Why am I thinking about warm, tropical Miami Beach you ask? Well it may have something to do with the recent frigid temperatures, though that’s unlikely because I love this kind of weather. Snow makes me feel warm and fuzzy inside! In fact, I never expected to visit Florida at all. While I love to travel, it was never a State on my radar. From what I knew Florida was all alligators and humidity, neither my idea of fun! However in November the humidity drops and its mostly gorgeous days in the 80s (˚F) with white sandy beaches, blue skies and ocean for miles! Oh, and no alligators on the beach!
Back in November 2016, half of ecoRDN packed their bags and jetted off to the warm, pristine Miami Beach for the Seed Summit and Seed and Wine festival! The other half stayed at home in the food lab (our kitchen) creating recipes for you awesome folks!
Like I said, I never had any great calling to this Southeastern US State but when I heard that an awesome plant-based event for bloggers and advocates for vegan living was being held there, I was in! Well it was not quite such an immediate decision, I of course had to do some research, planning and budgeting. As it turns out you can fly pretty cheaply from Pittsburgh to Ft Lauderdale using Jet Blue. It cost me about $136 round trip. From Ft Lauderdale I took a Go Airport Shuttle for $26 including tip. On the return to the airport, feeling more adventurous I took a local bus for $2.50! To keep the lodging on the cheap I stayed at HI hostel Miami (only one block away from the beach!) for about $25 per night! Of course you have to be ok with sharing a room with 6-7 other ladies and bunk beds, you have to be ok with the claustrophobic bottom and/ or the climb to the top! Though you can always request the one you love more/ hate less when you make your reservation, but I have always been good to do whichever is chosen for me.
Here are some more pics I took while walking around Miami Beach during my stay. I was surprised at how dense the tropical foliage was (not really shown here, so just trust me on this one). No maples, oaks or sycamores in sight! Yet Miami Beach is still densely green. Packed full of giant versions of all my favorite cacti and succulents, palm trees everywhere swaying in that sweet ocean breeze.
The first night was the VIP Kick Off Party at the beautiful 27 Restaurant and Bar at the Freehand. It started out Poolside by the vegetable garden before the rains took it indoors to the Freehand lobby. But luckily Miami rains don’t last long and we all headed back to the courtyard. Hors d’oeuvres and drinks were served! Not sure I really understand the concept of a poolside party, no one swims! But it sure was pretty!
The Seed Summit was a two day event with yoga/ meditation in the AM, breakfast, educational sessions lead by gorgeous vegan “celebs” (athletes, bloggers, chefs, etc.), followed by lunch and more sessions! In between there was coffee available (I really made that barista earn his $$$ if you know what I mean!), VegNews magazines to peruse, wifi (for social media of course) and plenty of lounge furniture to chill on.
There were even more events each evening that I didn’t attend including a Plant-based burger battle, Best of the East and Best of the West dinners. It came at too high of a price tag to do every activity, I was just happy to be there at all! My evenings were generally low key: walks on the beach and exploring around town. Most dinners were from Wholefoods’ hot and cold bars or ingredients brought back and prepared in the hostel kitchen to both save some dough and eat a little more balanced. Notice all the cupcake and donut pics above!
Off the boardwalk to the beach
on the boardwalk
Wholefoods hot and cold bar
A busker on Lincoln Road
a cruise ship heading out to sea
Amazing sand mermaid
incoln Road Mall Farmer’s market
Lincoln Road Mall Farmer’s market
Wholefoods salad bar
Lincoln Road Mall
Lunch or dinner
Christmas in Miami is just weird. Sorry Miami. It just is.
Lunch or dinner
The Seed Festival Day Tasting Village was on a partly rain soaked, soggy Saturday (though the pics only show you the good parts of the day!). I decided to walk the five + miles from Miami Beach to Mana in Wynwood, Miami via the Venetian Islands (there are 6 of them! From Miami Beach to Miami: Belle Isle, Rivo Alto, Di Lido, San Marino, San Marco and Biscayne Islands). The day was brightened only by the plethora of vegan samples and the amazing graffiti throughout the hip, artsy neighborhood of Wynwood.
Almost in Miami
grafitti by the amazing Claudia La Bianca
grafitti, unknown artist
Tree outside of Mana
I am here! let the sampling begin!
It’s a whole damn fire truck!
Some volunteers enjoying some Bunnie Cakes
peeps waiting for the hottest samples in town
this is what the peeps were waiting for!
green monkey yoga
Jackie Sobon, author of Vegan Bowl Attack
I believe this was the winning burger of the burger battle!
Heading back to Miami beach and had to wait for the drawbridge
the leader of a critical mass. I was invited to join in but alas no bike! next time I will have to try out the Citibikes!
That concludes the planned portion of the trip! The last couple days in Miami Beach included more exploring, enjoying the wildlife, making friends with all the stray cats, a meal at the gourmet vegan restaurant, Full Bloom, a fruitless search for wild iguanas (a mission I loving named “The Wild Iguana Chase”) and espresso at Panther coffee, one of the finest artisanal coffee houses ever!
Full Bloom for one please! A very interesting location, set in a condo on one of the Venetian Islands, Belle Isle, the closest one to Miami Beach. You must make a reservation, check in with security and an escort will take you up to the restaurant via elevator. Don’t even ask about taking the stairs like I did, they will laugh at you! Once you are in though it is a beautiful space over looking Biscayne Bay. And the food is amazing! The waiter, knowledgable of all things local was the one who mentioned that there were Wild Iguanas on the Islands.
So I searched a good hour around the 6 islands but found no iguanas. Perhaps the wrong time of year? I discovered these little guys above, early in my trip and fell in love! They are anoles, super fast and shy but I managed to get a couple shots by standing in wait, camera at the ready. Of course expect looks as passersby wonder what you are doing with your face and camera a few inches from the ground.
*no iguanas were harmed in this mission. *no iguanas were found on this mission.
As always, thanks for reading and eat well!
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