Summer 2019 is behind us: Travel destinations for Autumn

Mon. October 7, 2019 12:00 AM
by Ross Forman

Dear Summer,

Please don't go. Please stick around for a few more months!

Yeah, sadly I know that the summer of 2019 is now a thing of the past. It's Fall, baby, which isn't wretched. Fall certainly has its pluses – the leavings and their beautiful changing colors, Halloween, TV series are afresh and no longer repeats, an onslaught of football which in my Chicago Bears-driven world is a good thing, and of course, pumpkin spice everything. It used to just be a few pumpkin-flavored drinks at Starbucks; now it's pumpkin-flavored breakfast cereal, oatmeal and yogurt to an insane number of desserts, even pumpkin spice Hostess Twinkies and Hostess Iced Pumpkin Cupcakes.

This also means that winter is prepping to rear its ugly head, invade Chicago soon with bitter temperatures, snow, overcast days, shorter hours of light and two of our least-favorite local words: Polar Vortex.

I'm trying to be professional ...nah, $%#& Winter!

So, to keep summer alive a little longer, I ventured to South Beach in late-September for a "Sun-Kissed Sobe Trip" at the beautiful Marriott Stanton South Beach, located along Ocean Drive with direct beach access and just a short stroll to the buzzing South Beach city life. It's a renovated hotel, with authentic and tasty Mexican and Japanese restaurants on-property.

It also has an amazing outdoor pool.

I could only think, why am I still living in Chicago?!

Be sure to stop by Lolo's Surf Cantina, which was voted Best Tacos by the Miami New Times' Best of Miami 2017 – and I can see why. I went with the Grilled Spicy Shrimp; they were spot-on. Be sure to save room for dessert – I'd suggest the churros or Lolo's Corn Cake, served with vanilla ice cream.

Miami is, without question, all about the water, the sun ...and sure, the heat and humidity, which I don't mind.

To truly enjoy the water during my trip, I had two ideas planned. First up: I went to F1rst Surf Shop water activities at the Stanton, looking to experience paddle boarding, surfing, or something of the like. I went with paddle boarding, which I had never done, but was confident I could do it, even though I wasn't too sure I could stand on the board – while on the water – or get back on whenever I fell off.

I went in water with my board and opted for the kneeling position to start – it worked! I was cruising right along. Left, left, right, right ...I was moving.

Then the knees started to hurt. It's not the most comfortable position.

So I switched and sat on my butt, with my feet dangling in the water. It was a comfortable position, but I wasn't moving.

I was paddling, but just not going anywhere.

Quickly I realized that, with my feet in the water, they were hampering my flow.

I changed positions again, so my legs were on the board in front of me ... . Bingo, that worked and I was on a roll again.

I was paddle boarding for about an hour, and it was a lot of fun. Sadly, I never stood up, mostly because I was sure I'd come crashing down.

My second water adventure with the crew from to F1rst Surf Shop water activities at the Stanton was, a boat ride around Miami Beach. Pure relaxation!

Staying at the Marriott Stanton South Beach is literally steps away from the beach, certainly a plus, but if sand-in-your-toes is a no-no, stay at the pool. Comfy chairs, towels and cooling water is right there.

Miami also has some great dining options, I discovered. Be sure to hit Española Way for numerous dining options in an outdoor, casual atmosphere – and plenty of great people-watching.

I ate dinner one night at Azabu Miami Beach in the Marriott Stanton, featuring high-end Japanese cuisine and a wide selection of Japanese whiskeys. I skipped the later, though.

Another dinner of note was at Time Out Market Miami. Yep, it's a restaurant, not just a popular magazine. This new dining option actually is about 15 restaurants in one, where visitors can choose a variety from amazing chefs. In fact, the only chefs, bars, restaurants considered for Time Out Market have already been celebrated by Time Out editors. I went with the tacos – perfect!

Another food suggestion is one I've been to previously: Big Pink. All you need to know about this restaurant is, the building is pink and the food portions are big, really big! My group shared a few appetizers and just those put a big dent into my hunger. None from my group finished their meal entirely after sharing the appetizers.

After dinner, there are bars nears the Stanton – and gay bars are less than a mile.

Miami Beach is a perfect getaway, for a long weekend, or longer. Especially with winter rapidly approaching.


(By) Ross Forman

For More Information:

Marriott Stanton South Beach



Time Out Market Miami



F1rst Surf Shop



Related: GoPride.com Travel Writer Ross Forman looks at a Top 10 Travel Bucket List.