Newsflash: Miami is quickly becoming like a second home, and increasingly serving as the primary home, to big-city Northeasterners in search of sunshine and good vibes. The New York Times recently reported that Silicon Valley techies and Wall-Street types are moving on down, thanks to an eager mayor, tax breaks, and all things fun in the sun.
Miami Vice references are now past tense, with The Magic City (as it’s lovingly referred to) quickly becoming the top arts, culture, and dining destination in the U-S-of-A. And it’s not surprising. International restaurant groups expanding, business hubs relocating, and cultural institutions binding together in a post-pandemic world, have all contributed to Miami’s transformation.
For a taste of the fabulous things there are to see and do in this Southern US city, check out our curated list below. (Note: don’t forget to pack your SPF 50, as the rays are as hot as the city itself.)
Rival the candy-striped sun loungers with a South Beach-ready vacation wardrobe. Here’s what to pack for a Miami weekender…
THE PACKING EDIT
Let The Good Times Roll the goodtime hotel, Miami Beach
For a good time, call David Grutman and Pharrell Williams. Together, the nightlife impresario and music legend have opened the newest (and hottest) venue in Miami Beach, the goodtime hotel.
The 266-room hotel occupies a full city block, and promises to be a destination of “hedonistic revelry and laidback R&R.” For a rollicking time, head to Strawberry Moon, the hotel’s restaurant and 30,000-square foot pool club space. Amplifying modern Miami’s crossroads culture and energy, interior designer Ken Fulk has channelled mid-century Caribbean and Central American resort towns in their heydays – think Havana and Acapulco – into his designs. With a modern art-deco flair, including pink- and white-striped poolside cabanas, plush palm covered walls, and seating and gilded bathroom finishings – it’s a wonderful sensory overload.
Mezcal Shots And Casual Eats The Moxy, Miami Beach
Before you roll your eyes at this mainstream Marriott chain’s inclusion, listen up. This 202-room hotel is the chain’s first resort-style property and is quickly becoming one of Miami’s most coveted hotspots, thanks, in part, to a local culinary genius. Led by Miami all-star chef Scott Linquist, the property’s outdoor eatery Serena has a tropical vibe, with Mexican eats. Next to the hotel’s second-floor pool (the other is on the rooftop) Serena is just one of a number of must-visit spots within the Moxy complex. There’s taco joint, Los Buenos; The Upside (a rooftop bar); Como Como, a modern take on a traditional Mexican seafood restaurant; and mezcal lounge, Mezcalista, which offers over 100 varieties of, you guessed it, mezcal. Plenty of drinking and dining fun to be had at this Mesoamerican inspired hotel.
Take Yourself Away AWAY Spa At The W South Beach, South Beach
After 10 years as a scene-y Art Basel hotspot, the W South Beach reopened in the fall after a $30million facelift, including a brand-new spa. A 9,540-square-foot luxury wellness and beauty sanctuary, AWAY Spa is set to be South Beach’s go-to retreat. The serene experience begins the moment guests enter the minimalistic refuge with complimentary detox elixirs, charcoal cookies, and mobile phone ‘sleeping boxes’.
Treatments range from detox massages hydra facials, with add-ons such as ‘muscle rescue’, which eases discomfort and muscle pain through CBD body balm, and ‘Himalayan hot stones’ that stimulate metabolism. The spa also offers mini treatments and a state-of-the-art massage chair to cater to the on-the-go traveller looking to recharge in an hour, or less. Post-treatment, enjoy a private mud shower, relax in the indulgent spa lounge, or enjoy sensory-driven elements such as eucalyptus-infused limestone steam showers, for further pampering. Once revived and refreshed, book a poolside cabana outfitted with comfy loungers, high-tech sound system, unlimited high-speed internet, and more.
Stay, Play, Relax, And Shop Alvin Valley Pop Up At The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, South Beach
Damaged by hurricane Irma in 2017, this luxury property was revamped (to the tune of $90 million), reopening last year. The newly re-imagined Ritz-Carlton, South Beach is known for bringing luxury partnerships to Miami for its guests to enjoy, including evoJets, Natura Bissé, and more. Their latest collab is with fashion designer Alvin Valley, who recently opened a pop-up shop there. Valley’s first beach concept store came about as more luxury buyers from the Northeast started traveling down to Florida, demanding not just dresses, but more casual duds that can transition from city to beach. The new offerings include pareos, beach cover-ups, dresses, sarongs, and casual pants, which Valley is known for. While you’re there, experience their uber-luxurious spa. Our pick? The Natura Bissé Diamond Luminous facial, which leaves your skin glowing, supple, soft and with less hyperpigmentation.
Wine, Dine, And Gawk Carbone, South Beach
If you do snag a coveted reservation at Sofi’s hottest new eatery (founded by Mario Carbone, Jeff Zalaznick, and Rich Torrisi of New York City’s Major Food Group) bring your appetite (note Carbone’s trademark oversized Italian-American dishes) along with your designer duds. Decorated by hospitality design guru Ken Fulk, the indoor-outdoor space is reminiscent of a Vegas eatery frequented by the cast of Goodfellas – think over-the-top decor, including green leather booths, salmon-coloured velvet drapes, malachite support beams, and oversized Murano chandeliers.
Heaps of heavy foodie freebies like thick, tomato focaccia bread, mixed olives, and chunks of fresh parmesan cheese are brought to the table to be consumed pre-meal – to be washed down with a craft cocktail or glass of wine from their killer list. Don’t overindulge because you’ll want to make sure there’s room for some signature dishes like octopus pizzaiolo, linguini vongole, and a porterhouse steak, and the already-famous spicy rigatoni in a vodka sauce. Caesar salad “alla ZZ” is prepared table-side and a dessert tray is brought out for guests to gawk and drool at and perhaps even order from.
The Cool Pool Hotspot Faena Hotel, Miami Beach
Have you ever seen a more attractive pool? Answers on a postcard, addressed to Faena Miami Beach. This five-star hotel has got the Miami Beach vibe down to a T with a palm-fringed pool that’s decked out in signature candy-cane stripe umbrellas and plush chaise lounges.
Step a few metres over the boardwalk and the Faena Beach area is just as coordinated. (Not sure where your beds are? Just head for the red and white umbrellas). Hotel guests get dedicated pool or beach butlers on standby to offer fruit-infused water, sunglasses cleaning, and small bites. There’s even a fresh water foot wash to help you rinse off the white sand.
A Decadent Lunch With A Main Dish Of Art The Rubell Museum And Leku Restaurant, Allapattah
Miami mega-collectors Don and Mera Rubell have always been ahead of the curve in artist discovery and their new-ish museum in the up-and-coming Alapattah neighbourhood of Miami is a testament to that forecaster outlook of theirs. Explore the 100,000 square-foot campus and take in works by artists like Kerry James Marshall, Cecily Brown, Kehinde Wiley, Jean-Michel Basquiat, George Condo, Keith Haring, Amoako Boafo, Tschabalala Self, Mickalene Thomas, Rashid Johnson, Karon Davis, and many others. Arguably the most diverse collection of female, Black, First Nation, and LGBTQIA artists’ works in the area, The Rubell Museum is unlike any other, as is Leku, the museum’s culinary endeavour.
The Basque restaurant inside the industrial space-turned-museum, serves up traditional and modern takes on Basque cuisine alongside delicately crafted cocktails – which are works of art themselves. Expect a menu of wood-fired grilled meats, fresh seafood, and traditional soups and stews, with a focus on seasonal ingredients. Served in a plush indoor-outdoor setting, the authentic Basque Asador (AKA coal- and wood-fire grill) is one of the main draws.
Mediterranean Vibes And An App-Owned Hotel KAYAK Hotel and Layla Restaurant, Miami Beach
You may have searched for a hotel on the popular travel search engine KAYAK, but now you can stay at the brand’s first brick-and-mortar hospitality venture. In partnership with NYC-based management group Life House, the KAYAK Miami Beach is quickly becoming a hotspot for locals and tourists alike.
It’s, in part, thanks to sheer curiosity (the high-tech concept hotel replaces front-desk staff with kiosks) but mostly, thanks to a quiet location, sleek décor, and the hotel restaurant, Layla. A fresh take on Middle-Eastern cuisine, Layla offers many small dishes, perfect for sharing – we’re talking hummus, labneh, and baba ghanoush dips, Israeli salad, harissa tuna ceviche, and roasted cauliflower with shawarma spice. Wash it all down with one of their special craft cocktails at the restaurant’s hidden rooftop bar.
South Beach 'Til Sunset Baia Beach Club, Mondrian Hotel, South Beach
Once the hottest places to wine, dine, and hang, SoBe’s Mondrian Hotel was due a second coming. Their recently debuted Baia Beach Club is just what the fun doctors ordered. The waterfront oasis, with sweeping views of Biscayne Bay, was part of the hotel’s $20 million property-wide revamp. A blissful spa, indoor and poolside restaurant and bar, fitness centre, luxurious poolside cabanas and more fill this Mediterranean-vibed beach club. They recently added a summer happy hour called ‘Oysters & Beau On The Bay’ (as if we needed another reason to play here) that includes $2 oysters and an $18 Beau Joie Brut or $22 Beau Joie Rose pairing on Wednesdays – you know, for a bit of a midweek pick-me-up. Enjoy the unparalleled sunset views while toasting yourself for being smart enough to enjoy the finer things in life.