By Jeanine Consoli
In 2009, Tony Goldman, a real estate entrepreneur and founder of Goldman properties, discovered an area of Miami that was almost a wasteland. There were abandoned parking lots filled with garbage and stark walls that screamed out for beautification. Mr. Goldman’s vision was to create an outdoor street art museum, featuring enormous murals from some of the best street artists working around the world. He wanted to take away some of the grit and replace it with art to infuse and repurpose the neighborhood. His vision became a reality and since its inception, the open-air museum has grown to include the Wynwood Doors, the Wynwood Garden, over 400 businesses including: restaurants, gallery spaces, breweries, bakeries, retail and coffee shops. You could spend two or three days exploring the art and eating your way around Wynwood. Here are some of the best ways to spend your time.
The Wynwood Walls is your first stop. As you enter the gate on NW 2nd Avenue between 25th and 26th street you will surround yourself with iconic street artists like Kenny Scharf, Futura and Shepard Fairey (famous for his Obey clothing and the Obama “Hope” poster). The entire installation features 14 murals, many of which rotate every year to prepare for the Art Basel festival which occurs in December.The Wynwood Walls shop sells books documenting the area from year to year with photographs of all the murals which have graced the walls since 2009. The murals are meant to evolve and change, so that the experience will always be fresh.
The Wynwood Doors became an extension of the Wynwood Walls because the 176 feet of roll-up storefront doors reminded Mr. Goldman of a traditional portrait gallery. This area features more artists just on smaller “canvases.” As you move past the doors you will discover the Wynwood Walls Garden which has a lush lawn area where often times sculptures dot the landscape and five large murals including a shipping container installation surround the greenspace. Within this area you will discover the Goldman Global Arts Gallery. The gallery represents only the artist who have created murals over the years. There are over 30 artists from 16 countries represented in the space.
Take a tour or two. Intrepid Urban Adventures offers a Wynwood Art & Beer tour that makes for a great combination of experiences. You can meet the tour at the entrance to the Wall at 2520 NW 2nd ave. The expert guide will show you around the walls and give you the insight behind the murals. After a tour within the walls, you get to go off the trail, see some of the lesser known street art (just outside the walls) and stop at two different breweries serving locally crafted beverages. You will also get a chance to grab a snack from one of the local restaurants in the area. You meet the guide right at the entrance to the walls on NW 2nd Ave. The groups are small so that you can have an intimate two-hour opportunity to to discover this iconic neighborhood. The tours begins at 2:00 pm and ticket prices are $59.00 for adults and $49.00 for children’s tickets (ages 6-11). Children under 6 are free.
Miami Culinary Tours is foodie focused, family friendly and is an amazing value. The Wynwood Food and Art Tour is a two-and a half-hour excursion (a mile of total walking time) that covers the history of the Wynwood Walls, the culture of the unique Miami neighborhood and the cuisine of some of the best chefs operating restaurants there. Adult tickets are $69.00 and children’s tickets, aged 8-13 are $49.00. The times are aligned with either lunch at 12:00 pm or dinner at 6:00 pm. Your tour includes five food restaurant stops where heavy snacks, full meals and desserts are served.
Visit a different kind of art gallery. Walt Grace Vintage is a must stop on your travels around Wynwood. Founder Bill Goldstein curated an astounding collection of antique cars and vintage guitars, some of which were owned by legends in the rock n’ roll world. His collection includes investment grade automobiles and guitars because, “Both vintage cars and guitars belong in an art gallery of their own, and should be given the same weight and importance of any other works of art.”
Walt Grace Vintage 2450 NW 2nd Ave.
Grab a sweet treat. Cielito Artisan Pops are made daily in the heart of Wynwood and the shop is the first of its kind. Cielito offers small batch, hand crafted frozen desserts that you can customize by dipping and adding topping of all sorts. They use local ingredients, no preservatives or additives of any kind and all their dairy products are hormone free. The store is family and dog friendly and even offer pops for your pup. They are located at 2750 NW 3rd Ave.
Enjoy some live music and great alfresco dining. One step inside The Wynwood Yard and you instantly recognize that you are in for a unique experience. The Yard is an event and culinary destination just a few blocks from the Wynwood Walls. Located at the lots 56, 64, 70 and 82 on NW 29th street, the Yard is designed to encourage community and serves as a meeting spot for drinks and dining. Along with the Bar at the Yard, there are eight to ten different food trucks that offer choices from pizza to Latin fusion, to decadent mac and cheese to Della Test Kitchen, which offers 100 percent plant-based health bowls. If you prefer a full-service restaurant, CHARCOAL Garden Bar & Grill is the only dining establishment in Miami constructed completely out of shipping containers. The food is organic, locally sourced and grilled in fiery hot charcoal Josper grills that reach temperatures of up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. This cooking method allows for the development of deep and pure flavors that elevate the dining experience. The Yard also offers weekly programming where patrons can participate in yoga, culinary classes, urban gardening classes, and live musical performances like Jazz at the Yard.
The Yard is open daily from 12am-11pm during the week and from 11 am – Late Night on the weekends.
They say that travel is transformative and that one emerges from a trip changed in various ways. The transformation of one Miami neighborhood, from a dilapidated warehouse filled, manufacturing zone, to an outdoor gallery of the most colorful and thought-provoking street art will end up amazing and astounding you in countless ways. If you have a few days in Miami, take time to explore Wynwood, much like the neighborhood, you will become revitalized.
All photos by Jeanine Consoli