The Perfect Weekend in Miami

If you only have three days in Miami, you can still get a good feel for the Magic City. Explore South Beach’s Ocean Drive and the historic Art Deco district, head to the Design District for art museums and modern architecture, take a leisurely cruise on Biscayne Bay or an Everglades tour, and groove long into the night at one Miami Beach’s velvet-rope nightclubs.

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.
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.
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.
30205 SW 217th Ave, Homestead, FL 33030, USA
The craft beer scene is here in South Florida with the opening of the Miami Brewing Company—the region’s first craft brewery—at Schnebly Redland’s Winery in Homestead. The family-owned operation uses the tropical fruits and flavors of South Florida to make flavorful flagship and seasonal beers, including Big Rod Coconut Blonde Ale, Miami Vice IPA, and Little Havana Cafe con Leche Milk Stout. Stop in at the brewery for a craft beer tasting or pick up a to-go growler.
30205 SW 217th Avenue
The Florida Everglades is certainly one of the most unusual places to find a winery and brewery, but Schnebly Redland’s Winery excels in both arenas in what some would call “the middle of nowhere.” Guests are greeted by a stunning wine bar ahead, a beer bar to the right and a counter on the left that sells cheeses and snacks. You can also buy any of the selections you’ve imbibed, either bottles of wine or growlers of beer. The wines are unique, made from local fresh fruits like mango, guava and lychee and made on premises. Schnebly’s beers, brewed for Miami Brewing Company, are equally exotic, with brews like the Big Rod Coconut Ale or the Shark Attack Mango Wheat Ale. Tastings start at $7 and go up if you want to keep the glass. Tours of the facilities are available on weekends.
3750 South Flamingo Road
The Florida Everglades are home to a vast array of plant and animal life, and an airboat cruise through part of Everglades National Park’s 1.5 million acres reveals a beautiful display of south Florida’s natural flora and fauna. Among the water- and landscapes: swamps, mangroves, sawgrass marshes, and pine and cypress forests. The Everglades are home to the endangered leatherback turtle and the Florida panther, as well as abundant racoons, possums, deer, and birds. The big draw is alligators—lots of alligators. A walking tour includes a scenic stroll under a green canopy of towering bald cypresses.
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.
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.
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.
40 Island Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
The Miami outpost of a hotel brand well known for its Los Angeles and New York properties, The Standard Spa, Miami Beach is less a hotel in the traditional sense, and more a spa with guest rooms set amid tropical gardens. The concept extends to the hotel’s atmosphere, which is downright staid compared to the party scene of so many Miami Beach hotels. A nearly all-white color scheme and extra-comfortable linens, pillows, and robes give rooms—small by local standards—a calm, comfortable air. Extra attention has been invested in the hotel’s common areas, with lots of Danish and 1950s-inspired furniture and spaces arranged in such a way that some spots offer solitude while others focus on bringing people together. There’s a reason many guests have called The Standard a playground for adults: a co-ed hamam, gardens with hammocks and swing chairs, and a hydrotherapy circuit (including bayside infinity and icy plunge pools) are just a few of the on-site attractions.
11 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
Everyone in these parts eagerly awaits the Florida stone crab season, which runs from October through May. As soon as it starts, they flock to Joe’s Stone Crab, a South Beach institution that’s been cracking the sweet crustaceans for more than 100 years. Tuxedo-clad waiters serve claws ranging from medium to colossal, best eaten with a side of mustard sauce (while wearing a bib). Joe’s tangy Key lime pie is the way to end your meal. While the crab, sold at market price, never comes cheap, the fried chicken is a steal at $6.95.

1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33132, USA
The intimate Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) opened its doors off Biscayne Boulevard in December 2013, offering world-class exhibitions, outdoor sculptures, and spaces for art, relaxation, and dining. Prior to entering the three-story building, you meander along a walkway past cruise ships and several acres of meadows, before coming face-to-face with the striking vertical greenery of the Hanging Gardens, designed by Patrick Blanc. The thought-provoking exhibitions often skew political, with a focus on international 20th- and 21st-century art. The very natty gift shop, located on the ground floor, is also worth exploring, with items like robots and unusual objects for the home. In 2017, the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science opened next door.
4441 Collins Ave., South Beach, Florida
Fontainebleau is perhaps Miami‘s most legendary hotel, dating back to the mid-20th-century golden age of South Beach’s social scene. Opened in 1954, the hotel has seen a number of celebrities—as well as scandals—over its six decades. Frank Sinatra filmed the movie A Hole in the Head here, and the Black Tuna Gang used the hotel as a front for its drug-running activities. Fontainebleau has had several owners over the course of its existence; it closed in 2006, only to reopen again in renovated splendor two years later. Common areas have Vegas-like glitz and glam, with lots of gold accents and sparkly chandeliers (made by, of all people, Chinese dissident artist Ai Wei Wei). The hotel’s art collection is enviable; besides Ai, there are Sol Le Witt and Damien Hirst pieces. Rooms are full of attentive design elements, too. Turquoise-and-green color schemes evoke the ocean, and high-tech amenities include 20-inch iMacs. Concerts take place at several venues on the property, including poolside and at the nightclub, and the hotel has some serious star pull. Recent concerts have featured Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Pitbull.
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.
Southwest Coconut Grove, Miami, FL 33133, USA
Coconut Grove represents old-school Miami. This small pocket of bayfront parks, marinas, shops, and restaurants just south of downtown Miami was one of the city’s first neighborhoods, and people from all over the city are realizing that the Grove is cool again. Recently, independent shops and restaurants have been opening, and young families have started moving in to enjoy the art galleries, green spaces, and pedestrian-friendly streets. Coconut Grove’s waterfront location and historic charm kick off its appeal, but the real winner here is the dining scene. Mouthwatering options include French, Peruvian, Hawaiian, and Mediterranean cuisine, creamy gelato, and more. Come hungry.
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....
While the call of the beach is powerful in Miami, sooner or later world-class art, architecture, and shopping lure most visitors to the Design District. Marc Quinn’s acrobatic Myth Fortuna sculpture of Kate Moss and Fernando Botero’s iconic Maternity are among the eye-catching installations on display in the neighborhood’s plazas and along its palm-lined streets. The new Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA Miami) opened in December 2017, and other top galleries include Locust Projects and Maman Fine Art. When it comes to the art of fashion design, major brands are well represented: Versace, Bvlgari, Harry Winston, Miu Miu, Prada, and Max Mara, just to name a few. Refuel between stops with creative comfort food (and refreshing cocktails made with hand-squeezed juice) at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.

1222 16th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139, USA
If you want to travel back to the 1980s à la Stranger Things but still be able to order a drink, Ricky’s South Beach is the place to go. With air hockey, board games, and arcade games like the Terminator and Dance Dance Revolution, you can relive the unplugged past, or relive college days at the beer pong tables. The impressive whiskey collection is very adult, however, and bands and comedians perform on the large stage. Ricky’s also serves the no-frills bar food of your dreams: waffle mac ’n’ cheese, Korean frog’s legs, stacked chicken nachos, and funnel cakes.
7235 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33138, USA
Fly Boutique has become a staple in Miami Beach for vintage clothing. Although the store is a vintage shop, it still have a boutique vibe and atmosphere. Popular brands include vintage designer pieces such as Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Pucci, Gucci, Dior,Missoni and many more. If you have a passion for fashion, pairing trends with classic looks, this will be your favorite retail shop. The store has moved around over the last few years, but now has a second location in Downtown Miami.
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!
2727 Indian Creek Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33140, USA
Freehand Miami bills itself as “a hostel for a new generation of travelers.” Indeed, a visit here confirms that it’s very far from the stereotypical dingy hostel. In fact, were it not for the shared rooms, the Freehand would likely fall into the “boutique hotel” category. Room decor includes vividly colorful modern art and Mexican blankets, and free Wi-Fi is available. There are also private rooms that come with work desks and flat-screen TVs. The complimentary breakfast is popular with guests and includes Cuban pastries and locally roasted Panther coffee. Evenings are well-spent at the hostel’s on-site bar, the Broken Shaker, which in 2014 was listed #22 on Drinks International’s World’s 50 Best Bars list. It specializes in inventive “garden-to-glass” cocktails, which blend familiar spirits with unique homemade bitters and ingredients that aren’t usually found in cocktails, such as green bean juice.
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.
2727 Indian Creek Drive
There’s nothing quite like 27 Restaurant & Bar at the Freehand hostel in Mid-Beach. The Freehand stands out among five-star luxury hotels as the best spot in town to chill by the pool with a craft cocktail from the house bar, the Broken Shaker. And the restaurant is just as much of a mold breaker. No glitz or glam here—rather, this historic two-story house, built by famed architect Russell Pancoast in the 1930s, has a homey feel and low-key vibe, with a mix of old tiles and wood and hipstery prints and patterns. The phenomenal menu melds Middle Eastern and Asian flavors with American and European dishes, such as yogurt-tahini kale and Florida middleneck clams with miso and lemongrass, and at the bar, it’s easy to indulge in citrus cocktails, strong takes on old favorites, and inventive drinks with specialty reductions.

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