As one of the fastest growing cities in America, Miami continues to redefine itself as new developments and internationally acclaimed fairs, like the celebrity-filled week of Art Basel, cement this city as an epicenter for art and culture. While Ocean Drive and South Beach continue to draw in visitors year after year, across the bridge, neighborhoods like Brickell and Wynwood have begun to explode with new restaurants, galleries, nightlife, and an energy so unique, you’d regret to have missed it. If the sunny year-round subtropical climate dosen’t win you over, the immaculate soft-sandy beaches, art deco architecture, bustling skyline, and al fresco dining certainly will. Whether it’s your first time or eight hundredth, these are the best places to eat, see, and play in Miami.
Where to Stay:
As a destination, Miami is known it’s for over-the-top decor—and the Faena Hotel Miami Beach is no exception. A maximalist’s dream, the spin-off of Alan Faena’s famed Buenos Aires hotel combines old Hollywood glamour with modern art deco accents. As you enter into the expansive hall lobby, called “The Cathedral,” you’re greeted by a red carpet and floor-to-ceiling murals created by Argentinian artist Juan Gatti followed by, what is arguably Miami’s most recognized piece of artwork, ‘Gone But Not Forgotten,’ Damien Hirst’s 24-karat-gold woolly mammoth installation. A small preview of what to expect in the 169-guest rooms who’s rich red velvet curtains, blue turquoise accents, and tiger-adorned furnishings add to the allure of your exorbitant, and no doubt, unforgettable stay.
Inspired by the Española Way, Esme Village was created as an enclave for aspiring artists and migrants who flocked to Miami Beach in the 1920’s seeking a new way of life. Today, this reimagined historical landmark serves as a hub for tourists who yearn for an authentic experience packed with personality. Thanks to the jewel-toned painted walls, bespoke Spanish tiles, and bohemian fabrics, this hidden gem provides an escaping reprieve from the nouveau riche of South Beach. With 145 guest rooms and suites, a relaxing rooftop pool, and four dynamic food and beverage concepts, patrons can take solace in enjoying a genuine version of Miami without sacrificing any luxe amenities.
Where to Eat:
New to the Miami scene, the love child of international pop-star Bad Bunny and restaurateur David Grutman dominates Brickell with an alluring Japanese steakhouse concept best-known for serving up opulent sushi, extravagant steaks, and Instagram worthy cocktails. While the food is decidedly a notable mention, locals and visitors alike flock here for the ambience. With over-the-top murals, dark hued walls, and an extravagant sushi bar, the chances of you running into a celeb or two are inevitable as Miami’s most notorious hospitality group carves out a name for themselves as the number one restaurant to see and be seen.
When you ask the locals where to go for a good steak in Miami, you’ll undoubtedly find one or two people singing the praises of this Korean steakhouse. While you may not be a stranger to char-broiled filets, COTE goes above and beyond your run-of-the-mill BBQ as servers roasts an impressive selection of exemplary cuts on your tabletop grill. The Butcher’s Feast tasting experience is a great way to sample the restaurant’s meat selection while still leaving room to add on grilled veggies sides that are every bit as appetizing as their meaty counterparts. Whether you come for the food or just to take in the ambience, you won’t forget this unique dining experience.
Where to Drink:
Hidden away in the throngs of Wynwood, Dante’s HiFi is a sanctuary for music lovers who need a reprieve from the neon-clad clubbing scene. Inspired by the 1950’s trend of Japanese listening bars, Dante’s 50-seat venue houses an impressive collection of vinyl records curated by DJ, and Dante’s musical director, Rich Medina. With an impressive array of rotating DJ’s, a booming sound system, and expertly crafted cocktails, you won’t find a better place to be on a Saturday night than Dante’s.
While there’s no shortage of skyscrapers downtown, Sugar’s rooftop oasis offers an exotic retreat from the contrasting cityscape thanks to the lush greenery, hand carved Balinese bar, and whimsical bohemian decor. Perched on the 40th floor of East Miami, this sophisticated lounge offers an impressive selection of cocktails, pan-Asian small bites, and sweeping panoramic views of Brickell, Miami. It’s the perfect place to watch the sun go down or grab a drink with a friend.
Where to Visit:
Once a former industrial neighborhood, Wynwood has recently transformed itself from bland and barren to the most happening area for shopping and a night out on the town. Vibrant in color, large in scope, and deep in meaning, the infamous Wynwood Walls have become a playground for visitors eager to take photos in front of the colorful collection of murals, painted by some of the world’s best street artists. After you’ve wandered around the lively graffiti-filled streets, stop by 1-800-Lucky for some ramen and dim-sum, hit up the Wynwood Marketplace for eclectic trinkets and souvenirs, and finish the night with cocktails at ASTRA before finishing the evening at Oasis to dance under the stars.
Enjoying the beach on a beautiful day in Southern Florida isn’t just a good idea, it’s a rite of passage in the sunshine state. If you’re not lounging on a day bed provided by your swanky hotel, don’t sweat it—there’s plenty of public sand spread out throughout the island which is conventiently connected by a seven-mile-long oceanside walkway that takes you from South Pointe Park to North Beach Oceanside Park. When the sun’s settled you can finish exploring the area’s numerous celebrity chef restaurants, like Stubborn Seed, The Bazaar by José Andrés, and Macchialina, or grab a cocktail at the Broken Shaker, Strawberry Moon, or the Champagne Bar at The Surf Club.
The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, formerly known as Villa Vizcaya, was previously inhabited by businessman James Deering. This European style mansion offers a glimpse of life living on Biscayne Bay circa 1920. A stroll through the properties 10 acres of ornate gardens are the real draw here, boasting an impressive collection of palms, rare orchids, and delicately manicured greenery. The estate is as much a marvel of landscaping as it is architecture. Taking some time to wander around the 45,000-square foot palatial home, marveling at the Renaissance artworks, tapestries, and baroque decor will undoubtedly leave you feeling like royalty.
Speaking of history, it’s hard not to mention Miami without someone suggesting you stop by their favorite cafeteria Sanguich de Miami for a Cubano, some cafe con leche at Versailles, or a famous Cuban cigar to smoke at the areas only rooftop bar, Terras. While the food is just one of the draws of visiting Little Havana, the spirit of Rumba can be heard echoing throughout the streets of Calle Ocho afterhours at one of the world’s best 50 bars, Café La Trova or Ball and Chain, a 1930’s restored jazz club that hosts some of the best performances in all of Miami.
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