The Magic City - With its melting pot of diversity, Miami is like no other Party city in America. It’s the perfect blend of a Beach town and dynamic metropolitan city, with the best of the day and nightlife. The Miami culture is in the music, food, fashion and art. If you're visiting for a long 3-day weekend and want to see a bit of everything, here is a curated list of my top picks to give a glimpse of Miami.
Miami Beach + LIncoln Road
Explore Lincoln Road
Explore South beach
Visit versace mansion
Sunset by the beach
I’ve had the wonderful experience of living in Florida since 2014.
I’ve seen areas like Wynwood and Design District grow, Brickell City Center get built, and the Downtown Miami skyline transform. And over the years (since Miami is such an awesome vacation spot) I’ve suggested all my favorite restaurants, places to visit, and nightlife I love, to friends who visit Miami.
So now I’ve decided to include a Miami post (of all my personal suggestions) to share will all.
When in Florida, especially Miami, spending time at the beach is a MUST. Having some of the most beautiful beaches in the world at your disposal, you just can’t be in Miami and not enjoy the white sand and the blue waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Most hotels on Miami Beach connect to the beach, some people enjoy South Beach, but others, like me, prefer the quieter/less crowded beaches, so I usually suggest Mid Beach and North Beach.
Roam Down Lincoln Road
I absolutely love Lincoln Road, it’s an outdoor pedestrian road full of shops & cafes, so it reminds me of walking the streets of New York. Near Lincoln Road is the Soundscape Park, Holocaust Memorial, and Bass Museum of Art (if you feel like visiting Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum). For non-art lovers, Soundscape Park is nice to walk through, sometimes there are movies in the park.
A beautiful rooftop restaurant perfect for drinks is Juvia. It's an indoor/ outdoor restaurant (although I never go to eat, just to enjoy the view) and lounge on the penthouse level of the parking garage by Herzog & de Meuron at 1111 Lincoln Road, with views of Miami. Lincoln Road and Miami Beach is full of restaurant options; some cheaper spots include:
- Halves & Wholes - a cute sandwich cafe
- Craft Café - beachfront brunch and coffee spot
- Bodega Taqueria y Tequila - well priced famous tacos
Of course you can’t beat the coffee of Pinecreast Bakery for its famous Cuban coffee, but you can also stop inside the Nespresso cafe on Lincoln Road for some dessert and free coffee from the tasting bar.
BIKE ESPANOLA WAY
Española Way is a historic street between 14th and 16th street on Miami Beach that’ll make you feel like you’ve stepped back into town. Some of the restaurants are tourist traps but I do love eating Cuban food at Havana 1957 while people watching and listening to live music.
Explore South Beach Art Deco
Chances are you've seen the Art Deco architecture of the Miami hotels, the best ones can be found on South Beach. You can make your own walking tour through this area for a closer look at this historic part of Miami, or simply enjoy the beach some more. The historic Versace Mansion is also on South Beach. Once owned by the famous Italian fashion designer, Gianni Versace, the villa is now a luxury boutique hotel.
Miami Beach Nightlife
Since we face East, sunrise on Miami Beach is absolutley beautiful, but I love to watch the sky change colors during sunset as well. For dinner I love Drunken Dragon. One thing I enjoy about this restaurant was getting lost my first time looking for it - strange I know, but it made walking in feel awesome. Hidden in a shopping center in an unsuspecting shop discretely located, but once you enter it's a nicely themed Asian restaurant & bar.
If you're looking for a fun night, partying the Miami Beach nightlife (read more) is iconic. With that said, there's obviously a ton of options, but one place I suggest is Basement. It's a chill lounge with great music but the fun part is the bowling alley and ice skating rink inside!
Downtown, Wynwood, Design District
Visit Perez Art Museum (PAMM)
Explore Wynwood walls
Try Jugo Fresh / Panther Coffee
Explore Design District
Beyond South Beach
If you're staying on Miami Beach, I'd definitely recommend getting the most out of your stay and enjoying the beach early morning. But I also suggest exploring true Miami, since there is more than just South Beach, even an Instagram dedicated to showing what is “Beyond South Beach”.
Downtown Miami: Art & Brunch
Downtown Miami and Wynwood are really cool areas of Miami. Whether you love art or not, The Perez Art Museum of Miami (PAMM) is a gorgeous place to see. It's also near the American Airline Arena, where the Miami Heat play their games, and the new Frost Science Center. For a casual start to the day, I love having an early lunch (or brunch) at Sea Spice, especially on a beautiful sunny day since it's outdoor area is on the Miami River (and that's the best part). The menu changes every few months, but always been tasty.
PAMM is free every second Saturday of the month, and first Thursday of every month
Bass Museum of Art is free last Sunday of every month.
There’s more to Miami than just the beaches and you can't visit Miami without exploring it's art district: Wynwood. Literally an outdoor museum, Wynwood is known for its many colorful murals, showcasing large-scale works by some of the world’s best-known street artists. The area was formerly an industrial hub, but its blown up off the momentum of its galleries. The surrounding warehouses converted into restaurants, breweries and unique boutiques/art galleries.
Near Wynwood is Miami's Design District known for its sleek modern architecture, upscale galleries and luxury boutiques. The design district is beautiful to walk through, with public art displayed like the Fly's Eye Dome, a geodesic dome designed by Buckminster Fuller.
For dinner, Wynwood is full of hip award-winning restaurants, my favorites are KYU, Beaker + Grey, Plant Food + Wine. The area is a culinary destination for locals and tourists, after dinner party like a local, Wynwood nights last forever.
Cafeina Lounge is a sultry example of such a mixture of art pieces, good music, great drinks and best crowds. There is also Wood Tavern and Brickhouse, beer gardens where only the best craft brews and bourbon bloom. My favorite spot is Lagniappe, a cozy New Orleans-style wine bar where you can hang out with friends in their shabby-chic patio with cheese plates & live music nightly.
The Design District also hosts an Art Walk the second Saturday of each month where galleries and showrooms extend their hours, musicians and artists take to the streets and showcase their work.
Again, the Miami nightlife (read more) differs from place to place and according to your personal preference. Miami is a party city, the list I suggest doesn’t cover even a third of what Miami has to offer, but they are my top favorites.
Little Havana + Brickell
Visit Vizcaya / VENETIAN Pools / Biltmore Hotel
Emerge in Little Havana
Check out Brickell City Center
Rooftop dinner + drink
Sugar (EAST Miami)
Depending on where in Miami you’re staying and how long you’re visiting for, everyone’s experiences are different.
Whether its a long weekend getaway or one week trip, you can spend every day tanning by the beach, or sleeping all day and partying all night. It’s your trip so do what you love! If you’re in the mood to explore more of Miami, you can’t go wrong visiting the Vizcaya gardens and Coconut Grove area.
Coral Gables + Coconut Grove
Coral Gables and Coconut Grove are an utterly charming community of gracious Mediterranean architecture, monumental gateways, fountains, streets shaded by huge banyans, and miles of waterways. Appropriately named “The City Beautiful” — Coral Gables, is perhaps the most elegant and beautiful city that I’ve ever visited. One of the grander attractions of Coral Gables is the Venetian pool, formerly a quarry of coral rock; the pool is a fantasy of caves, waterfalls and bridges. While, Downtown Coral Gables is a community of major shopping and restaurants along Miracle Mile.
Hugging the shoreline of Biscayne Bay is Coconut Grove. The area is home to the historic Barnacle Historic State Park, and the iconic Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. The most serene European-style gardens with fountains, statues, and its huge Italian villa. Both Coral Gables and Coconut Grove are full or cafes and restaurants to choose from.
Brickell City Life
Just north of Coconut Grove and south of Downtown Miami is Miami’s financial district — Brickell. Vastly different from Coral Gables historic Mediterranean vibe, in Brickell everything is shiny, new and exciting. It is the Miami’s most NY-style neighborhood, with a roster of great restaurants, hip drinking establishments, and a big city vibe that sets it apart from everywhere else in Miami—and most of Florida, for that matter.
For a shopping fix, Brickell City Centre will more than have you covered. It covers five blocks of shopping, restaurants, high-rise condos, anchored by a massive Saks Fifth Avenue. Brickell is where I go for the coolest restaurants and rooftop views, one of my favorites is Sugar, a lush rooftop bar (where nothing is cheap) but the view is spectacular. Brickell, like most of Miami, is also chock-full of restaurants:
American: American Social, Tuyo, Biscayne Tavern, Area 31, Edge Steak & Bar
Asian: Komodo, Zuma, AZUL, Doraku
Italian: Il Gabbiano, Perricone’s Marketplace & Café, Cipriani Downtown Miami, Soya e Pomodoro
Latin: Cantina La Veinte (Mexican), Havana 1957 (Cuban), Toro Toro (Latin)
Most go to Brickell for bar-hopping, spots like: Blackbird Ordinary and American Social are favorite hotspots among locals, hipsters and anyone looking for craft cocktails and a fun time. Better Days is a classy, yet kitsch pop up bar offers craft cocktails in an eclectic surrounding.
Locations: Miami has a lot to offer, you can visit multiple times and have a different experience each time.
Little Havana is emerging yourself in Cuba
Miami Beach nightlife can take over and you'd literally only be awake at night.
Sunny Isles, Bal Harbour and Aventura are the northern parts of Miami with luxury and relaxation.
Coconut Grove/Coral Gables the oldest and possibly most laid-back neighborhood only 20 minutes outside of the city.
Wynwood is the hipster oasis is filled with unique graffiti murals, art galleries and trendy cafes.