Best Things to Do in Miami’s Design District

Design District Shops

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Design District Shops

By: Kara Franker

Explore the Miami Design District.

The Miami Design District is a destination that inspires immersive art and cultural experiences—plus plenty of shopping and dining. Located just north of Wynwood and Midtown, art is everywhere you turn. The neighborhood is not only a luxurious fashion district, but it is also the ultimate destination for all things art, culture, shopping, culinary and entertainment related. And there are plenty of free community events like the Miami Design District Performance Series, a public concert that happens twice a month. From Instagrammable public art installations and galleries to the more than 130 high-end furniture, fashion and interior design shops, the area is a bastion of creativity.

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History of the Miami Design District

The neighborhood is the brainchild of Miami developer and philanthropist Craig Robins, founder of Dacra, a commercial real estate company. Credited with the renovation that brought South Beach’s infamous Art Deco Historic District back to life, Robins saw a blank canvas in the 18-square-block area of abandoned warehouses, and masterfully cultivated it into what is now the Design District.

An avid art collector, Robins not only focused on partnering with high-end design and fashion houses, but sought to infuse art in every facet of the evolving area. As Art Basel Miami Beach started to explode, Robins founded sister art fair Design Miami/ to bring together the most influential collectors, gallerists, designers, curators and critics to celebrate art and design—one of the very same reasons he pioneered the Design District in the first place.

    Where to See Art for Free in the Miami Design District

    Public Artworks

    From fine art galleries and public art installations to private collections and museums, art is everywhere in the neighborhood. Some of the most photographed public art installations in the area include the Buckminster Fuller Fly’s Eye Dome at 140 N.E. 39th Street, Vortex mural on N.E. 28th Street, Zaha Hadid’s site-specific Elastika inside the historic Moore building, the jaw-dropping Museum Garage, and more. Join a free public art tour with critic Margery Gordon, as she leads two education tours per month and showcases select public artworks and architectural highlights of the area.

      Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA)

      Housed in a new state-of-the-art building, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA Miami) features a combination of local and international contemporary artists and a bustling calendar of events. The best part? Admission to the museum is free.

        De La Cruz Collection

        Another museum featuring free admission, the private De La Cruz Collection is open to the public and features the works of a rotating roster of international artists. Curators organize lectures, summer workshops and provide scholarships for students of the New World School of the Arts and DASH.

          Where to Shop in the Miami Design District

          Known as being the home to flagship locations of some of the most prolific high-end design and fashion houses, the Design District continues to attract a bevy of new boutique and restaurant openings. As you walk down the street, not only will you be intrigued by the architectural and design aspects of the boutiques themselves, you’ll instantly recognize some of the most iconic names in fashion, like Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Dolce & Gabbana—the list goes on and on. And recently, more affordable brands are moving into the neighborhood like Sephora, Reformation, Flight Club, Lower East Coast and Andrew. The end result is the ultimate shopping day for any and everyone, regardless of your budget.

            Where to Dine in the Miami Design District

            Delectable Dining

            As far as delectable dining locales, the options are nearly endless. One of the most established restaurants in the Design District, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink is a neighborhood bistro concept featuring a variety of small, medium and large plates, including everything from ceviche and oysters to crispy pork belly and bone-in ribeye. The concept is the flagship location of owner/chef Michael Schwartz, who also operates a popular pizzeria, Harry’s, in the neighborhood.

              Other Dining Hotspots

              Other hotspots include Kaido by Brad Kilgore (Tokyo-style Asian dishes), Estefan Kitchen (reimagined versions of traditional Cuban family recipes), and Mandolin Aegean Bistro (Mediterranean-inspired fresh fish and veggie options). A favorite for celebrities and Miami socialites, Swan & Bar Bevy is a restaurant and lounge concept by Pharrell Williams, David Grutman and French celebrity chef Jean Imbert. Think global cuisine in a chic atmosphere with artsy interior design.

                When You Can't Decide

                Can’t decide on a single restaurant? Check out the St. Roch Market, a popular food hall featuring a dozen diverse chef-driven dining concepts including vegan cuisine, southern-style dishes, Italian pasta, craft tacos, sushi and more.

                  When to Visit the Miami Design District

                  Any time throughout the year, you’re likely to discover a fun list of events and activities happening in the district. Located in Palm Court, the neighborhood hosts the Miami Design District Performance Series presented by Emilio Estefan in collaboration with the Miami Symphony Orchestra. The concert takes place next to Estefan Kitchen, happens on select Fridays and is free to the public.

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