The Ultimate Travel Guide to Miami

Miami. There is an inspiring cubana cool that floats through the air. From the music to the smells, and the beach to the streets, it’s an celebration of latina culture everywhere. Aside from its famous art deco architecture, artistic inspiration is just a short ride from Miami Beach at the infamous and trendy Wynward Walls.

Miami is the ideal getaway for a long weekend. A perfect mix of the beach, sun, parties and Cuban food.  There is never a dull moment in this colorful craziness. It is a city that you can visit and have fun on any budget. Every time I come here it is different, memorable, and just gets your groove back. Most of the time, it just feels like there are no rules. And that’s the way I like it.

WHERE TO SLEEP (or not)

The Edition | A fabulous example of a luxury boutique hotel. The front lobby and cafe area is one of the most beautiful I have seen in Miami. Something about the white marble, lush greens and gold detail really gets you. The Edition is also prime real estate nestled between mid beach and south beach, giving you access to everything your soon to be tan self desires.

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Fontainebleau | Everyone should stay here at least once. It’s located in the heart of mid beach and has everything you want, so much so that it is tempting to stay there the whole time. DON’T DO THAT. Especially if it’s your first time, you should be exploring and conquering every inch and grain of sand in this city. Aside from a beautiful pool, incredible beach access celebrity restaurants, and pool parties, it is home to one of my favorite clubs, LIV. More on that later.

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Nautilus | A mid level choice I often stay at for business trips. It’s simple, has recently been renovated with beach and pool access and located at the top of South Beach.

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Other recommendations across for all budgets are Beachcomber (Kimpton hotel), Viceroy and Ocean Blue Hostel.

Oh, and don’t judge a book by its cover. You may surprised that some of the hotels I mentioned and the nicest hotels (hey, Ritz Carlton) do not look impressive on the outside. This is because Miami has very strict preservation laws to protect the original art deco architecture, making the South Beach area a historical landmark.

WHERE TO EAT 

Espanola Way | As you might imagine, it is a charming Spanish oasis full of great Spanish and Cuban restaurants. Walk down the street and check out the menus and seating areas before stopping for a snack. Warning: A lot of these are tourist traps, so make sure you check the menus and prices to find something you like. 

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Naked TacoGet your taco fix day or night at Naked Taco, located on the bottom floor of the Dream Hotel. Sit outdoors for great people watching and wander through their graffiti garden between cocktails. Tip: Pretend it’s someone’s birthday or bachelorette party, and you’ll have at least one round of free shots on the house.

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11th Street Diner | I’ll admit I was a bit sketched out when my friend and I first discovered the 11th Street Diner, but it turned into our go-to breakfast spot before hitting the beach or recovering from a late night. It has the charm of an old-school diner, plus they have outdoor seating on a side porch if you don’t want to miss the morning rays. I’ve never seen a bigger, fluffier omelet in my life, and the breakfast sandwiches and BLTs hit the spot.

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Cafe Versailles | Do not leave Miami without trying Cuban food!! Seriously, just go. Fun fact about Cafe Versailles – after it opened in 1971, it quickly became the unofficial town square for Miami’s Cuban exiles (dun dun dun). Order the Cuban sandwich (duh), and some empanadas. You’ll probably need a Cuban espresso or two shortly after to avoid a food coma.

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Juice & Java | This adorable juice, smoothie and healthy food cafe gives you all of the nutrients you need to recover from a night out or have an afternoon pick me up. With outdoor seating, you can also people watch everyone speeding down Washington Ave.

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WHAT TO SEE

Ocean Drive | Keep your eyes open, you will see plenty of fast, flashy cars cruising down the street, from Lamborghini to Rolls- Royces. The people driving these beauties are equally as entertaining. One time I even saw a batmobile.

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Wynwood Design District | For a mix of art, graffiti and your next profile picture, check our this cultural center for a break from the heat.

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South Pointe Pier | An often overlooked corner of South Beach, this nook offers beautiful views of the beach strip all the way to North beach and downtown Miami. People are also more behaved and can be a peaceful spot to watch the sunset.
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Perez Art Museum | Located on the other side of the bridge that connects Downtown Miami to South Beach, this museum has a ton of great exhibits, an outdoor cafe and seating area as well as the main attraction, the Hanging Gardens. Even if you don’t go into the museum, you should at least check these out from the outside and enjoy a beverage alfresco. You won’t even have to pay the admission fee.
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WHERE TO PARTY

No matter what kind of music you’re into, Miami has it all. Salsa, techno, jazz, hip-hop. They love to dance, so put on that white (or bright) dress, practice your salsa steps and hit up the clubs. A few of my top picks: Wall, Story, Mansion, LIV, DL, Mangos and Nikki Beach.
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Go to LIV, Space or Story if you want to get lost in the bass and lights. Mango’s Tropical Cafe is also a casual, jungle themed salsa bar where things can get a little wild. Why not? You’re in Miami. Don’t stop dancing girl.

For those looking for something a bit more upscale, see the Fontainebleau day party pool scene even if it’s just for a walk through the property. Gorgeous interior, beautiful white cabanas, great music.

Then there is always Nikki Beach. Best on Sundays, you can drink and dance all day with billowy cabanas and lounge pillows inside the DJ area. Be prepared for a long, intense day of dancing, drinking and celebrating life under the sun.
There you have it, the full list (I am always adding more each time I visit). There’s no excuse not to live it up in Miami.
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