South Beach, though just a neighborhood of Miami, is often the first destination most people think of when planning a trip to the city. And with hundreds of clubs, restaurants, boutiques and some of the country’s most famous hotels lining the streets, it’s no surprise why. We recently took a break from the Miami Swim Week tents to scope out the scene.
Where to Stay
South Beach is synonymous with Art Deco architecture (the neighborhood was destroyed by the hurricane of 1926, and then reborn during the Art Deco movement) and most boutique hotels are designed in the 1930s style. Unfortunately, while these properties boast visually stunning exteriors, if you’re not careful, you might find yourself cramped in a dated 1930’s style interior room as well. The exception? The Gale South Beach, which reopened in December 2013, fully renovated with all the modern technological amenities. Guests enjoy sleek rooms, equipped with high-definition 55 inch LED televisions, iPhone and iPod docking stations, WiFi, and marble showers with rain head faucets. Those who book in the Signature Terrazzo category and above also enjoy provide balconies. Rooms are compact (standard in South Beach), but the buzzy public areas—The Regent Cocktail Club, Rec Room, and Rooftop Pool Deck—more than make up for it.
Where to Eat
For special occasions, nothing beats the enchanting garden ambiance of Casa Tua. The upscale Italian restaurant, while located just a block away from Collins Avenue, feels secluded and a world away from the South Beach party scene. The name of the establishment translates to “your home” and is as intimate as you would expect—expertly balancing a feeling of exclusivity and warmth.
Sunday brunch in the Setai courtyard brings the concept of a lazy, boozy bunch to a whole new elegant level. Here, the bottomless champagne is top shelf (Tattinger) and you’re guaranteed never to be without a full glass at all times. The four hour buffet includes sweet and savory stations such as five different types of waffles and pancakes, unlimited fresh fruit juices and smoothies, premium deli suggestions, salads, eggs, cheeses, desserts, and grilled meats including truffle roasted chicken and caramelized leg of lamb. Bring a group of friends to lounge around for hours, all to the music of a live jazz band.
This Collins Ave eatery which serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner can be whatever you need it to be: a quick grab-and-go juice and coffee stop in the morning, a gourmet pizza take-out spot for lunch, or a sit down group dining destination in the evenings, complete with antipasti and mozzarella bars and an extensive wine list.
What to Do
Hit South Beach
The obvious choice when in Miami — it’s easy to laze away at the beach for the entire day. Most hotels have reserved beach front properties. Just remember to bring some cash. In some cases, umbrellas may be an additional $15 — plus, you’ll want to order a piña colada or two from the beach bar to keep you cool in between dips in the ocean.
If a pool party with bottle service is more your speed, let Hyde Beach at the SLS be your South Beach destination. The indoor-outdoor club boasts over 8,000 sq feet of pool, beach, garden, and lounge space and you can enjoy it all with José Andrés food and drinks at your beck and call.
A visit to South Beach is not complete without a pit stop at the famed boutique The Webster. The 20,000 square foot, three-level, concept store sells over 100 men and women’s brands from Alaia to Valentino. Even if you’re just browsing, consider the stop a vital part of your fashion education.
Where to Relax
After all the parties and the afterparties, even the most active vacationer will need to unwind. Step into the spa at the Setai, hands down the most zen spot in all of South Beach. The spa has a core offering of pampering massages, facials as well as nail and waxing services. The spa also recently teamed up with luxury French brand THÉMAÉ and now uses the line of tea-based anti-aging products in the spa rituals.