Circa 39

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Miami is one of my favorite places to travel to because of their amazing selection of hotels.

On my latest trip, I had the pleasure of staying at a beautiful hotel called Circa 39 situated in Mid-Beach and I couldn’t have found a more fitting place to stay.

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The hotel’s motto is “Life is a trip, satisfy your wanderlust at Circa 39” and they are all about enriching your life through travel and wanting you to feel at home while you explore the world.

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The entire hotel has an inviting yet also relaxing vibe, it’s one of those places where you want to spend a lot of time in. You don’t feel intimidated by the staff or the place, on the contrary, you immediately feel at home.

Renovated at the end of 2014, the hotel’s new decor reflects Miami’s multiculturalism and spirit, with vibrant colors, a mix of styles as well as vintage charm. The walls of the hotel are adorned with travel quotes, inspiring everyone at the hotel to keep exploring the world. This is a hotel that has tons of personality.

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The room I had at Circa 39 reminded me of a tropical garden or island. It was airy and comfortable and provided me with all the things I might need during my stay. I had the most peaceful sleep while I was there. It was also a great place to watch the Oscars live from our room on their new flat screen TV. I particularly liked their custom orange robes, their free WiFi and free tea/coffee.

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The hotel has a lot more than beautiful rooms to offer. Their garden is an ideal place to relax during the day. You can also opt for their large pool with comfortable chairs and also cozy nooks. They also have a small gym for those who can’t go without.

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One of the things I most liked about staying at the hotel is being able to hang out in their lobby lounge and enjoy delicious drinks and snacks from Wunderbar. Their restaurant Jules Kitchen also offers a delicious breakfast buffet, that goes above and beyond almost every hotel breakfast that I’ve ever tasted.

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The hotel couldn’t have been more conveniently located, just a block from the beach and close to some of the coolest bars and restaurants in the area. One of the perks of being a guest at the hotel is getting complimentary beach chairs and towels at the beach right in front of the hotel. Another perk of staying at Circa 39, is being able to sign up for a beautiful weekly Sunday morning yoga session in the garden of their sister property The Palms Hotel & Spa, located just a few blocks away.

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My time at Circa 39 definitely left me wishing I could have stayed longer. If you’re looking for an inspiring place to stay the next time you’re in Miami, consider Circa 39.

Check out the fun recap video I shot while I was at the hotel below.

Also, if you haven’t already, subscribe to my YouTube channel: http://youtube.com/c/Melsaysdotcom

Running in Miami

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I was happy to get back to running in shorts in Miami last week. Miami weather is ideal for running right now. It’s not too humid, the sun isn’t too hot and there is always a little breeze. I thus couldn’t help but go for a run, while trying out some new gear. Running along the beach is hands down my favorite running location. When I run in Toronto, I always run along the waterfront, right on Lake Ontario. It obviously pales in comparison to running along the ocean with palm trees, but I’ll take what I can get.

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Running in Miami was a nice treat. There are lot’s of great places to run in South Beach, Mid-Beach, Bal Harbour, etc. My favorite spot is the Miami Beach Boardwalk, it starts just passed 5th St and goes all the way up to 46th St. It’s about 4 miles in length. Though the boardwalk tends to get packed on weekends, people are really respectful of runners. The South Point Park also gives you a great view of downtown Miami and all the passing cruise ships. Another option is a little further north, just passed Bal Harbour. Haulover Park is a great place to run as well. There’s a great boardwalk along the beach.

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If boardwalks aren’t your thing, there are a lot of areas on the beach where the sand is packed, making it a lot easier to run in the sand but adding a little more difficulty. The thing with Miami is that there is no shortage of places to run.

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For more info on Miami’s different running trails, go here.

Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Nike 5.7 cm Zen Rival shorts (get them here), Nike Dri-Fit Knit Tank (get it here), Nike Pro Classic Bra (get it here), Toms Traveler sunglasses (get them here), Garmin Fenix 3 watch (get it here).

 

5 Things to Do in Miami

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1) Explore South Pointe. This beautiful park and beach area located at the most southern tip of South Beach, is the perfect place to spend a morning or afternoon while in Miami. The 17-acre county urban park features a beautiful oceanfront bike path, a quiet beach as well as panoramic views of the Miami port and pier. You can rent one of Miami’s DecoBikes and picnic on the waterfront or go snorkelling close to the pier. They sometimes even have big enough waves for surfing. There are also lot’s of great shops and restaurants in the area to enjoy such as Jugofresh, Joe’s Stone Crab, Cibo Wine Bar, F1rst Surf Shop, just to name a few.

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2) Eat at Lee & Marie’s Cakery. While you’re in the area, stop by this super cute family-owned shop for a yummy lunch or just to grab a sweet snack. They offer a great selection of homemade sandwiches, quiches, salads, scones and of course a ton of homemade sweets. They have a super cute patio and a lovely ambiance.

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3) Explore downtown Miami. If you’re staying in South Beach, one of the fun things you can do is to either rent a DecoBike or a scooter (you can get a scooter for $50 for 24hrs) and take Venetian Causeway through all the little islands towards downtown Miami. Not only will it be a stunning ride there (you’ll pass all the beautiful homes on  the islands, you’ll also get a beautiful view of Miami on the way there), you’ll also arrive right in the hype Edgewater and Wynwood neighborhoods of Miami. There are lot’s of great waterfront parks to see in the area, up and coming shops and restaurants. If you venture North you’ll enter the Buena Vista neighborhood and if you go south you’ll venture more towards downtown and Brickell. One of the rad things Miami is renown for is its amazing street art. Next time I’m in town, I want to spend an entire day in Miami checking out all of the beautiful urban murals and the downtown core a little more.

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4) Eat at Mignonette. While you’re in downtown Miami, make sure to stop by Mignonette for dinner. This new restaurant is a collaboration between Blue Collar owner and executive chef Daniel Serfer and Miami food blogger Ryan Roman. Not only are they specialized in fresh seafood and oysters, they’ve also got an amazing selection of vegetarian options. They have a tasty selection of salads, sides and appetizers as well as the best homemade bread pudding I’ve ever had!

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5) Spend the day at the Standard Miami Beach. You don’t need to stay at the Standard Miami Beach in order to enjoy their dreamy facilities. It’s the perfect spot for a relaxing day, far from all of the ruckus you can usually find in South Beach. Tucked away on an island, this little slice of heaven has become one of our go-to spots when in the city. You can enjoy this lovely property when you spend $75 or more on any of their spa treatments. They have an incredible selection of massages, treatment baths, bodywork, etc. to choose from. With a day pass, you can spend the rest of your time lounging by the pool, swimming in the ocean, napping in one of their gardens, eating at their delicious restaurant, getting rid of toxins in the sauna… whatever your heart desires!

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Miami Vice

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I got a much needed with break from winter last month when I spent a few days in one of my favorite long weekend destinations: Miami. As expected, the sunshine and heat was there to welcome us. Here are a few things worth your time on your next visit:

1 – Standard Miami Beach

We spent our first 24hrs at the Standard Hotel located on one of the islands in Miami Beach. I loved their remote location because it was far removed from the noisy south beach strip yet still close enough to restaurants, entertainment, etc. I absolutely loved everything about my experience at the hotel. The lobby was beautiful (loved the ping pong and foosball table), the room was simple yet super comfy, the gardens were lush, the pool had a superb view as the hotel is located right on the water, the restaurant (especially the brunch!!!) was delicious, the spa was super relaxing, the juice bar was a nice little touch and I loved all the activities they had available for guests (SUP, Yoga, etc.). I recommend booking a spa treatment with them even if you’re just going for the day. You’ll be able to do their steam rooms, saunas, etc. afterwards and will also have access to their pool. It’s also really fun to walk around from one island to the other since you’re already on one of them (Belle Isle to be exact!). It’s so fun to see all the beautiful homes and boats on each island.

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2 – Joe’s Stone Crab

Make sure you check out this South Beach institution, whether you’re a fan of stone crab or not, it’s totally worth the experience. It’s first come first served so either show up right at 5pm or be prepared to wait 2-3hrs, which is what we did but was well worth it. The restaurant is absolutely humungous and so is their food. But everything that they make and serve is made in house or caught fresh. I recommend ordering some stone crab, wearing the bib, also ordering a few side dishes and a homemade dessert to enjoy the full experience.

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3 – Renting a scooter

Everyone rides around in a scooter in Miami. It’s a super cheap way to get around not only South Beach but also Miami Beach, Bal Harbour, North Beach, etc. There are many places to rent scooters, we rented ours from Beach Scooter Rentals, on Washington ave. just below 14th ave. They have more than one location in South Beach. We got a cool looking Vespa for $80 USD for 24hrs that came with two helmets (no one wears a helmet in Miami!!) and a lock. We even got to take it to our apartment overnight. What’s amazing about having a scooter is that it costs $5 to fill up the tank of gas! Having a scooter allowed us to explore the area a lot more!

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4 – Miami Watersports Paradise

@Offner and I are always looking for fun activities to do when we travel. For a while now, he’s been wanting to go wakeboarding and while we were at Otentic (the best French restaurant in Miami! Check out the dessert platter below – bonjour le Café Gourmand!! You have to go check out their new location!!), the owner told us about a buddy of his that owned a watersport company right at the pier. So we hit him up for a two hour session. What’s great is that you don’t really need to bring anything other than your bathing suit. He gives you a life jacket, the board and teaches you how to do it. He’s really patient and super friendly. Not only did we get to do some amazing wakeboarding (it was my first time and I’m now hooked!!), he also gave us a super cool tour of the islands in his boat. It was really special because it was just the instructor, Offner and I! He also offers wakesurfing classes, tubing, etc. So much fun!!

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5 – The Beach

No matter how many times I go to Miami, the thing I love the most is the beach. The clear warm water, the tropical fish you see when you’re swimming, the long stretches of sand, the boardwalk… it’s perfect! Even in mid-February, the water was in the high seventies. A little chilly to get in, but once you’re in, it’s super refreshing. Swimming in the ocean has always been my favorite thing to do ever since I was a kid. I would spend my entire day in the water playing games, paddling around, swimming laps, etc. I think I’ve always stayed a kid at heart because the ocean still brings me so much joy. If you’re going to Miami, the beach will most likely be where you will want to spend most of your time. You will also definitely want to invest in either buying, brining or renting a parasol if you’re going between April-November. It gets REALLY hot on the beach!

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The more I go to Miami, the more I love it! Yes, there’s the very show off, lound music, crazy side to the city but there’s also a much quieter, local kind of vibe that you get if you explore a bit. Can’t wait to be back!!

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Happy New Year!!

What an amazing year 2013 has been!! So grateful for all of this past year’s adventures, travels and opportunities! I’m grateful for my health and all the wonderful people that surround me.

I’m also grateful for all of you who took time out of your day to read my blog. When I started my online journal, I never thought it’d become such an important part of my life. Thank you to all of you who’ve made the journey so far, so enjoyable!

I wish you a very happy 2014 filled with health, love, travels and all of life’s little pleasures!! Here’s to a wonderful new year!!!

Love,
Mel xo

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Welcome to Miami!

Two weekends ago I was able to spend a few days in Miami. My last visit to Miami dates back to last November but I had only spent 48hrs in this tropical wonderland. Growing up in Quebec, Florida was always a very popular destination for my family in the winter. I think my first ever trip as a baby was to Orlando when I was just a few months old. I’ve done the Orlando/Disney trip a handful of times, stayed in West Palm Beach with my grand-ma, went to Fort Lauderdale a few times but hadn’t spent too much time in Miami before.

So I was really happy to have more quality time there to discover some of the city’s hotspots.

Summer isn’t necessarily the best time of year to head to Miami, that’s when it tends to rain a lot just because it gets so humid and hot. We got lucky with the weather, it only rained one morning out of four and a half days. It was 42+ celsius and sunny the whole time.

We spent most of our time at the beach, the water was SO warm! It is also really clear and the ocean floor is soft and sandy, so you can see all sorts of tropical fish swimming around you. It’s beautiful! Though a little pricey – $50 a day for two chairs and a parasol but you can come and go as you please the entire day, we made sure to protect ourselves from the hot sand and intense sun. There’s really nothing quite like swimming in the ocean. It’s oh so relaxing!!

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I was able to do a little bit of shopping while I was there. My two favorite spots are: Collins Ave. (where you’ll find everything from Zara to LF, to Armani, etc.) and also the pedestrian outdoor shopping area on Lincoln Road.

I’m a huge fan of Art Deco so seeing all the different art deco hotels, buildings, clubs, museums, etc. are so amusing to me. We took the time to visit one of their Art Deco themed museum – the Wolfsonian FIU, located on Washington Ave. They had interesting collections on women and sports, Zeppelins, Art Deco, Architecture, etc. It’s only $7 per person and will take 1-2 hours of your time.

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3 favorite places to eat:

The Dutch – is located in the W Hotel in South Beach. They offered a brilliant fall fixed price menu with one appetizer, one main and a dessert. Everything everyone had there was absolutely to die for! The wine selection was also top notch! The vibe of the place was cozy yet stylish, the staff was knowledgeable and super helpful. I loved my dinner there and can’t wait to go back!

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Otentic – I officially found the best cheese platter in Miami. This small restaurant located on Washington Ave. makes typical French dishes. I loved drinking a Monaco (beer & grenadine drink), their charcuterie boards and salads are also killer. They make a mean chocolate mousse! I love their attention to detail, offering customers a free glass of white wine and tapenade as soon as you walk in. The owner Aurélien (yup, same name as Offner!) is super young and friendly. A must!

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The Forge – Loved eating at this over the top Art Deco inspired restaurant. The atmosphere was young, hip and fun! The styling of the place was unreal. They had a special on Veuve Clicquot champagne the night we went so if you ordered a glass of champagne at the bar, they would serve you unlimited appetizers. Unreal! The food was also heavenly. They had very tasty bread baskets and a fabulous selection of wine. I had the soup and grilled cheese, Offner had the burger and his parents, the biggest steak I’ve ever seen! Their little dessert tray was also yummy. It’s a festive place with loud music so if you’re looking for a quieter spot, this may not be the place for you!

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Now for something completely different, the 11th Street Diner located on Washington and 11th Street is also a superb place to grab some quick breakfast or lunch. It’s the original building that was constructed in 1948 in New Jersey that they moved to Miami in the 1990s.

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A bar to check out:

The Broken Shaker – is located in the hip Freehand Miami hostel. Offner always loves checking out up and coming bars in every city we visit. He had heard of this place because of their original handcrafted drinks made from ingredients, herbs & spices directly taken from the place’s garden. We tasted their savory sweet and spicy homemade punch. They also had a tremendous outdoor garden/patio with a pool, lot’s of fun seating areas, little lights, trees, ping pong tables, etc.

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(photo credit: The LA Times)

Finally, if you’re looking for a cool morning or afternoon excursion, I highly recommend taking a trip to the everglades at the Everglades Safari Park. I’m not one to do too many touristy things on vacation but this was really well organized, informative and fun. For $40, they take you from South Beach (the location of your choice) on a 40min bus ride to the everglade national park. You then go on a 45min airboat tour where they teach you about the different species of snakes, alligators, wildlife, etc. in the national park. That is followed by an informative alligator demonstration (no one wrestles with alligators!) and time to walk around their sanctuary where you can see all sorts of alligators, crocodiles, lizards, etc. They then take you back to your hotel in South Beach. Honestly, well worth the money and super amusing!

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Our time in Miami went by SO fast! With it only being a 3hr flight from Toronto, it’s the perfect long weekend destination! Can’t wait to go back soon!

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This Week’s Ear Candy

Time for another recap of some of my favorite tracks of the week…

I like Kitty Pryde because I find she brings something fresh to the music scene. Not only is she a rockin’ ginger but she also has cute raps and colorful songs. I was excited to hear her new track this week ft. Lakutis called “Ay Shawty”. I think lot’s of great things await this young Florida-native.

I’ve talked about Kandle before, she’s a great up and coming Montreal-based singer-songwriter. This week she released a brand new video for “Knew You’d Never” featuring her smashing cupcakes and looking like a bombshell. I absolutely love the tone of her voice. Hope you’ll enjoy the vid!

This week I also discovered a great all-girls trio from Vancouver called The Courtneys. I love their surf-inspired track “90210”. It’s perfect to keep you warm on a cold winter day.  Really looking forward to their upcoming full-length to be released on Mint Records shortly.

Have a great weekend! Stay warm 🙂

Mel xo