Locals Warn of “Bloodsport” Driving After Miami Travel Guide

The New York Times travel section deigned to dabble in Miami in the February 23 installment of the paper's “36 Hours” feature, a weekly column that gives readers a sampler of spots worthy of a visit in various metropoli.

The recent Magic City edition recommends stops at Ball & Chain, Surfside beach, Mamey Miami, Terras, the Rubell Museum, and the Coopertown Original Airboat Tour, among other destinations. The guide suggests a trip to the Superblue gallery and a bite at Sanguich — and you can call it a weekend.

Reactions from locals who (presumably) read the column varied from praise to cynicism to culinary whataboutism. Concerned commenters warned tourists that the city streets can transform into a concrete hellscape that's not exactly welcoming to those unfamiliar with the roadways or the tenets of defensive driving.

The column also sparked a politicized debate from out-of-state onlookers who argued that they would not set foot inside Florida's borders nor support our tourism industry on account of what they perceive as the rank reign of politicians in state government.

We don't envy the Times‘ self-assigned task of capturing a city's heartbeat in a 36-hour freeze-frame. It's a tall order.

So be gentle, internet hordes.

Road Rage

Traffic and wild driving were common themes in locals’ responses to the column.

“Of your 36 hours in Miami, factor in 34 of them sweltering in unmovable traffic, bumper-to-bumper, crawling at maybe two miles per hour, surrounded by very aggressive drivers,” one cynic professed.

Another stick-in-the-mud called Miami driving “a bloodsport,” saying, “I've rented cars and driven all over the world, and nothing compares to the aggressive and thoughtless drivers in Miami.”

In Miami, “a red light or stop sign is a suggestion, and putting on a turn signal causes drivers to speed up as if in competition,” one local wrote.

“Moped drivers are seen as roadkill. Of course, pedestrians are [a] bigger target.”

While commenters complained about a lack of public transit stations, a few locals said they have fared alright using Metromover to reach some of the destinations listed in the “36 Hours” guide.

Culinary Myopia?

Some Miamians took umbrage with what they perceived as a focus on Cuban food in the guide.

“Miami today is far from the Cuban-centric attraction it was 20 years ago. If you have not been here before, spend half a day in Little Havana and enjoy Cuban food for one afternoon. After that, enjoy the diverse multitude of Latin American cultures that mesh here,” one poster wrote.

Another poster maintained that Cuban food is just one “niche of the foodie scene here.”

“The NYT still views Miami as a kind of Cuban city,” yet another poster wrote.

Culture Clash

Florida has fallen into the national culture-war spotlight thanks partly to controversial legislation restricting discussion of systemic racism in public schools, and to political stunts such as Gov. Ron DeSantis’ move to send unwitting migrants to Martha's Vineyard.

A contingent of outsiders has been so unsettled that they vow never to visit the Sunshine State unless the political climate shifts. Evidently, dissonance in political viewpoints dictates where some people go on vacation — and folks are equating patronizing local businesses with supporting Ron DeSantis.

A commenter professed, “Don't spend money in DeSantis’ state,” while another claimed they “used to love going to Florida” but will refrain from returning because it has “become a fascist-run state.”

“Not one penny of my tourist dollars will ever be spent in Florida supporting the regime of DeSantis & Co.,” another commenter claimed.

The boycott apparently hasn't made much of a dent. Last year, Florida experienced a record tourist influx, logging an estimated 104.5 million visitors in the first nine months of 2022, a four percent increase over pre-pandemic levels.