Jeff Nelke, a partner at ACCESS Destination Services, South Florida, said attendees visiting Miami are wowed when he puts on an event at Wynwood Walls, part open-air art gallery, part culinary extravaganza, part cultural hot spot. In the artsy Wynwood neighborhood, the walls are a collection of more than 200 murals on the sides of warehouses and surrounding buildings by artists from all over the world.
The area is also chock full of restaurants, lounges, breweries, art galleries and funky boutiques.
“We’ve had walking tours to view the murals and then we do a progressive dinner using the area’s local restaurants,” Nelke said. “It’s a two-pronged approach. We not only get them outdoors, we help them get a bit of creative inspiration with art and food. It’s a great way for attendees to recharge their batteries.”
The Wynwood area has a great story, too. Once home to Caribbean immigrants and Miami’s thriving garment district, the area fell to a faltering economy in the late 1990s and was all but abandoned. Art lover and property developer Tony Goldman saw its potential and helped revitalize the area.
“It was his vision that turned the neighborhood into the thriving art colony it is today,” Nelke said.
Wynwood Walls opened with Art Basil 2009, the annual global art fair that attracts artists, celebrities, art lovers and art buyers from all over the world. The art on Wynwood Walls is static while art on neighboring buildings change periodically.
“There’s something fresh and new every time we go and everyone loves it no matter where they’re from or what their age group,” Nelke said.
For progressive dinners, one of the restaurants Nelke uses is Wynwood Kitchen & Bar with its Latin- and Asian-inspired cuisine. The restaurant is notable for its 20-foot abstract paintings on its walls. Other restaurants in the area are as eclectic as the art: Suviche, El Patio, Coyo Taco and Joey’s Italian Cafe, among others.
“We like to do culinary tours that end with an early dinner, like five or six o’clock,” Nelke said. “The restaurants love us coming during those hours. We get a better value for our clients and we get attendees back to their hotels at a reasonable hour so they can go back and have a cocktail with colleagues or catch up on their emails.”
For day-trippers, there’s not only the art on the walls to view, there are more than 20 art galleries, numerous funky boutiques and several breweries and lounges to explore.