In a past life (read: up until 2015), Miami was a destination for some of my wildest times. One summer, we literally woke up like this:
(For the record, that’s a patio…and a Bebe dress…and me drunkenly defying gravity. And my best friend next to me is married with a kid on the way.) 

But I’m a grownup now, or at least my body’s inability to cope with hangovers has forced me to be, so vacations have had to roll with the aging punches (and they do keep coming!). Bandage dresses have been replaced with sensible palazzo pants and breathable tanks, and I’d trade a low-key dinner at a nice restaurant (or literally any restaurant) for a “clubbing” experience of any kind. While my preferred vacation activity used to be laying on the beach and playing skin cancer roulette for hours on end, now I’d much rather get off my SPF’d ass for a cultural activity and/or memorable experience. (But don’t check me into the retirement home just yet — I still have love for shaking my ass and laying in the sun with a margarita.)

So when I got the opportunity to visit the Marriott Stanton South Beach and experience a “softer side of South Beach,” I jumped on it like a 22-year-old on a free vodka Red Bull. And living in New York City, it was still cold here in May (FML), so I was even more pumped to GTFO.

My favorite thing about the Stanton is the location and I don’t just mean the beautiful beachfront. It’s in an an area of South Beach called “South of 5th” (that means below 5th Street for you geography experts), which is a low-key pocket of perfection, with enough action to keep things entertaining (great restaurants, a few cool bars, the famed Nikki Beach, the best smoothies and acai bowls on the planet at Pura Vida), but far enough removed from all the models poppin’ bottles and thirsty promoters.
(Standar pano pic from my balcony.)

I did hit the beach a few times, but also soaked up the skin damage rays at the relaxing pool, where the scene was much more honeymoon resort than Vegas pool party. One entire afternoon, I just laid on a lounge chair, read a book, and drank Sauvignon Blanc that someone served to me, and if you don’t think that sounds like actual heaven, pls unfriend me IRL.

And because I was technically “working”, I also had to get a poolside photo for @BrosBeingBasic at the hotel. Here’s how that went down: I spotted three attractive guys and confidently approached them. As I began to explain my request to them, my confidence quickly faded as I realized they barely spoke English. (Miami pro tip for my American friends: NOT EVERYONE SPEAKS YOUR LANGUAGE.) But I powered through with enough desperate hand gestures and photos on my phone, and the guys agreed to take a photo (probably out of pity, but I’ll take what I can get). I ran up to the bar to purchase my props (read: coconut drinks) before they changed their minds and flew back to France, and was presented with another special obstacle: The bartender also spoke limited English!  I hadn’t felt this misunderstood since my last boyfriend told me he hated The Bachelor.

But again, I embraced the career challenge and forged ahead, snagged the coconuts, and rushed back down for the “photo shoot.” And miraculously, the guys just got into formation (slay slay), and I was able to get the shot — albeit just barely dodging a 60-year-old’s man’s foot going up my ass while I squatted over his lounge chair and he made no attempt to budge (thank you again, Sir!).

With all of this grueling work, I’m glad the food situation at the Stanton was on point. They have a delicious Mexican restaurant, Lolo’s Surf Cantina, on the property, with the best Mexican street corn I’ve ever eaten. And in a miraculous turn of events, the chef also has a café in NYC (Café Habana in SoHo) famous for this corn, so if you need me this summer, you can find me at the club cob.

No seriously, here I am just last week.
(Real talk — should this be my Bumble profile pic?)

The Stanton is also opening a swanky Japanese restaurant soon, and we were lucky enough to do a tasting, during which I coined the phrase Jappetizer (which exactly zero people liked on Twitter). :/

Every bite was a legitimate mouthgasm and if you’re ever in South Beach and don’t dine here, you are missing out. Trust me, get the Jappetizers.

At this point, you’re probably wondering if all I did on the trip was eat, drink, and harass cute French boys, but I swear there was more!

On Day 2, we drove about 20 minutes to the Oleta River State Park where we picked up kayaks, gently wrapped our children iPhones in (complimentary!) waterproof bags, and set out on the high seas. (JK there were definitely not high seas or I would still be out there, trying to row back with my lack of upper body strength.)

We kayaked through a jungle-like area, then popped out into Biscayne Bay to be greeted with stunning city views. The wind did start to pick up on the bay, and as I became the straggler, I vowed to start taking upper body classes at Barry’s Bootcamp instead of just abs and ass. (Update: I still have not.)
We kayaked to a little island and ate Cuban sandwiches we had picked up at a bodega on the way, and I rested my weary arms before we kayaked back, thankfully with the wind at our backs.

I would recommend this excursion as it’s a great way to experience the Miami outdoors. Pro tip: Wear SPF 800 and get a tandem kayak so you can slack off in the back.

And finally, my favorite experience of the trip was exploring the Wynwood Arts District. Formerly a gritty area of town, it’s now home to murals on murals on murals by famous local and international artists.

You have to walk through the designated Wynwood Walls, but the whole ‘hood is covered with breathtaking art.

We did an art and food tour, and while I typically zone out during any type of field trip situation, I highly encourage this, because you hear the stories behind the seasonally changing murals and also stop into some of the incredible nearby restaurants for local Miami eats. 

And since I was still “on assignment” for BrosBeingBasic, I had to document the basic bros in their natural habitat.

I could not have enjoyed this vacation more and it was a total reset before coming back to the NYC grind.

Am I going to get white girl wasted and sunburnt in Miami again? I mean, most likely.

Am I going to go clubbing until 5am then skinny-dip in the ocean with a stranger again? Probably not (but never say never!).

But I will definitely be going back for a relaxing vacation South of 5th….and next time I might even stay a few days months longer.

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