Best Things to Do in Miami’s Design District

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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.

The gigantic Le Corbusier sculture by Xavier Veilhan

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.

Elastika by architect Zaha Hadid, commissioned by Dacra president Craig Robins

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.

Enjoy a free day of art at the ICA

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.

The ultimate shopping day at the Miami Design District

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.

A peek into Mandolin Aegean Bistro's charming patio

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 Mandolin Aegean Bistro (Mediterranean-inspired fresh fish and veggie options) and a favorite for celebrities and Miami socialites, Swan & Bar Bevy - 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.

Something for everyone at MIA Market

When You Can't Decide

Can’t decide on a single restaurant? Check out the MIA 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.

Listen to music & admire the Fly's Eye Dome in Palm Court

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 happens on select Fridays and is free to the public.

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