I am currently planning for my eighth Ultra, and I find myself nervously tapping my foot against my metal desk. No longer a Miami resident, the city seems to change each time I make another visit, which only adds to the confusion and anxiety of getting from downtown to South Beach in order to catch a special afterparty. During those previous seven years, I have been stranded and broke a couple of occasions, looking for food at five a.m. countless times, left standing outside packed clubs more often than I care to remember, and stuck in an unfortunate sexual situation exactly one time. So, if only for my own mental well-being, I hope to add a little hard-earned wisdom to your own Ultra planning.
First off, even if you are from a massive city and rely on public transit everyday of your life, do not plan on utilizing Miami’s public transit system to timely deliver you at your final destination this week; you will end up stranded near Lincoln Road at four a.m. wondering when the next bus will finally arrive. However, if you plan on pre-gaming, then purchase your one-day Metrod fare in advance, and hop aboard to find your way safely to Bayfront Park. Traveling with a group of people, then pre-arrange a large passenger van to get you from the Ultra grounds to your hotel and/or final destination. These vans will be available curbside following the nightly events, but the price tag will cut into your drinking budget significantly. Cabs will be available, but I wish you the best of luck trying to hail one and then pay a reasonable fare. A designated driver is also ALWAYS a great idea, just be ready to really scour for public parking no matter where you go in Miami.
Believe it or not, you cannot live on cocktails alone. Downtown establishments like Ceviche 105, Bali Cafe and Cafe Bastille all offer a taste of eclectic Miami cuisine on a reasonable budget and are all within easy walking distance to Bayfront Park. There is also a food court within the Bayside Marketplace that has plenty of options for those not wanting to wander too far for lunch. For those looking for something higher-end, db Bistro Moderne and Chop House 305 offer fabulous cuisine almost within listening distance to Ultra. Best way to fill you belly between the event and after? I recommend hitting up the Subway and grab-and-go pizza joint on the bottom floor of the hotels that lie just north of the festivities. If you happen to have some spare time, there are tons of great eats within the evolving Wynwood Arts District, tourist-friendly Mary Brickell Village, and on the short trek to Key Biscayne (which offers some of the best views of Miami as you drive back from a place like The Rusty Pelican after a light happy hour).
It’s probably advisable to rest a few days prior to baking by the bay for three days and night; however, this is Miami Music Week and if you are fortunate enough to make it down to SoFla prior to Friday, the rest will just have to wait until March 31st. While my personal tastes appeal more to groove-based sexiness, I have often strayed to the chaos of bass music, so here are a few suggestions to satisfy that exploratory nature within us all.