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By: Angela Caraway-Carlton

Locals and visitors flock to famous South Beach for a major reason – calm, clear waters and soft-sand beaches. There’s nothing better than leisurely days spent basking in the sun as balmy breezes stream through the swaying palm trees. If you’re staying at one of South Beach’s treasured hotels, most offer mega-pools meant for floating, along with complimentary chairs and umbrellas in the sand. Those visiting for the day can rent loungers, umbrellas and even cabanas through Boucher Brothers, or simply unfurl a towel wherever there’s a free square on the beach. If you want to hang out like a local, head to the serene South of Fifth area to play in the sand and even catch small waves when conditions are right.

South Pointe Park
South Pointe Park is perfect for picnics, sunsets and panoramic views.

Play in the Outdoors

If you’re looking for a place to let the kids (and pups) roam, head to scenic South Pointe Park, known for its sprawling waterfront green spaces at the southern tip of South Beach. Families spread out on the grass for picnics, and locals lazily read under the shade of palm trees. Let the kids run down the grassy hills, or cool off while splashing in the mini-water park. There’s even an off-leash park for dogs. Stroll the South Pointe Pier to peep at the catches of the day and soak up unmatched panoramic views of South Beach’s stunning shoreline. Pro tip: Follow the lead of locals who grab take-out from nearby Miami Beach staples Joe’s Stone Crab or My Ceviche, then sit waterside to eat and watch ships leave PortMiami or boats speed by as the sun sets.

Lincoln Road Farmers Market
Pedestrian mall Lincoln Road spans 14 blocks on Miami Beach.

Street Style

Eager shoppers can’t miss open-air Lincoln Road for rows and rows of stores, big and small; plenty of outdoor seating at al fresco cafes and restaurants; and even a weekend farmers market where locals showcase produce and artisanal goods. Take a good look at the lush surroundings: Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden and the Lincoln Road Business Improvement District curated a self-guided tour with QR-coded signs on trees, orchids and plants, offering photos, videos and information from Fairchild’s scientists. Lincoln Road is also a culinary dream with food halls such as Time Out Market Miami and Lincoln Eatery, which both present numerous dining options and something for everyone’s taste.

Continue your shopping-dining spree on nearby Española Way, dotted with open-air restaurants touting various cuisines such as Italian, Mexican, Brazilian and more; a few boutiques; and architecturally rich hotel gems such as the soon-to-open Esmé Hotel. On Saturdays, bend and stretch with outdoor yoga. Española truly comes alive at night, when dangling lights twinkle from above and live music and conversation wafts from restaurants.

Ocean Drive and South Beach hotels
Take an Art Deco walking tour along Ocean Drive.

Tasty and Educational Tours

If you want a delicious introduction to Miami Beach's eclectic cuisine, book a private or public walking tour with Miami Culinary Tours. Knowledgeable foodies will guide you on a tasting tour at dining gems and offer insider info about history, architecture and even famous movie locales.

For a more in-depth tour about Miami Beach's rich art deco history, the Miami Design Preservation League offers a variety of guided walking tours that lead guests through hotels, restaurants and landmarks showcasing art deco and Miami Modern styles. Have your phones ready to snap Instagram-worthy images of the bright showstoppers.

Stiltsville Fish Bar
Stiltsville Fish Bar serves simply prepared seafood and tropical style drinks.

Areas Loved by Locals

Set aside time to explore South Beach’s hip Sunset Harbour neighborhood, where the locals go to sip roasted coffee at Panther Coffee and dine at buzzy new restaurants such as Diya Indian Kitchen for veggie-forward Indian cuisine, seafood-centric Stiltsville Fish Bar and Italian newcomer Osteria Morini inside the Kimpton Hotel Palomar South Beach. The neighborhood is also packed with fitness options such as Barry’s Bootcamp and trendy boutique clothing shops. In this picturesque place, grab a spot on a bench in the park overlooking Biscayne Bay. Zip off on a kayak or stand-up paddleboard with locally owned South Beach Kayak, which also offers incredible sunset tours. Locals and visitors-in-the-know also book pool and spa days at The Standard, a tropical oasis meant for lounging on Biscayne Bay.

Miami’s best side is seen from the water, and you can’t come to South Beach without exploring sparkling waterways. Zoom around Biscayne Bay on a Jet Ski, rent a boat or join a charter cruise out of Miami Beach Marina – you’ll spot plentiful marine life, gawk at over-the-top mansions and admire the area’s natural beauty.

Baia Beach Club at Mondrian South Beach
Join barefoot luxury and take your shoes off at Baia Beach Club.

Beach Clubs

Membership has its privileges, and numerous new beach clubs popping up around South Beach offer relaxed pool days meant for napping, toes-in-the-sand dining and breathtaking views. Locals can join barefoot luxury beach clubs such as Baia Beach Club at the bayside stunner Mondrian South Beach, where a party scene elevates from day to night; Tulum-inspired 1 Beach Club at 1 Hotel South Beach; and Joia Beach Club on nearby Watson Island.

Aerial view of The Bass Museum
The Bass has presented major exhibitions by influential artists.

Culture Abounds

If you love art and culture, spend a few hours perusing The Bass, a contemporary art museum with new exhibitions, and explore the public green spaces of surrounding Collins Park. Depending on when you’re in town, attend a free outdoor Wallcast concert at SoundScape Park at the New World Center, where guests spread towels and bring picnics to watch music magic happen on the big screen.

Whether you want to simply relax on the beach or float in a mega-pool, dine at stellar restaurants, score on-trend fashion, or blast through azure waters on a boat or Jet Ski, you can do it all in South Beach. Plan to do something different every day.

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