Carissa Chesanek


  • Miami, FL, USA

Carissa Chesanek is a correspondent who lives in Miami and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide. She has her Master’s in Journalism and is involved in the Writers’ Network of South Florida. An avid eater and expert diner, she has used her fascination with food to write culinary-inspired pieces for various publications including, Dining Out Magazine, Zagat Survey and When she’s not busy eating, Carissa works as the Miami Editor with, a locals guide to must-see places and happenings, and finishing up her first novel. Follow what she’s up to on her website,

  • On April 30, 2013
    Carissa Chesanek answered the question: Carissa Chesanek

    What are the best places to get a hair blowout in Miami?

    With the high levels of humidity here in Miami, having a good hair day isn't always an easy task. Let the experts help your hair look its best with a proper blowout at any of these topnotch salons. 

    B Dry Blow Bar
    Located right near Lincoln Road in South Beach, B Dry Blo Bar offers exceptional blowouts without the exaggerated prices. For just $35, customers are able to choose from getting an effortless beach wave blo dry or retro makeup application with sexy cat eyes and red lips.

    Blo Blow Dry Bar Midtown
    Inside a pretty pink setting right smack in the middle of busy Midtown Miami, there is Blo Blow Dry Bar Midtown that offers many lavish services. Choose from getting the signature blo out with either a classy or vamp finish, or try one of the blo-on-the-go features, bringing the styling service directly to you at home or the office.

    Salon Vaso
    Known to have some of the best hairstylists around, Salon Vaso has been making plenty of customers happy for years, especially when it comes to blow drying. With a very chic yet comfortable atmosphere and topnotch stylists, this South Beach salon will turn anyone's unruly tresses into a stunning smooth works of art. 
  • On April 30, 2013
    Carissa Chesanek answered the question: Carissa Chesanek

    What restaurants have the best views in Miami?

    Miami offers many restaurants with impeccable views coinciding with extraordinary delectable menu choices. Depending on the view of choice: water view, skyline, cityscape, there are plenty of venues that will offer ample viewing with palatable cuisine. 

    Smith & Wollensky
    One of the most popular steakhouses around, Smith & Wollensky not only offers premium meat, but the view is also captivating. Sit outside by the bar or grab a cozy seat for two, and both the Miami skyline and water view will be sure to grab your attention. 

    A beautiful penthouse that overlooks all of Miami Beach really makes Juvia the place to be for an ideal view inside a serene setting. Whether seated outside on the large open terrace, or indoors tucked away in a comfy booth, this restaurant has amazing views in every area of its lush space. 

    Red Fish Grill
    Noted as one of South Florida's "most romantic" venues, the Red Fish Grill provides a beautiful view, tucked away from it all. Located in Matheson Hammock Park, you'll have to drive down a long path to get there, but it's well worth it, especially when seated at a table outdoors under the swaying palm trees, overlooking Biscayne Bay. 

    Area 31
    Sitting high on top of the Epic Hotel, Area 31 provides picturesque views of Downtown Miami. While the outdoor terrace is stunning with its cozy couches, small marble bar, and ideal boat watching along the bay, the dining room inside is also magnificent and furnishes spotless views of the city as well. 
  • On April 30, 2013
    Carissa Chesanek answered the question: Carissa Chesanek

    What are the best boutique hotels in Miami?

    Epic Hotel

    Miami is known to have some truly beautiful and unique boutique hotels. While it's difficult to point out each and every one, here are a few of the best boutique hotels that this city has to offer.

    Hotel Astor South Beach 
    Located right in the middle of Miami Beach, this historic Art Deco boutique hotel has been around for years and still continues to be one of the leading hotspots in its area today. It's simple yet elegant design provides a touch of modern luxury in a classic retreat, while offering its guests essential accommodations and amenities. 

    The Anglers Resort 
    Priding itself on giving its guests a timeless old Florida style venue but with the liveness of South Beach, this charming boutique hotel shows off stylish sophistication in the heart of it all. Guests have the option to choose from staying in a luxury suite or a lavish villa with pool views, spiral staircases, and private patios with jacuzzis. 

    Epic Hotel
    Located Downtown, this fancy boutique hotel sits right on the Miami River and Biscayne Bay, providing ample water views inside an elite setting. Everything from the dining to the spa is high-end and gives guests state-of-the-art accommodations that will surely live up to even the highest of expectations. 

    Hotel St. Michel
    A historical staple that sits pretty in the lush shady streets of Coral Gables, this hotel hosts its guests in a very classic space with handmade original furniture pieces to give it that legendary luster. A truly relaxing sanctuary with fantastic architectural heritage and proper accommodations, this is a hotel that is great for anyone looking for a proper get away in South Florida.  

  • On April 30, 2013
    Carissa Chesanek answered the question: Carissa Chesanek

    What are quirky local customs in Miami?

    While not necessarily all quirky, Miami does have a few local customs worth mentioning. Between the celebratory festivals that take place throughout the year and the crazy driving, there's plenty of local traditions worth mentioning.  

    Art Deco Weekend in Miami Beach takes place in January and is a festival that celebrates the historic Art Deco era with lots of food and entertainment, all on South Beach's very own landmark, Ocean Drive.

    Every year, Little Havana has its free Calle Ocho Street Festival, where communities from all over come together and show off their heritage with authentic food, cigar rolling, live music, and lots of salsa dancing. 

    Miami is also known for adding gratuity on bills instead of having the patron do it himself. This happens especially when dining on the beach. Visitors will also notice that many times there is a " beach tax" added onto the bill as well. Each area in Miami varies in regards to gratuity and taxes, but it's always a good idea to look over the bill carefully so you don't end up paying more than you owe. 

    The driving here in Miami is also one of a kind. You'll find anything from cars zipping through lanes, to ones going way less than the speed limit. And be on the look out for turn signals not being used when they should be. It seems almost a tradition here that most drivers don’t use their turn signals, but instead just push on the brakes and make a go for it. 
  • On April 29, 2013
    Carissa Chesanek answered the question: Carissa Chesanek

    What’s new in Miami?

    Miami is always changing and it seems like there's always something new popping up, including lots of clubs, restaurants, and activities. 

    Deco Bike is one of the newer attractions to hit South Beach, and provides a fun and healthy alternative to driving your car or using other forms of public transportation. All around town people can find these Deco bikes parked in a particular location, which allows customers to rent and then drop them off at any other location within the city.  

    There's plenty of new stores to shop too, including places that recently opened up on Lincoln Road. Now, shoppers can find a large Forever 21 and two-floor H&M, alongside their other staples in the outdoor Lincoln Road Mall. A newcomer that plans on opening in mid-May in this mall too is New-Era, and promises fun finds and live beats from Miami's own top DJs. 

    The Gale Hotel is also a huge addition to Miami's nightlife scene since this space is packed with everything: a funky basement lounge, a fine dining restaurant, and a couple of bars that make some serious cocktails. After a few of the potent concoctions mixed up in the Regent Cocktail Club, you might be calling it a night in one of the stylish vintage guest rooms. 
  • On April 28, 2013
    Carissa Chesanek answered the question: Carissa Chesanek

    What are the best day trips near Miami?

    Miami has tons to offer, but while you're visiting here, there are also some great day trips near the city to check out too. When you want to get out of the heart of it all, there are plenty of easy trips to take that aren't too out of the way. 

    If adventure and wildlife is what you're looking for, then the Everglades National Park in Homestead is something to see. Roughly about an hour or so outside of Miami, you'll encounter alligators lounging around the swamp while coasting in an air boat ride. Then, you’ll have to try the infamous delicacies: fried gater bites.  

    Heading to the Florida Keys is also a relatively easy trip, which takes roughly 3 hours or so, depending on which area you want to visit. Walk around and take in the sites, while removing yourself from the bustle of the city and into the relaxed atmosphere the Keys are known for. 

    The Bahamas are also very close to Miami, and relatively inexpensive to get to. You can find a cheap cruise of less than $200 that will ship you out to island for the day, or you can try the Ferry Bahamas that’ll take you directly to the island in just a few hours when leaving from Fort Lauderdale.  
  • On April 28, 2013
    Carissa Chesanek answered the question: Carissa Chesanek

    What are some things to know before visiting Miami?
    If you're planning to visit Miami, there are a few things to know before getting off the plane and into the Magic City. Miami is a very diverse, cultural city and you'll be sure to see that from all the different people that live and visit here. There is a very large Latin population so don't be surprised if you hear the Spanish language sometimes even more than you hear English -- depending on the area you are visiting. 

    The weather is also something to consider. While it’s usually always warm and sunny, Miami is also a tropical climate which means there’s lots of humidity and random rain showers. You might be walking around Lincoln Road on a sunny day and then the next minute clouds roll in and bring lots of heavy rain with it. The good thing is, the rain never usually lasts very long and the sun always tends to make its way back out, but it's always a good idea to carry an umbrella with you when you are planning to be outdoors.

    Beauty and cosmetics takes a huge role here too. You'll not only see some beautiful people, but you'll also hear a lot about plastic surgery and cosmetic procedures. Miami really is all about the glitz and glam, and that really goes for the people here too. 

    Be prepared to do a little traveling. Miami is very spread out and has a lot to offer, so you’ll need to do some traveling in the car to check out all the different neighborhoods this place has to offer, such as Wynwood, Coral Gables, Midtown, and of course South Beach. 

  • On April 25, 2013
    Carissa Chesanek answered the question: Carissa Chesanek

    What is the best time to visit Miami?

    Usually, the ideal time to visit Miami tends to be in the spring. Traveling here during the winter can be nice as it's usually in the 70's during the day and the 60's or 50's at night, but if you're looking for the perfect Miami heat without too much of the sticky summer humidity, spring is the best time to visit. It's usually relatively hot, well into the high 80's and the nights are still warm too, so dining outside in the evenings are ideal.

    However, traveling to Miami in the spring can sometimes be a little pricey since there is spring break to think about. April can be a tough time to get to Miami on the cheap since so many kids are out of school and traveling here for their break. March and May can be betters time to find decent plane tickets and deals on hotels. But if you're looking for super cheap flights, you can always travel in the summer. Just be sure to book your stay somewhere directly on the beach because you won't want to be doing much of anything else but staying in the water. 
  • On April 25, 2013
    Carissa Chesanek answered the question: Carissa Chesanek

    What is the best new restaurant in Miami?

    There are always new spots opening in Miami and some of them last, while others fade in the dust. Right now there are a few amazing new restaurants that opened, making it a little tough to decide on the "best" new one, but there is a particular spot that comes to mind in Coral Gables. 

    Swine Southern Table & Bar has to be one of the best new restaurants to open recently in Miami. Created by the 50 Eggs Inc. restaurant group that brought us Yardbird in South Beach, this new eatery prides itself on a hearty pork-infused menu along with carefully crafted cocktails, all in a comfortable yet rustic setting. While the food is ridiculously good, the entire vibe here also helps make this spot a winner. From its warm wood tones, loft-style floor plan, and lively chatter, this is definitely a gathering place for good comfort food in a charming atmosphere. 
  • On April 23, 2013
    Carissa Chesanek answered the question: Carissa Chesanek

    What are the best neighborhoods in Miami?

    Whether you're visiting Miami or you're a local, there are many cool neighbors to check out in this city. Naturally, everyone thinks about South Beach when they hear “Miami,” but this city has so many other locations that are definitely worth the time to see. 

    Key Biscayne: A perfect home-away-from-home for the local Miamians, Key Biscayne has beautiful beaches, parks, and outdoor sports, all located in a quaint community that's far enough to feel like you're on vacation even if you live here.

    Wynwood: Art lovers, hipsters, and people simply looking for an edgy vibe, Wynwood provides some cool bars, funky contemporary artwork, and a killer coffee house that you can smell for miles. 

    Design District: While Wynwood is the area for all the art galleries, the Design District shells out some amazing cuisine, high-end designer boutiques, and fancy home decor studios. 

    Little Havana: For premium Cuban food, hand-rolled cigars, and a game of dominos, Little Havana is the place to go, giving out a very authentic feel that both tourists and locals can appreciate.

    Downtown/Brickell: Noted as the business part of town, the Downtown and Brickell area is also known for its massive happy hour scene where most young professionals can be found after hours. 

    Coral Gables: Shady, tree-lined streets and historical landmarks make up just part of Coral Gables charm, along with their infamous Miracle Mile providing lots of decent restaurants, bars, and shops. 

    Coconut Grove: In a relaxed setting made up of several restaurants, bars, shops, and bookstores, Coconut Grove is in a world of its own that offers its visitors a low-key feel with ample foot traffic. 

    Bal Harbour: A small well-groomed area that thrives in the finer things, Bal Harbour is known for its swanky outdoor mall with high-end designer brands and beautiful manicured landscaping.

    Miami Beach: We can't leave out the historical Art Deco buildings, beautiful sandy beaches, and non-stop partygoers that Miami Beach is known to bring to this city.  
  • On April 23, 2013
    Carissa Chesanek answered the question: Carissa Chesanek

    Should visitors rent a car in Miami?

    Miami's really spread out so renting a car is a wise choice when visiting. Unless you stay in South Beach and don't plan on traveling outside of the party scene, then you’ll definitely want to rent a car instead of spending a lot of extra cash on expensive cab rides to other areas, such as Wynwood, Midtown and Bal Harbour. 

    You don't have to go the conventional route with renting cars either. Instead, you can easily rent a car by the hour or by the day when you use a Zipcar that are offered all over the city. Zipcar even offers bike rentals too so you can rent a car when you need to meet up for dinner, and then rent a bike during the day. Either way you're only paying for the wheels when you need them, which is super convenient and inexpensive. 

    A car really is pretty essential when you are visiting Miami. There are lots of places that you'll want to visit and all of them are really spread out. Miami is a big city and has lots to see, so be sure to opt for renting a car either the conventional way or through Zipcar, so you're able to see all the sights the Magic City has to offer. 
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