We ended our Florida trip with three fabulous days in Miami. Perfect weather, great food, tropical bars and beautiful beaches assured it was my first but definitely not my last trip to Miami. These are my ten favorites for a first stay.
#1- Cruise down Ocean Drive
Beautiful Art Deco on one side, South Beach on the other and wavy palm trees everywhere. It doesn’t get more Miami than Ocean Drive. The boulevard is packed with restaurants offering front row seats to the parade of glamour that is South Beach. Pick one of the breakfast deals and fuel up before crossing to the beach.
#2- Take in ocean views from Miami Beach
One would expect the beach in Miami to be very crowded, but nothing is less true. Not only does Miami Beach stretch over miles and miles, it is also a very wide strip of beach. Settle down on South Beach to see or to be seen. As you make your way up, the beaches become less crowded and more laid-back.
#3- Spend Sunday by the pool
If South Beach glamour wasn’t satisfying, head to one of Miami’s weekend pool parties. The Mondrian Hotel throws a Sunshine Vibes pool party on Sunday afternoon. There is usually no cover, but be prepared to sell a limb to get a pool bed or cabana. We were happy to observe the glamour from the pool bar, fully dressed and with a bottle of rosé. The beautiful sunset over Miami and Biscayne Bay came for free.
#4- Explore Miami’s cocktail culture
If the Miami vibe could be captured in one location, it would be the patio of the Broken Shaker bar. Delicious cocktails, a tropical garden, chill beats and overdressed girlfriends (people watching!) make up the ingredients for a perfect Miami night out. More delicious cocktails can be found in Sweet Liberty, which serves the happiest of hours in a funky industrial setting.
#5- Stroll past Wynwood’s outdoor art
Wynwood district is all about art. The once neglected neighborhood was turned into a big outdoor art space, with galleries, painted murals and eclectic boutiques. The skyscrapers are nowhere to been seen in this part of Miami; instead, the streets are lined with colorful one-story warehouses.
#6- Take brunch to the next level
It’s public knowledge that I won’t leave a city without a good brunch, most likely of the boozy type. In Miami we took it to the next level, both literally and culinary-wise. Quoting Juvia’s website:
Eclectic food and drink, plus South Beach views in an ultra-modern space atop a designer parking garage.
This very promising description turned out to be entirely true. The three-course menu was delicious, the views were sweeping and the bottomless bellinis kept on coming.
#7- Eat your way through Little Havana
Calle Ocho is packed with authentic and less authentic Cuban eateries and bars. That makes a culinary tour the best way to experience Little Havana. Start with empanadas and stuffed chicken tostones in El Pub Restaurant. Wash it down with a mojito from Balls & Chain, to be enjoyed on their sunny patio in the back. Old’s Havana serves up an amazing Cuban sandwich. To avoid a nap after this heavy menu, order a Cuban coffee from a ventanita. Take it to Domino Park, where Cuban gentleman gather daily to play dominos.
#8- Capture Downtown views
Downtown’s skyscrapers can get in the way of a good view. Unless you stand on top of one, like the Epic Hotel building. Their rooftop bar Area 31 puts you right in the middle of the action, with a happy hour drink in your hand. Another way to capture Downtown is from a distance. The Rusty Pelican offers waterfront views of Downtown and more importantly, lychee martinis.
#9- Pick your favorite Art Deco building
Miami is heaven on earth for Art Deco enthusiasts like me. Not just the landmarks on Ocean Drive, but many houses in upscale neighborhoods are built in Art Deco style. The pastel buildings in the Art Deco Historic District are true eye candy.
#10- Look out for the cutest lifeguard (stand)
Miami’s colorful lifeguard stands make its beaches even more attractive. The stands can be found all over Miami Beach, from North Beach to South Beach. Walk along the Miami Beach Boardwalk and keep an eye out for the prettiest of all.