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Bienvenidos a Miami!

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

We had always viewed Miami as a “been there done that” kind of city as we had visited it multiple times and hit all the major tourist attractions. However on this trip we quickly realized that the Miami of the 2000s and the Miami of 2022 were two vastly different cities. Below are some of the "off-the-beaten-track" points of interest in Miami and South Beach which will surely be of interest to the repeat visitor.

Where To Stay

We decided to stay at South Beach, the party central of Miami, filled with more booze, beaches, and fake butts than in any other part of the East Coast. We stayed at the Ocean Reef Suites, a boutique hotel that was conveniently located only a 2-minute walk from the beach and provided complimentary beach chairs and umbrellas to their guests. Breakfast is included with each stay.

South Beach

Miami Beach, a slender, nine-mile-long barrier island along the Atlantic Ocean, is divided into three distinct neighborhoods. South Beach is the most popular of the three, bustling with bars and restaurants, souvenir shops, art deco buildings and a vibrant nightlife. You could spend a whole week on South Beach and still wouldnt have visited all the restaurants and bars on Ocean Drive, which is the main strip.

What To Do

Segway Tour : we found the best way to see South Beach was on a quick segway tour. We joined an hour-long segway tour that took you all along Ocean Drive and all the way down to the South Pointe Pier.

South Beach: The warm blue-green water of South Beach draws crowds from all over the world. Along with its sandy strands and swaying palms, the beach is dotted with art deco lifeguard towers, each unique and different from the next. The beach gets extremely crowded during the daytime but is almost deserted in the early hours, making it the perfect spot to watch the sun rise.

Sunrise over the Atlantic on a cloudy morning

The art deco lifeguard towers of South Beach

South Pointe Pier: This pier is at the southernmost point of South Beach and offers panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the skyscrapers of Miami to the west. During sunset, the area is popular with locals taking their evening walks or yoga enthusiasts trying to find their zen at the end of the day.

A yogi practicing Shirshasana on the lawn of South Beach Pier.

The Betsy "Orb": "The Betsy Orb" is an art installation in the form of an egg-shaped third-floor skybridge that links two hotels across a back alley on Ocean Court. It is more dramatic at nighttime when it is lighted up and draws many an Instagrammer for that elusive selfie.

Where To Eat

Naked Taco : This was our personal favorites were Naked Taco, a veggie-friendly Mexican restaurant at the corner of a busy street, but with hardly any wait time, despite how busy it looked. Like the name suggests, their veggie tacos and tableside guac were awesome.

Il Pastiaolo : an Italian restaurant that serves cacio e pepe tableside in a large cheese wheel. They had the usual vegetarian Italian fare, which we did not regret.

Nikki Beach : Nikki Beach is a luxury beach club with global locations, made popular by Instagram influencers. While the food and drinks were good and the restaurant gave off an exclusive vibe, the price tag on the experience wasn’t necessarily worth it.

At Nikki Beach

Versace Mansion : South Beach and Miami are havens for “designer dining” and we made sure to take advantage of it. Our hotel was 3 minutes away from the infamous Versace Mansion. As fans of the show “​​The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story,” we were so excited at the opportunity to visit the inside of this iconic house.

The Mansion along the main strip of South Beach

The Versace Mansion has been converted into a part-restaurant and part-hotel, with the restaurant in the courtyard overlooking the 24 karat gold tiled pool serving lunch and dinner.

In front of the 24karat gold tiled pool

We made lunch reservations less than a week in advance for the three-course meal with a choice of appetizer, entree, and dessert included in the price. There were multiple vegetarian options that were even more delicious than the dry chicken Sonia ordered, and we were pleased with the overall experience. A meal at the Versace Mansion is definitely a must-do the next time you visit Miami.

Three course meal at Varsace Mansion


What To Do

Overall, we were pleasantly surprised to see how much Miami and South Beach had developed over the last 18 years and loved all the new experiences we got to have on this trip.

Little Havana : Little Havana is a region of Miami with a heavy Cuban population and influence. While Little Havana is a large region, a majority of the restaurants and tourist attractions are along 8th street or Calle Ocho. Starting at the Bay of Pigs Monument we walked down 8th street, stopping to buy mojitos and fresh coconut water from local vendors. We stopped by Azucar Ice Cream, a famous Cuban ice cream shop with many unique flavors, and it did not disappoint. We loved the strong Cuban influence that was present throughout Little Havana, from the food to the clothing to the street murals.

Sights around Little Havana

Bayfront Park / Miami Riverwalk : The Riverwalk is a lovely landscaped trail along the Miami River which winds through the downtown area and among modern skyscrapers. You can get awesome pictures of the multi-storied apartment complexes that make up the magnificent Miami skyline, especially at night. The Riverwalk starts at Brickell shopping center where you can also grab a ride on the Skyview Miami, which is a 200 ft ferris wheel offering unparalleled views of downtown Miami.

View of Downtown Miami from the Riverwalk

Venetian Causeway : The Venetian Causeway consists of 12 bridges that connect the 11 man-made Venetian Islands which lie in the Biscayane Bay between Miami Beach and Miami. It is a very nice area to walk, especially at night with views of the Miami skyline and Biscayane Bay.

Venetian causeway to the left, with the view of Miami skyline

Miami Design District : The Miami Design District is where creativity meets fashion. The District houses some of the biggest flagship designer stores such as Fendi, Hermes, Dior, Cartier and Louis Vuitton, surrounded by some of the best architecture and public artwork in the country. A stroll around the district followed by a dining experience at one of the renowned eateries is always a must while in Miami.

The many art installations of Miami Fashion District

Key Biscayane Beach : While eating and sightseeing were a major part of our trip, we obviously found time to spend on the beautiful Miami beaches. We loved the warm bright blue waters of South Beach but the beaches were extremely crowded. We took a quick trip to Key Biscayne Beach, primarily to recreate an old picture from 2003, and found the beach to be comparatively less crowded but the water a bit cooler. But with the historic lighthouse in the backdrop, this beach proved to be the most scenic one on our trip.

Where To Eat

House Of Dior : Outside of South Beach, we found more couture cuisine in the fashion district of Miami at the Dior store. This multi-level House of Dior has a small rooftop cafe with a pricey menu. The line for the cafe forms about a half-hour before the store even opens, yet the hype was unfortunately not worth it. While the rooftop ambiance was quaint and everything from the plates to the cutlery to the cushion covers was branded with the Dior logo, the food and drinks were overpriced and bland. The food serving sizes are minuscule and the drinks lacked sweetness or flavor, and everything was once again branded with an edible form of the Dior logo. You can go here for the photo-op but don’t expect to leave with a full belly.

In summary, Miami and South Beach are vibrant and fun holiday destinations which are forever changing with the times. Be it a repeat tourist or a first-timer, Miami has something for everyone and is bound to become a favorite holiday spot for the traveler in you.

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