For our belated 30th birthday celebration, my dear friend Jess and I planned a girls’ weekend trip to Miami, Florida. Being from and living in the Gulf Coast, I have honestly never really liked Miami. It is loud, hot, and generally feels like a different country. However, I felt that Miami deserved another chance, specifically Miami Beach. It has a hot culinary scene and the art and art deco architecture has always appealed to me. And it was an easy place for both of us to travel. All of that said, I am so glad that we chose to do a weekend in Miami and I am happy to say that most of my preconceived notions against Miami were proven wrong. We had a fantastic weekend full of great food and interesting architecture, history, and interior design. (Let’s be honest though, it was mostly about the food!)
I apologize in advance for my lack of photos. Apparently I was having too much fun to take pictures of all of the places we went. But in any case, I present to you a shortlist of the best things Miami Beach has to offer.
WHERE TO STAY
I booked a room at Vintro Hotel and Kitchen through TravelPony, one of my favorite sites to get luxury hotel rooms at an economic cost. (If you’ve been reading CT for a while, you might remember that Alex and I booked some of the 4 and 5 star hotels we stayed at on our Ireland trip through the site.) As soon as I saw the Vintro, the modern and quirky hotel jumped out to me. A quick cross-reference with TripAdvisor showed that the hotel was the #7 place to stay in Miami Beach and I was sold. (We paid $211 out the door for two nights. Compare that with $300-500 nightly rates at many of the big hotels on Collins.)
I have so many great things to say about Vintro Hotel. It is easily one of the best places I have ever stayed. From start to finish, it was incredible down to the smallest details. The hotel is gorgeous and the PopArt and Art Deco decor is so interesting. The staff was thorough, eager to make our stay perfect, and offered fantastic recommendations for food, drink, and things to do in the area. The room was very comfortable and quiet, even though it was right off of the pool level. The hotel has bikes for rent (although they were always in use when we asked) and a shuttle that will take you anywhere in Miami Beach.
There were tons of amenities, extras, and little touches. We especially enjoyed the snacks and drinks provided throughout the day by the pool. From mimosas in the morning to popcorn, candy, and orange soda in the afternoon to sangria and chips and salsa for happy hour, it was a fun and creative way to enhance the experience. Our only regret was not eating dinner at Vintro Kitchen, which is also rated very highly. Although I could, I don’t want to make this post entirely about Vintro, but if you want to learn more, this article describes it in accurate detail.
WHAT TO DO
The Miami Beach area is full of fun things to do that are walkable or bike-able. You could conceivably never leave the Miami Beach area and still fill your weekend with activities. The Bass Museum of Art (contemporary art) is down the street from the Vintro. Unfortunately, it was closed for renovations when we were there, but I definitely plan to visit in the future.
One thing you should leave Miami Beach for is Vizacaya Museum and Gardens. I have been wanting to see Vizcaya for years and thanks to the wonderful staff who provided us with passes, I finally did. The grounds and property are incredibly beautiful and there are informational signs throughout the property that explain what each room was used for and show pictures from when people lived in the home. One of my favorite parts of the property was the party boat in the water. It is literally a “boat” built for the sole purpose of having parties at the home! Guests took small boats over to the larger boat for the party.
We spent several hours walking around Collins Avenue, the Lincoln Avenue Mall, the Miami Beach walking and jogging trail, and the various parks in the area. Collins Avenue is the location of many of the famous and large hotels and is home to numerous cute cafés. The Lincoln Avenue Mall felt a bit more touristy, with surf shops and large international chains like Zara and H&M. However, it is great for people watching and has some local boutiques on side roads off of Lincoln. Highlights of the Mall for me were a Britto gallery and Dylan’s candy shop.
We never actually made it to the beach of Miami Beach, but I did take a walk down the nice jogging and biking trail along the beach. To be honest, it seemed a little sketchy, but I would have loved to go running there if it was a little cooler.
Another way to work off the food and drink you will inevitably consume in Miami (but in air conditioning) is at one of the many great gyms in the area. I met a friend at Flywheel for one of the most awesome spinning classes I have ever been to. Honestly, I don’t think regular spinning will ever be the same again. The class was super high energy with great music and an energetic instructor. Each bike keeps track of your stats like speed and revolutions per minute and the instructor flashes the class statistics between each track so you can see how you are doing compared with the rest of the class. Flywheel also incorporates upper body into the workout by using weighted bars on a track. The class was a blast and I was super sweaty by the end!
WHERE TO EAT
Lucky for us, we were in Miami during Miami Spice (many of the top local restaurants offer set menus for lunch and dinner during August and September). Fortunately, we were able to take advantage of it at a few of our stops!
One meal that can’t be missed in Miami is brunch. Make sure you book reservations for boozy weekend brunches. Our first brunch was at The Federal, a modern American restaurant with a beautiful interior and patio seating. We ate outside, but it was sweltering even with the fans blowing, so I would recommend sitting inside if it’s a hot day. The Federal offers $19 AYCD mimosas, bellinis, or moscato. I opted for a mojito michelada (lime juice, mint syrup, and a pilsner). We were able to order the Miami Spice menu, which allowed us to try several items as the brunch is served family style. What to order: BBQ deviled eggs, edamame, crawfish ‘n grits
Our second brunch at Yardbird was equally delicious. With a Southern themed menu, the restaurant boasts farm-to-table ingredients and craft cocktails. I loved the bright interior and open kitchen. What to order: Blackberry lemonade, classic buttermilk biscuits, grilled mango salad.
For dinner, some friends had recommended Pubbelly and I am still thanking them and thinking about the meal. Pubbelly serves Spanish and Asian influenced dishes, tapas style. Jess and I were shared about 9 dishes. Each was incredible and more impressive than the last. Our standout favorite was the fried octopus salad. The restaurant is dimly lit and reminiscent of an industrial loft apartment with books on the walls and an open concept kitchen. What to order (if available): Japanese amberjack, fried octopus salad, short rib, yuzu key lime pie.
For something a bit lighter on both the stomach and the pocketbook, we liked Harry’s Pizzeria at the Broken Shaker (more about Broken Shaker below). With paper-thin crust and interesting ingredient combinations, this pizza is a big winner! What to order: Short rib pizza (seriously, don’t miss it!)
Another quick, easy, and affordable option is My Ceviche. With light, fresh ingredients and online delivery right to your hotel room, this was the perfect option for a late dinner before going out on Friday night. What to eat: Aji Amarillo fish ceviche with coconut jasmine rice.
WHERE TO DRINK
Miami Beach is filled with places to drink. All you have to do is walk outside and you’re bound to come across several places within eyesight. Just beware that in Miami, people don’t go out until close to midnight and stay up all hours of the night so if a place looks dead, you are probably there too early! We spent Friday night at Rec Room, a lounge that feels like a friend’s house, with wood-paneled walls and several thousand records. The whole place feels like the VIP section of a club and the music is fantastic!
On Saturday night, we stopped for drinks at several hotel bars. The hotels in Miami Beach and South Beach are incredibly beautiful and we had such a great time checking out the interior design of each one.
We started at The 1 Hotel Rooftop Bar which has great views of both downtown Miami and the ocean. Crisp white furniture adds to the vibe and truly feels quintessentially Miami. I also have to mention here that many of the hotels have their own signature scent. I am still trying to figure out what the amazing smell is in The 1 Hotel. I wish I could bottle it up and take it everywhere with me!
Next, we took an Uber to the W South Beach, where we peeked in at The Dutch and stopped at Living Room Bar. The Dutch is a restaurant and was shutting down for the night, but Living Room Bar was packed with people.
The Delano South Beach was a short walk of a few blocks away and was possibly one of my favorite hotels. After walking though a beautiful foyer with oversized furniture and lampshades, you will exit to the pool area, where you’ll pass the underground lounge FDR and the pool bar which features cabanas and lounging beds.
Next door to the Delano is SLS South Beach, which has a beautiful restaurant, Bazaar by Jose Andres, and a popular pool/beach lounge, Hyde Beach.
Last but not least, our favorite venue of the entire weekend was Broken Shaker, where we spent Sunday Funday. Broken Shaker is located in the courtyard of the Freehand Hostel and features incredible and elaborate craft cocktails. Normally, I don’t get too jazzed about craft cocktails because they tend to be overpriced and underwhelming, but these are a different story. The cocktail menu changes biweekly and the mixologists take painstaking care in their craft. Drinks are pricey, but totally worth it. Even better than the drinks is the general atmosphere. An international crowd of all ages mixes and mingles in a courtyard that makes you feel as if you have been transported to an exotic destination. Even the bathroom is decorated with postcards from around the world. We easily could have spent the entire day at Broken Shaker, but it was probably better for our wallets that we had to catch a flight. What to drink: I loved the Vince 75 (prosecco, citrus zest, cantaloupe foam, and basil mist), but ask your bartender for a recommendation!
After such a fun weekend in Miami with Jess, my opinion of the city has totally changed and I can’t wait to go back! Have you been to Miami recently? What are your favorite things to do? Thanks for reading and see you again soon!
Vintro Hotel and Kitchen, 2216 Park Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Bass Museum of Art, 2100 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, 3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33129
Flywheel, 1919 Purdy Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
The Federal, 5132 Biscayne Blvd, Miami, FL 33137
Yardbird, 1600 Lenox Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Pubbelly, 1418 20th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Harry’s Pizzeria, 3918 N Miami Ave, Miami, FL 33127
My Ceviche, 235 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Rec Room, 1690 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
1 Hotel, 2341 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
W South Beach, 2201 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Delano South Beach, 1685 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
SLS South Beach, 1701 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Broken Shaker, 2727 Indian Creek Dr, Miami Beach, FL 33140