Enjoy lapping up the rays in South Beach, Miami

Thanks to its tropical climate and late night opening hours, Miami is Florida’s most renowned party town. But its Cuban influence and burgeoning art scene mean there’s plenty of culture too. A word of warning, Miami is all about excess, so make sure you stockpile a little sleep, and cash, before you go.


First Timers

Chances are you’re going to be out very late tonight, so start the day with a long, slow brunch at the Icebox Café on Lincoln Road or the Front Porch on Ocean Drive. Next, get the blood flowing with a wander along part of the 11km (7 miles) esplanade that hugs the beach near Ocean Drive. You’ll see all sorts here, from fitness fanatics, to swooning couples, exhausted party-goers and plenty of swanky cars. Finish up near the north end of Collins Avenue and turn left onto the pedestrianized shopping area, Lincoln Road, for more people-watching, shopping and, if you’re there on a Sunday, take in the farmer’s market (between 9am and 630pm) which sells local produce and, rather unexpectedly, live orchids.

Old Hands

First thing (when most of Miami’s tourists have not long gone to bed) is the best time to head across to South Beach, enjoy the sunrise over the ocean and even join an early-morning yoga class and practice with the sand beneath your feet. Having worked up an appetite, head across to the nearby News Café, which is open 24 hours. It’s got a very relaxed vibe and some of the best French toast in town.


First Timers

Miami is in a constant state of change; if you visited five years ago, you wouldn’t recognize half of it now. The Design District of Wynwood has transformed noticeably in the last half decade from a few run down warehouses to a hip artists’ hangout. The best way to see it is to cruise around by Vespa; Roam Rides offer a brilliant ‘art and culture’ tour of Wynwood.

WynwoodWynwood's colourful design district
Creative Commons / jikatu

Rent a brightly colored 50cc scooter (all you need is a valid driving license) and follow your guide around this super-trendy part of town, as you get an up-to-date lowdown of local graffiti artists and see the works that are emblazoned across most of Wynwood’s walls. Finish off an inspiring morning with a meal at The Wynwood Kitchen and Bar where the design and artwork is every bit as good as the mouthwatering Mexican food.

Old Hands

Time to see Miami from a different angle; sit on the back of the parasail boat in a harness and life vest and be gently swept hundreds of feet into the air for a spectacular view of South Beach, with Pinky's Parasail in the Miami Beach Marina. After all that exhilaration, you’ll probably need to calm down a little, so lounge by the pool at Surfcomber Hotel and enjoy some reasonably-priced and delicious Asian fusion food and a cocktail at Lantao Kitchen and Cocktails.


First Timers

Don’t be one of the many visitors to Miami who never leave the South Beach area; Miami Magic City Tour offers a four-hour guided bus tour of the city’s highlights, heading Downtown past Miami’s skyscrapers, over to the opulent residential areas of Coral Gables and Coconut Grove, before heading into Little Havana, a Cuban hub, home to the infamous Calle Ocho. Here you can stop for a Cuban coffee (a very thick, short, sweet drink), take in the atmosphere among the card-playing locals at Maximo Gomez Park and try a hand-rolled, Cuban cigar.

CoralcoffeeVisit lavish homes in Coral Gables and sip a Cuban coffee
Creative Commons / The Miami Story and Cocoa Dream

Old Hands

The Mediterranean-style ‘Village of Merrick Park’ in Coral Gables will keep even the most discerning of shoppers happy, with its 100 high-end boutiques and restaurants, including Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom, Tiffany & Co., Jimmy Choo, Hugo Boss, Diane von Furstenberg and Anthropologie. Once you’ve exhausted yourself (and your credit card), take a rest in the huge, tropical garden and refuel on a superior sushi snack at the Sawa Restaurant & Lounge.


First Timers

Miami’s nightlife is part of its soul, but the heart of it takes place on and around Ocean Drive. Try the glitzy 'Liv' nightclub at the luxurious Fountainbleu Hotel and, slightly cheesier, Mynt. Or if you want an all-in-one restaurant, bar and club, Nikki Beach at One Ocean Drive is a rich-kid playground (even during the day, visitors are asked to dress 'beach chic'). Featuring large white linen chaises, low plush beds and oversized teepees, this glam hang-out is as wild or relaxing as you make it.

OceandrivenightHit Ocean Drive for nightlife

Just a little further back, away from the beach, there's the vast nightclub and celebrity hangout, Mansion and, owned by the same group (Opium), dramatically-designed Set, where huge elephant tusks decorate the ceiling. If you're after some live music though, the more down-to-earth, Jazid, holds live jazz, soul and funk gigs, as well as Karaoke nights.

Old Hands

Been there, partied there? What about a long, luxurious dinner instead? If it’s sheer class and flawless dishes you’re after, then ‘The Dutch’ at the W Hotel on Collins Avenue won’t disappoint (think oysters, lamb shank, scallops and ravioli to die for). Or, for the more carnivorous Miami visitor, there’s BLT Steak, the restaurant located inside distinguished, historic landmark hotel, The Betsy, where expert staff will educate you on various cuts and help you pick your desert-island meal. If it’s fish you’re after, then a visit to Joe’s Stone Crab is non-negotiable. Because it’s so popular, Joe’s operates a no-reservation policy so be prepared to wait in line for a taste of the ocean's bounty and make sure to leave room for dessert as the Key Lime Pie is legendary. Once you’ve eaten, head across for a nightcap at the super-swanky Skybar at The Shore Club with its poolside beds, lit by lanterns and decorated in an ‘Oriental chic’ style.

See our Miami travel video for more inspiration.

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