From star-studded clubs to dazzling sun & beaches, Miami is a year-round destination where one can enjoy city life and tropical nature all at once. This is a place where the beach stretches for mile after mile, this is a city where big stars like Pitbull, Drake, and Pamela Anderson travel to host events simultaneously on the very same night (and yes, we spotted them all!).
Here, we list only the best we’ve experienced during our 4-day stay:
Viceroy Hotel Miami
Prominently located in downtown Miami’s Financial District, atop the glittering waters of Biscayne Bay, Viceroy Miami is a luxury hotel that attracts sun-chasers, globetrotters, and business travellers alike.
Besides the 28,000-square-foot (2,601 SqM) spa, the hotel’s biggest attraction is its 2-acre pool terrace on the 15th floor with sweeping views of the city and water. The poolside restaurant, 15th & Vine Kitchen and Bar’s outdoor seating overlooks the hotel’s iconic 300-foot infinity pool. It is where I enjoyed my morning mimosas and vegetarian omelets that came with more vegetables than eggs.
The hotel’s rooftop lounge, FIFTY Ultra Lounge, is one of Miami’s poshest perches that played host to Pamela Anderson’s New Year’s party during our stay. The event celebrated the last issue of nudity in Play Boy magazine.
The lobby whimsically juxtaposes contemporary furniture with classic Asian drapes in the background. In the guest rooms, lion lamps and crane paintings make you feel like walking into a Chinese museum.
See & Do
Occupying just 2.5 square miles of Miami Beach, the South Beach boasts restaurants, shops, historic Art Deco architecture, and Miami’s sexiest & busiest beach. Lincoln Road Mall and Ocean Drive are where the diners flock to chic restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating to people-watch the shoppers shop. If you are looking for tranquil beaches, head to the North Beach with fewer tourists.
Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Built under the strong influence of Italian & French architecture and dating back to 1916, The Vizcaya was a winter retreat for James Deering, agricultural industrialist and co-founder of International Harvester Company. The estate impeccably preserves its European and Chinese inspired décor, including art pieces and antiques that span 2,000 years. There are 34 decorated rooms and 10 acres of gardens, all embellished with stone sculptures, elaborate fountains and balustrades.
To dodge an unexpected rain I had to hide into Vizcaya’s gift shop (I usually skip them), which turned out to be a pleasant surprise. Besides selling gifts and souvenirs, the Vizcaya Café & Shop has its own kitchen with chefs cooking and serving hot and cold food. In the back corner is where I found a wine tasting area featuring several wines from the Deering Estate, a boutique winery established by James Deering’s great, great niece, Blair Maus and her husband Todd Maus, to honour Blair’s family heritage. Try the multi-award winning Deering 2008 Nelligan Road Cabernet Sauvignon, we started with a $15 tasting card, deposited another $8 for more, and ended up getting a whole bottle, plus a box of cheese to go with it.
Bayside/Rent a Boat
Along the banks of the Biscayne Bay is the Bayside Marketplace, an open-air shopping mall featuring lower end brands. There are also several individual outdoor vendors selling tourist souvenirs like tacky t-shirts and hats. It might not be the best place to shop, but it is a great area to simply walk around and enjoy the live music, a drink or a light meal on water. Boat trips and sunset cruises also depart from there, but instead of joining tours, we decided to rent our own boat. With a bottle of vintage wine and possibly every item we could get from Starbucks, we set sail into the Biscayne Bay.
Wynwood Art District
Real estate pioneers Tony Goldman and David Lombardi has recently transformed the once blighted neighbourhood filled with barren warehouses, into a popular public art place. Walls are painted with kaleidoscopic colours by local and international artists and streets are lined with over a hundred art driven businesses, making Wynwood the stomping ground for artists and art collectors alike.
Eat & Drink
From classics to pastries to sizzling skillets, Spartico’s breakfast menu has something for everyone. Try their Florentine: each poached egg is topped with a slice of shaved truffle and drizzled with truffle hollandaise sauce (3000 Florida Ave, inside Mayfair Hotel & Spa).
DB Bistro Moderne’s seasonal menu is Chef Daniel Boulud’s contemporary interpretation of the Parisian cuisine. Fresh and quality ingredients are used in dishes like the Florida Key Shrimp Al Ajillo, the Escargots Persillade (wild burgundy snails), and the Dover Sole Normande (255 Biscayne Blvd Way, ground floor of JW Marriott Marquis Miami).
With indoor-outdoor seating, Meat Market is a trendier take on the traditional steakhouses. Don’t feel obliged to order their meat, their seafood and vegetarian pasta are just as tasty (915 Lincoln Road, South Beach, Miami).
For wine & champagne…
Vinos in the Grove is a locals’ favourite serving a wide selection of red & white wines, special $12 Veuve (by the glass) and violet champagne cocktails. We paired them with the French Trio Cheese Board that came with almonds, green apple slices and bread (3409 Main Hwy, Coconut Grove, Miami).
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