When one thinks of Miami it is usually South Beach that comes to mind with its sun drenched beaches, turquoise sea and green palm trees gently swaying in the breeze. South Beach is only a tiny part of Miami and Miami Beach yet it packs a lot into its 2.5 square miles (6.5 square kilometres). There are art deco buildings, fashionable restaurants, galleries, hip bars, trendy stores and amazing fitness centres. It is the ultimate adult’s playground and whether you are after a bit of R&R, a taste of hedonism or wish to take care of your body and soul, this is the place to indulge all your passions and vices.
It was the Florida land boom of the 1920s that created South Beach and the Art Deco District around Ocean Drive, which soon become the destination of choice for the rich and famous. The area has the
largest concentration of art deco architecture in the world and there are around 800 preserved buildings still standing today. A stroll along Ocean Drive is one of the best ways to see these pretty buildings and soak up the Miami vibe. If you want to know more about the district visit the Art Deco Welcome Center, which has a wealth of information and runs a programme of talks and lectures or join one of the guided walking tours run by The Miami Design Preservation League.
To the north of Ocean Drive is Espanola Way. This pretty street was created around the same time but was modelled on the typical Mediterranean villages found in France and Spain. It has retained its bohemian charm and has a selection of more independent style cafes and restaurants. Nearby is the famous Lincoln Road, where you can eat, drink and shop to your heart’s content and on Sundays there is a market which draws a crowd from all over town. Lincoln Road has something for everyone and in the western blocks we discovered the beautiful Brazilian fashion brand Osklen and a quirky little Argentinean cafe and bistro called Panizza. The Argentinean pastries at Panizza are divine and make it great place to start the morning, try their medialunas with a strong Argentinean coffee to kick start your day. The excellent Epicure is also close by; this is one of Miami’s best food shops and has a fantastic gourmet deli and cafe. Segafredo’s is another South Beach institution that does great coffee and cocktails. It has some of the comfiest sofas on the mall, which makes it the perfect place to chill-out and watch the world go by. If you want to get away from the crowds, chains and attitude of Lincoln Road, and don’t want to go all the way to Wynwood, then try the streets around Sunset Harbour Drive, Purdy Ave and Bay Road. Here are a cluster of independently minded shops, cafes and restaurants; and the Green Monkey wellness studios. Green Monkey offers yoga, pilates, martial arts and mediation, basically everything you need to get yourself into balance and help you lead a positive life.
If shopping is high on your list of things to do then Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue offer block after block of shops. Barney’s Coop, the super cool extension of the famous Barney’s Store in New York, is at 832 Collins Avenue. This is a great place to stock up on the latest trends. If it’s culture you are after then there is the Bass Museum of Art at 2100 Collins Ave; The Wolfsonian on Washington and if you are craving a bit of nature there is the pretty Botanical Garden is at 2000 Convention Center Drive.
One of the best things about South Beach is it is quite easy to get around on foot, which is unusual for the USA. Although if you are here for a while it is definitely worth renting a car for a couple of days so you can explore other parts of the city. Increasingly the newest and coolest bars, clubs and restaurants are away from the tourist honey spots on South Beach in neighbourhoods such as the ever trendier Brickell and super cool Wynwood. Click here for the full feature on Miami and links to information on the other neighbourhoods and for what’s going on check out: http://www.southbeachmagazine.com
Below are links to the places mentioned in this post. If you have a place you love on South Beach why not tell us by using the comments section below
Espanola Way: http://myespanolaway.com/index.html
Barney’s Miami: http://www.barneys.com/
Segrfredo Cafe: http://www.segafredocafe.com/
Green Monkey: http://www.greenmonkey.com/
Lincoln Road: http://lincolnroadmall.com/
Directory of the shops, bars and restaurants on Lincoln Road, Washington Avenue & Collins Avenue: http://www.lincolnroadmall.info/
Bass Museum of Art: http://www.bassmuseum.org/
The Wolfsonian: http://www.wolfsonian.org/
Miami Beach Botanical Gardens: http://mbgarden.org/