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DESTINATION GUIDE: What fans can eat, see and do when they visit Florida for the Miami Grand Prix
In the immortal words of Will Smith, “Welcome to Miami”.
The Miami GP announced itself with what can only be described as a star-studded bang in 2022. The great and good from the worlds of sport, music and film came together to welcome the inaugural race to the American state of Florida.
From the historic Art Deco glamour in Miami Beach, the buzz of the bars and restaurants on Ocean Drive, the Latin American vibe downtown, the tropical climate to the laidback beach lifestyle, the city has it all and much more.
Set in the Hard Rock Stadium Complex, home of the world-famous Miami Dolphins NFL team, the 5.41km temporary street circuit has a remarkably permanent feel to it despite being the most recent venue to be added to the F1 stable. This spectacular track is the culmination of a design process that simulated 36 different layouts before settling on this 19-turn lap which encompasses elevation changes, high speeds and flyovers, with the stadium at its heart.
For Fort Lauderdale-born Williams Racing rookie, Logan Sargeant, the chance to race a Formula One car on his home track for the first time feels good.
He said: “Having never raced formula cars in America, to do the full loop in racing karts to racing Formula 1 in Florida back home, 20 minutes from where I grew up is pretty cool. [It's] something I’m looking forward to, and I know the atmosphere in America’s always good and we do it right so I’m looking forward to that."
Where and what to eat
Contrary to popular belief, Miami and Miami Beach are not one and the same. The two distinctly different areas, which are their own municipalities and have separate Mayors and governing bodies, are what make Miami a vibrant and diverse destination for visitors and food lovers alike.
Downtown Miami retains a gritty, urban vibe with a melting pot of culture and cuisines, leaning heavily towards Latin America with a thriving Hispanic community and Little Havana at its centre. This atmospheric area, filled with the scent of wafting cigar smoke and salsa music, is home to an array of colourful storefronts and Cuban bars and restaurants certain to put you in a laidback Latin frame of mind.
A favourite haunt of locals, celebrities and politicians alike - and continuing the Cuban theme - Versailles Restaurant has been serving its blend of authentic dishes and culture to the local Cuban community wanting a taste of home for over five decades. Acclaimed for preserving the gastronomic heritage of Cuban cuisine, the extensive menu is served with a side of news and political discussion and this iconic Miami institution has a loyal clientele, some of whom come most days to chew the fat whilst chowing down on dishes that remind them of the old country.
A short hop along the causeway, the breezy glitz of Miami Beach plays host to an array of buzzy eating establishments and bars, where music spills out onto world-famous Ocean Drive. The food vibe of Miami Beach lends itself more to glamour and celebrity chef driven fayre, but off the main drag you can find quirky places for a quick bite, such as 11th Street Diner.
Serving a classic American menu of burgers, waffles and thick shakes in an original 1940’s dining car, which started its life of service in Pennsylvania before being transported to the historic Art Deco district in Miami Beach, this restored vestige of a bygone age sits comfortably in its surroundings.
If the idea of rubbernecking the clientele over the lobster ravioli whets your appetite, then one of Sargeant’s favourite joints that he heads to whenever he’s in town should satiate your craving.
“There is a really good Italian restaurant called Carbone, which is where you’ll find all of the celebrities on race weekend, that’s a good one," the US racer recommended.
He added: “The food in Miami is generally very similar to what you’ll find in most cities in the sense of it having really good food, across whatever cuisine it may be – and you can’t beat the fresh seafood. But if you want something quick and handheld, there’s a little, very easy to go to Mexican, which is a bit like a pop-up, called Bodega and they do really good tacos and burritos."
Possibly one the most glamorous of properties on Ocean Drive, and once the opulent mansion home of the late, flamboyant fashion designer Gianni Versace, Villa Casa Casuarina is now a luxury hotel and houses Gianni’s restaurant. In the history steeped dining room, or under the stars poolside, diners can enjoy a delicious menu of Italian and Mediterranean dishes accompanied by a wine list where the champagne selection (as befitting the villa’s former sparkling resident) is reassuringly extensive.
For a bit of late-night people watching with a glass of something very chilled in hand, you can’t beat Miami Beach institution Wet Willies. Serving a casual, upbeat atmosphere where DJs keep the singalong tunes coming, the rooftop corner bar is the perfect place to sip one of the many colourful frozen cocktails on offer whilst watching the neon hustle of nightlife on Ocean Drive below.
Need a little pick-me-up after maybe one too many frozen daiquiris? Then F2 driver Juan Manuel Correra, who grew up in Miami, knows just the place from his younger days.
“Pepitos is a place downtown where we used to go, after we’d party," he recalled. "You’d go there to get Venezuelan arepas at five in the morning and then go home to sleep. It’s a little gem and only the local people know that. Everyone would go there after partying."
Where to stay
Downtown Miami is located approximately 40 minutes (traffic depending) from the Hard Rock Stadium, making it a good choice if you want to stay right in the heart of the city to experience it fully. Alternatively, closer to the F1 track in Miami Gardens, you’ll find a mixture of hotels and Airbnb/homestays. But if you don’t mind a bit of a drive for something a little ’extra’, why not check into the unique 450ft high guitar shaped Hard Rock Hotel near Fort Lauderdale?
Where to watch the race
The Family Grandstand offers great views of the cars reaching top speed on the sweeping South straight immediately after the first DRS zone available to the drivers, before braking for the hard left of Turn 11.
Miami beach is famed for its historic Art Deco district. Made up of over 800 buildings and structures built between 1923 and 1943, the area is characterised by the pastel hued hotels, which were at one time in danger of demolition due to decades of neglect, before a passionate preservationist named Barbara Baer Capitman founded the non-profit organisation, the Miami Design Preservation League.
Dedicated to preserving and promoting the integrity and appearance of the now world-famous historic area, today they offer guided tours to those wishing to experience a taste of the old-school glamour of this most dazzling era.
West of Miami Beach and North of downtown, the neighbourhood of Wynwood, once a collection of ageing warehouses, has evolved into becoming one of the most creative and cultural hubs in the city and an influencer's dream location.
“Wynwood’s a very cool area because it’s also like the art district of Miami – there a lot of galleries and a lot of graffiti art as well which is really cool," Sargeant agreed.
A must-see highlight of the area is Wynwood Walls, a collection of giant wall murals, covering six buildings and acting as an outdoor art gallery, where it showcases the work of some of the world’s most talented artists. Wynwood is also the home of Miami’s first craft beer brewery, Wynwood Brewing Co, making it an excellent place for a pit stop after perusing all that art.
The Everglades is a national park and region of natural tropical wetlands, located approximately 50 miles from Miami. Covering an area the size of Rhode Island, this complex and vital ecosystem of swamps, mangroves and wetlands is the biggest protected sub-tropical wilderness reserve in North America. Teeming with alligators, crocodiles, manatees and birds, the park is laced with hiking and biking trails to explore this incredible natural wonder.
Or if you’re feeling brave, head out on the water in a kayak for an alligator’s eye view of things, or an iconic airboat for a slightly higher and less terrifying vantage point.
Get out on the water! Miami is surrounded by the stuff and people from the city love to make the most of it - Sargeant is no exception.
“I personally love being able to get out on the beach, get out on the water," he said. "When I get away from racing, that’s my way to really recharge; it’s just super relaxing to have some music in the background and enjoy the sun and generally great weather, knock on wood - it’s one of my favourite things to do."
Fellow racer Correa agrees. “Experience Miami from a boat," he added. "I would say do one day on the water, on a boat, jet skiing, whatever. If you don’t have a friend with a boat, just get a boat!
“No, just get a jet ski and go around South Beach, Star Island, Fisher Island, Port, all that area. If you go there on the weekend it’s like a highway of boats. It’s just so busy, sometimes people get together boats with boats and it’s like a big party, it’s pretty cool."
Finally make sure you head to the various fan zones in the area to experience the Miami GP vibes with fellow likeminded fans. The Rudolf Budya Gallery in Miami Beach will play host to Williams Racing show cars, simulators, ‘live art’ livery with bespoke creations, and driver and team personnel appearances including, of course, local hero Logan Sargeant. For more information and timings check out the Williams website.
Strung along the sandy landscape of Miami Beach are 31 brightly coloured and uniquely different lifeguard stations, which are as much part of the area’s visual identity as the famous art deco architecture, but are in fact a relatively recent addition, all thanks to a hurricane.
When, in 1992, Hurricane Andrew swept through South Florida, the scale of destruction was immense and the previous lifeguard towers were all but destroyed. A forward-thinking decision was then made to have them redesigned as future icons. Architect William Lane was responsible for the design and construction of the first few, with others the result of commissions by local businesses and design competitions.
Miami is not simply a destination, it’s a whole vibe and who better to sum it up than the two racers who know it best…
“The vibe of Miami, it’s definitely energetic," said Sargeant. "Everyone’s super excited to go out, do things - it’s a really fun place."
Correa also added: “I would say just vivid. There’s just so much going on - I’ll give you the perfect example. Now I’m based in London, and when it’s nice outside in London and there’s good weather, I take my windows down, sunroof off, and I blast music driving through the city and people look at me really weird.
"That is normal in Miami. You’re weird if you don’t do that in Miami and that sort of sums up the culture. People in Miami are crazy and living life to the fullest, it’s very flashy… and vivid”.
Miami destination guide
Currency: US dollar
Population: Approx. 442k
F1 race held since: 2022
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