Here in Europe, only few people know Miami is often considered the “Magic City”. And rightfully so, considering that a hundred years ago, the city which is home to millions today was nothing more than insect-infested swampland. To be precise Miami’s population as of 1900 was 1.681 living souls. Today Greater Miami has a population of around 5.5 million people. That’s a growth of 327000% in a hundred years!
Miami’s idyllic location has gained it the reputation as the “American Riviera” or “Gateway to the Americas”, boasting blue skies, art deco buildings, designer districts, international art events, hip hotels, gallery-filled neighbourhoods and top-ranked beaches. Due to its close proximity to the Bahamas and Cuba, many of Miami’s inhabitants are hispanic, infusing the city with the magic of a multicultural metropolis. Admittedly, 250 days with sun a year probably helps that magic unfold!
It was about time for us to pack our things, hop on a plane and visit the pearl of the USA, where jetset fantasies become reality and we can finally put our favourite speedos on again. Watch out, Miami, here comes Berlinagenten!
The action in South Beach (or rather “SoBe”) centres on world famous Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. Search your brain for an episode of “Miami Vice” – or any movie shot in Miami – and you’ll instantly remember the amazing setting. In the daytime South Beach can be a family friendly getaway location, inviting you to work on your tan as you watch your kids swim next to water-friendly hipsters (…or get eaten by sharks – they like Miami, too). You can wave to bronze-tanned rollerbladers, celebs behind their sunglasses and lots, lots of tourists as they make their way down Ocean Drive. Here it’s snowing glamour flakes.
However SoBe’s gloriest days are numbered. The scene has started extending north and with the major facelift of Fontainebleau, Mid Beach is undergoing a renaissance that could soon close the coolness gap between South and Mid Beach. The really cool kids now move to upper South Beach, enjoying the best of the two worlds and creating a new jetset hubs.
Coolhunters have long found this once-forbidden neighbourhood to be the next star on Miami’s art radar. With the artsy Wynwood neighbourhood to the South, the historic 1920s Buena Vista to the north and the wealthy Upper East Side to the east, the Design District brings a lot of different currents together. The once worn-dorn district is now home to more than 130 art galleries, showrooms, creative spaces, luxury fashion stores, chique eateries and trendy bars. Don’t miss out on this!
Much like the Design District, Wynwood has a troublesome past. However it has developed to become a trendy arts hub, now containing over 70 galleries. Some call Wynwood an outdoor street art museum, and it’s easy to see why. The gentrified renaissance has led to an upspring of cafés, pop up parties and galleries – often leading to unlikely collaborations between muscians, artists and all kind of creative types. Wynwood offers a whole selection of international joys. There’s new craft beer bars similiar to the ones in Brooklyn, hip restaurants reminding you of the Shoreditch dining scene and creative coffee roasteries as known from Sao Paolo. It’s safe to say that right now, Wnywood is the center of cool in Miami.
Downtown used to be an area closely linked to Miami’s image as a trading city. Business, business, business. Now the city’s hipness is on the up. With the finishing of numerous new condos in the last years, Downtowns population has more than doubled since 2000. The cosmopolitan flair has lured a wealthy social class into the the city’s core, creating a whole industry branch responsible for the entertainment of said class. Listing all the museums, parks, cultural spots, shops, restaurants and bars Downtown now has to offer would probably take longer than visiting them.
Coloral Gables translates to “city beautiful”. The once tiny suburb has become as truly vibrant arts community. The trademark of the habitat are terracotta roofs, flashy colours and lush vegetation. The Mediterranen flair is reflected by landmarks as the Biltmore Hotel, which boasts a 300-foot bell tower and one of the largest pools in the whole U.S.
Just down the road from Coloral Gables you’ll find the palm-lined Coconut Grove. The name sounds promising, and the Grove lives up to the expectations. It’s a picturesque bayside oasis and considered the oldest continuously inhabited neighbourhood in Miami. The bohemian village boasts the world famous CocoWalk, where festivals, open air dinners and concerts keep you busy day and night. The laid-back ambience attracts a crowd of shoppers, bar-hoppers, students and tourists alike.
Life is too short for bad meals.
THE best sushi restaurant in town. Master Sushi Chef Katsuya Uechi has long been on our top notch list for sushi chefs, but our visit to Katsuya this year blew off our hats. With extraordinairy sushi rolls, Uechi fuses Japanese tradition and American cravings to a truly unique outcome. Do try the Yellowtail Sashimi with Jalapeno and Black Cod – it’s your dreams come true.
Hands down to Michael for bringing the trend of using local ingredients to Miami. His cuisine is fresh, simple and stands for one thing: quality. Do book your table early, Michael’s restaurant is popular with both locals and tourists. We were especially impressed with the wood-roasted farm egg with aged gruyere. Simple, but delightful!
Enjoy the view on Miami’s bay and skyline as you delightfully eat your way through Gastón Acurio‘s masterpieces. Gastón is considered to be Peru’s Jamie Oliver and has opened restaurants in Madrid, London and Buenos Aires and San Francisco. His approach of creating a mix between international gourmet cuisine and typical Peruvian ingredients as reviewers world wide go crazy! Make sure to rob a bank before visiting!
Chef Kris Wessel considers his cuisine a “love letter to Florida”.
With signature starters like Japanese Wagyu beef, grilled octopus or mango escabeche, the steaks aren’t the only good eats to be found on the menu. Must-visit for all meat lovers!
The full range of the latin cuisine for a reasonable price.
Choose your poison.
Bardot (our top pick!) (Wnywood)
This place is inspired by the early 1920’s in Berlin and definitely is one of the coolest places to go out in Miami. Live acts such as Nicolas Jaar, Moby, Will Smith and Florence Welch show just how popular the Bardot has become – yet they’re also home to celebrated underground artists and DJs, offering a wide spectrum of musical perfomances.
The Broken Shaker (South Beach)
The pop-up bar that turned permanent. They serve some of the best cocktails in town, all handcrafted with fresh ingredients and self picked spices&herbs.
Area 31 (Downtown)
Dress up, ladies and gentlemen. Miami’s professionals like to take the elevator to the 16th floor to Area 31, an epic outdoor terrace amidst skyscrapers. The seasonal cocktails here are real mind-blowers.
Crown Room (Miami Beach)
The Art Deco bar that belongs to the newly opened Thompson Hotel. White marble bar, long-stemmed cocktail glasses and exquisite taste.
Rec Room (South Beach)
A stylish place featuring palm-tree walls cozy leather couches. Comes with live music, DJs and a punchy sound system.
The vivid recreation of a 1930 Jazz hotspot. The Cuban influence shows on the cocktail list: try the Mojito Criollo with mint leaves and extra sugar or the Canita with white rum, lime, house-made honey sryup, guarapo juice and sugarcane stick!
Some of the best things to do in Miami are done after the sun goes down. The jetset girls put their fancy make up on the and Ferrari’s are fueled for the night. Miami offers everything from Spanish-flavoured Latin clubs to sweat-breaking EDM clubs, where international top DJs like AVICII, Tiesto and Calvin Harris are regulars. Some of the party guests look more like Barbie and Ken than anything real persons, but that’s just something you have to get used, too. This is Miami afterall.
Here are our top night clubs!
Club Space (top pick)
Visiting Club Space at Sunday 5-6am in the morning almost feels like hitting a club in Berlin. Energetic crowds dance to loud and blaring electronic dance music, even long after sunrise. International top DJs like Dubfire, Carl Cox, Boris, Loco Dice and Jamie Jones are residents in Club Space. Most clubs can’t even afford one of them! On top of that, the upstairs loft and the rooftop patio make party goers scream with delight time and time again. Definitely Miami’s best nightclub!
Nikki Beach (classic for sunday parties)
Nr 5 Twist (gay club)
When you’re on the hunt for trendy clothing, unique jewelry or designer accessoires, Miami is the place for you. They feature some of the country’s coolest shopping malls and their downtown shopping areas are very distinctive. Whereas Berlin’s Kudamm is stacked with design and luxury stores only, Miami has a different approach. Don’t be surprised if you find a 5$ “I’m in Miami, b****” shirt store next to an uber-chiq boutique. With the sun up and the mood high, you’ll even find numerous sex shops, thrift stores and vintage clothing stores in the streets of South Beach. No wish needs to go unfilled here. Check out our selection of great shopping malls!
The mother of malls. More than 300 retailers from high-end couture to inexpensive clothing shops call Aventura their home. The mall draws more than… wait for it… 28 million visitors a year. That’s more than the whole city of Washington D.C.
A great shopping destination with unique boutiques, trendy newcomers and the promise of full shopping bags, even if you’re not Richie Rich. Also, there’s a church on the strip. Just saying.
We love comparisons. Miami’s oldest shopping mall still looks like sweet 16 and draws 17 million visitors each year. That’s more than Buckingham Palace.
Eclectic shops for your off-the-beaten-path shopping experience. No fancy super mall, but Bird and Ludlam pays hommage to Miami’s vintage style from the 70s. There’s retro-styled clothings shops, vinyl, vintage newspapers. Everything you don’t need but absolutely want.
Miami isn’t cheap. Even value for money hotels start at 250$ at night in high season. The great thing is you have a wide range of different hotel types, from intimate boutique hideaway to full blown luxury resorts, all your needs are covered. Also South Beach is no longer the only cool place to say in, Downtown and Mid Beach have taken the hotel world by storm and now offer some of the most advanced properties in town.
Soho Beach House (top pick!)
Just north of South Beach, the Soho House sets new standards in the hospitality industry. It boasts two pools (one for adults only), a cowshed spa (the BEST massages on the whole beach), a snug screening room and a laid back club bar. There’s also no less than three restaurants. The member club floor with al fresco & drinking and the new Mandolin Beach deli in a tropical garden are reserved for members only. Just like the London-based private club Soho likes it, their audience is a little more sophisticated than your regular Miami visitor. The only restaurant open to public is the celeb hotspot #1 Cecconi’s Miami, which requires a reservation well before your vis
Chiq boutique hotel that boasts interlinked structures, spaces and offers a whole world of luxury. The wow experience!
A new mission-driven luxury hotel in South Beach. Organic foods and nature-inspired design for a sustainable and refreshing experience in Miami.
Mixes Art-déco with the laid back beauty of the far east.
First-class lodging in one of the hotels that made the Miami hotel scene big. Pricey, but with wow-factor!
A touch of Latin America, a touch of Asia, and a touch of the Mediterranean. SLS Beach is a feast for the senses.
Art Scene & Walks
Every year thousands of artists gather for the Art Basel in Miami. The fair has become a central meeting point for galleries, sellers and art collectors to buy rare masterpieces. Even Picassos are on sale here. There worth of the art displayed exceeds 3 billion dollars! Miami’s love for art doesn’t only show in the art fair, the whole city is full of rare designs and unique neighbourhoods.
Wynwood, a district once avoided by locals and tourists alike is now a magnet for galleries and studios. Art and design have given the district a unique personality.
The so called Art Walks in Wynwood and the Design District take place every 2 weeks and lure thousands of visitors into the districts, where they can wander up and down the streets and enjoy Miami’s vivid art scene.
The sun loves Miami. As Florida’s most southern point, hardly a day goes by without sunshine. Miami’s beaches are great for sun bathing, swimming, surfing or just soaking up the atmosphere. They’re also well-suited for watching the amazing outcomes of pricey plastic surgery! We approve.
Here are our 5 top beaches.
Miami Beach Central (top pick!)
A popular beach for strolling, jogging and skating. It’s close proximity to sidewalk cafés, bars and the Soho Beach House make it the ideal spot for jetsetters.
The dense vegetation on the dunes blocks the views from curious onlookers. Perfect if you want to get away from crowdy beaches or spend some time on the nude section of the beach.
If you’re looking for fun, Hobie beach is the place for you. You’ll find windsurf, jet-ski and boat rentals onsite.
South Pointe Park
A 70 000 sqm park boasts a white sand beach with picnic areas, a playground, a fishing pier and great views of impressive cruise ships passing by.
Fort Lauderdale Beach
A picturesque beach complete with bronzed lifeguards, coconut palms and a slightly fancier crowd that the Miami Beach area.
As the name implies, Miami’s stars take residency on the Island. Expect the biggest, most pompous villas in the city, with billionaires picking up the daily mail from their mailboxes.
Relaxed, free-spirited, artsy and scenic – Key West is a refuge from the normal life and boasts some of America’s most cultural heritage.
We’ve all see the legendary music video of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller”. This Bahamian graveyard is were the movie was shot in 1983! Spooky: the coffins aren’t located under the ground, but at ground level…
The national park is right in Miami’s backyard and boasts a spectacular wildlife. Make sure not to get too close to the crocodiles!
In little Havanna you’ll find what makes the Cubans’ spirit rise. The ultra-strong coffee cubano. It’s made from equal parts espresso and sugar and is guaranteed to blow life into you faster than Berghain’s sound system.
With its beautiful paths, vistas and outstanding horticultural displays it’s easy to see why Fairchild Botanic Garden ranks amongst the world’s best tropical gardens.