Miami for Everyone
From club kids to culture vultures, everyone is bienvenido en Miami. So whether you want to hide out or make a splash, Eleni Gage has a corner of the Magic City to suit you
For Night Owls
Finally, a town that understands you don’t have to wait for the sun to go down for the party to start. The SLS South Beach, one of the newest, most buzzed about hotels to open on South Beach takes the 24-hour party philosophy to the next level with Hyde Beach, an 8,000 foot outpost of L.A.’s legendary nightclub, only this version has a pool with bottle-service cabanas. Come dinnertime, fuel up at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, a hip joint beloved by locals (and by The Bourbon Review, which recently named it one of the top bourbon bars in America). Pre-game at The Flat, a cocktail lounge in SoFi that calls itself “a before experience.” Then head over to LIV, which has over 18,000 square feet of party space, including six VIP skyboxes.
For Art Lovers
You don’t have to time your visit to Basel to enjoy Miami’s burgeoning art scene. Any time of year, The Betsy Hotel, a charming boutique on Ocean Drive, hosts photo exhibits, jazz performances, writers in residence and salons discussing everything from poetry to philanthropy. It’s within walking distance of the New World Symphony, where concerts are performed in a Frank Gehry designed building and led by conductor Michael Tilson Thomas — and are often simulcast on the wall of the building for picnickers in the adjacent park. A 15-minute cab ride will take you to the Pérez Art Museum, Miami’s latest temple to contemporary art, or to the Wynwood Kitchen and Bar, where fusion tapas are served to a backdrop of murals by Shepard Fairey and sculptures by David Benjamin Sherry. If you prefer to do the driving, take a Vespa tour of Wynwood’s thriving street art scene with Roam Rides.
Sure, it’s got a famous nightclub and a history rich in mobsters and members of the Rat Pack, but the Fontainebleau hotel in Mid Beach also has an incredible kiddie pool (excuse us, “children’s waterscape,”), the FB Kids camp-like program of adventures and activities, and Kid’s Night Out events on weekends. It’s a 10-minute cab ride from the pedestrian mall of Lincoln Road where the café at Books & Books has a bookstore with an extensive kids section, and food that will delight grownups and picky eaters out front at its alfresco tables. For fun in the sun, the beach at Bill Baggs State Park on Key Biscayne is devoid of club kids and full of real kids (and even has a lighthouse and bicycles built for four for rent nearby). And on rainy days, the Miami Children’s Museum lets kids pretend they’re everywhere from a TV station to a doctor’s office to a Publix supermarket — which is way more fun than the real versions adults know.
It has stellar sunset views from the bayfront restaurant, the spa houses an incredible co-ed hammam, and some of the guest rooms have outdoor soaking tubs on their patios, but perhaps the sexiest thing about the Standard Spa Miami Beach is the no-children policy at the pool, which is billed as an “adults-only playground.” It’s a long walk or a short cab ride to the enchanted garden at Casa Tua, a private club that allows the public in to dine at its intimate Italian restaurant; request a seat under the lantern-lit trees in the yard. Spend the afternoon stand-up paddleboarding from the hotel to some of the islets dotting Biscayne Bay.
Much like a bride, the Delano hotel is decked out all in white (courtesy of Philippe Starck’s interior design) and can’t help being the center of attention. And its Club Essentia allows for pampering spa services right on site. Once the gaggle is relaxed, spruced up and ready to go out, head to Khong River House for dinner. The casual but sexy Northern Thai stunner is a local favorite, and has a wall where guests can write their confessions/prayers/hopes after a few cocktails — great for getting any dark secrets off your chest pre-wedding. Then take yourselves over to the Pearl Champagne Lounge for some celebratory drinks. And if you decide to move the party alfresco, sister club Nikki Beach is on the shore right below.
For Serious Shoppers
If you’ve come to Miami for the shopping, you can’t spend your entire budget on accommodations. Enter the Dream South Beach: one block away from South Beach, the hip new hotel is more affordable than properties right on the shore. It’s also kitty-corner to The Webster, a gorgeous 1939 Art Deco mansion whose two floors are filled with cutting-edge fashion for both men and women from a variety of brands. For a food break, stroll down Lincoln Road (ideally on a Sunday so you can take in the Antique Market), and take the elevator up to Juvia in the 1111 Lincoln complex — Herzog and de Meuron’s super-chic parking lot. The rooftop views of the city are spectacular, and there’s an edgy Alchemist boutique in a glass cube on the fifth floor in case you need to interrupt your meal to pick up a few more things. A short cab ride from the hotel is Bal Harbour Shops, arguably the world’s loveliest mall (think koi ponds and Romero Britto statues). There, do as locals do and head straight to Oxygene, an impeccably sourced Miami-based boutique.
For Outdoorsy Types
Drop your backpack in one of the private rooms at The Freehand Miami, a laid-back but cutting edge combination of hostel, hotel and adult summer camp, with a courtyard pool, bocce, ping pong and bike rental (along with the Broken Shaker, one of the city’s hottest outdoor bars). Best of all, there’s a bulletin board full of suggested activities and adventures. Walk to the Intercoastal to paddleboard or to South Beach for weekend yoga on the shore, or bike over to Key Biscayne to wind surf among the mangroves. Jog to Lucy’s Cantina on the shores of South Beach for lunch, and, unless you’re alligator-phobic, reserve a day to take an excursion out to Everglades National Park, the country’s largest subtropical wetlands.
If you only have eyes for food, you might not care about the golf course, spa, or the vast, statue-lined pool that starred in several classic films, but you’ll definitely be excited by the on-site cooking classes offered through the Biltmore Culinary Academy at the landmark Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables. When you’re not perfecting your own skills, reserve a place in one of the two nightly three-hour seatings at NAOE; it’s the best sushi in Miami but there are only eight places at the table for those eager to try the chef’s three-hour omakase menu. At the weekend, head out to Saturday morning’s famous Coconut Grove Farmer’s Market, beloved for its raw food bar and rare tropical fruits, and, if you happen to be in town on the one Saturday a month it’s offered, book Dinner in Paradise at organic Paradise farms, where you can tour the grounds before enjoying a five-course meal by a celebrated Miami chef working with produce harvested on site–and carefully matched with accompanying wine pairings. Bon Appetit!