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Why You Should Go to Miami This Winter

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Shades of green and organic shapes hint at the vegetable-focused menu at Le Jardinier, a newcomer to Miami’s Design District.

Photo by Michael Pisarri

Shades of green and organic shapes hint at the vegetable-focused menu at Le Jardinier, a newcomer to Miami’s Design District.

The temps are cooler and so is the art scene. Head south to sample the newest hotels, the tastiest bites, the latest art, and, of course, the always-buzzing beach.

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Miami has rightfully earned its reputation for hot art, hot nightlife, and hot people—not to mention the art deco glam and transportive elegance of its architecture. A visit to Miami is like seeing a tarted-up Kardashian walking alongside a refined Helen Mirren—you don’t know where to look first. Happily, you don’t have to choose: You can hit the scene, show off at the beach all morning, spend afternoons seeing art or taking a walking tour of the grand buildings along Ocean Drive, and then drink cocktails at the Broken Shaker. In high-season Miami, you can have it all.

Art Basel in Miami Beach draws art lovers, buyers, and artists to Miami every December.

Get an eyeful of what this city does best

On any given day, you’ll find art around every corner in parts of Miami, but each December, the art world descends on the city for some serious business. Artists and buyers and more than 200 international galleries gather for Art Basel in Miami Beach (December 5–8, 2019), a for-profit fair that fills the Miami Beach Convention Center and spills over onto the streets and into parks, so even if you don’t buy a ticket, you will still be surrounded by its influence. 

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Wynwood, the mural-crazy Miami arts district, also hosts an unofficial counterpart to Art Basel called Basel House (December 5–8, 2019), which is free and open to the public (and if you are over 21 and among the first to RSVP, you’ll be thanked with a free drink ticket, too). Unlike the business transactions going on at the official fair, you’re more likely to find live graffiti battles, craft vendors, guided tours, workshops, multiple murals being painted, skate ramps, and lots of live music and performance art. 

Or spend a sunny winter afternoon exploring the city’s glorious, curvaceous art deco architecture on a private walking tour led by an architect or urbanist on the Miami Art Deco Tour with AFAR’s partner, Context Travel.

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Plantation shutters keep guest rooms shaded from the Miami sun at Life House, Collins Park.

Stay high or low

The Mr. C boutique hotel chain, founded by two scions of the famous Cipriani family, opened a third location in Coconut Grove, Mr. C Coconut Grove, last April. The 100-room building, designed by storied Miami firm Arquitectonica, resembles an art deco steamship moored off the Amalfi coast, complete with porthole windows on the side, lacquered wood finishes, nautical colors of blue and white, crisp room designs, and views over Biscayne Bay.

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If you prefer going native to living large, check out Life House, Collins Park, part of a growing family of Life House hotels in town. Two other hotel-siblings—one in Little Havana and one in the South of Fifth neighborhood—opened this year; another in South Beach is due in spring 2020. The design-focused, affordable boutique hotels offer guests a strong sense of the surrounding community—the 50-room Collins Park property, carved out of a historic house built in the “streamline deco” style, is just two blocks from the South Beach buzz. The airy guest room design presents a beachy palette and original textile artwork, with Revival linens and Le Labo toiletries. A new on-site restaurant, Mama Joon, is set to open in early November. Following the brand’s dedication to community, the menu will focus on the meze tradition of shared plates with recipes from Lebanese and Mediterranean cuisines. Life House guests download an app that unlocks their room, acts as a concierge, and connects them, if they wish, with hotel guests and neighborhood locals with similar interests.

The artful plating at Le Jardinier echoes the signature style developed by chef Joël Robuchon.

Taste the latest

Although the Michelin-star-laden chef Joël Robuchon died last summer, his team moved ahead with plans to open Le Jardinier, a long-promised, veg-focused establishment in July. Located in Miami’s Design District, the restaurant does not simply emphasize green on the menu; the place is swathed in multiple shades of the color, too, with views of a lush (and well-tended) jungle of Florida flora visible through every window and surrounding the umbrella-shaded tables on the patio. Though regionally grown vegetables take center stage, the kitchen is not strictly vegetarian (but a vegetarian tasting menu has been a breakaway hit); you’ll also find dishes that contain seafood, chicken, and even hangar steak, all prepared and plated with ultramodern, ultra-French finesse.

How do you elevate the modest bagel? You create an air of exclusivity, by dubbing your little shop in Wynwood the Bagel Club. Grab a warm and chewy just-made bagel (the obvious choice: an everything Super Nova—lox, purple onion, and a schmear with a horseradish kick and salty caper jolt) and pair it with a cup of La Colombe coffee. You have now ingested the perfect fuel for a day of Wynwood art viewing.

>>Next: Plan Your Visit With AFAR’s Miami Travel Guide

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