What we did on our Florida Holiday vacation

This post completes our series reviewing our holiday trip to South Florida. With all that’s happened in the world since, it feels like a lifetime ago. I have some thoughts forthcoming about the pandemic we are currently experiencing, but until those are ready to publish, it felt right to stick to my editorial calendar and post trip recaps at a time when we can’t travel.

On our holiday trip to Florida, we did more activities than we’ve done in the past. We occasionally visit theme parks in central Florida, but when heading farther south, we usually prefer to hang out at the beach. A friend came along with us and so we tried more activities than usual.

Because we drove almost the length of Florida, we made a brief stop in Orlando to visit a friend of mine. We met for brunch at Morimoto’s Asia in Disney Springs. Our friends are annual passholders and Disney has some of the best restaurants in the Orlando area so it made sense. Disney Springs also provided a convenient place to meet and wander for a couple of hours before we each needed to go our separate ways. Morimoto’s menu was delicious. Mr. Vine and I ordered a few things to share between us including soft shell crab bao, duck ramen and the famous short ribs. Well fed, we had a productive shopping trip at Uniqlo. It’s the one fast fashion outlet I haven’t yet been able to kick! We also zipped through some of the Disney shops, taking photos with our favorite Mickey ears.

Once settled in south Florida, we explored several areas and attractions. We stayed in the North Miami Beach area, so the beaches within walking distance from our condo were a daily stop. We would picnic with a few drinks and snacks. The weather was not ideal, which often curtailed our beach time. 

On Christmas Day, we headed to downtown Miami for Bayfront Park and a celebrity home boat tour. Bayfront Park is one of those places that sees so many tourists it remains open on Christmas. There was live music in addition to several bars and restaurants. Boat cruises were popular that day and the tour time we wanted was sold out. We bought tickets for the next time slot and hung around the harbor, ordered a couple of mojitos and watched boat traffic. We enjoyed the tour. It was nice to be on the water and we learned how expensive imported palm trees can be. 

We also did our usual walking tour in the South Beach area. We love the art deco architecture and the party atmosphere. We were in the area on Christmas Eve and it was so busy! I do not recall South Beach ever being this popular on past visits. There was a long line to catch a photo with the famous Loomis Park clock tower. Mr. Vine and I have tried to snap a photo here ever since our honeymoon. This year we skipped it due to the line. 

For the first time, we visited the Miami Zoo. We lucked out with a great day for it. Our intention was to wander the zoo during regular hours and then catch the special after-dark holiday lights attraction. This turned out to be a good plan as the lights portion allows very limited animal viewing. The two experiences were quite different which made for a fun afternoon and evening. The regular zoo portion of the visit was excellent. The weather was just right and all of the animals were so active. Zoo Miami has a lot of space and ideal climate for many African and Asian animals. We made it through most of the animal exhibits before the closing between the two events. During that time, we headed to a local dive bar for some drinks and pub grub. Then it was back to the zoo for the lights. The highlight of our nighttime visit was the panther. She was extremely active after dark and quite interactive with humans. We watched her for a very long time. We also enjoyed the bear sisters. 

All of these attractions kept us occupied for about a week. We barely scratched the surface and could do a lot more, like a visit to Jungle Island or Santa’s Enchanted Forest. 

Have you visited South Florida? What are your favorite things to do? What is a must-see that we missed? 

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