vibrant arts scene and melting pot of cultures.

  • Emily in Chile
    July 12 2013

    Every account of this weekend has made it sound like SO much fun! I would have been right there with you rocking out to Ke$ha and Pitbull – and paying for it the next morning but still not regretting a thing.
    Emily in Chile recently posted..Why I care about abortion

    • Alex
      July 13 2013

      Yup, I have an unabashed love for pop music 🙂 What can I say… it’s right there in the name — popular!

  • Sasha
    July 16 2013

    Alex was that your voice in the background of the vid? That is not how I pictured your voice at all! So strange how you build up a picture in your head of how someone will sound/how tall they are etc. LOVED this Miami post, and you continue to be my favourite blogger, hurrah! 🙂

    • Alex
      July 17 2013

      Hmmm, I think I say something about splashing in the video? Is that what you heard! I know how that feels though! Actually when I met Angie (one of the other bloggers on this trip) in Hawaii I was SO weirded out by how clear a picture of her voice I had in my head — which was so different from her voice in real life! But thank you so much for the sweet compliment!

  • Belinda James
    July 16 2013

    Wow. Miami is such a good place to visit. You are so lucky to be invited to the Ultimate Summer Pool Party! The event, the pool and the food look so nice. My favorite picture is the one with the girls sitting in the ice chair. I wish I could visit Miami someday.

    • Alex
      July 17 2013

      I hope you get there too Belinda! It’s an amazing city! And yes, I’m a lucky girl.

  • Federico
    July 17 2013

    Sounds like you too had a blast! Very busy weekend indeed, though the partying seems to be spectacular! I used to live near Miami some time ago, in West Palm Beach 🙂
    Federico recently posted..Visiting New York in 2 Days on a Budget (Part 2)

    • Alex
      July 17 2013

      Well it sounds like you have already lived my dream then! Need to make it happen one of these days…

  • Erica
    July 18 2013

    GAH I’M SO JEALOUS!

    Looks like you ladies had a blast. I fell in love with Miami too. So freaking awesome and cliche.
    Erica recently posted..The Best Little Wine Bar in Texas

  • April
    March 4 2014

    Wow what an amazing vacation! Miami has really beautiful and fun resorts. It is one of the top class I have seen. This is a great vacation for those people who love city life and who love to party. You even had the chance to take photos with celebrities! You have very nice photos! I would love to bring my family here!

    • Alex
      March 5 2014

      It was a great trip, April! I fell in love with Miami and can’t wait to return someday very soon! Happy travels 🙂

  • Kathryn Weiss
    December 31 2014

    This was my first full-post I read of yours (and I don’t mean that in a “Jesus, I can’t get through most of your posts” kind of way, but more like a “I was too busy reading your Q&A posts instead and I fell upon this” kind of thing). Anyway, you’re personality in your writing is fantastic. I’m building a website of my own here to document my travels, and you’re posts are such an awesome thing to aspire too. Excellent and funny. xoxox

    • Alex
      January 2 2015

      Thank you so much Kathryn! (And great name by the way… my mom spells it the same!)

  • Hey Alex,

    I’ve just recently discovered your blog and I LOVE IT! You are such an inspiration. Your time in Miami looked incredible. And what a coincidence, I used to write for VisitFlorida when I still lived there! 🙂

    • Alex
      March 25 2015

      Very cool, Jennifer! I love the VisitFlorida team — and am forever grateful to them for introducing me to Miami!

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