Get the insider scoop on all things 305 with our fab resident expert.
By Tara Solomon
When you’re defrosting the driveway and pulling out the puffers (or whatever it is those of you who don’t live in Miami have to do every winter), it’s time to book your flight for the Sunshine State’s hottest (read: coolest) destination.
Miami, for all its reputational hiccups, is truly The Most Fun City in the World. You can do anything in Miami and be anyone. No one cares. Bring that pink-and-orange neon tiki outfit your wife/husband/caregiver has threatened to destroy–everyone’ll ask where you got it.
I’ve lived in Miami Beach since the late 1980s (please don’t do the math) after graduating from University of Miami and going on to be The Miami Herald’s “Queen Of The Night” columnist. I arrived during South Beach’s gentrification when local artists and kindred-spirit bohemians created an underground scene—a movement, really—which was the catalyst to Miami’s emergence as the global destination it is today.
OK, so you’re sold. You’ve gone on Expedia and booked your Miami getaway. What’s the plan once you arrive? Consider skipping the hotel’s concierge printouts (unless you want to spend 13 hours driving to the Everglades and back to ride in a swamp-buggy vehicle over murky water that’ll leave your hair so frizzy you’ll be unrecognizable in your own selfies).Instead, trust my foolproof list of Miami moments that are civilized, pop-culturally significant and, more importantly, will leave your hair Instagram-able.
1. Rubell Museum
One of my favorite Miami spots, the Rubell Museum complex in the Allapattah ’hood houses both the renowned family-owned museum of contemporary art as well as acclaimed Spanish restaurant Leku, both open Wednesday through Sunday. Make this your first Miami outing so that you can get lots of content to post in case you want to make Day Two a beach day. 1100 Northwest 23rd Street, Miami; RubellMuseum.org
2. Miami Design District
A buzzy, 18-square-block microcosm of fashion, art and trendy dining, Miami Design District is home to brands including Gucci, Chanel and Louis Vuitton and, thanks to developer Craig Robins’ largesse, two dozen important works of public art. 140 Northeast 39th Street, Miami; MiamiDesignDistrict.com
3. Miami Beach Botanical Garden
A clandestine urban green space a few blocks north of Lincoln Road, this intimate three-acre oasis features flowering trees, orchids, native wading birds and a Japanese garden. If you find yourself in Miami during Art Basel (see below), it’s literally steps away from the main fair. 2000 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach; MBGarden.org
4. Art Basel Miami Beach
Held in the first half of December, the annual three-day international contemporary art fair has been dubbed “Burning Man for the Rich.” The epicenter of activity is the Miami Beach Convention Center, where more than 200 top galleries present museum-quality works. Don’t miss sister exhibit Design Miami (located a block away), which showcases contemporary furniture and design. 1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach; ArtBasel.com
5. Faena Miami Beach Hotel
Theatrical and eccentric with a leopard-themed living room lounge and Damien Hirst’s 24K gold-plated Wooley Mammoth sculpture on the beachfront inside a ginormous glass vitrine, Faena Miami Beach is one big, perfect photo op. Featuring artwork by Jeff Koons and interiors by filmmaker Baz Luhrmann and set designer wife Catherine Martin, the historic 1948 hotel boasts two superb superchef restaurants: Los Fuegos by Francis Mallmann and Paul Qui’s Pao. 3201 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; Faena.com
6. CMX Brickell City Centre
If you need a break from sightseeing and noisy nightlife, escape to Brickell City Centre for some retail therapy (more than 100 stores!) and the CMX Theater—Miami’s best fancy cinema with reclining lounge chairs and a wait staff you can summon for cocktails and food via a call button at your seat. If you’d rather not eat nachos in the dark, directly next door to the theater is hotspot Pubbelly Sushi. 701 South Miami Avenue, 4th floor, Miami; CMXCinemas.com.
7. Biltmore Hotel Coral Gables
Elegant, imposing and otherworldly, the vampiress in me is inexplicably drawn to the historic 1926 Biltmore Hotel, where actor Johnny Weissmuller of Tarzan fame trained in the hotel’s 500,000-gallon pool in the 1930s, and where I, in real life, met the famed Art Deco artist Erté in the late 1980s. Go for the afternoon tea, served Wednesday through Sunday, 1 to 3pm. 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables; BiltmoreHotel.com
8. Bal Harbour Shops
The OG of luxe designer malls, the lushly landscaped outdoor shopping destination has all the big brands—plus a Books & Books outpost and exceptional animal-friendly restaurants including Makoto, Carpaccio and Le Zoo. 9700 Collins Avenue, Bal Harbour; BalHarbourShops.com
9. Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club
Now home to a tony Four Seasons Hotel and superchef Thomas Keller’s Michelin-starred restaurant, the storied Surf Club originally opened as a private club on New Year’s Eve, 1930. Soak up the glamor with a well-chilled libation at the chic Champagne Bar, which has the best lighting of any hotel bar, anywhere. 9011 Collins Avenue, Surfside; FourSeasons.com
10. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
An architectural grande dame with 50 acres of manicured grounds and Italianate statuary, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is the ideal place to “accidentally” get lost from the rest of your group (especially on those last days of vacay when Cousin Benny’s ringtone of KC and the Sunshine Band is working your last nerve). The former private estate of industrialist James Deering holds its Vizcaya Village every Sunday in season, with a farmers market and $5 al fresco yoga class from 9:30 to 10:30am Your higher self will thank you. 3251 South Miami Avenue, Miami; Vizcaya.org