The first weekend of this month (February 2020), my sister-in-law and I decided to do a get away to Florida during Super Bowl LIV.
People always want to know about the weather, so let me say our arrival was rough. We were greeted with thundershowers that soaked us from head to toe. In fact, our plane was redirected to come in on east side due to the storm. Nevertheless, we encountered quite a bit of turbulence. Our flight was delayed half an hour while hovering over Ft. Lauderdale. Fortunately, that was the only time that the weather was unpleasant. We saw nothing but blue skies the rest of the weekend (as you may have seen if you were viewing the Super Bowl).
The next morning, Saturday, we headed out on the train to check into our hotel at the Miami airport. Needless to say it was difficult finding accommodations for that weekend. We were invited to meet up at “Chiefdome” which was at the Marriott in Fort Lauderdale. Yes, we were there to celebrate the Kansas City Chiefs playing in the Super Bowl! The security entering the hotel was tight and everyone was checked out and sniffed by dogs. Our Uber driver (with limited English) was asked to turn off the engine for a vehicle check which he didn’t entirely understand nor could we. But when we entered the hotel the ambience was filled with excitement and you could feel the energy and the hopefulness of a win for the following day.
On Sunday, we decided the easiest way to see a big city like Miami with limited amount of time was to take the Hop On Hop Off bus. We caught the double Decker bus near Bayfront Park. Our red loop tour took us to South Beach where we caught a glimpse of iconic Fountainebleau, Wynwood district with street lined murals, graffiti art and art deco.
We drove on famed Calle Ocho in Little Havana and returned to Bayfront Park. Unfortunately, we needed to shorten our tour in order to manage our time and transportation schedule.
Next we headed to Ft. Lauderdale via the BrightLine train to view the game as guests at a friend’s home. Let me back up and say I was very impressed with the train which was very clean and offered beverage and snack service. Cheers! Throughout the day we saw lots of people donning red which made it fun everywhere we visited. We ran into fellow Chief fans as well as San Francisco fans donning red. So red was the color of the weekend!
Well it’s Super Bowl history now, the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl game! But that was not the end of our visit we still had a day and half before us. There’s more to see and do so with our Groupon Culinary Tour voucher we returned to Little Havana and now this became the highlight of our visit. Our guide walked us down “Calle Ocho” introducing us to people who lived and worked in this community. She had such a relaxed nature you could feel she was a part of the neighborhood and truly at home here. She invited us into her world and it was delicious (sampled black beans, Cuban sandwichs, empandas (meat filled pies), sugar cane water, Cuban coffee and other treats), listened to salsa music and drank a Mojito at the famed Ball & Chain as we listened to the history of Cubans.
As we returned for our final night at Ft. Lauderdale we dined at The Downtowner Salon’s patio alongside the waterway and spent a pleasant evening viewing the boats and yachts passing under the bridges. As we strolled, I yelled out to a Water Taxi. The captain steered straight to us, picked us up and gave us a free ride to the Historic Stranahan House Museum where we got off and found specialties shops, boutiques and restaurants up and down the tree lined street. A beautiful night to leisurely walk on Las Olas Boulevard.
The next morning, still having a few more hours before departing, we scurried back to where we met the boat the night before to continue our Water Taxi-tour in the daylight. The tour guide told us the who’s who that lived in the mansion where yachts awaited dockside. We had just enough time to get off and have a hearty breakfast in front of the Atlantic Ocean. I couldn’t ask for a nicer way to end the Super Bowl get away!
We just got a small flavor of the two cities (it was yummy) and we are convinced that we must return and see more!
written & photographed by: Mercedes Santiago