Art Basel Miami Beach is less than 3 months away and believe me you want to start planning your trip (if you haven’t yet - good luck finding a hotel room). Miami is not usually regarded as an “art” destination, but the beginning of December is a great time to visit due to this event which I’ve been to 5 times and it’s a crazy, f’ed up, fun time. serious.
Also worth noting it is the very beginning of the tourist “season” therefore the weather is good, the locals not yet harried and airfares decent. That said the guide below is good for anytime. I do however suggest to wait at least til mid November when hurricane (wet) season is over.
MY MIAMI LIST 
Air Canada, American Airlines and Westjet all fly daily nonstop from Toronto year round, during winter the frequency increases. Ft. Lauderdale is also a 2nd option with lots of flights on Air Canada and Westjet. http://www.aircanada.com/ http://www.westjet.com/ http://www.aa.com/
Delano: http://www.delano-hotel.com/en-us#/home/ Still the 1 and only. This is the hotel that started it all both in Miami and in dozens of cities around the world. Their original look inspired so many other hotel/condo/resort/restaurant interiors I’ve lost count. Even with the onslaught of competition the grande dame still has it (with a recent discreet facelift of course)
Freehand Hostel: http://thefreehand.com/ (not reviewed*) not quite yet open but promises to be the place for the young, stylish and thrifty.
The Hotel of South Beach: http://thehotelofsouthbeach.com/ another old timer that deserves attention for it’s great service by the longstanding staff and the calming rooftop lounge and diamond shaped pool.
Marlin: http://www.themarlinhotel.com/ another recently refurbed and relaunched art deco gem. Home to a recording studio, seemingly every US musician recorded something here.
St. Augustine: http://www.hotelstaugustine.com/ very discreet in a quieter part of the beach. I love the spa like steam showers.
Townhouse: http://www.townhousehotel.com/ if you can’t afford the Delano this budgety youth favourite has clean all white rooms, prime beach location and a great sushi restaurant in the basement. http://www.townhousehotel.com/default.aspx?pg=bond
The Viceroy: http://www.viceroyhotelsandresorts.com/miami/ glam on the mainland for when the beach gets too crazy.
Altamare: http://www.altamarerestaurant.com/ the freshest fish (not always a given in Miami believe it or not).
Barceloneta: http://www.barcelonetarestaurant.com/ delicious tapas. Fun.
Bloom Wynwood: http://bloomwynwood.com/ asian inspired streetfood that is very tasty.
Casa Tua: http://www.casatualifestyle.com/miami/ very intimate, excellent (and pricey) authentic Italian. There is also an attached villa you can stay at.
Crumb on Parchment: http://www.facebook.com/CrumbMiami a nice place for sandwiches and baked goods in the design district.
Dutch, The: http://thedutchmiami.com/ great for meals all day long. The oyster bar rocks.
Forge, The: http://www.theforge.com/ an oldie, but still goodie. Very French/St. Tropez. Go for the lobster and peanut butter sandwich.
Front Porch Cafe: http://www.frontporchoceandrive.com/ for breakfast, everyone else does.
Indomania: http://www.indomaniarestaurant.com/ Dutch Indonesian food is not very common and this is a place to try it.
Joe’s Stone Crab: http://www.joesstonecrab.com/ a legend est. in 1913! open only in season from Oct 11th.
Juvia: http://www.juviamiami.com/ more for the killer view than anything. and possibly drinks.
La Sandwicherie: http://www.lasandwicherie.com/ where you go when you are craving a sandwich at 4am.
Mac’s Club Deuce (no website) add: 222 14th Street. For a taste of Miami Beach used to be, pre Miami Vice. fun to say the least.
Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink: http://michaelsgenuine.com/ is very famous, very popular and very good.
Osteria del Teatro: http://osteriadelteatromiami.com/ don’t let it’s location on nightclub strip scare you - the Italian here is great.
Panther Coffee: http://www.panthercoffee.com/ the only espresso worth drinking in Miami.
Sushi Samba Dromo: http://sushisamba.com/location/miami-dromo 1 of the few spots on Lincoln Road actually worth eating at. And the people watching…
Yardbird: http://runchickenrun.com/ caused some hysteria when it introduced southern cocktails and fried chicken in these parts.
Babalu: http://store.babalumiami.com/ packs so much design and retail porn in a mere 50sq ft.
Base: http://baseworld.com/ the original concept store on the beach still going strong. Think shoes, books, perfume and tunes.
Koto: http://www.facebook.com/kotomiami where they sell cool “things”.
Lummus Park (no website) 10th Street and Ocean Drive. This is the beach people think of when they think of Miami/South Beach. You will see naked breasts here, a lot of them purchased.
Miami Design District: http://miamidesigndistrict.net/ is on the mainland (you need a car to get here from the beach) and home to all the chi chi shops and a few eating spots on my list. A great look at the hood can be found here: http://www.wallpaper.com/streetview/ne-40th-street
1111 Lincoln Road: http://1111lincolnroad.com/ a cool piece of architecture.
Osklen: http://osklen.com/category/lojas/ one of the few quality Brazilian fashion brands has a flagship here with nice stuff perfect for the beach.
Standard Spa: http://www.standardhotels.com/spa-miami-beach skip the lacklustre massages but very worth it for the hammam and other common spa facilities. People watching on weekends sure is fun.
Taschen: http://www.taschen.com/pages/en/stores/27093.store_miami.1.htm if you are a fan (I am) you can see their entire collection here.
The Webster: http://www.thewebstermiami.com/ is a very high end concept emporium worth a visit for the building (a former art deco hotel) alone.
Wynwood Arts District: http://www.wynwoodmiami.com/ is still very much up and coming but worth a look for any art/design/coffee geek.
A FEW TIPS
Art Basel Miami Beach: http://miamibeach.artbasel.com/ is the big monster of an art event, but there are also, in parallel, about 20 other art fairs taking part at the same time since the crowd is in town already. A few other ones, called “satellite” fairs by locals are:
http://miami2012.designmiami.com/ http://aquaartmiami.com/ http://www.art-miami.com/ http://www.inkartfair.com/ http://www.miamiphotofair.com/ http://www.select-fair.com/ http://art-untitled.com/ http://www.miamibeachartfair.com/miamibeachmain.html
Check the calendar before you go - Miami is a popular place to host events and when that happens traffic and prices go out of control.
SPEAKING of which - I suggest always checking if a place you want to go is open when you go cause Miami is like NYC in those regards, longevity for a bar or resto is hard in such a “trendy” town, most places here fail in their 1st year. Even the hotels here often change owners and names. Most of the places I go have been around a bit thou.
If you are staying only in Miami Beach don’t even bother with a car. Cabs are cheap and there is a bikeshare service called DecoBike: http://www.decobike.com/
almost without exception all the restaurants on both Ocean Drive and the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall are terrible. They have the prime real estate and the tourist hordes so they don’t even have to try (and they don’t). Both are great for people watching, however for serious eating you need to get off the tourist trail…
Service is shit seems to be Miami’s mantra. Best to just go with the flow and don’t be afraid to 86 the tacked on (and tacky) 20% “service fee” off your bill when the service sucks. It’s totally legal to despite what the staff will try to tell you.
images (all instagram) via miami nice, installation fever, j. russo, chromemiami + the standard miami*
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