Four Great Miami Places Only Smart Locals Know

In Tomorrow's Journey, Travel by Nathasha Alvarez

There are locals and there are smart locals in Miami. I’m sure you’ve seen hundreds of embarrassing news stories about Miami. Simply type Spring Break or Politics in Google to see the sad highlights of Florida, especially Miami. However, smart locals know the best places to enjoy the South Florida. Your Latina Diva on Wheels (that’s me!) knows four places that you will love to visit because it’s wheelchair friendly, affordable, and fun!

These places are in no particular preference. They are in different parts of Miami Dade County. I’ve been here for decades and it’s taken me that long to realize that not everyone sees Miami like I do. Crowds are not for me. I don’t have a good time if I am too worried about intoxicated people knocking into me. I’m not your regular local. I’m with the other group, the smart locals who know how to avoid tourist traps.

So take a stroll with me as I share the four places that I have no problem repeatedly visiting.

Smart Locals Know about Deering Estate

Old fashioned wheelchair. It looks like it's made out of wicker. There is a patterned decorative pillow on it. Next to it, there's a patina looking stand. Behind that, there is an old fashion

There are several reasons smart locals love Deering Estates. As a wheelchair user, I appreciate the reasonable accommodations that exist in this 1920s location. There are a few spots where I feel safer if the person I am with helps me navigate my manual wheelchair. Other than that, I’m free to roam. I was able to enter the Deering home where I transport back in time. Check out the wheelchair photo above. That’s how far back in time. Definitely not a Quickie Wheelchair! My favorite time to visit the home is during the Christmas holiday season. Beautiful!

If you’re going to visit, make sure you check out the website. Click here AFTER reading the entire article. The events are posted on there. You can call to see if it’s accessible for you. I can’t determine that because we all have different accommodations. When I get tired of pushing my wheelchair, my companion (whomever is the lucky person) will take over.

I’ve fed the seagulls, attended art shows, toured the home, strolled on the trail. My young niece has been going there for years. She loves the photography, running around, watching the people fish, and taking part in the crafts when they’re available. Other smart locals visit Deering Estate for its nature hikes, kayaking, and boat tours.

It’s also a great place to enjoy the weather without frying your skin. That’s why only smart locals go to Deering Estate.

Sip Tea at Cauley Square

A plate used for tea parties is topped with three mini lime tarts, macaroons, and mini muffins.

Tea Room at Cauley Square is in the southern part of Miami Dade County. When you go, make sure you give yourself time to stroll to the nearby historic stores. The location has cobblestone which isn’t my favorite, but once I enter the Tea Room, I’m transported to a time and place of peace and sophistication. It’s a great place to surprise someone with a tea party.

I’ve been there a few times. Recently, my friends and I had high tea. we made reservations ahead of time. Please check out their website to get the most accurate up to date information. It’s great for everyone eleven years old and up. I wouldn’t suggest it for the younger crowd because they might not enjoy sitting down for the experience.

The place is decorated beautifully. Ask for the Butterfly room if you’re into butterflies like me. So many teas to choose from and the tiers of scones, cookies, macaroons, and other baked items leave you happy from start to finish.

Smart locals know that this is the place where you won’t find tacky tourists looking to find Pitbull. No offense Pitbull. Tea Room is exactly that, a place to enjoy tea.

Now I highly suggest that if you make reservations, let them know you’re in a wheelchair. I forgot to say that and the hostess didn’t know where to sit us. I think she would have saved a spot for us if she had known ahead of time. Click here for more information. But AFTER you’ve read the rest of the article. That’s what a smart local would do.

Fairchild Botanical Gardens. Statue in life size of Marjory Stoneman Douglas sitting on a bench. The statue is staring at the camera. On her lap, there is a real book, The Handmaid's Tale. Nathasha put the book there on purpose.

Fairchild Botanic Gardens

Smart locals know that this is the best place to visit to escape from it all. I had an annual membership before the lockdown. I’m going to get another one. I’ve played Pokemon there. Yes, they have Pokemon spots in their gardens.

My favorite part of the entire place is their butterfly garden. My family loves to go there when they visit Miami. I beg them to walk around while I stay in the butterfly garden or sit in the air conditioned cafe that overlooks the butterfly garden.

Smart locals like me go there at the exact time when they invite people to come help them release butterflies. Funny story, I went with someone who said he didn’t like butterflies. I had them place butterflies on his shirt. He loved it.

You can’t love me and not love butterflies.

There are benches for people to sit and dream. Or you can go on their accessible tour rides. Fairchild knows how to cater to the smart locals with art shows, art lessons, mango festivals, orchid festivals, and much more.

You don’t need to make reservations to enter the general area. But if you want to attend a special event, you should go to their website. Click here BUT… you guessed it, after you finish reading the article for more information on their events and prices.

There is one problem that I have when I go there. I don’t always feel safe on their trails. They need to be repaved. There is also a section with bricks to honor people, but it feels like cobblestone. Maybe they need to raise money to fix their pathways. That’s the only problem I see there. If they fixed that, I’d get a membership and go there every weekend.

Smart Locals Hang At Miccosukee Indian Village

It’s weird to visit Miami without taking the ride out to Miccosukee Village. Smart locals go there for the casino, their museum, and their events. Even a trip out there will have you seeing the Everglades. But for full disclosure, I love going there when they have their arts and crafts. It’s usually around the holidays. But you can check out their website when you click here.

They have airboat rides but I can’t tell you if those are the accessible ones. You see, I do my best to avoid swamp land. It doesn’t bode well with my diva skin. Just kidding. Honestly, I’ve never liked the idea of being close to alligators and crocodiles. I prefer to see the wild on tv. But if you are brave enough, go for it.

When I did go to their arts and crafts event, I bought raw honey, incense, and bracelets. My family and friends bought jewelry, food, and crafts. We all left happy. The people are nice. The place is accessible. Definitely go!

Bright colors of red, green, blue, and yellow blur in action. It's the dance clothing of Miccosukee Indians. There are two of them on stage. The front of the stage is lined with poinsettias.

So now you know what the smart locals know. A great way to enjoy your Miami vacation while avoiding those overpriced tacky tourist traps. These are all places that I feel safe going with my manual wheelchair. When I’ve needed some assistance, it is usually because I like to be extra safe.

If I visit your town, where would smart locals visit? Let me know in the comments. Yes, you may now go back up and click on all those links! Safe travels.

Be sure to subscribe to my weekly newsletter. Click here.