Photo: Ines Hegedus-Garcia
Miami arrived on the art scene in 2002 when Art Basel, the world’s premier contemporary art fair based in Basel, Switzerland, decided to expand its venue. Miami Beach was selected as a location that would attract North and Latin American participants. Art Basel Miami is now the largest contemporary art fair in the United States attracting more than 77,000 attendees each year. Contemporary art found a home, and so did street art.
Wynwood Art District
Once a neighborhood of empty warehouses, Wynwood is now known for its colorful murals. In addition to its street art, Wynwood is home to over 70 galleries, museums, and art collections. The second Saturday of the month, the galleries are open late for the “Art Walk.” Thousands of people flock to the area to enjoy the gallery exhibits, street musicians, and Miami’s famous food trucks.
Editor’s note: These spots are all taken directly from travelstoke®, a new app from Matador that connects you with fellow travelers and locals, and helps you build trip itineraries with spots that integrate seamlessly into Google Maps and Uber. Download the app to add any of the spots below directly to your future trips.
Miami’s street art began with Wynwood Walls. It was the vision of the Miami property developer, the late Tony Goldman, “to create and display the greatest street art ever seen in one place.” He offered his 18-walled alcove at 2520 NW 2ndAvenue as a canvas to display street art. Twelve renowned graffiti artists completed Wynwood Walls in time for the 2009 Art Basel Miami Beach Fair. The Walls were an instant success and now are one of the top attractions in Miami.
Wynwood Walls Mural by Miss Van
This mural in the Wynwood Walls complex was painted by Miss Van, from Toulouse, France. She began her painting street art at the age of 18 and often paints women with angelic and devilish qualities.
Seeing the success of Wynwood Walls, other landlords invited artists to paint their walls. Over 300 artists have contributed murals.
Mural on Galley 212 Wall
Wall murals are concentrated along NW 2nd Avenue between 23rd and 28th Streets. Now it is a tradition to have new murals in time for Art Basel which is held the first week of December. Artists are given free reign as to subject matter. The murals are constantly changing, so don’t be disappointed if one of your favorites is painted over.
It’s easy to spend several hours in Wynwood. Take a break from mural viewing at Panther Coffee, a Miami-based specialty coffee roaster, located at 2441 NW 2nd Avenue.
For a stronger drink, a few blocks away at 565 NW 24th Street is Wynwood Brewing Company. It was Miami’s first craft production brewery and features a tap room. Enjoy Happy Hour 4 pm to 7 pm Monday through Friday when beers are discounted by $1 or $2.
There are plenty of dining options in Wynwood. Catch a bit to eat at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar on the corner of 26th Street and NW 2nd Avenue overlooking Wynwood Walls. The back wall is the work of Shepard Fairey, a talented graphic artist, and muralist.
Across the street from Wynwood Walls at 2550 NW 2nd Avenue, is Wood Tavern specializing in Mexican food.
For affordable Italian food, go to Joey’s Italian café at 2516 NW 2nd Avenue, just up the block from Wynwood Walls. Joey’s was one of the first restaurants to open in Wynwood. Their pizza is delicious and was named as one of the country’s best by Food and Wine magazine.
Welcome to Little Havana
The neighborhood of Little Havana offers another opportunity to see street art. Little Havana was created by Cuban exiles escaping the Castro regime. It does not have as many murals as Wynwood District, but its street art has a distinctive Cuban influence. The famous Rooster and “Welcome to Calle Ocho” sign are located at the corner of 8th Street, known as Calle Ocho, and 25th Avenue, but the heart of the area is on Calle Ocho between 17th Avenue and 13th Avenue. Begin at 8th Street and 17th Avenue and walk eastward on Calle Ocho toward 10th Avenue. Look for wall murals on the side streets. Enjoy this neighborhood with its Cuban cigar stores, restaurants, Cuban coffee cafes, and art galleries. The second Friday of the month the galleries are open late for the Little Havana Art Walk.
Wall mural by Daniel Fila
NewAmsterdam®Vodka teamed up with artist Daniel Fila for this mural on the wall of the Futurama Gallery located at 1641 Calle Ocho.
El Pub restaurant on the corner of 16th Avenue and Calle Ocho serves Cuban coffee at its outdoor coffee counter.
Across the street from El Pub, at 16th Avenue, is El Cristo Restaurant. Sit outside and enjoy the Cuban food and people watching.
Watch cigars being hand rolled at the Cuba Tobacco Cigar Company located at 1518 Calle Ocho. The Bello family has been involved in Cuban cigars for five generations.
A top for ice cream at Azucar Ice Cream Company located at 1510 Calle Ocho. They have traditional flavors of ice cream and tropical fruit flavors including guava, mamey, mango, and passion fruit. The Abuela (grandmother) Maria ice cream, named for the owner’s grandmother, is delicious.
As you approach Maxino Gomez Plaza at Calle Ocho and 15th street, you hear the clattering of dominos coming from Domino Park. Inside the park, there are permanent tables where Cuban old-timers gather to play dominos.
Mural of First Summit of the Americas
On the back wall is a mural of Domino Plaza, there is a mural of the Hispanic heads of state who attended the first Summit of the Americas held in Miami in 1994.
On the side of the La Esquina de la Fama Restaurant on the cormer of SW 14th Avenue and Calle Ocho, a wall mural pays tribute to several Cuban musicians as well as other US and Cuban heroes.
Admire the mural on the front of Yisell bakery at 1350 Calle Ocho, and try the pastelitos. Guava paste pastelitos are a popular Cuban snack.
Cuban Memorial Plaza
At Calle Ocho and SW 13th Avenue is the Cuban Memoral Plaza. There are monuments commemorating the 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion and Cuban wars of independence.
The exterior of the Goodwill Superstore at 982 Calle Ocho has an array of graffiti art. The mural is the results of the Good Will Project which gave famous and unknown artists a square on the wall to paint.