From one side of the East Coast to the other, New Yorkers have always had love for Miami. And it’s not hard to see why. NYC and the Magic City share many similarities, like a taste for fine dining and thoughtful design, a vibrant multicultural flair, and a love of late-night revelry that other cities just don’t understand.
In 2015, we proclaimed Miami to be New York South for the hordes of New York elites who’ve been flocking south for lavish hotel soirees and summer beach escapes since the mid-century. (Think Joe DiMaggio and Frank Sinatra partying it up at the iconic Fountainbleau Hotel). While those glory days have come and gone, today’s well-heeled travelers can still enjoy luxury in Miami through food, cocktails, art, and nightlife. These days, you can even each catch a glamorous direct flight from Manhattan to Miami via Blade, the “Uber of helicopters.”
So how do you visit Miami like a New Yorker? We got the 411 from native New Yorker and Miami transplant Stilo Pimentel, a fashionable man-about-town who also works as a brand ambassador for the beloved Banks’ Rum. From hotel rooftop bars to fancy indoor-outdoor shopping malls and the best slice of beach in town, here’s a true New Yorker’s guide to Miami.
If you’re looking for an unmatched view, Pimentel suggests the 1 Hotel South Beach, which has “the only oceanfront rooftop on all of South Beach.” Touting 600 feet of private beach, the historic property is luxurious, but also eco-friendly. Start off the evening at the poolside Watr bar, overlooking the white-sand beach with a refreshing drink in-hand. For a more art-focused option, Pimentel recommends the new cool kid favorite Faena Hotel Miami Beach. “This place is insane—it’s got a theater bar, an outdoor bar, an amazing restaurants,” he says. The hotel’s grand theater is inspired by the old opera houses of Europe, and hosts a variety of cabaret shows, while the property’s Saxony Bar offers more laidback nighttime scene. On the more budget friendly end, the Freehand offers its signature upgraded hostel experience housed in a 1930s Art Deco building located just five minutes from the beach. It’s also home to famed cocktail bar Broken Shaker.
Yes, Miami is a bona fide cocktail town—some of the best bars in all of America have popped up right here in Magic City. Cocktail lovers can head to Casa Florida, a hidden gem in colorful Little Havana. “It’s my new favorite place in Miami.” says Pimentel. “They’ve got a Tulum vibe, their garnish game is insane, the music is always a really specific kind of chill house—it’s a really sexy outdoor bar.” For drinks a little closer to the beach, he suggests the recently-opened Minibar, a pint-sized cocktail den with an ambitious menu housed in the Urbanica Hotel on South Beach. A little later into the night, try the Doheny Room, a Los Angeles export that doubles up on Miami’s tropical-meets-Art Deco aesthetic in South Beach, or the Soho Beach House, a members-only hangout on Collins Avenue. The club’s actually just gotten a design revamp, and the fancy new on-premise beach bar serving healthy snacks, juices, and cocktails.
Beyond the hotel restaurants, you can venture across the bridge into Miami’s cultural enclave of Wynwood, a must-visit destination for design-loving New Yorkers. Pimentel loves Kyu, an Asian-inspired restaurant serving wood-fired meat and sashimi in minimalist digs, as well as Alter, a seasonal, new-American standby from chef Brad Kilgore, a James Beard Award finalist from this year. And you can’t forget about Beaker & Gray—”these are the guys who pioneered the scene in Wynwood,” says Pimentel—a casual, shareable-plate charmer with serious cocktail game. Over in South Beach, Pimentel calls out Le Sirenuse, the indoor-outdoor Italian stunner serving up Amalfi Coast-inspired bites and champagnes at the Four Seasons Surf Club.
You’ll find no shortage of beachgoers (and partygoers) on the main strip of South Beach, but Pimentel also recommends the South of Fifth (SoFi) neighborhood, the more peaceful, but fast-developing swath of oceanfront with a more old-school beach quality. “It’s a different world down there,” he says. The southernmost neighborhood of South Pointe, surrounded by water on all three sides offers direct access to the beach, a beautiful boardwalk, and solid dining options like Lolo’s Cantina and the clean-eating hotspot Dirt.
The Panorama pool deck at Brickell City centre.
Take a break from partying to explore Miami’s cultural enclaves, shopping destinations, and romantic boardwalks. “The Brickell City Centre is an architectural gem,” says Pimentel. “This is one of the coolest indoor-outdoor, almost futuristic-looking malls with lots of high-end retailers.” The massive space also has its own residences and hotel, coworking spaces, and a plethora of restaurants and bars. Culture vultures will get a kick out of Little Havana—the hub of Miami’s well-known Cuban community showcasing Latin art, music, and food—and the Wynwood, a contemporary arts Mecca surrounded with flea markets, galleries, small boutiques any New Yorker would appreciate. (Of course, don’t forget to visit the Wynwood Walls, a supremely Instagrammable urban graffiti exhibit). And, if you’re a fashion aficionado, pay homage of the late Gianni Versace at his eponymous Miami Beach mansion, which is now a hotel called the Villa Casa Casuarina.