What's So Great About Miami?

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by Carolyn Keating - 15 August 2018

An International Playground

Miami is many worlds: a beach destination, a Latin-infused cosmopolitan playground, a foodie paradise and the Cruise Capital of the World. South Beach’s globe still spins around its glitzy boutique hotels, pulsating nightlife, outdoor cafes and the pastel charms of the Art Deco District. South Beach dining hot spots include Chotto Matte for cutting-edge Peruvian-Japanese, Byblos for upscale Mediterranean, Stiltsville for seafood and Pao by Paul Qui for over-the-top Asian fusion. For a cultural excursion, visit The Bass contemporary art museum, Miami Beach Cinematheque for art films or New World Center to hear the New World Symphony perform.

North of South Beach, the stunning Four Seasons Hotel The Surf Club offers the elegance of yesteryear and top-notch cuisine at Le Sirenuse. This quieter section of Miami Beach offers peaceful beaches and family friendly neighborhoods like Surfside and North Beach. Locals enjoy browsing for fresh produce, juice and artisanal honey at Normandy Village Farmers Market. Bikers, beach goers and dog walkers mingle over empanadas at one of several Argentine coffee shops in the area.

On the mainland, the Miami melting pot offers another new world to explore. Downtown Miami neighborhoods like Little Havana,Historic Overtown and Little Haiti show off the flavors, sounds and textures of the Caribbean and Latin America, along with the African American influence of early city settlers. The monthly Lyric Live concert at the Historic Lyric Theater features everything from jazz to junkanoo. Cool urban oases like EAST, Miami, Kimpton EPIC Hotel and the W Miami offer sweeping views of Biscayne Bay and stellar restaurants in which to enjoy them. The Miami River is a hot spot for brunch and cocktails (try Kiki’s or Seaspice), while Brickell City Centre offers blocks of shops and restaurants in the heart of Miami’s financial district. Lounges with particular Miami flair include craft cocktails at Bar Nancy and Ball & Chain, both in Little Havana.

Wynwood Is Hot

In Wynwood, former warehouses are splashed with street art, housing hipster lounges, restaurants and contemporary art galleries. Wynwood Yard, an open-air night spot with live music, is always buzzing. Ditto for Gramps, with its lively beer garden and three stages. The Design District, a luxury shopping mecca, keeps evolving in the most interesting ways. Stroll through its pedestrian friendly, art filled passageways and stop for Cuban food or a cold mojito at Estefan Kitchen. Bougainvillea shaded Mandolin Aegean Bistro is a perennial locals’ favorite.

Global tastes are part of Miami’s daily dining repertoire. Citywide, food halls are all the rage for creative food made by top local chefs. Downtown, La Centrale offers 40,000 square feet of Italian restaurants, wines, cafes and gelato. The Design District’s St. Roch Market, inspired by its namesake food hall in New Orleans,is small, quirky and fun. Treats Food Hall at northern Miami’s Aventura Mall offers a dozen artisan eateries. On Miami Beach, the Lincoln Eatery and Time Out Market promise a cornucopia of fun eats.

Setting sail from PortMiami is, quite simply, a world apart. The bird’s eye view of the downtown skyline from high atop a cruise deck is breathtaking. New ships arrive here on a regular basis, and Miami is, according to Porthole Cruise Magazine, “one of the world's most exciting cities to explore before or after a cruise.” With its state-of-the-art international airport, embarking on a Miami cruise is as effortless as catching a sea breeze.

Places to Chill

If the main goal is to escape worldly concerns, soak up Miami’s unique natural beauty by watching the sunset from the patio at Smith & Wollensky, spreading your towel at Virginia Key Beach, or taking a boat tour from Bayside Marketplace. If pampering is a priority, Miami is home to scads of luxurious spas. Or, take a breather at one of the city’s secret gardens. There’s David T. Kennedy Park in Coconut Grove (drop-dead bay views); downtown’s Simpson Park (a shady tropical hammock); No Name Harbor on Key Biscayne (nature trails and stellar fish sandwiches); and Vizcaya Museum & Gardens (Italian Renaissance splendor in a fairytale setting on Biscayne Bay). New World or Old, indoors or out, wet or dry, the world is yours when you’re in Miami.

Photos courtesy of the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.

To book your car hire in Miami, click HERE.

Carolyn Keating shares her love for “the 305” in The Miami Herald, Fodor’s Guide to Miami & Miami Beach and MiamiandBeaches.com.