As the New Year approaches, we're all thinking about ways to make next year even better. As you work on your New Year's resolutions, don't forget to resolve to explore your new city and get to know it better. Miami is a fascinating and multi-layered city, and not all its charms are immediately visible.
We offer these New Year's resolutions for Miamians, whether you arrived yesterday or you have been here all your life.
1. Visit one of Miami's national parks.
If you haven't yet been to Everglades National Park, that's a good place to start. But any place that helps you see and learn more about the beauty of Florida is a good place to visit. You can take a kayak or canoe trip through Oleta River State Park, Matheson Hammock or Biscayne National Park, or bicycle along the Old Cutler trail or the Rickenbacker path.
Discover the incredible variety of Florida plants at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. As urban as South Florida has become, it is still a place of great natural beauty. Pick a place you haven't been yet, and go there and be with nature.
2. Check out the Miami music scene.
You may have come here knowing folk music, jazz, classical music or show tunes. Or maybe you know all about salsa and merengue, but nothing about American folk, jazz or barbershop music.The Miami music scene is impressive—you can find all kinds of music and experience the fusion of multiple styles as well. Pick a genre you don't know well and go to a concert or other live performance. Cities, malls and organizations put on concerts throughout the year, many of them free. If you want to make music, you can do that, too. Look for a community chorus or MeetUp group.
3. Learn to dance.
Every dance party has a Latin segment. If you don't dance salsa, now is the time to learn. Or maybe you're interested in merengue, ballroom dancing or country line dancing. Dancing is a very popular thing to do in Miami at night, and you don't want to be left on the sidelines. Some clubs offer free lessons in the early evening, before the real dancing starts.
4. Visit a new free museum.
Have you seen Miami's newest museums, the Perez Art Museum Miami, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science? What about History Miami, where you can learn the fascinating history of the place you now call home?Most Miami museums have at least one free day a month, and many have special events in the evenings and on weekends. In addition to art, history and science museums, Miami has more unusual museums: The Gold Coast Railroad Museum, the Wolfsonian-FIU (which celebrates art and design), the Jewish Museum of Florida-FIU, the World Erotic Art Museum and the Black Police Precinct Courthouse and Museum are just a few.
5. Celebrate another culture.
A favorite joke about Miami is that it's so close to the United States. It is certainly one of a few cities in the United States where you regularly come into contact with people from all over the world. Miami has a large Hispanic population, of course, many of Cuban ancestry.But Miami also counts residents from Haiti, the English-speaking Caribbean, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa. Look for events that celebrate another culture, such as Big Night in Little Haiti or Calle Ocho, and learn about your neighbors.
6. Learn a new language.
You may have noticed there is a lot of Spanish spoken in Miami, as well as Haitian Creole, French, Italian, German, Russian, Hebrew, Arabic and Hindi. Even Miami residents who were born in the United States often speak a second language, which they use in business and travel.If you're not already multilingual, try a class in another language. Spanish is the most useful, but if you already speak Spanish, try French, Italian or Creole. Not only will you learn to communicate with others, you'll be reminded of how difficult it is to learn another language as an adult and perhaps be more tolerant of neighbors who aren't proficient in English.
7. Take a day trip from Miami.
Miami is interesting, and so are many places within easy driving distance. You can take a day trip from Miami and snorkel or ride a glass-bottom boat in Key Largo, drive through Lion Country Safari in Palm Beach County or take a water taxi through downtown Fort Lauderdale. A 60-minute drive to Monroe, Broward or Palm Beach counties can take you into another world.
8. Take an overnight trip.
Many people in South Florida rarely visit the rest of Florida, except perhaps Orlando, and that's a shame. Florida is a diverse and fascinating state, with many beautiful natural areas, historic sites and interesting small cities.Consider visiting the Greek fishing village of Tarpon Springs, the pristine beach at Cape Canaveral National Seashore, historic downtown Fernandina Beach or the shell capital of Sanibel Island. You can find funky beach towns, sophisticated cities, quiet campgrounds and an incredible variety of environments in Florida.