Even though the Super Bowl will not be bringing the usual hype to South Florida this winter, plenty of mouthwatering and adrenaline-filled events take place in January and February. Here are a few of my favourites:
Orange Drive South Beach New Year's Festival, Dec. 31 - Jan. 2: The famed Ocean Drive will be known as "Orange Drive" for a three-day New Year's celebration. The streets and beach will transform into one big block party with several events leading up to the 75th annual FedEx Orange Bowl game on Jan. 3.
International Chocolate Festival, Jan. 21-23: Bring your kids (and maybe some milk) to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Gardens for chocolate samples, cooking demonstrations and a "ChocoWalk" to see cacao trees growing in Fairchild’s rainforest. You can even purchase your own cacao tree and attend a lecture on how to care for it. Admission is free for members, or US$25 for adults and US$12 for kids ages 6 to 17.
Homestead Championship Rodeo, Jan. 28-30: See the southern side of south Florida with this annual event that has been captivating audiences since the 1950s with riding, roping and racing events. Tickets are US$15 for adults and US$5 for kids.
ING Miami Marathon and Half Marathon, Jan. 30: Run alongside or just observe the more than 17,000 people who come together in downtown Miami for a 26.2 mile marathon and 13.1 mile run through Miami and Miami Beach. The idyllic weather during this time of year and palm tree-lined streets make the many miles bearable -- maybe. Registration is US$95 for the full marathon and US$70 for the half marathon.
Miami International Boat Show, Feb. 17-21: Slip off your shoes and step aboard the most luxurious (and most expensive) boats at one of the largest new boat shows in the world. The event showcases more than 2,000 exhibitors displaying the latest powerboats, sailboats, engines, electronics and accessories. Tickets are US$16 per day for adults and free for kids younger than 15.
Coconut Grove Arts Festival, Feb. 19-21: If the works at Art Basel were out of your price range, this annual outdoor event showcases art that is a bit more affordable (but still not cheap). More than 300 artists participate, and more than US$4 million worth of art was sold in the three days of last year’s show. Tickets are US$10 per person, and kids younger than 12 are free.
South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Feb. 24-27: Celebrating its 10th anniversary, this world-renowned culinary festival delivers your favourite celebrity chefs to Miami. Pack your appetite for a whirlwind weekend of tasting events and cooking demonstrations on South Beach. The Grand Tasting Village is not to be missed for any foodie, but tickets are US$225 per person, so start scraping together your pennies now.
Stay at the B Ocean in Fort Lauderdale, Crowne Plaza Hollywood Beach or any of these Miami hotels while in town for these great events. (Note: these links will bring you to hotel offers on the US Travelzoo site, where prices are listed in U.S. currency.)