Miami, Florida. For many people, Miami brings to mind alligators, beaches, and Cuban food. And while it certainly has all of those things, it also has plenty more to offer. There’s a lot of charm to be found in the Miami Beach area, particularly in the trendy Collins Quarter. From art to design to cuisine, it’s a creative haven. Miami Beach is home to the world’s largest concentration of Art Deco architecture. It’s filled with walkers, joggers, and roller skaters. It’s the most internationally diverse region of the state where you’ll hear several languages during your time in the city.
Recently, we had occasion to visit Miami Beach for a little under 24 hours before flying overseas. It was the perfect amount of time to check into our boutique hotel, enjoy dinner and drinks, and have brunch the next day before our flight out. We thought our itinerary was perfect, so if you find yourself in Miami for 24 hours, feel free to follow along!
When we arrived at Miami International Airport, we caught the Riviera South Beach‘s free shuttle and took it to the hotel to check in. We adored the hotel and will definitely return on a future visit. Although Miami Beach is known for some of the larger luxury hotel brands, several boutique hotels have been popping up in recent years that offer similar service and amenities at a fraction of the price. During our stay, Riviera Hotel provided great service, clean rooms, and beautiful decor. The location can’t be beat – it is within walking distance of many of the hottest spots in the area. The beach is only a few blocks away and the hotel is located across the street from a fantastic craft cocktail bar and restaurant, Sweet Liberty (more on that later). Two pools are available at the hotel – one rooftop and one shadier option that feels as if it’s in a jungle oasis (see photo below).
Each room includes free internet, a plasma TV, C.O. Bigelow bathroom products, and a complimentary beach bag, which is quite handy for toting a change of clothes and sandy towels to and from the beach. The complimentary round-trip transportation to the Miami International Airport provided a significant savings and was actually one of the selling points of the hotel for me! Another perk of staying at the Riviera is the complimentary happy hour offered nightly from 7 to 8 pm at the in-house Cuban restaurant and bar. We made it from the airport just in time for free drinks. Throughout our stay, ice-cold fruit infused water and handmade espresso coffee was always available for guests.
After happy hour, we headed over to Campton Yard, located at The Hall Hotel, for drinks and backyard games while we waited for our table to be ready at dinner. The beer garden feels like fun tiki party at your best friend’s house. There are several lounge areas as well as backyard games like ping-pong, giant Connect 4, giant jenga, and cornhole. The drink menu features tropical cocktails and beer, while the food menu highlights elevated casual fare like fancy hot dogs and hot pretzels. It was the perfect place to spend an hour while we waited to be called for our reservation.
We had a late dinner at Pane & Vino La Trattoria. This adorable little bistro offers delectable creations of traditional Italian fare centered around handmade pasta, which you can watch being made in the front of the restaurant. It is located in a popular area on Washington Avenue so don’t forget to make a reservation. The restaurant fills quickly and empties slowly due to its small size and guests’ tendency to linger. My only complaint is that we walked up without a reservation and waited almost an hour longer than quoted. While it’s definitely on me for not making a reservation, it was unreasonable for the hostess to be so off base on the time. Fortunately, the food was worth it! What to order: Start with the grilled octopus and order the squid ink tagliolini with lobster tail and shrimp for your main.
If you’re staying at Riviera South Beach, you must visit Sweet Liberty for craft cocktails. And if you are staying elsewhere, it is worth the trip to watch the skilled bartenders making unique creations. They take their craft very seriously and the menu reflects it. We didn’t eat since we had just come from dinner, but the food we saw delivered to other tables looked incredible. Sweet Liberty manages to provide upscale food and cocktails in the laidback atmosphere of your neighborhood bar, complete with a soundtrack of your favorite 70s – 80s music. And of course, I can’t forget to mention the neon sign on the wall that reads, “Pursue Happiness.” What better life message is there? What cocktails to try: Basic Bitch, She Said Yes
For breakfast, we went to Mas Cuba Cafe at the Riviera South Beach. The cafe and bar are hidden in an oasis of tropical shrubbery and decorated with antique lighting, Cuban tiles, and vintage beach-themed knick-knacks. The menu features tortilla espanola, breakfast sandwiches, omelets, and pancakes, and Cuban French Toast (think French toast with guava cream cheese filling). Cuban and American sodas and coffee, along with several tropical juices and smoothies, are available from the drink menu. If you aren’t staying at the hotel, I wouldn’t necessarily go out of your way to eat at the cafe, but it was a delicious and convenient option for hotel guests. What to order: Chorizo revuelto, A la Criolla sandwich.
The night before, we had walked past Rosetta Bakery on Collins Avenue. Even though we were full, neither of us could get the stunning bakery creations out of our mind and decided to walk to the Italian bakery for an afternoon snack after walking off our meal on the Lincoln Road Mall. Rosetta offers high quality baked goods in a simple but elegant atmosphere. The fruit and chocolate tartlets are decadent and the perfect sweet treat. And if you’re looking for a heavier meal, there are several focaccia and sandwich items available from the menu. Just browse Rosetta’s Instagram account and your mouth will be watering in no time.
Most places in Miami Beach are walkable (we walked to everything featured in this post and more), but if you aren’t up for a walk in the humidity and heat, there’s always Uber. It’s also worth noting that Uber is now legally available at the airport, so the days of having to pretend your Uber driver is your friend picking you up have come to an end.
Thanks for reading! Come back next week for a recap of our time in Stockholm, Sweden!
Riviera South Beach, 318 20th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Campton Yard, 1500 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Pane & Vino La Trattoria, 1450 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Sweet Liberty, 237 20th St B, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Mas Cuba Cafe, 318 20th St, Miami Beach, FL 33139
Rosetta Bakery, 1666 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139