I went to South Beach, Miami for my first time back in February, and have been dying to share my experience with you ever since. I headed to the magic city for an extended 5-day girl's weekend, which I found to be the perfect amount of time to get the full-fledged Miami experience. If you're planning on heading down there anytime soon, read on for some great recommendations on restaurants, shopping, nightlife, and cultural hot spots to make sure you get the most out of your trip.
When it comes to accommodations, we chose to keep it on the cheaper side since we weren't planning on spending much time in our rooms, and opted for an apartment on Pennsylvania Avenue through AirBnB. This was a short walk from the beach and close to all of the shopping and restaurants. If you are, however, planning on playing it low-key and lounging by the pool, I would recommend spending a little more and staying at a hotel, like the W South Beach, the Mondrian South Beach Hotel, or the Delano South Beach Hotel.
On our first afternoon in Miami, we kept it pretty low-key and walked along the boardwalk on the famous Ocean Drive. For dinner, we ventured out of South Beach to Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill in downtown Miami. While this restaurant is on the pricey side, the ambiance is magical and it was hands-down one of the best meals of the trip. They're known for their killer mojitos and have some of the best sushi I've ever had. Some must-tries include their crunchy tuna rolls, Japanese eggplant and goat cheese croquettes.
That night, we went to LIV Night Club at the Fountainbleu Hotel, which is a Miami must. If you're able to get a booth that makes the experience all the much better. LIV is open until 5:00am and hosts a wide variety of top DJs, including Kygo, Kaskade, and Robin Schulz. And for late night eats, try La Sandwicherie. It's a hole-in-the-wall outdoor sandwich bar that also offers salads and smoothies - open until 5:00am and well equipped with entertaining locals.
On our second day, we hung out at the beach, and stopped by the Ritz-Carlton for daytime drinks. They have a great restaurant overlooking the beach and sell coconuts. Something to keep in mind while staying in South Beach is that everywhere you go, they add an automatic 18% gratuity. So the price of drinks can add up quickly!
One fun area to check out for dinner is Espanolo Way Village. It's a great little strip to walk down in South Beach with many Latin and Italian restaurants. The outdoor tables and seclusion from vehicular traffic give it a very European vibe, which also makes it great for people watching.
On our third day, we wanted to go to a pool party and heard that Hyde Beach at the SLS was THE spot. The atmosphere is everything you want for a Miami daytime pool party, set with white cabanas, good music, and pretty floor tiles. They also do champagne showers every hour, on the hour.
For dinner, we went to Byblos on Collins Avenue, which is a must! Imported from Toronto and expanding to Dubai, Byblos offers the flavours of Eastern Mediterranean cuisine and gives off a distinctly Miami chic vibe. The menu is influenced by countries ranging from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon, and Morocco. Some must-haves at Byblos include the crispy eggplant, the fattouche salad, and the gulf shrimp guvec.
When it came to going out that night, we got persuaded into going to Mynt Lounge on Collins Avenue. The music was mediocre, the decor, which included silver tinsel on the carpeted floor, was haphazard, and it was, overall, chaotic. If it wasn't for our VIP booth, then Mynt would have been a complete bust.
That being said, our night was redeemed when we were recommended to go to the Blackbird Ordinary. While this bar is located outside of South Beach in downtown Miami, it's well worth the trip. They have live music, great cocktails, and a stunning outdoor dance floor. The vibe is great for late-night drinks or if you're craving that non-club atmosphere.
On our last full day in South Beach, we decided to do some shopping along the famous Lincoln Road Mall. It's a pedestrian-only road that runs between 16th and 17th street, and holds a large number of restaurants, boutiques, and major retailers, like Zara, Club Monaco, and H&M. On weekends, they offer a great outdoor market with fresh produce and eclectic vintage shopping. For specialty stores, I would recommend checking out Ondademar for one-of-a-kind swimwear and the first-ever Adidas by Stella McCartney store for their luxury athletic line.
Coming from Toronto, we also had to make a stop at the Shake Shack, which, of course, did not disappoint. Their chocolate milkshakes and crinkle fries are everything. They also offer crispy fried portobello burgers for vegetarians, which are to die for. I'm counting down the days until I can eat it again.
Following shopping and lunch, we grabbed some drinks at The Raleigh Hotel. This Art Deco boutique hotel on Collins Avenue boasts one of the most stunning pools in Miami, surrounded by a lush exterior, white cabanas, and a mini-waterfall. While The Raleigh is upscale, it serves as a stunning oasis that edges onto the beach and is a great place to just relax.
We later went for dinner at SUSHISAMBA on Lincoln Road, which is a great restaurant if you're looking for good food and good ambiance without breaking the bank. While they do offer your regular, slightly elevated Japanese sushi, they also have Brazilian and Peruvian-inspired dishes.
If you're heading to Miami anytime soon, tweet me with any questions! Be sure to stay tuned for more of my Instagram travel diaries!