It’s not Florida– It’s South Beach!: As you travel through Florida, you’ll see that each community, even the coastal ones, have their own distinct personality. You will not find the same art deco architecture in snowbird Brevard County (the Space Coast), as you will in Miami Beach. People who live in Miami Beach tend to be diverse, sophisticated, have a penchant for the arts, and spend lavishly on fashion and entertainment. And all Miami residents have a little something in common that people in other cities do not. Here are 10 things that Miami Beach locals will totally understand.
If you’re a local in Miami Beach, you know at least some Spanish
Having an arsenal of Spanish words and phrases is not only a survival tool in Miami Beach, it’s a courtesy. Even if you get the dialect wrong, the local businesses, many which are run by Cubans, appreciate the effort. Although many of the immigrant residents learn English, it’s classy for South Beach residents to know how to at least pronounce ‘Mojito”, when they order one. Locals also aren’t surprised when they offer a coffee and are brought a thick, strong, heavenly liquid served in a tiny cup
Most locals work hard and are in great shape
Looking at apartment rentals in Miami Beach, it’s clear they don’t go for a song. Trulia.com, has listings for apartments in Miami Beach that go for $1,798 for a studio. If an apartment is listed at a cheaper price it generally signifies something is either wrong with the apartment or that it’s located in an area that’s not as desired as others. Don’t confuse the Miami Dade area with Miami Beach, they are completely different universes.
Also, if you live in South Beach, odds are you are probably in good shape. The culture there is as much about outward appearance as inner. Locals eat more local fresh fruit and seafood than greasy burgers. They don’t call it the “South Beach Diet” for nothing.
Locals dress well for just about everything
The South Beach nightlife scene is world famous, and so is fashion. So if you don’t want to look like a tourist, don’t wear your cutoffs and flip flops to dinner. Odds are you won’t get into most clubs dressed like that, as many have a particular dress code. Jeans are okay in many exclusive clubs; however, locals know there is a difference between the dress jeans you go out in, and the ones you wear to Disney World in Orlando. The same goes for shorts. A dressy shorts outfit is different than your Daisy Dukes with the pockets sticking out. If in doubt about how locals dress to impress to get into these trendy venues, read this article from Miami and Beaches.com. Also, expect to pay $40 or more for a cover charge if you make it past the velvet ropes.
Locals don’t stick out their tongues and scream in public
Nope, those are the Spring Breakers, many of whom act like debauched mental patients as soon as they see that first neon sign. Since the economy depends on tourism, that lovely local bartender with the sun kissed skin and warm smile will take it all in stride, and chalk it up to “Miami Fever.” She also may refuse to serve you and be warned— even a place that looks like a dive has protocol, and they take extra care to scrutinize ID’s. With all that fine weather and water, the locals in Miami Beach could act like fools, but why would they? Many residents spend much of their days or nights at work, either working in the arts, hospitality, or furiously pounding their laptops, telecommuting to work. It’s not a non-stop party. Once a haven for retirees, this community is now full of ambitious career-minded individuals.
A hurricane isn’t a party
All Floridians, but especially those on the Miami coast, know that hurricanes are deadly foes. Those who have lived in Miami Beach for decades know that a hurricane warning is time to check the emergency kit, gas up the car, and throw up the window shutters. They have been through the tragedy of the 1992 Hurricane Andrew that wrecked havoc in their community. Locals know that these types of storms are not to be trifled with. So if you see someone on TV parading around during a hurricane in Miami Beach, chances are it isn’t a local.
Locals watch their backs in certain areas
Locals who live in Miami Beach know which areas can be hotbeds of crime. It’s not always a laid back beach town as drug dealers, smugglers, muggers and prostitutes sometimes frequent particular spots so it’s best to be careful. To avoid these spots, it’s best to cozy up to a local who knows the terrain.
Anything and everything can wash up on shore
Floating oddities, everything from dead bodies to drugs and money can be swept in by the tide. If you see a suitcase or suspicious bag covered in seaweed it’s best to report it to the police rather than be curious and open it. “Square Grouper” abounds in this part of the sunshine state. If you don’t believe it, read a few Tim Dorsey novels. This really happens.
Parking in Miami Beach is a nightmare
Think you are going to cruise into a parking spot near the beach, or sit in your car on the beach, like Will Smith did in his famous “Welcome To Miami” video? Think again. Parking is expensive and lots near the beach make big money. Even if you find a spot you will still be parking quite a long walk from the waves. Locals know the dodgy areas that throw up a sign for a couple of weeks from the reputable garages.
Miami Beach Cubans are not all Communists or Catholics
There is a large Jewish population of Cubans residing in Miami, so there is a such thing as Cuban-Kosher. The Miami Times posted an article Kosher, Cuban, and Very Miami, that explains the Jewish-Cuban culture in Miami. Cuba even makes Kosher cigars for those who want to smoke a stogie that’s been Rabbi approved.
Locals watch Jai-Alai like we do football
Jai-Alai is a popular sport in the area, and is part of the culture as well as a hopping betting venue. It’s pronounced “Hi-Lie.” Since the 1920s this sport has endured as a favorite of Miami Beach locals, but not across the state. An article in Miami Culture.com explains some of the history and its local appeal.