Where To Stay, Dine & Play On Ocean Drive

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By Jennifer Agress

On dreamy Ocean Drive, let iconic beach views, café-style dining and Art Deco architecture be the backdrop of your fun-filled day.

When travelers first think of Miami, no doubt the colorful image that comes to mind is Ocean Drive. Lined with quaint, pastel-hued Art Deco buildings and hotels, restaurants that spill out onto the streets, colorful travelers, boutique beach shops and more, this oceanfront street is where you can go for a quiet cup of coffee, an oversized margarita—or like most people—some excellent people-watching. And being such a beautiful destination, it only makes sense that it has served as the backdrop for some of Hollywood’s most iconic films and TV shows, from classics like Scarface, The Birdcage, Miami Vice, Reno 911: Miami, to Bad Boys, There’s Something About Mary, Dexter, Burn Notice, Magic City and more.

Want to check it out? Head straight to the ocean, between 1st and 15th Street, and start walking. There’s no telling what you’ll see!

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Where to Stay

If there’s anything that stands out about Ocean Drive, it’s the boutique, Art Deco-style hotels. In fact, stroll along Ocean Drive, and you’ll find tons of them! Starting at its most southern point, in Miami’s stunning South of Fifth (SoFi) neighborhood, the Marriott Stanton South Beach is a deluxe oceanfront hotel with colorful rooms, expansive balconies, unbelievable views, a Starbucks, and for Mexican food-lovers, Lolo’s Surf Cantina. A little farther up, Sense Beach House is a trendy, Hamptons-style spot that makes you forget you’re in Miami at all. A true hidden gem, head to this seaside haunt for an organic, good-for-you good meal at the hotel’s in-house restaurant, The Local House, or spend a posh day lounging by the rooftop pool.

Looking for a taste of over-the-top Miami? Book a room at The Villa Casa Casuarina and live in the lap of luxury in what once reigned as the Gianni Versace Mansion. Today, you’ll find the best service, Italian marble oversized bathrooms, a gold-clad pool, a lavish rooftop lounge and private watering holes. Keep walking north, and you’ll stumble upon the Clevelander Hotel and the Hotel Breakwater South Beach, two spots that promise to keep the party going all night long. Finally, at the other end, a must-stay spot is The Betsy Hotel. Directly facing the ocean, this enchanting hotel is most known for having one of the top steak and seafood restaurants in South Beach, Laurent Tourondel’s LT Steak & Seafood, and of course, its sparkling rooftop pool.

For a complete list of hotels around Ocean Drive, check out these South Beach hotel options.

    Where to Dine

    Lined with everything from sandwich shops and street-side eateries, to romantic, star-studded restaurants looking right out at the sea, dining on Ocean Drive has a little something for everyone. For a tasty breakfast, duck into Front Porch Café for an all-day breakfast menu of comfort food favorites, like French Toast, a Sicilian Omelet, or Front Porch Eggs Benedict. For a lunch you can count on, T.G.I. Fridays and Sushi Siam are there, as are South Beach’s classic street-side cafés, like the local and authentic Jalapeño Mexican Kitchen, or the famed outpost of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Larios on the Beach.

    Finally, if you’re looking for a fancy date night, or a nice dinner with your colleagues, try one of Ocean Drive’s more upscale options. A Fish Called Avalon fuses fresh seafood with five-star service and unbeatable oceanfront views, while Gianni’s at The Villa Casuarina promises an upscale Mediterranean meal like you’ve never had before. In walking distance to Ocean Drive, Joe’s Stone Crab and Smith & Wollensky should never be missed. For a real treat, the modern steakhouse and popular celebrity hangout, Prime 112, is known for its quality dry-aged beef, truffle lobster mac and cheese, Kobe beef sliders, and like most places on Ocean Drive, it’s A-list people watching.

    For a comprehensive list of restaurants around Ocean Drive, check out these South Beach dining options.

      Where to Play

      From history and art appreciation, to clubbing until the early hours of the morning, there’s plenty to do on Ocean Drive. With a history dating back to the 1920’s, get an up close look at the 800+ Art Deco architectural gems that put the area on the National Register of Historic Places. If history is what you’re into, the Art Deco District Welcome Center, which sits right on Ocean Drive, offers self-guided audio tours that tell you everything you need to know about Miami Beach’s Art Deco past, proving why Ocean Drive is so popular today. Similarly, just steps away, the LGBT Visitor Center (which is located in Old City Hall), sponsors a range of cultural events all year long designed to foster Miami’s LGBTQ community.

      Of course, if you just want to play, Ocean Drive has plenty to do for that, as well. Spend your days on the sand at Lummus Park, off the main strip of Ocean Drive, or if you’re in South of Fifth, head to Marjory Stoneman Douglas Beach Park, where you can lay on the beach or take the kids to the playground. For a taste of the LGBT scene, head to the beach at 12th and Ocean Drive (right across the street from Ocean Drive’s ever-popular drag brunch, Palace Restaurant and Bar) for Miami’s LGBT beach. On weekend nights, go clubbing or barhopping down Ocean Drive, or combine the beach and club scene with the weekly St. Tropez-like Sunday brunch beach party at Nikki Beach Club. For something very Miami, try your hand at Salsa dancing at Mango’s Tropical Cafe. As we mentioned, the Clevelander, one of Miami’s top party hotels, always promises a good time. Proof? It throws epic pool parties with top DJs and has nine bars, a C-Level Rooftop Terrace with private cabanas and waterfalls, the SPF4 Sun Deck, and a VIP terrace that keeps the party going all night long.

      During the day, if you’re not at the beach, go shopping. While Ocean Drive is mostly filled with tourist shops, funky boutiques and bikini shops, just a block over, Collins Avenue has all of the designer storefronts you need; like Armani, Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Club Monaco and the Kardashian’s popular boutique, DASH.

      General Visitor Information

      Your best bet for parking around Ocean Drive is in one of Miami Beach’s garages—there is one at 7th Street and Collins Avenue, 5th Street and Alton Road, 13th Street and Collins Avenue, and 16th Street and Collins Avenue. There are also parking lots all around, going as far south as South Pointe Park and as far east as Alton Road. Metered, street parking is everywhere and ideal, but it’s available on a first come, first served basis only. Public restrooms are located in Lummus Park, at 14th Street and Ocean Drive, and at 5th Street and Ocean Drive.

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