The Perfect Day in Miami

It can be argued that just about any day in Miami is a perfect day – but choices must be made, right? Start the day South Beach, with a stroll along the beach or the Art Deco district before grabbing lunch; spend the afternoon shopping on Lincoln Road or take a relaxing cruise on Biscayne Bay. Head downtown to enjoy dinner with views over the city and bay, followed by some late-night music and fun back in South Beach.

1130 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
For a taste of the good life, head to South Beach, known for its Art Deco hotels lining Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, glittering nightlife, and see-and-be-seen vibe. The long stretch of beach, starting with the pier at the top of historic Washington Avenue, is a great place to take in the Miami of postcards and enjoy the sunset over the cityscape. This is where you’ll find some of Miami’s best shopping, top-tier nightlife, and award-winning restaurants, not to mention great people-watching and luxury-car spotting.
Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
Ocean Drive is classic South Beach: Art Deco hotels in candy colors, buzzy restaurants, luxury cars, and of course beautiful people. It’s great any time of day, when you can walk from 1st Street to 15th Street or just sit at an outdoor café with a foamy latte. Have sunset drinks on The Betsy hotel’s rooftop by the sky-high pool or dine at Gianni’s, the restaurant in the new luxury boutique hotel Villa Casa Casuarina, which was once the mansion where Gianni Versace lived and was killed. The over-the-top interiors have been preserved, as has the mosaic pool with 24-karat gold tiles.
1600 Lenox Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
Looking for some down-home comfort food with an upscale twist? Head to Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, named one of Bon Appétit’s 50 Best New Restaurants and whose fried chicken was declared the best in the South by Southern Living magazine. From start to finish, and despite the hefty servings, each course leaves you wanting just a taste more as they remove your plates. Fried green tomato BLT with tomato jam and house-made pimento cheese, Mama’s Chicken Biscuits with pepper jelly, and a heavenly pasta dish served with duck meatballs are a few of the highlights. Add to it the fun, lively vibe and it’s easy to see how this could quickly become a regular dining spot if you lived in South Beach.
1001 Ocean Drive
Miami Beach’s Art Deco Historic District is the first 20th-century neighborhood to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places, with 800 structures of historical significance, most built between 1923 and 1943. The Miami Design Preservation League hosts tours to view some of the city’s buildings and historic outdoor spaces. The candy-colored buildings overlook the emerald waters of the Atlantic and have porthole windows, ship-like railings, sleek curves, glass blocks, shiny chrome, and gleaming terrazzo floors resembling the ocean liners of yore.
Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
Lincoln Road is a pedestrians-only boulevard in the heart of South Beach and one of the most popular places to visit in the area. Lined with shops and restaurants in historic Art Deco buildings and shaded by tall trees and fountains, Lincoln Road Mall has some of the best people-watching in Miami. Every restaurant has outdoor seating, and there are street performers and a farmers’ market that showcases the local community, farms, and purveyors. Visitors come from all around the world, so grab a cortadito and take it all in.
401 Biscayne Blvd #2305, Miami, FL 33132, USA
Just minutes from PAMM, this festive downtown Miami marketplace is on Biscayne Bay. Take a stroll, rent a charter boat, or simply practice your photography skills, as the views along the bay are breathtaking, especially at sunset. Restaurants range from a Bavarian beer hall to a seafood bar and grill to a Cuban hot spot. To truly soak in the Miami music spirit, venture here in the evening for the free concerts. Expect crowds when there’s gorgeous weather (since this is Miami, that would be most days), but you will still be able to find some open space to take in the scene.
Calle Ocho or Little Havana is where all things Cuban and Latino come together in Miami. Start your walking tour of Little Havana at Maximo Gomez Park (aka Domino Park). If you play dominoes and have the patience to wait for a spot at a table, you will be in on the hottest game this side of the Florida Straits. Or just watch as all ages face off for hours and hours. Then follow the pink marble of the Calle Ocho Walk of Fame that honors Latin stars such as the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz. Stop for tostones (fried plantains) and ropa vieja (shredded beef), or a medianoche, a morning or late-night version of the Cuban sandwich with sweeter, lighter bread. And don’t be afraid to try some chicharrones (fried pork rinds). ¡Buen provecho!
401 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132, USA
Even if you’re in Miami for a short amount of time, it’s important to get out on the water. Take a 90-minute sightseeing cruise departing from downtown Miami and you’ll cruise past Brickell Key, Fisher Island, and the stretch known as Millionaire’s Row on Miami Beach, as well as get a great view of the Miami skyline and the big cruise ships steaming out of the Port of Miami. The tour passes the homes of Shaquille O’Neal, Gloria Estefan, Julio Iglesias, and Al Capone, the house where Scarface was filmed, and more.
1395 Brickell Ave, Miami, FL 33131, USA
This Brickell eatery on the 25th floor of the Conrad Miami has panoramic views of Biscayne Bay and downtown Miami. With its warm ambience, the sleek contemporary dining room is the perfect spot for a celebratory dinner or a romantic night out. Fortunately, the food can stand up to the view, with a menu of seafood and prime meats such as lobster salad with mango and avocado, and tender confit pork with roasted beets. The curated wine list leans heavily on New World vintages.
Hotels
1220 16th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
When you first show up at Bodega, you could easily mistake it for a popular neighborhood taqueria. Between the Airstream trailer serving tacos and the picnic tables, it looks like a low-key spot. It is that, but as you see the Ubers full of models and clubgoers arriving and disappearing into the small taco joint, you get a sense there might be something more going on. Look around for a guy with an earpiece at the back of the room and tell him your friend sent you, and you might just get directed to a back door that looks like an entrance to a Porta Potti. Pass through here and you’ll enter a graffiti-filled men’s washroom. It’s only after passing through yet another door that you will enter one of South Beach’s hot hidden nightclubs. The mixologists have an extensive menu that relies heavily on “illegal” mezcal, and the DJ keeps the room pumping all through the night. It caters to a friendly, slightly older crowd and makes for a good introduction to the South Beach scene minus the cover charge and lineups that you’ll find at clubs closer to the beach.

Among South Beach’s iconic line of luxury hotels, all-night clubs and luxury shops, Bodega brings the scene back to Miami‘s local side. Located on Miami Beach, the restaurant and bar’s tricked out taco truck interior is the newest spot for over-the-top Mexican street food and yummy margaritas.

Upon entry, diners will be surprised by a converted airstream trailer that is attached to the interior back wall. This is where the kitchen staff serves up tasty tacos, antojitos and tortas.

Once you’re done eating, feel free to explore the rooms, including a weirdo non-functioning bathroom and a large speakeasy.

This is where you’ll experience the electrifying nightlife that Miami locals live for. Hang out on one of the plush sofas or light up a cigarette on the balcony. Bodega is much more than a dining experience, it’s a food truck, nightclub, speakeasy and dance party all in one.
AFAR Journeys
More From AFAR