As Canadians we think of Florida as a place to see some sun, tee-up and say hi to Mickey & Minnie. Minus Disney, Miami has all that and then some. It is vibrant, dynamic, multi-cultural and in general a fabulous place to spend a couple of days.
If you are thinking of going, here are my suggestions:
STAY at The Tides on Ocean Drive. The rooms are large and all have and oceanview, the service is second to none, the food at La Marea is a hit and people-watching on the terrace is an experience unto itself. Look out for snake charmers, rollerblading beach babes and other wonderful eccentrics. Other options include:
* The Setai – very expensive but gorgeous.
* The Delano – you feel cool walking in, the pool area is where to spend a day, location fabulous.
* The National or The Sagamore – next to the Delano, they are both great options on Collins.
* The Shore Club – beautiful lobby with a very relaxing garden & pool area. Restaurants include the uber-cool Nobu.
* The Mondrian – on Biscayne Bay, the Morgan’s Group has come up with a real winner. Very slick, overlooks the Bay and views of downtown Miami.
* The Gansevoort – great views from the rooftop bar, very large rooms, the hype is a bit misplaced.
* The Betsy – renovated marvel on Ocean Drive, will be a winner with a fantastic address.
EAT at Michy’s in North Miami (ask for patio seating), AGO at The Shore Club (great Italian, owned by DeNiro, sit outside), Escopazzo on Washington Ave. (organic Italian, food exquisite, atmosphere not as much), The Setai restaurant (expensive but a real treat) & La Marea at The Tides (the service is outstanding, the food excellent). If you are in Bal Harbour, have lunch at Carpaccio and watch as the bling/botox brigade passes bye.
WALK north on the Boardwalk and back down on the soft sands of South Beach. Most of the hotels have a bar/lounge that backs onto the boardwalk. Stop for a drink at the Pool Bar of The Setai and have a South Beach Iced Tea. Walk West on 11th from Ocean Drive into the Deco District for an amazing reminder of the booming 30’s in Miami.
EXPLORE Miami as there is more to it than South Beach:
* The Design District – home to galleries, boutiques, restaurants and more. Not quite on the radar yet, but the residents of the District like it that way. Don’t miss the new Marni store, Maramekko and Thomas Maier.
* Casa Casuarina – Estate of Versace on Ocean Drive offering daily tours and a restaurant. The News Cafe is just down the road where he had his last coffee.
* Madeleine’s Vintage – way up on Biscayne Boulevard, incredible vintage clothing for women.
* The shops of Bal Harbour – across the bridge from Madeleine’s, all the big boys are here and the people watching is quite something.