By: Jen Karetnick
With its seductive beach culture, steamy Latin vibe and full-on embrace of everything nightlife, Miami may be the hottest destination wedding and/or honeymoon site in the nation. But if you're not quite ready to go the entire marital distance just yet and want to dip a toe—or a ring finger—into the warm Atlantic waters first, take heart: the Magic City is also the prime place to pop the question. In fact, whether you're looking for traditional romance or ingenuous surprise, Miami has many pic-worthy locales in which to ask your loved one to share your life. Here are our top ten:
This unique seafood restaurant, named for the region of the Atlantic ocean most known for sustainability, is ideal for the environmentally concerned couple. Not only does Food & Wine magazine 2001 "Best New Chef" E. Michael Reidt lovingly oversee a kitchen filled with local ingredients, the restaurant itself is perched on the 16th floor of the Epic Miami, a Kimpton Hotel renowned for its sustainable practices. Enjoy dishes such as the jumbo lump crab salad with spicy seared watermelon, heirloom tomato and avocado or the cocoa-crusted scallops and pork belly with pear-parsnip puree and Swiss chard out on the pool deck, where the view of Biscayne Bay makes a proposal seem perfectly in its element.
Address: 270 Biscayne Boulevard Way, Miami, Florida 33131; tel: 305-424-5234.
Sure, a full moon over Miami is kind of cliché. But when you take your beloved to DiLido Beach Club at the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach during the monthly phenomenon, you get a setting ready-made for some loving: a seafood raw bar set up by chef Josh Becker; DJ Umber spinning lounge music accompanied by live percussionist, Mr. Bongo Man; and enormous telescopes for peering at the sky. Put a diamond in front of one of those babies and you'll be bound for glory. Another plus: No cover charge, and only $10 for the valet.
Address: 1 Lincoln Rd., Miami Beach, Florida 33139; tel: 786-276-4000.
Bongos not your bag? Come clean with your heart's desire classically. The New World Center, the campus for the New World Symphony, "America's Orchestral Academy," is a stunning performance space designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Frank Gehry. Perhaps its coolest feature, the 7,000-square-foot projection wall, also offers you an engagement opportunity. This is where concerts, video art and films will be shown for free while viewers relax over cheese-and-wine picnics in Soundscape, a 2.5 acre public park designed by the renowned Dutch architectural firm West 8. Indeed, one should note that the New World Symphony is huge on "community engagement." So, aspiring musicians, filmmakers and lovers alike -- let your imaginations take over!
Address: 500 17th St., Miami Beach, Florida 33139; tel: 305-428-6714.
Lovers of the arts can go even more classical at Vizcaya, a National Historic Landmark filled with antiques ranging from the 15th to 19th century. Vizcaya was once home to industrialist James Deering, who oversaw its construction between 1914 and 1922. This stunning Italianate bayfront mansion hosts numerous private romantic events throughout the year—real weddings and faux weddings for film shoots alike—but it's also home to programs conducive to winning a "yea" from the lady or gent of choice. In particular, moonlight garden tours, plein air painting weekends and the Vizcaya Café, with a view of the historic pool, are especially inviting for engagement plans.
Address: 3251 S. Miami Ave., Coconut Grove, Florida 33139; tel: 305-856-8189.
If exotic, tropical fruits like guavas and papayas put you and your significant other in the mood, then consider proposing among the 500 or so varieties of fruit, spices, herbs and nuts at this 37-acre Miami-Dade County park. The epicure in your spouse-to-be will be delighted with your acumen, and you'll be congratulating yourself long before the word "Yes!" drops like a ripe, juicy, Haden mango from an overly laden tree. FYI: The rules at the park are that while you can't pick anything, fallen fruit are fair game. And you can always go have a celebratory snack of "mango passion cheesecake" at The Mango Café.
Address: 4801 SW 187th Ave., Homestead, Florida 33031; tel: 305-247-5727.
Proposing is easy—well, okay, it's never easy—but it's certainly prosaic in a restaurant or wine bar, where it's all too simple to order the Perrier-Jouët in an iced bucket and drop a ring into the bottom of a flute. But it becomes a lot more unique when you head to the southernmost winery in the United States and pop a bottle of sparkling lychee wine, along with the ever-gnawing question. With natural coral waterfalls and lush landscaping outside and a stunning tasting bar inside offset by a Royal Poinciana ceiling mural and floor-to-ceiling windows, Schnebly's is a handsome, hands-on environment in which to begin a whole new life together.
Address: 30205 SW 217th Ave., Homestead, Florida 33031; tel: 305-242-1224.
Grab your sweetie for some high flying romance. Helicopters Over Miami can show you the city like no one else. Strapped into an air-conditioned Raven II helicopter, you'll zoom over Biscayne Bay and enjoy stunning aerial views of Key Biscayne, the Everglades, Miami mansions, and turquoise blue waters. You can custom tailor your tour, so if the two of you have memories of a special South Beach hotel or favorite beach, why not pop the question while your pilot flies right over the spot? It's an adrenaline rush that will last a lifetime.
Address: Tamiami Airport, 14250 SW 129th St., Bldg. 235, Hangar 26, Homestead, Florida 33186; tel: 305-552-8555; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Being pampered is the surest way to anybody's heart. On South Beach, that means booking a suite in a hotel that has spa-inspired bathrooms; an oceanfront pool; a restaurant serving all-natural yet innovative fare and cocktails; and the ultimate outdoor couples massages. In fact, The Palms is known for its holistic spa treatments—just the sort of thing to grab the attention of a partner who is mindful of both body and soul. Just don't drop the bomb during the "Aqua Salt Glow Renewal," or you might get more than a tear of happiness in your eye.
Address: 3025 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, Florida 33139; tel: 305-908-5460.
Miami Eternal Truth Tattoo
The couple that gets inked together, stays together. Well, not always. But can you really go wrong at an upscale tattoo lounge called "Eternal Truth?" Matching Japanese designs or portraits of each other do, after all, say commitment. But If the ultraviolet inks don't impress you, perhaps taking promise vows—along with a piercing, anywhere from nose to navel or mouth to microdermal—will surely do the trick. Then you can post the evidence on Facebook and prepare to receive the excited congratulations.
Address: 448 Ocean Drive Miami Beach, Florida 33139; tel: 305-397-8663.
Miami Beach Parasail
Nothing says, "Will you be mine?" like a speedboat, a pair of harnesses and a tandem parachute. If your partner is adventurous, feel free to ask the big question mid-air. It's thrill upon thrill! If you talk to the captain beforehand, you might even be able to sneak a bottle of bubbly up with you. Then you'll have seven-to-ten minutes to savor the thrill of being newly engaged—not to mention 600 feet above sea level. And make sure you buy the digital photo package for the video montage at the wedding reception. Just one warning: Do not drop the ring.
Address: 16th Street and Collins Avenue, behind the Loews Miami Beach Hotel, Miami Beach, Florida 33139; tel: 305-266-4144.