“Gratitude turns what we have into enough.”

When we stop to take a look around at the never-ending beauty that surrounds us, it’s impossible not to feel overwhelmed with gratitude. You start to realize, everything you have is all you need. Over the next 48 hours we’ll watch our Instagram feeds flood with reasons why we all feel #thankful. One that should top all of our lists is this kaleidoscopic city we get to call home. In the spirit of the season, here are a few of the reasons I’m thankful for Miami and everything that makes our Magic City … pure magic.

1. Cuban coffee.

This one is first for a reason. Whether your go-go juice of choice is a colada, cortadito, or cafe con leche, one thing is absolute: Cuban coffee is liquid joy, the caffeinated nectar of the gods, and synonymous with Miami. In 2014 when I first moved to South Beach, I knew no one, had no idea how to get anywhere, didn’t have a car, and Uber didn’t exist here yet. However, none of this mattered because every weekend I could walk down to the window at Cafe Las Olas (if you know, you know), order my iced cafe con leche and head to the beach. This brings me right into my next one…

The Takeout

2. Eternal summer.

Even after six years of living here, my mind is still blown with disbelief every November through February, when I remember I can still rollerblade to my yoga class in a sports bra, or run the Bal Harbour footpath overlooking Caribbean blue waters, while the rest of the country is buried beneath #polarvortex snow. All of the simple, nostalgic pleasures we associate with summer can be had any day of the year, lending to this collective eternal beach day consciousness among Miamians. Evening bike rides. Rooftop happy hours. Outdoor concerts at Bayfront Park. Poolside naps. Frozen cocktails. Jumping into the bay at The Standard. There’s something very freeing about it all. The radiating sun recharges each new day with this vibrant energy and possibility.

Miami Herald

3. A strongly felt sense of community.

A few people I’ve encountered along my journey in this city try to perpetuate old stereotypes that it’s hard to meet people of substance or establish true friendships in Miami. I couldn’t find this to be any more untrue. It seems anywhere you turn there’s a community waiting to take you in with open arms that shares your worldview in some way. The fitness and wellness space is a huge part of this positive force — spots like Agni Miami, Modo Yoga and B-Fit Biscayne, just to name a few. If sustainability is your thing, there’s an eco-minded event or beach clean-up just about every weekend you can join in on. In the hospitality scene, our city’s leading industry, you see teams from bars and restaurants typically thought of as ‘competitors’ coming together without judgment to support, uplift, and encourage one another.

Raceplace

4. Rich cultural diversity.

Just a quick walk down my block in South Beach is the perfect statistical population to show how Miami is bursting with cultural flavor. El Palacio de los Jugos, home to both the most divine guava and cheese tequenos I’ve tasted and the best green juice in South Beach (what’s up Ginger Reboot?), spills with Cuban color onto its sidewalk terrace, leading right to Sciuri Cafe, Miami’s best kept Italian secret with the most beautiful confections, perfect authentic pizzas, and quaint Italian conversations over cups of espresso. You can find this complimentary contrast on just about any block in this city, and that’s a wonderful thing.

Sol y Mar Magazine

5. An otherworldly connection with nature.

A couple years ago, I took an ecological kayak tour at Oleta River State Park. Despite the park’s central location in bustling North Miami, when you’re paddling through the mangroves, you’re enveloped in this natural calm, without a single building in sight. Our guide referred to Miami as “a metropolis among the tropics,” and it’s true. The Yin and the Yang, the excitement of this electric city life, tempered by the slow rhythms of tropical abundance. It’s just another day to see dolphins or manatees swimming alongside your boat or paddle board. Every time I drive over the 195 at sunset, I feel like I’m cruising down a rainbow between two clouds, watching the neon sky melt behind the skyline, casting its fuchsia glimmer over Biscayne Bay. It’s something I’ve done a thousand times and could never take for granted.

Greater Miami and The Beaches

6. There’s always something fun to do.

If you don’t like to be bored, you’re a creature of the night, or seek variety in your social calendar, Miami is your perfect match. You can go to dinner at 10pm on a Wednesday. Or a disco hula hooping class followed by a dance party at 10am on a Sunday (I’m looking at you, Daybreaker Miami). There’s a new restaurant opening every five minutes. There’s a Mango Festival. A Greek Festival. A Pink Floyd laser light show at the Frost Museum planetarium. Black light CBD yoga classes with body painting. The city’s first skate park in Downtown Miami. Sound healings. Art Basel. Miami Music Week. The creativity and energy in this city never stop.

Vaco Studio

7. Anything goes.

Whenever someone asks me why I love Miami, this is always my answer. There’s a special sort of radical acceptance in this town, because we’re all a little crazy in our own right, and we all hold space for each other to be a little bit wacko. You can be a 70-year-old rollerblading in a thong and practically no one bats an eyelash. At the spots I frequent, you can get as dressed up as you want or be as laid back as you feel like, nobody cares. You can work your corporate 9-5 in Brickell or be a pool server in South Beach, and almost nobody here upon meeting will ask “so what do you do?” Instead, people ask how you are and where you’re from — because Miami celebrates and welcomes you, no matter who you are.

Miami New Times

Cover photo by The Gray Line.


Fueled by Florida sunshine and iced café con leches, Julia is a marketing and PR manager by day and a rollerblading, concert-seeking, Tropical Disco Barbie by night. Keep up with her playlists, cat pics and South Beach adventures at @jecavalieri