Miami is a combination of grit and glamour. Here, on the southern tip of Florida’s Atlantic Coast, Scarface and Miami Vice gave birth to the Kardashians. Incorporated in 1896, after Henry Flagler brought his railway to the end of the peninsula, the city, which today has a population of around 420,000, made a name for itself in the 1930s with Art Deco architecture and a melting pot of cultures and cuisines from the influx of Cuban and Latin American immigrants.
Today, the jet-set crowd flocks to Miami each December for the annual Art Basel festivities. The recognition has provided the art and gallery scene a world-class jolt. Similarly, restaurateurs are putting Miami on the map for dining thanks to the mix of locally and nationally known names from James Beard Award-winning Chef Michael Schwartz to Michelin-starred Chef Daniel Boulud.
Miami received its nickname as the “Magic City” during the real estate boom in the 1920s, and the city is again growing at a rapid pace. In the past 15 years, neighborhoods that were once on the sketchier side (where you wouldn’t think of unlocking you car doors) have received a much-needed makeover and are now teeming with street art, new museums, artisan boutiques and local eateries.
Start the day in the Wynwood Arts District, an up-and-coming neighborhood filled with boutiques, galleries, restaurants, cafes and the largest open-air street installation in the world. Most of the graffiti art is on warehouses and buildings lining Northwest Second Avenue, so grab a cup of coffee and empanada at local indie roaster Panther Coffee and walk down to the Wynwood Walls. The street-art museum covers 80,000 square feet of wall space with murals constantly getting reshaped by artists from around the world. Pose for the perfect Instagram wall pic and then stop in JugoFresh for an organic, locally made juice like the “el green-go”: a sweet green blend of apple, celery, spinach, parsley and lemon. While strolling along Second Avenue you’ll come across most of the neighborhood’s galleries, as well as quirky boutiques and design shops, like the terrarium-selling Plant the Future.
Mural by Miss Van at the Wynwood Walls
For more upscale shopping, head over to the nearby Design District and window shop at Cartier, Christian Louboutin and Hermès while walking down Northeast Second Avenue. In between the galleries and showrooms, there’s a few top-notch restaurants scattered throughout that are a perfect stop for lunch, like Michael Schwartz’s Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, an American bistro with clever spins on Florida fare, such as Florida tangerines served in ceviche and duck confit. Stop by the recently opened Institute of Contemporary Art Miami in the Moore Building (entry is free) and admire the installations on display, as well as the space in which they are housed: originally a 1920s four-floor furniture showroom with an atrium and installation piece designed by award-winning architect Zaha Hadid. Before making your way back to the beach, finish your art tour at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, a contemporary and modern art museum set in a Herzog & de Meuron-designed glass structure overlooking Biscayne Bay.
Craft cocktails at a hostel bar aren’t de rigueur—especially in Miami—unless that hostel happens to be the fabulously hipster chic Freehand, and that bar is The Broken Shaker, a James Beard Award semi-finalist. Cozy up with a cocktail like the salted-caramel old fashioned on one of the stools in the intimate Old Florida-inspired bar, or take your drink al fresco and snag a seat in one of the lounge chairs by the pool. The cocktail menu changes constantly but you can’t go wrong with most choices, all of which incorporate fresh-pressed juices and herbs grown on-site.
The Broken Shaker
Photo by Adrian Gaut
For dinner, make your way to the new restaurant Seagrape at Thompson Miami Beach. Miami darling Chef Michelle Bernstein’s latest venture takes its inspiration from South Florida and the Caribbean, serving up a menu that ranges from raw-bar fare to steak and snapper. The speakeasy-style Regent Cocktail Club is a great place for a nightcap and live jazz, but for those don’t want the night to end, head to The Corner, a candlelit craft cocktail bar in Downtown Miami with a wide selection of foreign and domestic brews that stays open until 8 a.m. on the weekend.