Miami IS nightlife, from poolside happy hours to ultra-hot nightclubs complete with gorgeous dancers and world-class DJs. In fact, you could say nightlife in Miami easily becomes day life with hardly a break in between.
Much like the traffic and the heat of this town, the parties never stop. You can find yourself at a bar at noon and then hit a happy hour at 5 p.m., head to a live show at 9 p.m., hit a night club at midnight, and end at a lounge at 3 a.m. We've compiled a list of party spots that vary in the amount of insanity each deliver.
There are laid-back lounges like the infamous Purdy Lounge and poolside, celebrity-filled haunts like the Shore Club's Skybar Miami Beach. Or you could party right on the sand at a place like Nikki Beach for a some nightlife under the stars, enjoying the tropical climate of the Magic City.
We've also featured wild party spots like Churchill's Pub--not for the faint of heart. Churchill's on its best nights can bring in huge crowds of gutter punks, college hipsters, and metal-heads all convening for Miller High Lifes and some of the best (and worst) live musical acts in all of South Florida.
Then we've also listed high-end party spots like LIV, located inside the world-renowned Fountainbleau Hotel, which features pricey drinks and a star-studded clientele...the type of place someone like Kanye might rent out for his birthday. In short, we've got our bases covered.
First an Art Deco theater, then a live music venue known for hosting groups like Pearl jam in its early days, the Cameo is a survivor. In a city known for great dance clubs and stellar music, this club stands apart from the competitive pack thanks to its ever-changing ways. Today, top DJs from around the world whip the beautiful crowds into pulsating frenzies, inundating them with trance, musica latina and house. Club kids show their appreciation with coolly confident dance moves--but don't let them intimidate you. You know you got game. Unlike some other clubs, VIP space can be reserved, so do call ahead. (786-235-5800, 786-507-3448)
Avoid the crowds on Ocean Drive and head to Purdy's, an off-the-beaten-path location with a loyal following. If the scene grows old or if you are simply not in the mood for the nocturnal fray, Purdy's offers just the antidote. The lounge has an appealing retro rec-room aesthetic � you'll think you've entered your best friend's basement circa 1975. (Think lava lamps, funky chairs and assorted board games!) Play some checkers, backgammon, or even good ole Connect Four as you enjoy a pleasant mix of music and some of the lowest drink prices around. (305-531-4622)
One of the best casual hipster-esque lounges in Miami, Blackbird Ordinary offers its patrons a fully stocked bar with expert bartenders who mix your favorite drinks to perfection. DJ's provide the music on most nights while local funk and reggae bands and other national acts set the scene on others. There's a dance floor for those with the appropriate skills set. Blackbird goes out of its way to make its visitors feel like regulars, even if its their first go-round. They have pool tables, spacious comfortable booths, and even board games to entertain you while you wait for your meal. If you enjoyed this space when it was called Transit Lounge, you'll definitely dig the Blackbird. ((305) 671-3307)
Going to Churchills is an experience unlike anything else in all of Miami. Often called the CBGB's of South Florida, it's the type of place where you'll listen to dance to local punk bands one minute, drink while watching the World Cup during another, and then smoke what you got in the back patio during a folk performance for another. Offering an extensive variety of "rock and other live bands" (and by this we mean anything and everything from metalcore, ska, reggae, thrash, indie rock, shoegaze, hardcore, etc.), this British-run pub is a long-term favorite of the local Indie crowd. It's a popular spot for local and national and even international acts--literally the first stage for the majority of Miami's music scene. Jazz and acoustic shows are also held weekly during the Miami Jazz Jam and Theatre de Underground open mic night. (305-757-1807)
Ball & Chain
The original Ball & Chain opened in 1935, when Calle Ocho was simply known as the Tamiami Trail, through which farmers would send oranges and other crops east to the Downtown Miami area. It has survived decades of reinvention, calling itself at one time the Ball & Chain Tavern, and serving as a venue for legendary performers like Billie Holiday and Chet Baker. These days, the Ball & Chain is once again serving as a live music and dance venue, with a full bar, a fine drink menu, and tapas for when the mood strikes. While they're still just starting out, there's no doubt that larger acts will be hitting the stage here in no time. (305-643-7820)
Nikki Beach Miami
In every sense, Nikki is a beach club, from its tiki bars and cabanas to its Survivor-meets-Fantasy Island decor. That doesn't mean you should bring your toddlers here (though it is very pleasant and quiet during the day). Awesome DJs spin top tunes constantly, and great global food makes for terrific nibbling. Plus, a never-ending parade of SoBe's famously beautiful models, society pagers and jetsetters ensures that standard goings-on never get stale. The campy vibe is irresistible, and excellent disco, lounge and dance music are certain to put you in a party mood. And as a bonus, dancing in the sand burns a lot of calories, which is a great way to keep those cocktail calories in check. (305-538-1111)
Skybar Miami Beach
Skybar's glamorous, welcoming spaces, located in the notorious Shore Club, one of the most unique hotels on South Beach, act as a magnet for the unabashedly chic and famous. From the gorgeous, dramatic Redroom, activity spills out the back door, into a lush garden, then to a poolside lounge, and finally to the beach itself. Accented with handcrafted lanterns, vibrant textiles, rich beading, tropical foliage and imported furniture, the lounge is designed to seduce – and it succeeds brilliantly. You'll quite possibly lose all sense of time and place, which is quite all right. No one wants you to leave before you're ready to go, and that will quite possibly be right around sunrise, which is beautiful coming up on the beach here. (305-695-3100)
If you had never been to Miami before, and didn't know anyone in the area, you would probably never know this place exists. It's tucked away neatly in an alley underneath Interstate-195. Don't let the location spook you. Walk through the sketchy alleyway, it's worth it...we promise. You'll know it when you see it from the line spilling out the door; you'll know it when you hear it from the beckoning call of live music.
This former warehouse space has been decked out with local art, ornate chandeliers, and a gorgeous mahogany bar that's manned by gorgeous bartenders. Outside, through a large, always open roll-up door is an astroturf-lined patio with chaises and canopies strung with lanterns. Inside, a small stage is flanked by sofas and casual lounge seating, and is fronted by a dance floor sized for intimacy. Live music is here every night, and it's always fantastic. (305-576-9577)
Grand Central is the club that embraces every culture and subculture in Miami and brings them together in a room to drink and dance and have a damn good time. The place itself is a large warehouse right on the outskirts of Downtown Miami; a big, bright box right off the railroad tracks that inspired its name. Grand Central is one of Miami's most popular music venues, and has featured artists and musicians across genres, including Diplo, Yann Tiersen, Aterciopelados, Phantagram, Crystal Castles, Big Boi, Nitzer Ebb, Peaches, Black Uhuru, A Flock of Seagulls, Cypress Hill, Napalm Death, Peter Murphy, The Breeders, Black Flag, and Mogwai. Between their main room and The Garrett upstairs, they host a variety of dance nights throughout the week, usually free or for a relatively small cover, making it a haven for everyone from college kids to aging hipsters. ((305) 377-2277)
Liv @ Fontainebleau Miami Beach
While the Fountainbleau remains one of the more beautiful and prestigious hotels in all of Miami, it's not surprising that LIV, the hot-to-trot nightclub held within, is also one of Miami's crown jewels for an evening of pure decadence. LIV is all velvet rope and VIP and Gucci and Prada and bottle service. It's not the place to go in jeans and a t-shirt hoping for a free shot of Jameson to go with your $6 beer. It is the place to go if your Manolo Blahnik's finally arrived and you've got the need to show them off while hoping to rub elbows with Kim Kardashian, Alex Rodriguez, Kate Hudson, or Jay-Z (all previous guests of the establishment). ((305) 674-4680)
About Priscilla Blossom
Pris Blossom is a freelance writer and feminist mama with a love for travel, writing, music, film, craft beer, yoga, museums, cultural anthropology, and her awesome kid.
She spent the bulk of the past decade taking trips on a whim, falling in love with and in such places as New York City, New Orleans, and a large portion of Nicaragua.
In 2011, she took off on her own and traveled around the U.S. via bus, bunking with strangers thanks to the power of CouchSurfing. She is currently writing a novel about this.
Read her words at PrisBlossom.com.
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