Did you come to Miami for the graffiti? Probably not. That said, it’s actually an amazing attraction you shouldn’t miss while you’re in town. The best graffiti in Miami is in an area called Wynwood, which deserves mention in its own right. So, what is the Wynwood neighborhood and what are the Wynwood Walls all about?

Until just a few years ago, if you visited the area of Miami known as Wynwood, you’d have seen a lot of empty storage buildings and, frankly, not a whole lot worth visiting as a tourist. In fact, “sketchy” might have been the right word for the neighborhood. Now, however, it’s just about the most up and coming neighborhood in Miami, chock full of entertainment options, quirky little coffee places and unique shops, bars, restaurants… and of course, graffiti. Which in this case translates to artistry, not urban decay.

What happened? Well, famed real estate developer Tony Goldman, also credited with revitalizing Manhattan’s SoHo and Miami Beach years ago, decided in the early 2000s to turn his attention to Wynwood and breathe new life into it. He had a vision of an artsy, energetic area that captured the whimsical nature of Miami and the very real pulse of young, hip artists who deserved to become more widely known. So, he bought up a bunch of old, windowless buildings—and invited artists to create vast graffiti murals all over their walls. He also invited Jeffrey Dietch, a well-known art dealer and curator, to find the most exciting emerging artists and established talent to grace his new venture—the Wynwood Walls.

Thus the Wynwood Art District and the Wynwood graffiti murals were born. The murals are permanent installations in an 80,000 square foot space which includes the Wynwood Doors and galleries as well, creating the effect of an indoor/outdoor urban museum, which you can tour with help from knowledgeable tour guides, on foot or even via bike or cart tour.

What You’ll See:

There are too many murals and artists from all over the globe to give them all their due here, from works by Aiko to Momo to Logan Hicks, to Cryptik to DALeast and Swoon, but each of these cutting edge artists, most working on a grand scale, celebrates street art in a way that takes it beyond the forbidden underground and out into the glorious open where it can receive its exuberant due. Stroll wide-eyed amongst dozens of buildings and be prepared to get a crick in your neck from sheer size of some of these works. And of course, snap all sorts of pics for the folks back home.

What to Do:

We recommend you join a tour guided by one of the authorized local artists who can introduce you to the intricacies and artistic interpretation of the various pieces, as well as how they were made (no easy feat!). Some tours even offer the option to try your hand at mural painting yourself, making this an interactive event. You’ll learn the lingo, the techniques, and the history of graffiti art. Chill on the grass for a bit to let things soak in, then check out the gift shop on the way out. Visit http://www.thewynwoodwalls.com/ or https://miamisbestgraffitiguide.com to learn about the best graffiti mural tours to take, including private options, events-based tours, education/university tours, and even early access if you want to avoid the crowds.

For a Break:

When you’ve worked up a savor for art beyond the visual, there are two restaurants to choose from at the exhibit. Wynwood Kitchen and Bar serves up tapas-style Latin-inspired cuisine and hip drinks in a vibrant, elegant setting that fits the ethos of the installation perfectly. Joey’s Italian Café, on the other hand, is a more casual establishment, offering delicious fresh hand-tossed pizzas and a slice of Italian hospitality, along with excellent wine pairings and an outdoor seating area that gives the restaurant a bistro feel.

It isn’t always the case that one man’s brainchild can morph into the vision of so many great and emerging artists drawn from all over the world. But it’s happened here. While you’re in Miami, don’t miss this chance to experience the vital heartbeat of a truly unique neighborhood and all it has to offer.

Art by Kobra