A tour of lovely Westchester. Yes, Westchester

Take a tour through one of Miami's unique Christmas stops - Santa's Enchanted Forest. Photo: Tomas Loewy

For the times that you’ve had enough of the South Beach grind, the Wynwood hipster nonsense, the Gables happy hour mania and the Grove brunch crowd, saunter on over to beautiful, magical, amazing Westchester.

Those that have yet to visit this area, it is a suburban square hemmed by Bird Road to the south, Tamiami Trail to the north, 97th Avenue to the west and the Palmetto to the east. (see area in pink in map below)

It’s got a little something something for just about everyone – great eats, plenty of activities and one HECK of a holiday theme park.

Dim sum at Tropical Chinese is what life is all about. 

For the Foodies

Instead of drinking around the world at Epcot, just go eating around the Bird Road in Westchester.

Bird Road has some of the best dim sum in the 305 thanks to Tropical Chinese and Kon Chau, both located in totally unassuming strip malls.

Pro Tip #1: If you want the dim sum cart experience at Tropical Chinese, make sure you show up during lunch hours. The dinner menu is great and all, but a bit pricey.

Pro Tip #2: The wonton soup at Kon Chau is an absolute and total MUST. Plus, you can never go wrong with their steamed pork buns.

When Taco Bell and Lime just won’t cut it, get realer than real Mexican food at Los Magueyes. The complimentary chips and muy spicy salsas are more than welcome in or around my mouth.

Pro Tip: The mushroom and spinach quesadilla – YES, YES, A THOUSAND TIMES YES.

Got a hankerin’ for food that’s a little out of the norm? Head over to Salvadoran restaurant, El Atlakat.

Pro Tip: Treat your taste buds to so many amazing flavors with the super antojitos sampler platter. It comes with so many delicious things like fried cheese, skirt steak, chicharrones (fried pork belly), yucca and more!

Honorable Mentions: Pincho Factory (get the toston burger), Frankie’s Pizza, El Rey de Las Fritas, Arbetter’s Hot Dogs (those chili cheese fries though).

 

For the Weekend Warriors

Nothing is more of a #tbt than spending a night of fun at Bird Bowl. You got bowling, billiards, arcade games, the best people watching EVER, music, laughter and smelly shoes. Seriously, there’s nothing that can’t be done here.

Pro Tip: Get in on that twilight special after 1 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays.

Who needs Disney? 

For the Holiday Enthusiasts

If you love Christmas lights with a healthy helping of carnival rides and fried foods, then Santa’s Enchanted Forest is the place for you. Now open from October to January, your Christmas can be holly and jolly for a full four months. And just in case you forgot, it’s located in Tropical Park off Palmetto and Bird Road.

Pro Tip #1: Eat all of the elephant ears. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE.

Pro Tip #2: If the holidays aren’t your jam, but fried foods and carnival rides are, wait until March for the Youth Fair to roll through Tamiami Park.

This is the hill of legend. 

For the Sporty Spices

Speaking of Tropical Park…. It’s kinda sorta a big deal when it comes to places in the ‘Chester. With batting cages, baseball fields, basketball courts, soccer fields, biking trails and tons of playgrounds, you can work on your fitness any which way.

Pro Tip: Roll down “the hill.” Nothing – and I mean NOTHING – will bring you more joy.

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