Culture

20 Facts About Miami To Motivate Your Move To The 305

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Miami is basically the Latin American capital of the U.S., from the Spanglish street signs to the food. It’s named after it’s founder, Miami’s history is as complex as it’s residents today. Here are 20 little-known facts about Miami (except this first one because duh)

1. The heart of Miami is 70% Latino.

Greater Miami is mostly white, but the city proper is 70 percent Latinos of any race with only 11 percent non-Hispanic white people calling the city home. If you’re from Miami, you remember the day you left and realized that you stick out like a sore thumb in the rest of the world.

2. 1 in 3 Miamians are Cuban.

CREDIT: @pic_art_photo / Instagram

More than 250,000 Cubans live in Miami, most of whom came after Fidel Castro came to power in 1959 and then again in 1980 when he let people leave the island.

3. It has brought you stars like Camila Cabello.

Credit: Instagram @camila_cabello

A true princesa Cubana, all our favorite Camilas, including Camila Cabello and Camila Mendes identify as Miamian. If I was back in high school, I’d be wondering which Camila in my class is next.

4. And croquetas on croquetas.

CREDIT: @rostisseriacan_pics1 / Instagram

You truly haven’t experienced Miami until you’ve tried the croquetas. Need to know what you’re missing out on? Here are a couple dozen croqueta recipes to choose from.

5. The city of Miami gets its name from the native tribe Mayaimi, which lived around Lake Okeechobee.

Credit: Mayaimi. Digital Image. Miami Girls. March 1, 2016.

The Miami River, named after the Mayaimis, flows from Lake Okeechobee into Miami proper. The conquistadores sold this tribe for slaves, many of whom wound up back in Cuba, but their population has been decimated.

6. Miami is the only major U.S. city founded by a woman.

Credit: Julia. Digital Image. Miami Girls. March 1, 2016.

Meet La Madre de Miami. Local businesswoman, Julia Tuttle, convinced oil mogul Henry Flagler to build a hotel and extend his railroad to the area in 1896.

7. It’s literally just a sandbar.

CREDIT: @miami / Instagram

Which means that the city had to transport soil to make for steadier ground and why you see so many sand trucks heading to the beaches. Crossing my fingers that the sand doesn’t run out, as rumored.

8. Miami is the only city surrounded by two national parks.

CREDIT: @miami / Instagram

Can you tell it’s hella man-made? On either side, Miami is surrounded by tiny islands or a giant swamp, and for a party city, they each make for a pretty sweet vacation getaway.

9. Meet Key Biscayne…

CREDIT: @keybiscayne / Instagram

Ever heard of the Keys? Ok, well this isn’t part of them, but think of it as a tiny island off the coast of Miami. It’s a little more untouched but still has all the beachside margaritas you could dream of. If you’re from Miami, you probably feel hella guilty for ever going to Miami Seaquarium and are just waiting for that place to shut down already. #FreeLolita

10. …and the Everglades.

CREDIT: @nanceess / Instagram

Meanwhile, to Miami’s west is the giant swamp known as The Everglades. There is literally no other ecosystem like it in the entire world, and it’s actually far more casual than this guy makes it out to be to run into an alligator. They show up in your pools more often.

11. It’s so sunny there, it’s where the first sunscreen was ever invented.

Credit: Copperton. Digital Image. Ebay.

A pharmacist who had just come home from WWII needed Miami staples (coconut oil and cocoa butter) to perfect his formula in 1944. He eventually called it Coppertone.

12. The average temperature is 75 degrees.

Credit: Instagram @alpacaglobo

Which is why we Miamians have such a sunny disposition. 😉 It also explains why it’s a top destination for the rest of the country while the snowpocalypse happens everywhere else.

13. 22,000 New Yorkers move to Florida every year.

CREDIT: “2014-06-09-puertoricandayparade.jpg” Digital Image. Huffington Post. 18 April 2018

It is the story of many of our families’ history. New-Yoricans are my lifeline but Miami is in my blood. Miami is also a destination spot for many Caribbean Latinos because of how similar the climate is, how close it is to their home countries and how diverse and welcoming Miami already is.

14. There’s a lot of old people.

CREDIT: Merm8d Weinstein / Pinterest

One day, I will too have leathery loggerhead turtle skin and a matching swimsuit with my partner, but we’ll be dabbing in this pic. #iconic

15. It’s home to the iconic Cuban sandwich.

Credit: Instagram @shipandanchorpub

IDGAF what Tampa says, mayo and salami have no place in a cubano americano. And we press our tortas like Dios intended.

16. You can buy anything from the inner igloo of your A/C car.

CREDIT: “Bayardo Martínez, a street vendor in Hialeah, Fla., bristles under what he sees as onerous restrictions that require him to keep on the move.” Digital Image. Wall Street Journal. 18 April 2018

Need a bouquet of roses? Just a single massive sunflower? Mamoncillos, churros, mangos, sugarcane, orchids, you name it. Someone’s selling and we, in Miami, support entrepreneurs.

17. Statistically, every single child in Miami has been to Santa’s Enchanted Forest.

Credit: Instagram @_cosita_linda_

Ok, we can’t corroborate that, but if you’re snowbirding, you have to visit this magical Santa-themed amusement park. I don’t care how old you are.

18. The Vizcaya Museum welcomes 170k visitors every year.

CREDIT: @dasha_ryz / Instagram

Including every Miami student at least 3 times in their lifetimes. It has a ridiculous orchid collection and Spanish artwork that is very old. Next phase in life: watch all your friends get engaged and married here.

19. Actual pirates preferred Miami beaches to hide their treasure.

CREDIT: @urimagnus / Instagram

I’m not even kidding. Some pirates like Gasparilla, Blackbeard and Lafitte buried treasure that has been uncovered off the coast. This is why scuba diving is so popular here–it’s the modern day treasure hunt.

20. It’s metaphysically impossible to talk about Miami without talking about daddy Pitbull.

CREDIT: @pitbull / Instagram

He reps the 305 in almost every song, and if you’re from Miami, you know someone who knows someone who is best friends with him. ‘Nuff said.

Caption: “Start the week with passion #MondayMotivation”

Here’s Why Chicago Should Be On Everyone’s List Of Must-Visit Cities

Culture

Here’s Why Chicago Should Be On Everyone’s List Of Must-Visit Cities

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If you don’t have Chicago on your bucket list, you’re sleeping on the vibrant metropolis.

The city has an enviable lakefront that runs 18.5 miles along the city skyline, a museum campus (and a number of other art and educational institutions nearby) that you could visit for years and still find something new, and dining options that run the gamut from Michelin-starred to hole-in-the-wall mom and pop shops. 

If that’s not enough to get your there, this might be:

For $2.25, you can take the CTA train into the city.

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Whether you’re flying into O’Hare or Midway, each airport offers a direct route into downtown Chicago. From there, you can easily transfer to any of the other train lines, buses or Metra (servicing the suburbs) to get where you’re going and oftentimes, get downtown just as fast as driving. Save yourself the headache of traffic and trying to find your rideshare—as well as cash—by taking the train into the city. Once you’re there, hop into a cab or transfer like a local.

Speakeasies and Cocktail Bars Aren’t Just a Fad

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They’re a historical part of the city. In 1921, the bar now known as The Green Door Tavern opened as a restaurant. Over the years, the restaurant was sold and renamed the Green Door Tavern. During prohibition, a green door would let people know that they could find a speakeasy inside. According to the Green Door Tavern’s website, many of the original fixtures found at the bar are from the 1920s. It’s easy to get caught up in the history of the first floor, but if you keep walking towards the back, and take the steps into the basement—you’ll find a woman with an iPad next to a bookshelf. Leave your name, head back upstairs and wait for The Drifter to call you. Once IDs are checked (again) you’ll find yourself in a tiny room that feels like you’ve stepped into an old-timey circus. Tarot cards are used as drink menus, you can play drink roulette by selecting a $10 fortune cookie that contains your drink order and every hour a different performer takes the stage. It’s easy to imagine one of Al Capone’s cronies posted at the bar grabbing a drink between jobs.

But The Drifter isn’t the only speakeasy worth visiting. In Wicker Park, The Violet Hour, considered the birthplace of artisan cocktails in Chicago, is worth the wait. Just be sure to follow the house rules.

Comedians Are Made in The Second City

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Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, Mike Meyers, Steve Carrell, Chris Farley, John Candy and most of the funniest names in entertainment came out of world-renowned The Second City, a comedy club, theater and school of improvisation.

To date, it has not produced a Latinx show on its mainstage (a disappointing trend in entertainment). However, actress/producer Vanessa Garcia is working to change that with “La Carne Asada 2: The Seasoning,” performed inside the venue’s Judy’s Beat Lounge. The sketch show for Latinos by Latinos is performed mostly in Spanish with deeply Latino characters and tropes. It sold-out its summer show dates and recently added new fall dates.

Garcia was inspired to write a sequel to last year’s sold-out run of La Carne Asada after a conversation that implied that Latinx content was not headlining stage material. With that in mind, the show is a statement about quality Latinx-centric and minority-centric content being as entertaining, engaging and mainstream as any headline show.

It’s a Magical Place—No Really, Magicians Are As Common As Bartenders

Credit: themagicparlour / Instagram

In a profile piece on magicians for Chicago, Kevin writes about how the art of magic is taught mostly from books, and Midwest Magic in the suburbs is one of the largest magic shops in the world. It’s no wonder there’s been an uptick in magic-themed venues and entertainment. For an intimate, upscale experience head to the Magic Parlour at the Palmer House Hilton. In one of the gilded rooms, you’ll see close-hand magic performed by Dennis Watkins.

To see several acts in one place, head north to the Magic Lounge. The entrance is marked by a sign that reads ‘laundromat.’ Walk inside and start enjoying your night with a drink at the bar where a raised platform features a magician while you wait for your show to begin. Once ushered into the seated venue, various magicians will rove the aisles to keep guests entertained before the start of the first act.

Latino fans will get a kick out of Luis Carreon. The award-winning magician peppers his act with jokes that riff on Mexican culture.

It’s A Sports Fan’s Dream

Credit: andchv_ / Instagram

Between the Cubs and Sox (MLB) rivalry, Bears (NFL), Bulls (an NBA franchise synonymous with Michael Jordan and six league titles), the Sky (WNBA) and three recent titles between the Blackhawks (NHL), sports are an integral part of the city’s DNA—and that’s just the professional teams found within the city limits. Head to the suburbs if you want to see the Red Stars (MLS) play. It’s worth the drive considering four members of the Women’s World Cup Championship team play for the local league. The Chicago Fire, the men’s team, also plays at the same venue.

Even if you prefer a different type of entertainment, you’re not really experiencing the city if you don’t have some kind of sports encounter. Worst case scenario, you can eat really well since all the stadiums have local dining options in-stadium—like Big Star at the United Center where the Bulls and Hawks play— which is also across the street from the Cubs’ Wrigley Field.

READ: A New Incubator Is Opening Up In Chicago’s ‘La Villita’ And Will Embrace The Neighborhood’s Mexican Heritage

Puerto Vallarta Has Long Been An LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Destination And Here’s Why

Culture

Puerto Vallarta Has Long Been An LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Destination And Here’s Why

ThatGayGringo / Instagram

Puerto Vallarta is one of the favorite Mexican tourist destinations of the LGBT community. There are hotels, bars, nightclubs, beaches, and even drinks specifically for LGBT travelers, and due to the safety and welcoming environment for these guests, it is the first city in Mexico to receive the Gay Travel Approved distinction by GayTravel.com.

But why PV? What made Vallarta Mexico’s top gay destination?

Let’s start back at the beginning.

Credit: thatgaygringo / Instagram

In the south of Puerto Vallarta you will find the “Old Town,” also called “The Romantic Zone,” the tourist area favored by expats and foreigners who want to soak up local traditions. The Old Puerto Vallarta is also considered the gay neighborhood since 1980, when the gay community and retired Canadians and Americans bought land and properties in order to create gay-friendly businesses. Today there’s a wide variety of attractions with this focus, including bars, restaurants, stores, nightclubs, and both budget and boutique hotels.

In this zone is nestled the popular beach Playa de los Muertos, which, although not exclusively gay, for the last 20 years has been known as a gay-friendly beach (also called Blue Chairs, because of the many blue chairs placed by a gay resort which bears the same name), mainly in the high season, from November to March.

Why is this pristine beach the LBGT meeting point? Because the gay-friendly beachfront hotels in the area causes—and guarantees—a concentration of LGBT tourists, bringing a multicultural ambience where members of this community will be respected without discrimination. In the morning they can socialize and enjoy the party atmosphere, and in the afternoon walk holding hands under the dazzling sunset, in a romantic atmosphere free of hostility. Such is the high demand for LGBT-friendly vacation spots that the area has been extended to include the green chairs and as far as the north coast, in the elegant Oceano Sapphire Beach Club, owned by gays.

But it’s about more than just the beach.

Credit: David Stanley / Flickr

Unlike certain countries, laws against homosexuality never existed in Mexico. There is, however, a strong macho culture and religious influence which disapproves it—nonetheless the locals show respect. Under these circumstances, the growing community has led LGBT organizations to work to promote a change of culture in the pursuit of equality. Their work has gotten results: they have achieved recognition of gay rights, and implemented laws against the provocation and incitement of hate or violence against LGBTs, and also to guarantee equality in employment and public accomodation and services. Even more, in 2013 Puerto Vallarta legalized civil union between LGBT couples, followed by same-sex marriage in 2016.

This city organized its first Gay Pride March, and has hosted the Pink & Proud Women’s Party—the equivalent lesbian celebration—for the last four years, with assistance from the local Canadian and American communities. The multiple events in support of the LGBT community have marked out Puerto Vallarta as the “Mexican San Francisco.”

Now, there’s a giant and flourishing LGBTQ tourism industry that welcomes people from around the world.

Credit: Kristopher Roller / Unsplash

For the last 10 years, the number of LGBT visitors has increased in Puerto Vallarta and Jalisco, and in order to meet demand, the number of LGBT-friendly resorts and touristic attractions has also increased. Now three of every 10 hotels in Puerto Vallarta are LGBT-friendly, and most also offer weddings and other symbolic ceremonies.

Bars, nightclubs and other amenities are already focused on this market, and there are also tours—like the Gay VIP Bars Tour—and even drinks—like the Gay Tequila and the Gay Energy Drink—to make these guests feel extra welcome. As a result, Puerto Vallarta now hosts International LGBT Business Expos, with important conferences and events, including fashions shows, beach parties and music festivals to celebrate this booming market.

Puerto Vallarta remains the gateway to Mexico for many LGBTQ travelers.

Credit: kwhigam / Flickr

Some other cities have recognized the demand, and are now attempting to attract LGBT tourism to their destinations. Puerto Vallarta is not letting it happen: diverse businesses—no matter the sexual preference—are joining forces to create organizations to promote this targeted brand of tourism. The market gives consumers what they want, and they have identified this growing target and will not let it go.

Beyond the marketing, Puerto Vallarta became a platform to support gay rights, and the LGBT community knows it and feels welcome here. What really keeps the LGBT community hitting Puerto Vallarta is the activism, respect, and freedom they find in this beautiful paradise.