Insider's Guide South Beach

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By: Shayne Benowitz

From the shimmering ocean to the neon lights pulsating along the Art Deco streets, South Beach is a feast for the senses. In this paradise you’ll find chic hotels, trendy restaurants and nightlife like no other. There’s also a local vibe in Miami, from hidden gem neighborhoods to health food restaurants, scenic parks and intimate cocktails bars. If you’re looking for the hottest spots in South Beach right now, read on with our insider’s guide.

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Sunset Harbour

If you want to rub elbows with hip South Beach locals, head straight to Sunset Harbour. This micro-neighborhood on the northwest corner of South Beach overlooking Biscayne Bay is home to fitness studios, fashion boutiques and some of the best restaurants in town. Favorites include Pubbelly Sushi for deconstructed sushi like you’ve never tasted before—try the crunchy bigeye tuna roll with truffle oil and sea salt and the krab roll with ponzu and clarified butter. For sumptuous Italian fare, choose from Lucali for wood-fired pizzas or Sardinia for homemade pasta. It’s also a bastion for health food with a handful of juice bars, vegetarian and vegan restaurants including Dr. Smood, Soul Tavern and Dirt.

    The Standard

    Fresh Mediterranean fare, bright yellow umbrellas, a beautiful crowd and sweeping views of Biscayne Bay make The Lido Bayside Grill at The Standard a stunning waterfront destination. The menu features a variety of small plates and entrees—some with a healthy bent, some with a Latin flair—and creative cocktails, to match. Opt for the chicken empanadas, Providence-style crispy calamari or the roasted veggie Buddha bowl made with tofu, broccoli, cauliflower, avocado, cucumber, quinoa and tahini dressing. Frosé (aka, frozen rosé wine) is the latest cocktail craze and you’ll find it here. It’s also home to one of the most beautiful pools in South Beach overlooking Biscayne Bay, as well as a popular spa with hammam, yoga and fitness classes.

      Basement at The Miami Beach EDITION

      Basement at The Miami Beach EDITION takes nightlife to another level. You’ll find Discobox, an intimate dance club spinning everything from nu-disco to house, inspired by hotelier Ian Schrager’s legendary Studio 54. There are also a couple of unexpected features: a four-lane bowling alley and a small ice-skating rink. From playful to high energy, you’ll find the vibe you’re looking for at one of the many spaces in the club.

        LIV & Story

        When it comes to an epic party in Miami, there’s no place like LIV. Located inside the legendary Fontainebleau resort, the 18,000-square-foot megaclub boasts a domed ceiling, impressive light show and VIP tables lining the dance floor and mezzanine. World class DJs such as David Guetta, Steve Angello and Tiësto are regulars here, laying down the beats that make the crowd bounce. That’s when the confetti starts flying and glow sticks come out. Bring your A game and dress to impress—this is one of the toughest velvet ropes in town.

        A sister club to LIV, Story is even bigger and has an emphasis on the electronic underground and hip-hop. They play host to subversive artists like Guy Gerber, Dubfire and Lee Foss, but mainstream DJs like Skrillex, Steve Aoki and Calvin Harris are also regulars here, as well as hip-hop acts like Ludacris and Lil Wayne. The enormous space features a massive DJ booth, pulsating lights and live entertainers to complement the beats.

          Sophie’s & Mini Bar

          You don’t have to go big to do nightlife in South Beach. A pair of hip cocktail bars have opened in the SoFi (South of Fifth Street) neighborhood. Mini Bar is found inside the boutique Urbanica Hotel on Meridian Avenue and the name pretty much sums it up. The intimate space boasts a small wraparound bar, a wall of banquette seating and a few high top tables for a cozy cocktail bar with a local following. Sophie’s on 1st Street opened in December 2018 and makes for a stylish, yet low-key setting to enjoy cocktails at an affordable price, all with a DJ amping the crowd late into the night.

            Bodega

            There’s more than meets the eye at Bodega, an open-air taco stand on South Beach that stays open until 5 a.m. nightly. While crowds gather for steak chimichurri, al pastor and pescado tacos, a secret entrance through an unassuming port-o-potty door leads to a speakeasy-style nightclub for tequila tippling, dancing and late night revelry. The large industrial space is popular amongst locals where you can hit the dance floor or hold court by the pool tables. Just remember, whenever hunger strikes, a full menu of tacos and tortas awaits just outside.

              South Pointe Park

              South Pointe Park possesses one of the most picturesque vistas in all of South Beach. As the name implies, it juts out along the southern point with a beautifully landscaped park that includes playgrounds, water features and public art. There’s also a scenic pier that runs parallel to the jetty. All of it offers panoramic views of the South Beach skyline, Government Cut channel, Fisher Island with its luxurious Mediterranean Revival condominiums, PortMiami and the Downtown skyline. It’s stunning anytime of day and particularly thrilling when hulking cruise ships enter and exit the harbor.

                Upland

                From award-winning restaurateur Stephen Starr and chef Justin Smillie, Upland is an instant classic in South Beach’s South of Fifth neighborhood. It’s a mix and match smorgasbord of crave-worthy dishes in a stylish setting, including a selection of pizzas (sausage and kale with pistachio pesto is a no-brainer), the Upland cheeseburger or a bowl of perfectly piquant cacio e pepe bucatini. Brunchtime means bottomless bloody marys, mimosas or rose, as well as crave-worthy dishes like chilaquiles with skirt steak. The only challenge here is choosing from a menu with so many fantastic options.

                  1100 Block of Lincoln Road

                  Lincoln Road is a classic South Beach thoroughfare. The pedestrian mall runs east to west from Washington Avenue to Alton Road, and it’s lined with boutiques, art galleries and cafes. The 1100 block at the western end with its updated landscaping and chic boutiques is particularly fashionable. You’ll find a Taschen bookstore, Alchemy concept boutique and Ted Baker, as well as more down to earth delights like Shake Shack and a movie theater. Be sure to pop into Art Center South Florida on the 900 block to view their galleries and artist studios.

                    New World Symphony & SoundScape Park

                    The New World Symphony and its Soundscape Park provide an incredible cultural experience with their Wallcast Concert series and movie screenings under the stars. The landmark building by star architect Frank Gehry features a 7,000-square-foot wall where symphony performances are simulcast overlooking SoundScape Park absolutely free. They also screen movies on Wednesday evenings. It makes for the perfect opportunity to pack a picnic and enjoy a one-of-a-kind night out in South Beach.

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