Visit Alabama Jacks
With a name like this, every Alabama fan has to make a stop, if they haven’t already. This restaurant and bar on the side of the road sits adjacent to a waterway where fish will wait for you to feed them. No fancy service here – think more of a biker bar, come as you are, and order baskets of shrimp or conch fritters or ceviche.
58000 Card Sound Road, Key Largo. Open daily from 11 a.m. – 7 p.m .
Spend New Year’s Eve with Pitbull
Ring in 2013 with Mr. 305 himself at a special concert at the AmericanAirlines Arena. Pitbull will get the party started with hits like “I know You Want Me (Calle Ocho)” to “Don’t stop the Party.”
Dec. 31 at 9 p.m. at American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 786-777-1000; $70.50-$197, VIP $531.35 at Ticketmaster.
Take a Boat Tour of Star Island
Check out the sights at a slower pace with plenty of photo opportunities aboard the Island Queen. The tour takes you past the Miami port, crosses past Fisher Island and Miami Beach marina, then tours celebrity homes on Star Island. A bar offers snacks and drinks — beer is $5 and a pina colada is $7. There is ample seating for 130 people, but make sure to board early in order to get a seat on the covered, open-air upper deck. (Those go quick.) Lots of tourists and cruise ship visitors are on the boat, and the tour guide does her best to give plenty of information and history on the area, with a touch of humor. Among the homes talked about on Star Island are those owned by Gloria Estefan, Paulina Rubio, Sean “Diddy” Combs, and those formerly owned by Sylvester Stallone and Elizabeth Taylor.
Departs from Bayside Marketplace, 401 Biscayne Blvd.; 305-379-5119; 90 minute tours, 10 departures daily between 10:30 a.m. and 7 p.m. Cost: $26 adults, $18 children 4-12, free children under 3; save $3 if purchased on the Internet at www.islandqueencruises.com
Eat Dinner at Yardbird
Feeling a bit homesick and looking for an authentic southern meal? Head to critically acclaimed Yardbird Southern Table and Bar where the menu is straight from the south. We’re talking fried chicken, biscuits and honey butter, spiced watermelon, shrimp and grits, and plenty of BLT using pork belly instead of bacon. The bar is bourbon and whiskey friendly, and the staff knows southern hospitality. Just make sure to call ahead for reservations as the restaurant is full on a regular basis.
1600 Lenox Ave., Miami Beach; 305-538-5220; Hours: Mon-Thu Noon – Midnight, Fri Noon - 2 a.m., Sat 10 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sun 10 a.m. - 12 a.m.
Go Dancing at the Round Up
Nightclubs with house music DJs not your thing? Looking for some country music nightlife? Well head west, away from the beach, to Miami’s honky-tonk side at the Round Up Country Western Nightclub. We’re talking Ladies Night drink specials on Fridays, line dancing, boots, buckles, cowboy hats and $15 all-you-can-drink special on Saturday’s. Warning: you better bring your line dancing skills, because if you can’t keep up you will be asked to leave the dance floor. Giddy up!
9020 W State Rd 84, Davie; 954-423-1990; Open Wed-Sun, 6 p.m. – 4 a.m.
Visit Clarke’s Irish Pub
There are plenty of Irish bars in Miami, many of them national chains like Fado in Brickell, and Playwright and Waxy’s O’Connor’s across the street from each other on South Beach. But for a more intimate feel, with a great kitchen menu and bartenders who pour with a light elbow, head to Clarke’s Irish Pub in the tony South of Fifth area of Miami Beach. They have a solid Sunday brunch as well.
840 1st St, Miami Beach, FL 33139; (305) 538-9885 Open daily from 11:30 a.m. - midnight
Spend New Year’s Eve with Drake at the Fontainebleau
Party with Drake, one of the biggest stars of hip-hop and R & B as he takes over the luxurious Fontainebleau Hotel’s poolside with a three-hour premium open bar. Joining him is DJ Kayper.
Dec. 31 at 9 p.m. at the Fontainebleau Hotel, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach; www.DrakeNewYearsEve.com; Tickets $250, VIP packages start at $2,000.
Go to the Heat-Bulls game.
With so many Irish fans in Chicago, you figure a night at AmericanAirlines Arena to see the Bulls take on LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and company is a fun way to spend a Friday night. You can even try your luck at getting into Hyde, the exclusive nightclub/lounge space under the stands, before or during the game.
Friday, Jan. 4 at 8 p.m. at the American Airlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami. Tickets on ticketmaster.com. Call 855-777-HYDE for Hyde reservations.
Eat dinner at Khong River House
Just opened off Lincoln Road on Miami Beach is the “It” restaurant of the moment. This authentic Thai cuisine features "rustic Northern Thai" - think green papaya salad, sticky rice and Kai Yang - charcoal roasted guinea hen stuffed with lemongrass, garlic, pepper and cilantro. And the bar menu is gin based. Make sure to order a Slow Pom Fizz.
1661 Meridian Ave, Miami Beach; 786-360-2553. Open daily from 5 p.m. - midnight
Say a Prayer at St. Patrick’s
As gameday approaches, it may be best to say a prayer for the Fighting Irish before they face off with the defending national champions from Alabama on Monday, Jan. 7. St. Patrick’s is the first Catholic parish in Miami Beach. Today it boasts of a vibrant community, at times a standing-room-only mass, and a top-rated choir.
3716 Garden Ave, Miami Beach; (305) 531-1124. Saturday service at 5 p.m. and Sunday services at 8 a.m., 9:30 a.m. and 11 a.m.
Learn How a Guayabera Shirt Is Made
Ever wonder how a guayabera is made? Folklorist Mike Knoll, curator of The Guayabera: A Shirt’s Story, leads this presentation featuring a guest artisan who will demonstrate the intricate process of crafting the shirt.
Saturday, Jan. 5 at 1 p.m. at HistoryMiami, 101 W. Flagler St., Miami; 305-375-1492. Museum admission is $8.
Visit Lincoln Road during the Green Market
Lincoln Road on Miami Beach is a must visit as the open-air mall is a unique place for shopping, eating and people watching. On Sunday mornings starting at 9 a.m. the Green Market takes over featuring locally grown organic fruits and vegetables, local honey, Artisan baked goods, teas and spices, plants, orchids, cut flowers and tropical fruit smoothies.
738 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach. Free and open to all ages. 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Visit Santa’s Enchanted Forest
So many lights, so little time. So if you want to see one set of Christmas lights that is iconic with Miami, take a trek to the forest. They have food, games, rides, arguably the tallest Christmas tree in Miami and over a million light bulbs in all shapes, sizes and figures.
7900 Bird Rd., Miami; 305-559-9689; Open from 5 p.m. – midnight through Thursday, Jan. 3. Tickets: $27.10 plus tax for adults; $18.69 kids 9 and under and seniors 65+. Free for kids 1 and under.
Eat Some Authentic Cuban food
Alabama and Notre Dame fans cannot leave Miami without having some authentic Cuban food. From a Cuban sandwich to black beans and rice or even some lechon asado (marinated pork), here are our spots to eat.
Lario’s on the Beach, 820 Ocean Dr., Miami Beach
(Owned by Gloria Estefan and right on famed Ocean Drive.)
Versailles, 3555 SW 8th St., Miami
(The standard for Cuban food in Miami.)
Palacio de los Jugos, 7085 Coral Way, Miami
(Think open air market with picnic tables. Freshly made food and juice drinks)
Do Ocean Drive Like a Pro
Instead of wandering down Ocean Drive on South Beach and getting caught up in hype, just check these three places out after dark.
Mango’s Tropical Café, 900 Ocean Dr.
(Go there more for the mojitos and the live music and dancers. A must stop, even with all its cheesy goodness)
The Clevelander, 1020 Ocean Dr.
(Want to watch the other bowl games but don’t want to leave the beach scene. This is your spot, with live music on the weekends poolside.)
News Café, 800 Ocean Dr.
(Great spot for breakfast, lunch or dinner with plenty of outdoor seating for people watching.)
Attend the Discover Championship Fan Experience on Ocean Drive
For two days – Saturday Jan. 5 and Sunday Jan. 6 – South Beach is taken over by the Discover Championship Fan Experience. There will be interactive games and activities, autograph sessions and celebrity and alumni appearances. On Saturday Alabama has its team pep rally at 4 p.m. followed by the Notre Dame team pep rally at 7 p.m. On Sunday the live concert begins at 4 p.m. with Miami’s own DJ Irie, followed by Dierks Bentley taking the stage at 5 p.m. and Flo-Rida closing the show at 7 p.m.
Sat., Jan. 5 and Sun. Jan. 6 from noon to 8 p.m. on Ocean Drive between 7th and 9th Streets. Admission is free. VIP tickets ($36) and all-inclusive cabanas ($225) for Sunday’s concert available by clicking here.