Well, they don’t say “South Beach bringin’ the heat” for no reason. Having just gotten back from a girls trip to Miami, that phrase couldn’t have been more true. From the sunshine, to people watching, to nightlife, there is so much going on. So if you’re going to spend a weekend in Miami, here’s how to do it!
When planning, fly into either Miami or Fort Lauderdale airport. While Miami is obviously closer, I wanted to fly Southwest (you can’t beat the deals) so I tried Fort Lauderdale. The Uber from Fort Lauderdale is about $45 dollars and since we were splitting the fare, it made more sense! That’s about as much as I would pay getting to the airport in Chicago anyway!
After you land, head to your hotel to drop off your belongings. We stayed at the Loews Hotel in South Beach which was very centrally located. It made getting to things really easy the whole weekend and Ubers (if needed) were under $10. After seeing the gorgeous lobby decor – it reminded me of geodes – we knew we had made the right decision!
We also had the best welcome platter in our room when we got back from a Barre and Yoga party the first night hosted by the spa on site called Exhale. It was a sampler of locally sourced flavors that my friend and I noshed on! So delicious!
Depending on what time you get in, see if there is a little time to catch a few rays at the beach or pool before dinner. Make sure to bring sunscreen because the sun is strong, even if there are clouds. And it gets hot! If you’d rather walk the streets and admire some gorgeous Art Deco architecture, stay on Collins Avenue. For people watching, head over to Ocean Ave which is a strip right on the edge of the beach. Should you need to cool down, there are tons of restaurants offering cold beverages and a Pinkberry for some froyo too (they have a vegan coconut flavor).
If you still have time, you can get ready for the weekend by taking advantage of some of the offerings at Exhale. They have facials, nail services, etc. It’s a full service spa! Glam and Go also has a location right next to the spa if you want to get your hair done for the night! They do all kinds of curls as well as braids, ponytails, and buns at various affordable rates!
If you want to grab a drink before dinner, go to the Delano hotel. There is a bar called the Rose Bar which is a cute little spot. They offer a drink with gold flakes in it that was so beautiful too!
For dinner, everything starts a little later in Miami. It seemed like 9PM was when things started to pick up. If you’re looking for some good sushi, go to Nobu at the Eden Roc Hotel. Our waiter was amazing, the food was excellent, and so was the ambiance. It’s a little far north but Liv, a popular nightclub that was recently renovated is right next door at the Fontainebleau. Just remember that people don’t usually start going out until 11PM or midnight so there’s no rush at dinner. Liv had several big DJs throughout the weekend if you’re into that kind of nightlife scene! There is also a pretty hefty cover that comes with it (even for girls) so consider buying tickets in advance.
For a more laid back vibe, go to The Basement. It has a bowling alley and ice skating rink inside and we didn’t pay cover to get in. There was also a true club on the other side for dancing. The music was still good and it came without all the pretentious Miami club vibes.
One thing to note is that everything is pretty expensive in South Beach! From drinks to meals, there’s a substantial markup and they usually include tip automatically on your bill so make sure you don’t double pay. Since many of the visitors are European, where tipping wasn’t as common, Miami has gotten around this by including the tip on your check. Just be prepared so you’re not shocked by the high prices or generous tip when you get your first check!
Grab a quick breakfast at Apple a Day if you’re looking for some great açaí bowls or healthy food! My girlfriend had never had an açaí bowl before so we took a quick Uber there. It was a very casual restaurant but it was reasonably priced (which is rare in South Beach) and great for vegetarians and vegans. If you want a little more formal of a spot, try DIRT. They also have avocado toast and it’s a cute spot for Instagram posts!
If you’re up early enough, head over to Wynwood Walls to see tons of gorgeous, unique murals. If you’re a late riser, save this for after your beach day because it can be too hot to walk around and see if you go during the peak of the day. Matt and I first saw these earlier this year and they made pretty backdrops for photos. Depending how long you stay, grab lunch at Coyo Taco which is right in Wynwood.
During the day, if you’re up for a pool party, try the SLS Hotel. They always have something going on. We opted to sit on the beach and have a relaxing day. Since we were staying at the Loews Hotel, chairs were included with our stay but they also gave you the option to rent an umbrella for $25 or a day bed + more chairs for $100. If you’re more of a pool kind of person, you can opt for one of the regular loungers near the hotel’s pool or a cabana or daybed at SOAK. The cabanas are so luxurious with a butler service, a TV, marble bathrooms, etc.
We ate lunch in our loungers one day – there are servers coming around periodically to help you which was really nice. The menu was small and there were limited options for me being vegan but my friend loved her food! We also got strawberry smoothies which hit the spot after being in the sun all day.
Almost every hotel along the beach had this service and all the umbrellas were different colors which made for a pretty view from above! You can also pay for these chairs if you’re not staying with the hotel at some places. If you don’t want to pay, you’re welcome to camp out right in the sand! The hotel loungers were set back a bit from the water so if you opt to just lay on a towel, you actually get a better view. Plus, it’s easier to cool off with a dip in the ocean.
If you’re getting antsy (and sunburnt), rinse off and head over to the Miami Design District to browse the designer shops. It’s a really swanky part of town on the mainland. Matt and I spent a few hours there back in April. If you’re not into shopping, skip this!
For a nice dinner, try Zuma, Komodo, or Prime 112. We had also gone to Katsuya during this weekend but it was subpar compared to the LA locations and the staff wasn’t very interested in us. They are a little light on vegetarian options so if you’re a vegetarian, go a different direction and try Soul Tavern. It’s more casual but it’s a vegetarian gastropub located on the west side. All the food we had was amazing but the vegan carrot cake wasn’t so good. We had also heard Juvia was really good but didn’t get a chance to try it during this trip. Another great vegan spot that turns into a club at night is Crate.
If you’re up for another night in the club try Story, Nikki Beach, or Aura. If you’re ready for a night cap, stroll down Lincoln Road and wander in and out of the shops (depending on what time it is). There are a few places to grab drinks too. Pick one where you like the vibe and sit outside on the patio. Lincoln reminded me a lot of Europe because restaurants set up their tables down the center of the sidewalk. There was also a lot of great people watching here as well! We opted for this activity in our last night and wandered back to our hotel taking in the sights.
If you want to wind down your weekend with a little relaxation, head to Exhale at the Loews Hotel for a massage and enjoy the Zen Lounge afterward. If you feel like you need to catch up on a workout, their gym facilities are pretty amazing as well. There are also various workout classes if you wanted to try barre or yoga! We tried a barre + yoga class on Thursday and I have to admit, it was a really great workout and the teacher was really engaging and helpful.
For a little Sunday brunch, visit Cecconi’s at Soho Beach House. The decor here was gorgeous and it’s a super trendy spot. We visited earlier this year and it was such a chic way to start a Sunday.
If you want to do a little more sight seeing before your flight out, try the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, or the Versace Mansion (now a hotel called the Villa Casa Casuraina). If you’d rather relax, go back to the pool or beach at the Loews to work on that Miami tan.
Rinse off if you’re covered in sand and it’s time to head back to the airport. If your flight is later in the afternoon, enjoy a little lunch at Bar Collins at the Loews Hotel. You can people watch and sit on the patio while you enjoy a few more moments of the South Beach Heat!
Are you planning to go to Miami soon? What activities caught your eye?