Miami is a city that when has it's name said, quickly becomes associated with beaches, neon lights, bikinis and muscle shirt tans. When thought of as a travel destination, it always seems to be diluted down to colorful, tacky hotels on Collins Avenue, private clubs and sugary cocktails, and nowhere to go during the day but the beach. Let us assure you, that these associations are unfortunate and deeply overlook the intricately diverse characteristics that the city now embodies. For us, Miami is a misunderstood universe of complex urbanism, art, demographics, architecture, and culture. But this is what makes it so compelling to visit; the city evokes a sense of tabula rasa where anything is possible and as such, has generated a new scene of low-key restaurants, curated design shops, fashion-forward cultures, and a quickly emerging art scene as evidenced in its Art Basel Miami events. Our first visit to Miami was in 2014, to visit a good friend of ours who had recently moved back to Miami and urged us to explore what the city had to offer. He lent us a car, which we learned is quite the necessity if you intend to travel to different parts of Miami, due to its vastly-sprawling urban nature and long-spanning bridges to Miami Beach. But seeing more than just the beach is so essential. The character of each neighborhood, whether it be complexes of shiny, glass towers, refurbished warehouse districts, or a collection of quintessential, Miami suburban bungalows; together they present a more honest depiction of the city.
- Design District for urban renewal, expensive taste in clothing, and good juice bars.
- Coral Gables for pleasant suburbs, tree-lined streets for walks, and the grandiosity of the Biltmore Hotel.
- South Beach for the Art Deco strip, tourists in bikinis, and the lovely South Pointe Park.
- Wynwood District for burgeoning independent art, beautiful murals, and an emerging food scene.
- Surfside and Bal Harbor for quieter Sunday beach days, and a little shopping.
- Downtown Miami for walks along the water, the HdM-designed Perez Art Museum, and views of the Causeway.
- Miami Beach for days spent by the pool, some Lincoln Road shopping, and good parking garage design at 1111.
- Brickell for post-workday drinks, tall glass towers, and quick afternoon coffees.
As mentioned, although we are both avid walkers and recommend to travel any city by foot, it's next to impossible in a city like Miami. But if your going to have a car, what's visiting Miami without that quintessential drive and sweeping view from the Venetian Causeway anyhow?? An ideal day would start with an early morning rise at The Standard, then head over to Zak the Baker for breakfast and a good espresso at Panther in Wynwood, check out the murals at the Wynwood Building and the Wynwood Walls, and visit a couple of great independent shops there in the late morning, migrate over to the Perez Art Museum for the afternoon and have lunch at Verde overlooking the water, drive across the Venetian Causeway over to The Standard Pool and Spa in Miami Beach and stay there for the rest of the afternoon sipping drinks by the pool, once pampered walk the Miami Strip to dinner at Michael Schwartz's restaurant, and finish off by walking to the top of 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage to view the city and its colors at night. So quite honestly, you don't need to stay on the beach all night and day as Will Smith once recommended. In fact, your missing out on everything about this wonderful city if you do so.