Head south for Springbreak and visit some of Miami’s waterfront businesses and experiences, just three hours from home. For rivers 55 and 56, River Roamin’ with the Tillery’s did just that. With our Bass Buggy in tow, we set off for a weekend of exploration while staying at a delightful Airbnb with its own private dock, right off the Miami River in the heart of downtown Miami. With the population of Miami-Dade significantly denser than that of the Treasure Coast, be sure to leave early and plan on traffic no matter the time of day. Yet, with patience and plenty of alertness, once you arrive at your destination, you will discover it was worth the intense drive to arrive.
Just outside the River Landing shopping mall and condominium complex, the Gerry Curtis Park public boat ramp provided plenty of parking and ease to enter the Miami River. Our son, Charlie, served as captain for mom and dog, Seger, as we wiped down our boat seats from the rain that joined us for the final hour of our drive. Yet, once on the water, surrounded by mega yachts and thousands of shipping containers; we felt a sense of calm. The Miami River seemed highly trafficked despite the weather and sadly was accented by a lot of trash likely left behind by the hundreds of captained charters hosted each weekend. Yet, as you look beyond the trash, the city’s appeal quickly shows itself with unique buildings, many with bold colors and murals, and full marinas occupied by boats of all styles. After our first night, we got up early and loaded our cooler with lunch consisting of chicken salad sandwiches, pineapple spears and fresh chips and salsa. Pitbull radio played in our speakers as we set out to sea.
As we passed the morning yoga and workout classes along the riverbed, we saw the charm in the businesses that decorated for both day and night along the working waterfront. Art was all around us, in massive sculptures as well as in architecture. Before entering the Miami port area, the water got rougher, and we held onto each other a bit closer as we prepared to get into the channel surrounded by massive cruise ships, hundreds of law enforcement boats, and floating tiki barges. In a short while, we made it to Picnic Island, a perfect place to let Seger run free along the south side, far from the variety of food boats that moored up offering fresh lunch options for groups big and small.
Next stop through the Biscayne Bay, was the Little Biscayne River, our 56th river in our family’s goal to go down every river in Florida. Adorned with nice sized homes, charming and well-manicured yet not pretentious, the water’s depth became increasingly shallower as we headed west. After having lunch looking out at the small community park, we set our sights towards the big bridges for some fishing. With the music blaring, we caught several fish in a row including a sizeable Triggerfish. With our day complete, we headed in for some relaxation before our 8:30pm reservations at the Jamon Iberico Pata Negra Restaurant.
Just steps away from the Scottish Rite of Miami, this Spanish restaurant offered up live Flamenco dancing in a separate space from the main dining room. At an extra $15 per person, the guitarist and two dancers adorn dinner guests with passionate performances and music that charges your heart blood flow as if its surging through the floorboards. With several tapas to try, our family enjoyed the pitcher of sangria complete with diced apples and berries along with the salty, serrano ham croquettes. Additionally, we dined on the Felipe’s Broken Eggs with chorizo and pork loin as well as a sensational lobster bisque with fresh crema. Though we did not order their famous paella, we did try the Galician Style Octopus which was not a favorite at the table but fun to try. With our energy high, this mom river roamer was the first to take to the stage when invited up by the dancers at the end of their performance. It was a joy to relive a childhood memory from a similar experience in downtown Toronto some twenty-five years ago. Looking our Miami best in bright happy colors and prints, we hopped in our Uber back to our weekend casa. As per usual, our Sunday morning sendoff consisted of an early wakeup for mom and pup with fresh coffee and views of the river and sunrise. After a quick breakfast and final look, we loaded up the truck with our luggage and reattached the boat trailer. Dad set off to the boat launch and Charlie drove the boat back with Mom and Seger for a final good bye to the Miami River.