Miami. The “party in the city where the heat is on” – according to Will Smith anyway. And if we trust anyone in life, it’s definitely The Fresh Prince.
Yep, it’s flashy, blingy and so crass it’s classy – it’s Miami! But don’t wrinkle your nose like that's a bad thing. In this glitzy hood, if it shines, then it’s splendid. Don't believe us? Here are 12 very valid reasons why Miami's amazing.
1. Cuban coffee to get you in the Miami state-of-mind
The gateway to Latin America, when you’re bunking down in Miami you’ll want to kick-start your day with a little Spanish-inspired jet fuel. A cafe con leche with a side serving of Cuban toast. The Latin American Bakery & Café will intoxicate your senses with loud animated chit-chat, empanadas, croquettes and Cuban coffee. Order a guanabana juice from the waitress and practice your Spanish while you’re at it; English is secondary here, amigos.
Where: The Latin American Bakery & Café, 890 SW 57th Avenue, West Miami.
2. Get fresh at South Pointe
Now you’ve got kilojoules and caffeine powering through your bloodstream, head out to South Pointe Park. A 17-acre green space, it’s considered the ‘Central Park’ of Miami but with greenery that smashes into the ocean. You can walk the walkway, jog, sunbathe, access the beach or lounge across some very funky benches. A popular one with film crews, you’ll want to rock up with your ‘face on’ – just in case the cameramen request your assistance. We’re thinking J-Lo circa 2001: abs out, gold trackies on.
3. Art Basel: raising the bar for Miami artists
Wait, what, you thought Miami was all muscle-men, pink bling and fake tan?
You’re damn straight it is.
And nowhere embraces the quintessential Miami ‘couture’ more than the four-day annual Art Basel festival. Based out of the Miami Beach Convention Center, it’s a spectacle that encompasses visual artwork from across the globe, with internationally acclaimed artists showcasing their most daring and off-beat creations throughout the city. But don’t be fooled. This is as much about the over-sized sunglasses, glitterati and high rollin’ Miami lifestyle as it is the works of art. Wads of fiddy dollar bills at the ready; you don’t need to blow all the Benjamin, you just have to look like you could.
Where: 1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach: December.
4. Taxi man, take me to Lincoln Road Mall. STAT.
Those outlandish Versace shades aren’t buying themselves, petal.
Shimmy down to Lincoln Road Mall and your shopaholic alter-ego will be rewarded with South Beach’s historic pedestrian-only promenade; jostling with shops, street performers, cafes, bars and restaurants. This Miami icon first opened in 1912, hence the Art Deco aesthetics, and is now home to both boutique stores and high street faves. Clap eyes on the largest Forever 21 you’ve probably ever seen, as well as H&M, Macy’s and more. And of course, this is the USA, so the prices are all half the price of NZ. (Dances on the spot - jig it out, uh uh).
Where: Miami’s South Beach. A 10-minute drive from downtown Miami and easily reached by bus.
5. Where Eastern cuisine meets its Latino cousin
Just when you thought the fusion revolutionaries couldn’t fuse anymore opposites together, up they pop with SuViche. A Miami-based establishment that combines Japanese and Peruvian food. Located in the financial burb of the Bricknell District, it’s tiny, casual and better yet, it’s cheerfully cheap. You can fill up on anything from sushi to quinoa salad; Arroz Chaufa (Peruvian fried rice) and spicy tuna rolls. Sit outside on the charming street terrace and wash it all down with a cold Inka Kola (Peruvian soda).
Where: SuViche Bricknell: 49 SW 11th St, Miami. With two more eateries at Wynwood and Miami Beach.
6. C Madeleine’s for X-rated fashion pleasure
Ladies (and don’t lie, gentlemen too), if you ever had a dressing-up box, C Madeleine’s is the destination for you.
A vintage store like no other, you don’t necessarily have to spend money here (don’t tell owner Madeleine Kirsh we said that), but if you love clothes, this is a wonderland of treasures and trophies. A century’s worth of vintage clothing, all arranged by era and designer, you could get lost amongst the retro fur and Gatsby driving gloves. Spend countless hours trawling the racks, shelves and railings; try on and geek-out on old school glamour. Just don’t look at the price tag, or you might just have an old fashioned heart attack.
Where: 13702 Biscayne Blvd. North Miami Beach.
7. Alternatively, forgo fashion altogether (ahem)
It’s not every day we promote full frontal nudity but we make an exception for Haulover beach. Located in Aventura, it’s a little further than more popular Miami beaches, but that also makes it quieter. Picture-perfect white sand meets the essential Miami-blue ocean.
Along the north end of the shoreline you will also find the infamous Haulover Naturist beach. But don’t blush just yet, it’s fenced off and totally avoidable (or totally accessible if that’s your thing). The remainder of the coastline is tog-saturated, well maintained, manicured (yep we’re still talking beach) and offers plenty of parasols, chairs rentals, food options and clean bathrooms.
Jig it out, uh uh Nope, we’ll never get that past the editor.
Where: 10800 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour.
8. Meet all your mates 'round Vicky's House
Time for a shake don't you think? Vicky’s House is Miami’s best throwback milkshake bar. Entry is via an old school phone booth (niche) and the menu includes everything from $14 shakes to cream soda floats and popcorn (nice). We mostly like the creative milkshake names such as ‘E.T. Goes to the Movies to Watch the Goonies’. And yes, it is 100% pure sugar served in a funky 80s-style glass.
Where: 3190 Commodore Plaza.
9. Mix with the Miami elite at Fontainebleau Miami Beach
With more prime cook steaks than you can wagyu a cow at, Stripsteak is the ‘classic American steakhouse’ located in the prestigious Fontainebleau Miami Beach resort. A hangout, we might add, which once saw the likes of Frank Sinatra and The Rat Pack frequent its flashy bar.
But, back to the meat.
Executed by award-winning San Francisco chef, Michael Mina, the fine dining restaurant has its very own aging room, as well as wine experts, attentive staff and a truffle butter bread that’ll leave you begging for more. Bottoms up, Franky boy.
Where: 4441 Collins Ave, Miami Beach.
10. Cool kids hangout in the Basement
Didn’t Wills say Miami was a party town? Yuh huh. And if there’s one place we bet Smith likes to throw some shapes, it’s Basement. Not content with just being “another Miami nightclub” this one combines a dance floor with a bowling alley and an ice rink. The music’s state-of-the-art, the DJs are world-famous and the lighting, well that’s designed by Patrick Woodroffe: the man behind the stage illuminations for Laga Gaga, Beyoncé and The Rolling Stones. Basically, if you’re after the essential Miami night out, throw on some killer threads and head down to Basement.
Where: 2901 Collins Ave, Miami Beach.
11. The swankiest gem you’ll find in the city
We’re not all about nudists and nightclubs. No way, we’re cultured too. For a contemporary explosion of modern art, look no further than Perez Art Museum.
As much about the location as it is the art, the Perez fronts Biscayne Bay waterfront and fully utilises its glorious location with outside patios and dazzling views. It’s not overwhelmingly large, which is good if you prefer to absorb your artwork thick and fast. Modern collections change regularly and can cover everything from Dominoes exhibitions to clay walls and jandal installations. Nothing shy of a swanky gem, even the grand staircase is an exhibit in its own right. Top off your visit with a triple chocolate cookie from the café, then sit on a swinging seat outside and bathe in the beautiful bay views.
Where: 1103 Biscayne Blvd, Miami.
12. Show me the chicken!
Let’s round this up with some good ole’ US cuisine, shall we? Nothing says ‘conclusion’ like a food coma. Yardbird Southern Table & Bar dishes out the best southern fried chicken in the borough. Focusing on fresh farm-to-table cuisine, it takes the best of Deep South soul food and adds a great dollop of Bourbon. Served in a glass with one cube of ice.There's nothing better.
Where: 1600 Lenox Ave, Miami Beach.
P.S. Oh, and the mac n’ cheese will have you frothing at the mouth. Over and out.