Miami is a place where the moment you land you feel exhilarated and relaxed, somehow at the same time. It's the perfect weekend escape because it has everything you want—Instagram-worthy views, delicious food, better drinks, cool nightlife, culture, and—perhaps most importantly—beaches. It's also great for solo travel, couples getaways, and, of course, bachelorettes. Here, a guide to the city, no matter how little time you have.
Where to Stay
The Confidante is an ideal weekend hotel. The pastel striped beach furniture is very Pinterest-y in a Slim Aarons photograph type of way. With a separate kids pool and an adults pool, the vibe isn't too young or too “pool party;” it remains both lively—thanks to DJs and live bands—and civilized. The hotel’s restaurant Bird & Bone offers healthy poolside kale salads and southern inspired fried chicken...choose your own adventure.
More into South Beach's art deco vibe? Try staying at the classic Delano or the Estefan-owned (yes, as in Gloria and Emilio) Cardozo South Beach, which recently underwent a major renovation and just reopened last month. If you want/need to stay in downtown Miami (hello, business traveler), the Mandarin Oriental is elegant and has an amazing spa.
What to Do
Beach and poolside lounging is a must. Why even come to Miami if not for that (preferably with a blended alcoholic beverage in hand)? Once you get your fill of #loungelife, head to Wynwood and The Wynwood Walls to check out the amazing street murals. The Miami Design District has cool sculptures, galleries, and artsy stores to stroll in and out of, while a boat tour (there are a couple to choose from) can give you a unique look in the Everglades.
But honestly, Miami is all about the nightlife scene—even during the day. Hit up hotel pool parties starting around 2 p.m. for drinks, music, and poolside dancing. If you're not staying at the specific hotel, you may be asked to have a reservation or pay a day rate—just call the place you have your eyes on (check Yelp and Eventbrite for some ideas) to get the gist.
If that's really not your style, there are still yummy drinks to be had in a more chill environment. Try the outdoor Broken Shaker (a James Beard Award semi-finalist with a cool, Brooklyn-esque vibe located at the Freehand hostel), Craft Social Club (a dance-y bar with great cocktails—essentially the best of both worlds), Ball & Chain (which often features live music like jazz and salsa), and Bunbury (a great Argentine restaurant that features an outdoor space perfect for sipping wine). Into clubs? LIV is the traditional go-to (make sure you go early, are women, or have a reservation for a table), while Basement, Story, and Trade all offer music, dance floors, and that exclusivity factor.
Where to Eat
First, make a reservation at Yardbird (you'll need it, the wait times are crazy!) because it's just so damn good. You *must* order the chicken and waffles, and if you have room, the maple-bacon donuts are the fluffiest, most I'm-eating-a-million-calories-but-it's-worth-it things.
For lunch or dinner, check out 1 Hotel's newest restaurant, Watr. It's outside, on the rooftop, next to the adults-only pool, with views of the ocean. The poke is their standout, but they have amazing sushi, a tuna tartar flatbread that's just ugh so good, fried rice, salads...literally nothing disappoints. (Shoutout to the head chef Catalina Ucros!). The restaurant also features a cocktail menu to pair perfectly with the eats, led by beverage director Charles Steadman. Think "Pimm's Goes East" (a Pimm's cup with hints of cucumber and shiso leaf), their signature cocktail "Golden Watr" (with apple and gold flakes), and—of course—adult slushies, a.k.a. frosé.
Bunbury (mentioned above) also has amazing empanadas and argentine eats, while Cvi.che 105 has some of the best ceviche around. Blue Collar is a great, diner-like spot for comfort food, and El Mago de las Fritas has (you guessed it) the best fritas. Go to Versailles for the classic Miami Cuban.
- It might sound dumb, but you'll want at least two swimsuits for your Miami vacation—one for being active and one for pool naps. Another fashion saver? Headscarfs and turbans that can protect your beachy 'do and save you from sweaty hairlines.
- Most vacationers head to Miami in the "colder" months (January through April), meaning you'll find better rates in summer. Hurricane season is technically June through November, but don't get spooked—as long as the weather's good, the city is open for business.
- Miami often includes gratuities automatically at bars and restaurants—anywhere from 18 to 20 percent.
- Nightlife starts late. Skip the lines (!) by arriving early—between 9 to 10:30 p.m. You'll get seats, get drinks, and be ready and primed for people watching.
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