About South Beach

Jen Karetnick

By
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One of the most famous neighborhoods in the world, this area is nicknamed "America's Riviera." Celebrities--and just regular people too-- cavort here, which is where you'll also find the one-mile-square Art Deco District, which is most noticeable along Ocean Drive, known for its vibrant, pastel-hued hotels and cafes, that are lined up facing the Atlantic. Washington and Collins avenues are known for their world-class restaurants and infamous night clubs, and the pedestrian-friendly Lincoln Road, a boulevard crammed with outdoor cafes, is prime for people--and purebred dogs, strolling with their owners--watching.

  • Attractions: Walking and Bicycle Tours Give You the Architectural Scoop

    With more than 400 restored Art Deco beauties listed on the National Register of Historic Places--most of them hotels, retro bars, cafes, apartment buildings and galleries--the only way to really appreciate them is to take a tour. Self-guided or moderated, on foot or on wheels, a tour is the most detailed way to appreciate the elements and influences of the style.

    Stop in at the Art Deco Welcome Center at the Park Central Hotel or at the Miami Design Preservation League, the latter of which also contains the Official Art Deco Gift Shop, for a map and info.

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  • Restaurants: Dishy Decor, Cool Cocktails and Celebrity Chefs Define South Beach Dining

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    You can't walk two steps on South Beach without encountering a place to eat. The trick is knowing where the choicest bites are. On Lincoln Road, for example, you'll be confronted by endless offers on Lincoln Road, and frankly it's hard to go wrong with a decent meal just about anywhere. But the classier establishments, like Rosa Mexicano, where celeb chef Jonathan Waxman oversees, and Todd Erickson's funky gastro-lounge Haven, where cocktails and desserts come fueled by a blast of liquid nitrogen, aren't so obvious.

    Molecular gastronomy is also popular at the SLS Hotel's The Bazaar, where renowned Jose Andres has set up shop; Katsuya is also there, making waves with new-wave sushi. In fact, most of the boutique design hotels offer, like The Delano with Bianca and The Browns Hotel with Prime One Twelve, feature a stellar restaurant with all the modern bells and whistles.

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  • Nightlife: Night Clubs and Bars Rise with the Moon and Shut Down--Maybe--at Sunrise on South Beach

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    If you have your heart set on an early dinner and a sedate night of ballroom dancing, you're on the wrong beach. South Beach is known for its hot clubs that open their doors at midnight and don't really get going until 2 or 3 a.m. They also host theme nights--such as lingerie parties and celebrity tie-ins to promote movies--so you can't count on just waltzing on in unless you are dressed to impress.

    Fortunately for the more sedate, clubs aren't the only option. Plenty of bars abound--one for every type of personality, it seems, ranging from elegant hotel bars such as The Bar at The Setai to mod lounges such as the Living Room in the W South Beach for muddled martinis to more casual options like the long-running The Abbey Brewing Co. for craft beers.

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  • Shopping: Shop Until You Need a Cocktail

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    With dozens of designer brand boutiques like Miss Sixty, vintage stores such as Fly Boutique and art galleries, such as the one from famous pop artist Romero Britto, on Lincoln Road, and handfuls more clothing, shoe and cosmetics stores (Intermix, Armani Exchange, Nicole Miller, Kenneth Cole, Sephora) south of Tenth Street on Collins Avenue, South Beach is a mecca for the moneyed maven and window shopper alike.

    Not into clothes but still like to decorate your body? In between the avenues, on the edgier streets and Espanola Way, you can troll for tattoos and piercings in countless body art shops like the ever-popular Tattoos by Lou; ethnic jewelry; and cosmetics from organic brands. 

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  • Hotels: Boutique Art Deco Hotels Offer Historic, Artistic Stays

    A few of South Beach's finest hotels are tiny and exclusive--such as The Browns Hotel of Prime One Twelve fame--but most are mid-size, stylish, utterly pleasant Art Deco or Mediterranean Revival, such as The Anglers Boutique Resort, one of the last to be renovated on South Beach. If you want to stay directly on the beach, you can choose from the ultra-cool vibe of the Pelican Hotel to the retro-sophistication of The Betsy South Beach, both of which are extremely popular during high season.

    South beach is no stranger to resorts, either, and you can book rooms and suites in one-of-a-kind establishments like The Setai or The Shore Club, or with dependable brands such as The Ritz-Carlton South Beach, the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, which completed a three-year renovation project in July 2012, or the pet-friendly yet luxe W South Beach.