When was the last time you drove south to that veritable city-state called Miami? What with gas prices, traffic headaches and SunPass changes, maybe you’re thinking that it’s not worth the trouble.

Think again.

From Miami Beach to Wynwood to downtown to the Design District, all the old standbys are receiving healthy competition from upstart and exciting restaurants, shops, cultural venues, hotels and more.

Join Boca Raton for an insider’s guide to Miami like you’ve never seen it before. Whether you’re a foodie or a fashionista, a club kid or a culture vulture, you’ll agree that Miami still has the magic.

SPOTLIGHT ON: Sol Ruiz, Cuban soul singer/songwriter

Sol Ruiz is hard to pin down—both physically (she’s been crisscrossing

Europe on tour for the past couple years) and musically (her self-described “Cuban blues” melds influences ranging from the American South to the Caribbean to the Balkans).

Ruiz credits that powerful wanderlust to her youth.

“I was born and raised on Miami Beach, but I feel more Cuban than American,” she says. “It’s that strange alien feeling, that I have never known where I belong or where I’m supposed to be. So I feel better on the road, and I don’t get attached to places.”

That’s not to say that Ruiz doesn’t get attached to people. All of her lyrics have a strong undercurrent of heartbreak, even when she’s scampering on stage with a ukulele or singing about joining “the Mile High Club on [her] way to Cincinnati.”

Critics and audiences have been responding to Ruiz’s freewheeling, bohemian style, and the songstress is set to release her latest album this year, created thanks to Kickstarter (an online fundraising platform for creative projects) and Miami indie producer Bobby MacIntyre.

Ultimately, she hopes that her music will open minds and give people a sense of freedom in their lives. “I want to put out a message that brings light to subjects that make most people uncomfortable—anything from breakups to hang-ups,” she says. “It’s about owning who you are. Say you are an insane, jealous arachnophobic—own it!”

What are your favorite Miami musical venues?

Tobacco Road has always been a favorite place of mine. Just the history of acts that have gone through there! I also love the 73rd Street Bandshell. They turned it into a cool place to listen to music, and it has always been a great space for the beach.

Which local artists on your radar right now?

I love Shira Abergel and Ketchy Shuby. Shira Abergel is an amazing singer/songwriter and actress. And Ketchy Shuby is a band that really funks it up. I love them both, and they always play around town.

What’s Miami’s best-kept cultural secret?

Hialeah. It’s a great cultural gem. It’s like walking into another world. You would have no idea you were in America. The Hialeah horse track is one of the most beautiful places in the world. It really takes you back to the golden days of Miami.

To read more, pick up a copy of our February issue...