Miami Beach travel tips…how to enjoy it to the utmost!
Miami Beach is a fantastic holiday destination! The white sandy beaches, the swimming friendly sea, and the warm weather throughout the year, are just a portion of what it has to offer.
I love Miami Beach! I consider it my second hometown. I’ve witnessed the dramatic change since the 80’s and I’m impressed on how it has changed.
Why is it so great?
It has beautiful beaches, varied international gastronomy, superb ocean views, high-end shopping, extensive and varied hospitality offer, wonderful spas, art deco, cool party scene, and sunny skies.
The City of Miami Beach is an island in the State of Florida. It has its own identity. Like many islands, the vibe is laid back, friendly, happy, colourful, and in this case diverse and cosmopolitan. It’s home to a large Cuban community, LGTB, Jewish, Latin Americans, Europeans, and more. Spanish is the most spoken language; I recall seeing signs in shops that read “We speak English.”
Explore the beautiful areas on foot
Miami Beach Marina & South Pointe
Start where McArthur Causeway arrives to Miami Beach, on 5th St., and walk along the water towards the south. It’s a peaceful stroll with beautiful boats of all sizes, the Miami Beach Marina and water taxis. There are a couple of restaurants and a mini market in the area.
Continue walking along the water all the way to the South Pointe Park Pier. It’s the perfect place to stop, relax, feel the ocean breeze and take pictures. You can see the private Fisher Island from a distance, with its gorgeous apartment buildings and empty private beaches.
I love to stop at Smith & Wollensky’s outdoor bar and restaurant; it has beautiful views, a good vibe, as well as fantastic food and drinks. This is a great spot to people-watch and boat-watch. If you are lucky, you might see a cruise pass by.
Art deco district – South Beach
Ocean Drive Promenade and Collins Ave. are the most visited and popular streets when looking for art deco buildings. You can walk from 5th St. up to 21st St. and admire the beautiful style from the 1920’s and 1930’s.
Other streets such as Española Way, Meridian Ave., Michigan Ave., Euclid Ave. also have beautiful architecture worth admiring and photographing, and will be less crowded and more relaxed.
Lincoln Road Mall
Lincoln Road is a pedestrian street with shops, restaurants and cafes. Located between Washington Ave. and Alton Road on 16th St. and 17th St. It’s always crowded and lively. There are many places to stop for food and drinks, and people-watch. On Sundays, there is a farmer’s market with fresh produce, food stands, as well as handcrafts for sale. If you go early in the morning, it’s the perfect place to have a nice stroll and a quiet breakfast in one of the many cafes. A lot of people walk their dogs in this area which adds to the experience.
The Miami Beach Boardwalk
You can walk along the beach on a paved or boardwalk from 5th St. up to 46th St. My favourite part starts on 17th St. until the end at 46th St. I prefer this section because I find it more exclusive and less crowded. The walk is beautiful, you have the beach on one side and beautiful hotels on the other side. You can take a peek at people sunbathing or swimming in hotel pools, relaxing by pool bars, or enjoying fantastic pool parties (especially on the weekends). I hear that the best pool party in Miami Beach is at Hyde Beach, in the SLS hotel. Fridays are more chilled out, on Saturdays and Sundays it gets crowded and wild. Another lively place for a drink and food is La Côte, the bar/restaurant at the Fontainebleau hotel. Some days they have live music and some dancing.
Bal Harbour Shops is a beautiful semi-open shopping centre with luxury boutiques and an array of restaurants and cafes; from fine dining to a more casual style. I haven’t tried them all, but when I go, I’m always drawn to the Japanese restaurant, Makoto. I love to start with a cocktail at the bar outside, surrounded by beautiful shop windows, flowers and palm trees, and then eat inside.
Bicycle ride and beach hopping
A more adventurous activity and a good workout is a bicycle ride along the beach on a sandy path. I go prepared, wearing a bathing suit underneath my clothes, ready to make beach stops and go for a swim. Don’t forget to bring water. I start on 73rd St. and go north through the paved path. Then I reach a park and ride through it until I find an exit to the beach and continue north on the sandy path, all the way to the end at around 110th St. As you go north, the residences, beaches and scenery get prettier and more luxurious. Perfect to enjoy the ride, exercise, stop for a swim, and take beautiful photos.
Some insider’s tips
- SLS Hotel has two swimming pools, one for hotel guests only and one in Hyde Beach, open to walk-ins. From Friday to Sunday, they host pool parties with DJ’s and minimum consumption which can be quite steep however, during the week there is no minimum consumption. It’s never crowded, the service is good, you get lounge chairs, towels, food and drink menu. I love to spend a whole afternoon there. At night it becomes a chic bar/club, beautifully decorated with orange lighting and trees.
- Fontainebleau Hotel is a big and beautiful resort with an array of restaurants, bars, shops, swimming pools, amazing spa, one of the best clubs in town – Liv, and beach cabanas. Sometimes, I like to spend a whole day in this great resort and the way to gain access to all the facilities is to book a treatment at the Lapis spa. No matter at what time you book your treatment, they will give you full access from 9am-6pm. Lockers, towels, beach lounge chairs included. I love this place!
- The Lululemon shop on Lincoln Road sometimes hosts free one hour yoga classes on Sunday mornings. Ask to see if there is a class while you are there.
- If you want to move around and are not in a hurry, I recommend taking the Miami Beach Trolley. It’s free of charge, clean and cute. There are four routes, some of them have Wi-Fi inside, and since locals also use it, you can witness the island’s cosmopolitan culture.
Some places where I like to eat or go out for a fun night
Osteria del Teatro – is an Italian restaurant with a sophisticated decor, great cocktails and wine menu, and exquisite cuisine. They only use fresh produce of the best quality.
Juvia – located on Lincoln Road on a rooftop, has creative drinks, amazing food with international influence, and a chic ambiance. During the day you can enjoy the beautiful views of sunny skies and the sea at a distance, and in the evening the lighting and decor are worth enjoying.
Yardbird Southern Table & Bar – is an authentic restaurant with food from the Southern States, rich, farm fresh, tasteful. The bar area is a great option for aperitif and the creative cocktails can be strong, so watch out!
Big Pink – is the perfect place to go hungry and craving comfort food. It’s a diner with big portions and great food. The terrace is nice and relaxing; good to people-watch.
Bodega – is a very casual and colourful Mexican taco place with flavourful tacos, great salads and delicious hot sauces. At night, the beautiful bar inside opens and the fiesta begins.
The Broken Shaker – is a laid back, tropical, art deco bar with amazing cocktails and a cool vibe. You can enjoy your drinks by the pool.
Sazon Cuban Cuisine – is a recommendation for those looking for an authentic Cuban experience. The serving sizes are generous and the food is juicy and full of flavour. A classic is the Bistec de Palomilla with fried sweet plantains and black beans…so yummy!
Bâoli – is a chic bar and restaurant that turns into a club. Wednesday is the most popular night to go. The vibe in the outdoor bar is my favourite.
If you go to Miami Beach, I wish you a wonderful trip, lots of sun, and great memories upon your return!