Words by Tanvi Chheda
Sun-kissed and palm tree-lined Miami, in southern Florida, has always had a reputation as a party town. But along with those swanky, white-washed rooftop bars where the cocktails are aplenty, there’s also incredible contemporary art to be seen, outdoor adventures to be had, and inventive cuisine to be tasted. Dive deeper, beyond the smoke and mirrors, with a guided Art Deco walking tour through South Beach. Learn about the heritage of Cuban and Haitian immigrants that also call Miami home. And yes, allot some time for pool parties, too.
A short round-up of Miami’s must-see sights…
Miami Beachwalk: Walk or bicycle along this seven-mile oceanfront path, taking in Miami’s famous sandy stretches, strewn with public art and pastel-hued lifeguard stands.
Rubell: Moved to Miami’s Allapattah neighbourhood after outgrowing its original space, this family collection showcases works by contemporary artists such as Keith Haring, Jeff Koons, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Yayoi Kusama, among others.
Superblue: Across the street from the Rubell, the immersive and engaging exhibits here include a mesmerising mirrored maze, holograms by James Turrell, and an installation of 3,000 light bulbs that use biometrics to flash according to visitors’ heartbeats.
PAMM: Short for Pérez Art Museum Miami, this stalwart of Miami’s art scene is worth a wander to see modern and contemporary works by Fernand Léger, Frank Stella, Faith Ringgold and Bisa Butler. The waterfront location doesn’t hurt either.
Frost Museum: PAMM’s neighbour, this ambitious 250,000-square foot science museum manages to cover it all from south Florida’s marine life to the human body to outer space.
Vizcaya: Built in 1916, this Mediterranean-style estate, which served as industrialist James Deering’s winter home, features stunning architectural details as well as beautiful formal gardens spread across 11 acres.
Wynwood Walls: Street art revived this once derelict section of Miami, which is now chock-a-block with abstract, anime and political murals galore.
…and a longer look at Miami’s lesser known spots
Housed in a pretty 1927 building is a 200,000-object collection – posters, prints, glass, textiles, appliances and the like – that explores mankind’s relationship with design from 1850 through 1950. Bonus: the museum store is fantastic.
A short drive south from Miami is another world. Kayak through mangroves and seagrass meadows on a naturalist-led guided tour with the non-profit Biscayne National Park Institute.
Posh luxury labels, interior design stores, fine dining, public art and mural-covered parking garages all converge in this revamped trendy neighbourhood. Don’t miss the Institute of Contemporary Art in particular.
Anchored by Calle Ocho (8th Street), this Cuban enclave is lined with bakeries, fruit vendors, cigar shops and rum bars. Eavesdrop on locals playing dominoes in a nearby park before grabbing coffee and Cuban sandwiches at family-owned Versailles.
What – and where – to eat in Miami
All the veggies (think corn ravioli with tomatillos and miso glazed tofu with thumbelina carrots and chives) at Michelin-starred Le Jardinier, which is as easy on the eyes as the mouth thanks to a gorgeous green marble interior.
The chef’s tasting menu at Uchi, which continues to win over diners with its extraordinary Japanese cooking. So good.
A lunch spread of heirloom tomato tostadas, charred corn and mushroom tacos, and aguachile with shrimp, cucumber and watermelon at the Mayfair Grill, in the tiled, greenery-filled atrium of the Mayfair House Hotel & Garden.
Love Life Café’s outrageously yummy veggie burger; pizza verde, made with cashew cream and basil pesto; and guava cheesecake.
Orno, from rising star chef Niven Patel, where meats, vegetables and seafood are woodfired to perfection.
Where to stay in Miami
The Plymouth South Beach…Bright and cosy, this 109-room property is in the heart of South Beach’s action. Hardest decision you’ll have to make is choosing between the original 1940s Art Deco pool or umbrellas on the sand.
Lennox Miami Beach…Loads of wood panelling and lush greenery combine to create an intimate oasis at this South Beach boutique hotel, which just emerged from a major facelift. The brand new pool is an absolute stunner.
Mother, writer, editor. California convert, Bombay born. A former Travel + Leisure editor, Tanvi Chheda has written for the New York Times, Afar, Delta’s Sky, Robb Report, and Virtuoso Life, among others. Tanvi is obsessed with family travel, vegetarian cooking, children’s books and 1950s Bollywood music.