Is it just us or does your mind go blank when a friend comes in town and they ask for all the insider tips on where to go? While we’re aware that it’s our literal JOB to make sure this doesn’t happen, it still gets hard to remember the spots that are always crowd-pleasers. So we decided to amass all the best go-to local hangs that are always great for those looking to experience the real side of Miami’s charm:
Many of our friends and loved ones visit at some of the best times for Miami weather-wise, so take full advantage. If you’re going to be roped into checking the beach out, go off-the-beaten path and explore South Pointe Park‘s breathtaking greenery. Rent bikes there or checking out the sunrise on Key Biscyane. For more fun water-related activity, bring (or rent) some kayaks/paddle boards over to Oleta River State Park and get lost in the weaving canals and sandbars. Finally, take advantage of South Florida’s growing approach to local produce-sourcing and check out some great Farmer’s Markets like: the massive Yellow & Green in Hollywood, Coconut Grove‘s long-time farmer’s market, or the Sunday market at Pinecrest Gardens.
Wile we suggest just picking a neighborhood and getting lost in it (like Little Havana’s Calle Ocho or strolling around Wynwood), there are also specific destinations that are too gorgeous not to show off. Case in point: Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden with its nearly 100 years of lusciousness dedicated to native and foreign flora & fauna. Explore the butterfly conservatory or check their events calendar to make coincide your visit with a fun happening in the garden. The PAMM is always a good choice, where you can get your art fix and show off our bay front skyline at the same time. Finally, get a crew together and split a cabana at The Biltmore Pool (or have lunch at their poolside restaurant) to take advantage of one of Coral Gables’ best kept secrets.
Whether you’re there for the sand or for the laid-back vibes, you can’t not check out the beach when you have friends in town. The Broken Shaker is never a bad idea with its impeccable cocktails and tropical atmosphere. The speakeasy-style Korean joint, Drunken Dragon, is one of our absolute favorite spots on the beach. The Standard is a favorite among travelers, especially its breathtaking sunset view over happy hour drinks. We love Sweet Liberty for its party vibe, award-winning cocktails, and proximity to other great spots like The Fillmore and The Bass. Finally, head to North Beach for many things but mainly to catch a game (and some wings) at Shucker’s where every dish is served with a side of unparalleled views.
There’s a lot happening in our arts districts (both good and bad), so let’s make it easy to decipher what’s going to be mayhem and what’s worth the wait. Mandolin is easily one of Miami’s most consistently charming, affordable, and delicious places in town. If there’s ever a better place to catch live jazz than the New Orleans-inspired Lagniappe, we’re waiting for it–bottle of wine and charcuterie board in hand. We all have a vegan friend nowadays so make sure to take them to the newly-opened Thatch in Midtown with its mouth-watering bites and trendy atmosphere. We’d be lying if we said we wouldn’t mind popping into The Salty Donut for decadent sweets because, in all honesty, it really does live up to the hype. Finally, go brewery hopping in Wynwood to local favorites like J Wakefield, VEZA Sur, or Boxelder.
Miami New Times
For a long time, it seemed that Miami’s Downtown core didn’t have much to show for itself–until recently. With the help of being easily accessible (through Metro and walking) you can discover some great hangs like Lost Boy or Mama Tried. Inside the X Miami building hides Jaguar Sun, one of our favorite places to meet up before a night out or a show nearby. Of course, you can kill three birds with one stone and hop from All Day for coffee and co-working, Fooq’s for a delicious meal, and The Corner for happy hour and late night debauchery (since we all have one friend who always wants to check out Space or Eleven, bro).
We already mentioned that Calle Ocho is a no-brainer when it comes to diving into culture–particularly Miami’s ties to Cuban roots. Ball & Chain is a great choice to catch salsa getdowns by the best in Miami’s music scene. Munch on sweets right next door at Azucar before catching a film at the historical Tower Theater. If you’re feeling a little more adventurous (and have time to spare) try out Lung Yai for some seriously authentic Thai tapas. Finally, Thursday – Sunday, make sure to head to the Miami River quadrant of Little Havana where Casa Florida proudly stands as one of the prettiest and most tropical escapes in town.
Finally, if we’re being realistic, this is most probably the furthest south you’ll dedicate a large amount of time to with an out-of-towner. Miami’s oldest neighborhood, Coconut Grove is also at the top of the list for being its most gorgeous. Spend some time at one of its many parks like David T Kennedy, where you can bring the furry friends to also enjoy a refreshing frozen lemonade from A.C.’s Icees–a Miami institution. Stroll through the streets and scratch the Cuban food itch at Chug’s Diner helmed by Chef Michael Beltran and Pastelito Papi himself. Grab a beer and a burger at Lokal before getting lost at The Barnacle Historic State Park with its breezy views of the water.
Miami and The Beaches
Cover photo by Miami and the Beaches.