Downtown Miami is the beating urban heart of Miami—where don’t need a car to explore; only curiosity and a bit of adventure. As neighborhood resident Kyle shows us, every day is a new journey when you can explore on foot, on Metromover, and on bike through a bustling metropolis of locals, businesses, history, and new destinations.
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Miami has no shortage of beautiful views, but Area 31 does it in unparalleled style. Perched on the 16th floor patio of the Epic Hotel, Area 31’s happy hour is always packed with locals, lounging outside with beer, wine, and signature cocktails—all before an iconic view of Downtown Miami, Biscayne Bay, and Brickell. In the dining room, Executive Chef Wolfgang Birk serves a sustainable seafood-focused menu, certified by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program. You’ll find visitors from around the world, plenty of locals, and the occasional celebrity enjoying the food and the view.
Miami explores a new fusion of Japanese, Filipino, and Mexican traditions at Burrito San, where husband/wife duo Johnson Teh and Kazu Abe serve casual fare like Filipino breakfast burritos, braised pork wonton nachos, and tuna sushi burritos. Abe’s parents, Chef Chika Abe and his wife Yasuko, founded Miami’s first Sushi restaurant, Sushin, in 1979. Teh, who grew up in the Philippines, cut his teeth at the Mandarin in Beverly Hills and at Ben Pao, Chicago’s first modern Chinese restaurant. You can taste those years of practice, without the fancy surroundings.
Whether you’re craving a cafecito to wake up or a cafe Cubano at 2am before you sleep, look no further than the Manolo Y Rene 24-hour Cafeteria stand. The iconic hole-in-the-wall has been serving up Cuban favorites for nearly 40 years. It’s always sporting an eclectic mix of visitors, neighborhood locals, and off-duty workers—all of whom the friendly staff seems to know. It’s cash only, but sandwiches average just $5, so you won’t need much.
Catalan food and phenomenal service are the stars of this new Miami favorite, which opened two years ago to instant acclaim and a steady stream of “best new restaurant” accolades, and we think they’re well-deserved. The tiny restaurant almost seems out of place, stuck between a mini-mart and an optometry office, until you step inside. That’s where co-owner Karina Iglesias greets guests with a smile, a table (assuming one’s available; best to call ahead) and a choice wine selection, while chef Deme Lomas crafts tapas, poached eggs, wahoo tartar, oysters, and other dishes in a small but efficient Niu Kitchen.
This charming Italian restaurant is a romantic collision of food and ambiance. Former owner Armando Alfano built a menu inspired by his hometown of Pompeii, a tradition chef Cristian D’oria carries on with dishes from housemade pasta to filet mignon, fish, and eggplant-based sfoglia di melanzane. Lunch and dinner are served to diners inside the wing of the Shoreland Arcade, a historic 1920s building once planned to be the towering skyscraper headquarters of the Shoreland Company, before a 1926 real estate bust caused both the company and construction to end. The remnants make Soya E Pomodoro a remarkable and unique setting for a delicious meal.
Catch a view of Biscayne Bay with your meal at Verde, the in-house restaurant of the Perez Art Museum Miami, with a menu curated by celebrated restaurateur Steven Starr. With menu options ranging from crowd-pleasers like pizza to more refined options like bistro steak, Verde is the perfect respite from exploring the museum or walking Downtown Miami. Grab a table outside to enjoy PAMM’s breezy patio, where cocktails and craft cocktails are also on offer.
Sip one of Miami’s best cups of coffee at Eternity Coffee, where the coffee loving staff has expert advice on which single-origin coffee, blend, or espresso will suit your mood and your palate. While you’re enjoying your drink on the velvet seats, you can watch the staff roast new batches of beans in the roaster, which sits in the open for all to enjoy.
Next door to booming Club Space is Libertine, a hidden bar with a speakeasy vibe, antique furniture, and classic cocktails. There’s often live music from behind the grand piano that sits in one of the wall alcoves—and if not, there’s dance music. It’s a welcome break from the clubs that line 11th Street, but the action and the energy are never far away.
Craft cocktails come to an historic setting at Pawn Broker, atop the newly reopened Langford Hotel. It’s one of Miami’s few rooftop destinations, and with eagle’s eye views of Downtown Miami and classic drinks from the Pubbelly Boys, it doesn’t disappoint. The bar menu is organized by flavor (refreshing, complex, smooth, rustic) and features creative drinks like the Damned & Beautiful (champagne, vodka, blackberry gastric) and the Tropical Storm (rum with dry banana, thai tea syrup, and ginger beer) alongside reimagined classics.
It’s the ultimate locals bar, drawing a uniquely diverse crowd every day (and long into the night, open until 5am) since its 2010 opening. $3 beers, Chicago dogs, and sandwiches make The Corner a happy hour favorite for locals on their way home from work. At night, cocktails like The Aristocrat (gin, cucumber, lemon, sage) make things a little more refined. You can find some of Miami’s best jazz every Tuesday, from 11p.m. to about 2.a.m., tucked inside the dimly lit bar.
It’s the site of globally recognized events like Ultra Music Festival and Pitbull’s New Year’s Eve Revolution, but it’s also a retreat for locals, whom you’ll find running along its wide paths, relaxing in the adirondack chairs along the Bay, and picnicking with families near the playground. Free yoga is offered weekdays at the Tina Hills Pavilion, and music (plus shops, restaurants, and every kind of daquiri) can be found most nights on the park’s north end at Bayside Marketplace. The Bayfront Park Ampitheatre hosts frequent concerts from big names like Nickie Minaj and Counting Crows, but you’ll need to book ahead.
Billing itself as a “locally-grown, Miami-raised, cage-free Men’s and Women’s denim, clothing, and hot sauce shop,” Lost Boy pairs quality shopping with an irreverent attitude. The focus is Americana, from U.S.-made denim to unique ties, boots, and accessories. It’s the project of Randy and Brian Alfonso, whose parents own La Epoca, Miami’s oldest department store, which is across the street. The space is inspired by the American Southwest, filled with rustic and reclaimed wood; the name is inspired by a skiing run the boys used to do with their father in Colorado. If you’ve got shopping to do, Lost Boy is a storied place to do it.
Miami Center for Architecture and Design
Built inside an historic Post Office building, the Miami Center for Architecture and Design features ongoing installations and exhibits about the city’s built environment and architecture, plus programming and events ranging from concerts to art classes to lectures and seminars. Maps and other exploratory resources are also available, so it’s a great place to stop on a Downtown Miami walking tour.
In a courtyard behind the Centro Cultural Español, MicroTheater Miami offers a unique theater-going experience. From Wednesday through Sunday, the eclectic theater opens up and hosts five to seven 15-minute plays in repurposed shipping containers. Tickets are just $5, and when you finish one play, you can pop into the next container for another intimate performance. Wednesday and Thursday are for English-speakers, while the rest of the week, plays are performed completely in Spanish.
The decadent Olympia Theater opened its doors in 1926, serving as Miami’s “grandest silent movie palace and Vaudeville house” for more than 40 years. By the 1980s, the aging theater needed significant repairs. Fortunately, restoration projects have brought the sparkle and shine back to this magical venue and it now hosts regular concerts, film screenings, and other events, along with a “Jazz in the Lobby” series that brings musicians to its grand lounge for relaxed performances.