South Beach Icon: Lincoln Road

south beach lincoln road

Like the rest of South Beach, Lincoln Road is fun, colorful, and offers plenty to do. But unlike the fabulous stretches of Washington Avenue, Ocean Drive, and Collins Avenue, this miles-long road is completely pedestrian-friendly, which means not a single car, bus, trolley or motorcycle will distract you from the shops, restaurants, galleries, and shows all worth heading to. From morning to night, Lincoln Road vibrantly welcomes both tourists and locals alike to enjoy a leisurely stroll past the gawk-worthy window displays, personable street performers, and outdoor dining areas designed for people watching. A day well spent on Lincoln Road may include an early brunch, afternoon shopping, evening drinks and an outdoor movie.

Restaurants & Dining

Though Lincoln Road runs across all of Miami Beach, from east to west, it’s between Alton Road and Washington Avenue that you’ll find some of the most raved about dining destinations. The Van Dyke Café is by far a standout for breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner. The indoor/outdoor restaurant is always packed with guests but there’s rarely a long wait for a table, and locals enjoy the upstairs lounge where live jazz and Latin bands perform after 9 p.m. each day. The menu is generous and eclectic, offering a mixture of Italian, American, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cooking styles. It’s been said that the top floor of the restaurant’s iconic building – decorated with lush green plants on its outside – was once the office of Carl Fisher, one of Miami’s foremost developers.

Just steps off the main road, on Michigan Avenue, sits Icebox Café, a casual lunch and dinner joint famously known for its “The Bomb” cake, which Oprah Winfrey includes among the world’s best. Pizza Rustica is a staple and offers rectangular-shaped pies with unique toppings like chicken parmesan, barbecue shrimp, and hazelnut chocolate. The Frieze Ice Cream Factory is ideal for ice cream lovers, while Sushi Samba is perfect for a plate of fresh sushi and locally sourced crab. Recent fantastic additions to the scene include Shake Shack, Dylan’s Candy Bar, Serendipity3, Juvia, and Doraku.

If you’re looking to indulge in fresh, organic, and local fruits and vegetables, there’s a farmer’s market open every Sunday morning with plenty of mangos, strawberries, avocados, and tropical flavors and stands with vintage and antique finds and art from a variety of vendors.

Shopping

Don’t miss the vendors sitting along the boulevard. These artisans produce handcrafted jewelry fit for all and are usually able to customize any piece with a name or special signage. You’ll also find several men and women who take origami to a whole new level, offering to make grasshoppers and other geometrical creations out of palm tree leaves.

Of course, there’s shopping for the fashion-obsessed, too. You can spend hours inside massive, multi-level stores such as H&M and Forever21, both of which are situated inside historical buildings like the Lincoln Theatre (H&M), and Madewell, Apple, J.Crew and Lacoste. Boutique-style shopping is also abundant with smaller (and pricier) shops like Scotch & Soda, John Varvatos, Alchemist, and Osklen. Book lovers can appreciate Books & Books, an independent bookstore – which also serves as a café - with everything from the latest Tom Wolfe novel to the newest tabloid-size coffee table gem, and Taschen, where beautifully produced art, architecture, fashion, and photography books are sold.

Architecture

Perhaps the greatest visual attraction to Lincoln Road is the newly minted 1111 Building, designed by the Herzog & de Meuron architecture firm. The structure looks more like a spaceship, but it’s actually an open-style, multi-level parking garage with a fine-dining restaurant up top (Juvia), and shops and restaurants on the main floor. Across the walkway, where Japanese-style fountains and gardens welcome all, is the Regal Cinema movie theatre, which from the outside has an obvious neon, modern, and cosmopolitan flair.

Not far from here is the Colony Theatre, a 1930s Art Deco-style masterpiece, originally home to Paramount Pictures. Today the building is right next to a café and bar, Segafredo, and welcomes festivals like the Brazilian Film Festival of Miami in August. Another historical structure is the Lincoln Theatre, once the home of the New World Symphony, where H&M is now located. Though the theatre is now a store, its facade and several key indoor features, like marble décor and rich fountains, were kept and restored.

About one block behind Lincoln Theatre and Lincoln Road is the New World Center, the home of the world-renowned New World Symphony, which was designed by famed-architect Frank Gehry. Come here to celebrate music at a show, or to take advantage of seasonal outdoor evening wall casts where guests come to picnic and watch a free movie open to the public.

Nightlife

After the sun sets, the nightlife options on Lincoln Road vary. Segafredo is a European-style café and lounge with a relaxed, bar-like setting full of couches and outdoor tables. Score and Mova cater to the gay and lesbian community and are usually open until the early morning. For a loud night full of dancing, head to Set on the eastern end of Lincoln Road, where DJs pump the latest songs and club-goers await their entrance on a glamorous red carpet.

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