Sunshine, beautiful beaches, gorgeous people, and enough after-hours entertainment to keep you rocking into 2019: What’s not to love about Miami, Florida? A city of extremes – you can do it at a pace so slow your 90-year-old grandmother will approve of, or one that’d turn Lil’ Wayne’s hair white – it’s also one of the most beautiful and engaging destinations in America. So where should you turn for fun if you’ve only got one weekend in town, and some stories you’d like to bring back home? Following, you’ll find a guide to several hot spots you can hit in 48 hours of less to make the most of Magic City.
News Café – Like people watching? You can spot every wonderful bit of weird the Sunshine State has to serve up at this Miami staple, which has been offering a front-row seat to tourists on Ocean Drive for nearly 30 years. Need a fortifying breakfast, or classic comfort food staple? You can grab it here while soaking up the vibes in the heart of South Beach.
Mango’s – A premium spot to catch live music, get low to hip-hop hits, or catch scantily-clad dancers of both sexes shimmying to boisterous beats, this Latin- and Caribbean-tinged club offers multiple rooms and levels of entertainment. Swing by to hang upstairs and look down on the stage show or watch the world (and all sorts of engaging randoms) glow under blacklight. Epic evenings both begin and end here – consider yourself warned.
The Clevelander – Smart guests will stay at Essex House (a more affordable alternative housed right behind this iconic hotel which also offers access to the same pool and courtyard). But don’t forget to stop by this famed destination, home to many a DJ and pool party, to grab a drink at one of the multiple bars or enjoy a club-style atmosphere and escape. It’s a fine place to begin any night out – and a fine place to make new friends and mingle.
Little Havana – Want to visit Cuba without taking a flight? Hit Calle Ocho, the center of Little Havana to taste test delicious Cuban eats, grab a drink or catch live music at iconic spots like Ball & Chain, explore beautiful art galleries and window shop from a variety of stalls, booths, and vendors. It’s a fine daytime visit, and a fun place to hit at night that you can visit without your girlfriend giving you the side eye.
Art Deco District – Miami’s Art Deco District is home to more than 800 beautiful buildings constructed during the building boom form the 1920s through the 1940s. Visitors can stroll through Ocean Drive north of 5th Street on a 90-minute walking tour, which includes an introduction to the Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival and Miami Modern styles found all along Miami’s historical district.
Wynwood Walls – Want to catch city walls that have been turned into giant displays of graffiti art? Take an open-air strolls through this popular attraction – and the surrounding neighborhood, which is packed with boutique shops, restaurants, and other highlights (Gramps has got you covered for live music, Panther Coffee on caffeine) – to make the most of any given afternoon.
Nikki Beach – Come party in open-air beachfront surroundings or come for one of the best damn brunches in the country, complete with giant bottles of wine and spirits, and al fresco dining. A star-studded affair, it’s a fine restaurant to hit when you want to see and be seen, or pop the color on a salmon-colored button down and give your boat shoes a walk.
Versailles Restaurant – A Calle Ocho staple, Versailles serves up delicious Cuban and diner-style food on-demand. While the décor replicates the Versailles Palace Hall of Mirrors in France, the menu features Cuban staples like croquetas, oxtail stew, sandwiches, as well as a variety of seafood and meat entrees, all accompanied by black beans and sweet plantains. Breakfast is also served daily with a special Sunday morning buffet for a classic ventanita experience.
Jeanette Hurt is the award-winning writer and author of eight culinary and
drink books, including The Cheeses of California: A Culinary Travel Guide, which received the 2010 Mark Twain Award for Best Travel Book, and The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Wine and Food Pairing. She's written for TheKitchn.com, Four Seasons Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, Entrepreneur.com, and dozens more publications.