Skift Take

The grassroots street art movement has become a major asset for Miami, drawing a different kind of visitor and adding depth to travelers' perception of the destination.

There are two must-have selfies for any visitor to show off from Miami: one on the sands of South Beach, and one against the bold murals of Wynwood.

The riot of color sprayed across several blocks of warehouses and art galleries has become as synonymous with Miami as humidity and sunshine, so much so that Miami City Ballet has premiered a new work “Heatscape” that was entirely inspired by the neighborhood’s street art.

Walking through the neighborhood is like walking through an open-air contemporary art museum, only one where artists are routinely found painting something fresh.

Here graffiti has evolved from unwelcome scribbles to large-scale murals that reference both classical art themes and pop culture. Many of the artists are commissioned to produce the abstract patterns and whimsical figures that cover the concrete walls of bars, galleries, boutiques and even a neighborhood school.

A good place to start exploring is Wynwood Walls, where two restaurants anchor a cluster of buildings that feature a rotating roster of prominent street artists. Wynwood Mural Tours has produced a curated guide to the neighborhood’s art, a project produced with the local street artist “Atomik,” known for his ubiquitous large, grinning oranges.

The painting isn’t limited to the walls. Some crosswalks have been painted with bright designs, and sidewalks frequently are sprayed with the stenciled poetry of Instagram star R. M. Drake (also known as Miami-based writer Robert Macias).

As Wynwood has grown into a premier arts district, it’s also developed as a local hub where residents stop for artisanal breads and coffee, hold a book club in a flower shop and host pop-up shops during the city’s many arts and literary festivals.

Galleries stay open late and food trucks cluster in an empty lot every second Saturday for a monthly art walk. The new Wynwood Block collection of boutiques and cafes highlights work by some of Miami’s independent artisans, including letterpress stationery and fashion accessories.

The neighborhood also is a center for experiencing Miami’s craft beer and distilling movement. Wynwood Brewing Company and Miami Club Rum make their homes here, and nearby bars and restaurants regularly feature a variety of South Florida-brewed beers on tap.

Local favorite spots include Zak the Baker, 405 NW 26th St.; Sprout Flowers and Coffee, 2545 N. Miami Ave.; Wynwood Letterpress, 2621 NW Second Ave.; Frangipani boutique, 2516 NW Second Ave., and Boxelder Craft Beer Market, 2825 NW Second Ave. Panther Coffee, 2390 NW Second Ave., is also a Wynwood mainstay.

Wynwood still retains some of its gritty ambience, particularly at night, but the city recently installed parking meters — a sure sign of the neighborhood’s importance to the local tourism economy. Selfie sticks are still welcome here.

Copyright (2015) Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

This article was written by Jennifer Kay from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

Subscribe to Skift Pro

Subscribe to Skift Pro to get unlimited access to stories like these ($30/month)

Subscribe Now

Tags: miami

Photo credit: This April 4, 2015 photo shows people walking through Wynwood Walls, a complex of restaurants and art galleries that feature a rotating roster of prominent street artists in Miami's Wynwood neighborhood. Jennifer Kay / AP Photo

Up Next

Loading next stories