Beaches by day, clubs by night — Miami is hedonism’s capital city.
The best American cities all share something in common — a population that appears to consist entirely of actors starring in their own (award-winning, naturally) screenplays. Had Shakespeare visited modern Manhattan, he’d have loved the “I’m walkin’ here!” mock grumpiness of Noo Yawkers and found endless material in the thwarted dreams of LA’s wannabes.
These cities are more than the sum of their bit parts, but they pale next to Florida’s finest, a city where the sheer self-confidence of the locals reaches epic proportions. It is, quite simply, all about me in Miami, with several scenes playing out at any one time — the buzzing contemporary art scene, a club scene to rival Ibiza, the extremely sexy Cuban exile scene, and the gay see-and-be-scene. It all adds up to one of the best urban environments anywhere in the world right now.
1 Where to stay
Nobody has a better barometer for trendy destinations than Brit Nick Jones, and his Soho Beach House Miami opened at the end of 2010. The usual slick interiors are all here (Cowshed spa? Tick. Clubby leather armchairs? Tick). An outlet of Cecconi’s serves quality Italian food and best of all is the Club Bar, a homage to pre-Castro Cuba with ceiling fans, tiled floors and rum cocktails. sohohouse.com
2 Where to have lunch
Every now and then, one of those “you must go to…” restaurants actually lives up to the hype, and Joe’s Stone Crab is that place. You can’t book, but lunch queues are shorter than for dinner (and potentially bypassed with a judicious $50 note). The shellfish is uniformly delicious, but best of all, of course, is the eponymous stone crab, in season from October to May.
3 What to see
Test out your Moneyball-inspired baseball lingo at the Miami Marlins’ new state-of-the-art stadium in Little Havana. The season climaxes in September with the Marlins hoping to reach the post-season for the first time since their World Series win in 2003. miami.marlins.mlb.com
4 What to buy
Bag lost at the vast Miami International Airport? You wouldn’t be the first. Thankfully, Tomas Maier is the one-stop shop to replace your wardrobe. Think fitted shirts, flattering swimmers and immaculate fedoras from classic Austrian headwear brand Mühlbauer. tomasmaier.com
5 Where to drink
Hoy Como Ayer translates as “today like yesterday”, and this so-named bar is reminiscent of an old people’s home for Cuban exiles; albeit one where the residents have more style in their Cuban heels than most people half their age, and dance (beautifully) to Cuban classics.
For a more up-to-date Latin vibe, go on Thursday evenings for the Fuácata! club night.
6 What to do
Miami was already on the map when the Art Basel exhibition rolled into town in 2002 and the city hasn’t looked back since; the Wynwood district now hosts over 70 galleries and Banksy-quality street art. With too much to hoover up in one go, your best bet is a guided Vespa tour. artbaselmiamibeach.com
7 Where to party
David Guetta’s the darling of Miami’s dance music scene thanks to his “Fuck Me I’m Famous” night in South Beach’s LIV (at the Fontainebleu Hotel). There’s also the Winter Music Conference, a week-long rave disguised as a superstar DJ powwow. livnightclub.com
8 Where to have dinner
It’s all about Michy’s, from Miami celeb chef Michelle Bernstein. The quality of the food is second to none; a blend of Southern staples, Latino flavours and comfort grub served in a small, busy space on the city side of the bay. Try the Peruvian ceviche or the beef short ribs. michysmiami.com
9 Where to hang out
Head to South Beach. The shore is wide, the sand white, the bodies toned and the Art Deco buildings on Ocean Drive are every pastel shade under the sun.
10 How to get around
1 Soho Beach House
2 Miami Marlins Stadium
3 South Beach
4 Wynwood District
5 Joe’s Stone Crab
6 Michy’s restaurant
7 Hoy Como Ayer
8 LIV nightclub
9 Tomas Maier
Tom Barber is a founder of award-winning travel company Original Travel