Jet Set: Miami

Here on the fourth floor, we love to make the most of our
weekends. Whether it’s a staycation in the Big Smoke or weekend getaways, we’re
always up to discover new things to do. We recently jetted off to Miami (a three-hour flight away) and loved every minute of it. We put together a list
of what to do, where to stay and where to eat (plus a few helpful ‘what to
avoid’ tips). If you haven’t got plans yet for Family Day weekend, this is an awesome and easy trip to take last-minute.


Where to stay:

The Delano
Hotel
(1685 Collins Ave.)

This gorgeous urban oasis is located in South Beach and has
everything a vacation goer could dream of. Styled with
Alice in Wonderland in
mind, the decor includes whimsical touches, high ceilings and a beautiful pool to
lie by (known as the
Orchard).
Rooms start at $450 a night, and go up (way up). The hotel comes complete with a dance club (
FDR),
fine dining (
Bianca
and
UMI)
and its very own Vegas-style pool party every Sunday. 

Obviously, this hotel isn’t for vacationers on a budget. If you’re
looking to splurge on other areas of your trip, consider staying on Ocean Avenue
in the
Beacon Hotel. This
accommodation provides free breakfast (waffles, eggs, pancakes!) and 2-for-1
drink specials.
Soho Beach House
(4385 Collins Ave.)

This spot is ah-mazing. Although Soho House is a private club,
the hotel can be booked by guests. Lucky. The service is impeccable, the beds
are what dreams are made of and you’re just steps away from a glorious pool and the
ocean. Sitting by the ocean in the big comfortable chairs, drinking cocktails
and being served chips and guac makes all your worries go away. The beach team
will get you sunscreen, fluffy towels, food, magazines, whatever else you need.


Where to eat:

Prime One Twelve (101 Ocean Dr.)

Known as Kim Kardashian’s
favourite Miami restaurant (and located across the street from The
Hilton Bentley
home to Kourtney and Khloe when they “took” Miami), this
steak house still has us drooling over their dishes. Our favourites were the
Hawaiian Big Eye Tuna Tartare w/ Cassava and the 8 oz. Filet Mignon. Be sure
to make a reservation in advance and go early to enjoy their selection of
cocktails.  


Cecconi’s
(Soho House, 4385 Collins Ave.)

This restaurant is an
onsite favourite spot among locals. At night, it sparkles with little lights and is has an outdoor garden. On Sundays, Cecconi’s serves the ‘feast’
 – one of the
most spectacular presentations we’ve ever seen – a brunch with made-to-order omelettes, Parmesan chunks, big beefy shrimp, fresh juices and just about anything else
your heart desires. There are too many things to talk about with this property,
so here
is a great Toronto Star article that sums it up. Check it out. 


Mandolin (4312
NE 2nd Ave.)

Be sure to visit this Aegean Bistro called Mandolin. Its lovely outdoor
garden feels like you’ve stepped into a perfect little spot on a Greek
island. Definitely try the Turkish sampler, the grilled octopus and the
moussaka. It 
also helps to wash it all down with some delicious Spanish cava.
Yardbird (1600 Lenox
Ave.)

Named one of 50 Best New Restaurants in the US by Bon Appetit in 2012, you’ll want to call ahead for reservations. The cocktails are strong, the food
is rich and the crowd is loud. Eat: the fried green BLT and the fried chicken.
Drink: Bourbon (we tried the Southern Revival).
What to do:

Daytime:

The best pastime in South Beach, is well, the beach! The
water is warm, the people-watching is excellent and the sand is white. Pack a
cooler, bring a portable iPod dock and sunscreen and relax! 


Drinks:

Grab a drink on the rooftop of the Perry Hotel, before
heading out for the night. The rooftop has beautiful views of the city
accompanied by sounds of crashing waves below.


Night time:

If you’re up for drinks and dancing be sure to check out
Wall at the W Hotel. This intimate club has a nice atmosphere, great music and
a beautiful pool outside if you need to escape for some fresh air. 

Where to avoid:

If you’re looking to have conversation or a romantic dinner, avoid Nobu Miami. Amazing food and
service, however, the atmosphere is unlike other Nobu locations and is more
family friendly (read: loud and busy).

Nikki Beach, Miami. This dated venue does not live up to the hype. Plus, there’s no pool.

Mansion Night club. Don’t. Just don’t.

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Jet Set: 10 Tokyo Must-Do’s that Don’t Cost a Penny

It’s that time of year again, you’re starting to think about planning vacations to hot and sunny destinations. Wait, before you book yet another all-inclusive resort, consider a week in one of the world’s premiere cities. Known for being a leader in cultural trends, Tokyo has amazing shopping, nightlife and is the perfect balance between modern metropolis and quaint old world beauty. Contrary to popular belief, Tokyo can be accomplished on the cheap, it just takes a little creativity. The metro system is top notch and will take you straight to any destination that you can imagine. We’ve compiled our top 10 totally free activities below. We hope this inspires you to book your ticket.  

If you haven’t hit karaoke too hard the night before, plan
to get over to the famous market for five a.m. There, you’ll witness the world’s largest fish
market and live auction.
How to get there: Take the metro to Tsukiji-Shijo or Tsukiji
stations and follow your nose!
Worthy spend: Locals will stop by on their way to work for  breakfast and we suggest you take their lead. Be warned, there are no rolls here people, just melt in your mouth pieces of fresh tuna
and salmon. Yummy.

Going once, going twice…

      Breakfast of champions.
2. Look around for Harijuku Girls
Prime Harijuku Girl sightings will generally happen on the weekend. If you’re only planning to stop in Tokyo for a
few days, try to accommodate, you won’t be disappointed. 
These girls put so much effort and detail into their looks – we should have to pay just to look at them – but here’s just another reason why Tokyo is so awesome. Harijuku and
surrounding streets are also filled with boutiques offering new and vintage clothing and accessories. 
How to get there: Take the metro to Harajuku station. Observe.

We’re impressed.
Image source

Good idea, Gwen.

3. Cross the street! Shibuya Crossing
Trust us, this is an activity. This four way intersection is an
experience (you have to be there). At night it’s especially beautiful when the
city lights turn on. We hung out at the coolest Starbucks with glass windows that offer a lookout point for gawking and people watching.
How to get there: Take the metro to Shibuya station.

4. Loiter in a park – Yoyogi Park
Stunning parks offer a sweet escape from the sensory
overload of the city. You may bump into local musicians practising by a tree, a jiu-jitsu class in training – you never know who or what
you might see. Relax and read a book near the pond, which is also a great place for
bird watching.
Worthy spend: Ueno Park.
Ueno has a lot to offer including sprawling gardens, museums,
temples, a zoo and a little amusement park for kids. Visit during cherry blossom
season (which begins in late April) and you’ll be in heaven. 
Admission for adults is around 400 Yen = $4 Canadian. There
is additional admission to visit one of the many museums and art galleries on the park grounds.
How to get there: Take the metro to Ueno station.

Napping in Yoyogi Park, why not?
 Cherry blossom season in Ueno Park. 
The most famous shrine in Tokyo, this is a
gorgeous and understated temple that is open seven
days a week. Take a nice stroll around the temple grounds to take in the charming gardens. Located across from Yoyogi Park, these two landmarks make for one
very zen afternoon.
Meji Shrine temple, located in Asakusa.

6. Spectacular Skyline Views – The Tokyo Metropolitan Building
This government
building has two observation decks that offer breathtaking skyline views. On a
clear day you can see all the way to Mount Fuji and you can locate other Tokyo
landmarks including the Meiji Shrine and the Tokyo Tower. 
There is also a tourist information desk in the building which
is always helpful.


7. Lost in Translation?
Attention movie buffs: Located right around the corner from the Tokyo Metropolitan
Building, The Park Hyatt Tokyo is the infamous hotel where Lost in Translation was filmed. 
Worthy spend: Experience high tea or hang out for a few cocktails in the hotel bar.    

We’d like to be lost in Tokyo anytime, Scarlett.

This tower only opened in March 2012. Although it’s not free to go
up to the observatories, and you must book in advance, it is free to wander around
the shopping floors. The modern architecture and design is what makes this new landmark a must see. 
Worthy spend: Sumida
Aquarium. Located on the 5th floor of the Tokyo Sky Tree, this
aquarium is impressive and features a massive tank filled with penguins and a
few seals that you can watch swim under water. Admission is 2000 Yen = $25 Canadian.

9. Old Town Tokyo – Asakusa and Zenkoji Temple
This is a popular neighbourhood for backpackers as it boasts
many inexpensive yet surprisingly clean hostels, or try a night in a capsule hotel. Spend some time strolling around
the market in Asakusa where you can taste some Japanese treats filled with red bean paste and find other traditional souvenirs.
You will also come across the Zenkoji temple and surrounding
gardens, a truly romantic place to be at night.


 Zenkoji Temple.
10. Festivals 
There are tons of festivals that take place around the city at every time of year. It’s definitely worth looking into what’s happening while you’re there, so that you don’t miss the opportunity to be a part of a true Japanese cultural celebration.

The peace sign! Everyone’s doing it.

Tokyo is a must do for these reasons and many more. Since you’ll be saving some cash with these tips, you can spend a few extra dollars on karaoke bars, a sumo wrestling show or a few nights in one of Tokyo’s many luxury hotels. The city is really yours to interpret and enjoy.