When my friend and I rolled up to Miami’s arty Wynwood district, we hadn’t even gotten out of the car yet when he turned to me and said, “This place is seriously cool.” I glanced around at the street art on the buildings and the hip shops with their promises of sustainability, and I had to agree.
As we strolled down Northwest Second Avenue—Wynwood’s main drag—we saw the sort of on-trend places that have become popular in cities like Seattle and New York: craft beer bars and edgy clothing boutiques, stationery stores stocked with whimsical treasures, juice bars that sell cold-pressed kale juice. Many of the young women we passed wore high-waisted denim shorts and every young man seemed to have a beard. We had, it seemed, stumbled into a hipster enclave. But unlike in Seattle or New York, this hipsterdom was overlaid with a sultry Latin vibe. If Brooklyn and Havana had a love child, this would surely be it.
The epicenter of the Wynwood district is the Wynwood Walls, a series of outdoor murals painted by international street and graffiti artists. Vibrant and optimistic in tone, they felt at one with both the neighborhood and the greater community of Miami itself. Within the walls, people mugged unselfconsciously in front of the murals, coolness be damned.
Wynwood Yard is worth a visit for its garden, food trucks, music and more.
“How about a selfie?” I asked my selfie- hating friend.
He glanced around, seeming to weigh the social impact of this decision, before letting me snap a few.
At its heart Wynwood is an art district, and its many galleries showcase visual artists prominent in today’s art world. It’s impossible to really experience the neighborhood without visiting at least some of them.
“What, are we not going in?” my friend asked outside a gallery when I stopped to take a bracing breath. I’d already nixed the previous one because we had to ring a bell to gain entry.
“These places always intimidate me,” I told him.
He shrugged. “Let’s see how it goes.”
The interior of this particular gallery was done in sleek white, all harsh angles and bright lights. Modern paintings in bold colors hung from the walls. The woman seated at the desk in the back gave us a cursory glance but didn’t say hello. In fact, she made no move to acknowledge our presence in the gallery. My friend and I did a quick tour before spilling back onto the sidewalk.
“I told you,” I said to him.
He waved it off. “It’s not like we were going to buy anything.”
Maybe. But I secretly feared it was because Wynwood was too cool for us.
Spanish art duo Pichi&Avo painted this Poseidon mural.
Yet the woman in the next gallery was friendly as we eyed the Warhols and Lichstensteins on the wall, and the gallery after that was even more welcoming as we admired its riotous collection of pop art and Betty Page pinups. In fact, the more I looked around the neighborhood the more I realized that Wynwood offers a particularly diverse approach to coolness. Which is to say, it’s more inclusive than exclusive.
When we’d done all that the district has to offer—browsed the boutiques, inspected the galleries, imbibed the cold-pressed carrot juice—my friend and I stopped, exhausted, at a coffee shop camped in the shade of a Poinciana tree. It was the kind of place you might find in Portland with the requisite beards and ’80s throwback hairstyles, everyone tapping earnestly on his or her MacBook. But unlike other hipster destinations, Wynwood doesn’t take itself quite so seriously.
As we finished our drinks, I glanced up in time to see a drag queen in a black sequined minidress order a nitro cold brew at the counter. Her false eyelashes fluttered, and her biceps bulged against the tight sleeves of her dress. I smiled to myself. Try to find that in Brooklyn.
If You Go:
Wynwood has many art galleries, ranging from the stiff to the hip. My favorite? The Harold Golen Gallery with its collection of pop surrealist art. Look for the 1950s-era pinups in the back, where there are plenty of tan lines and not a drop of silicone. 2294 NW Second Ave., (305) 989-3359, haroldgolengallery.com
Panther Coffee is a must-visit hipster destination. Grab a seat under the Poinciana tree to watch the parade of people. Apple products strongly encouraged. 2390 NW Second Ave., (305) 677-3952, panthercoffee.com
While the Wynwood neighborhood has a variety of cool eateries, try stepping off the main drag to the Wynwood Yard. This “pop-up entrepreneurial hub” (as it calls itself) features unique outdoor food spots that focus on fresh sustainable ingredients. Don’t miss the black beans with cashew queso. 56 NW 29th St., thewynwoodyard.com