Miami has a lot going for it: its shoreline – year-round warm weather and a diverse population – so don’t just get caught in the bubble of Miami Beach. This guide will help you explore the city’s numerous neighbourhoods – from Little Havana and Coral Gables to the Design District – and discover its full potential. We’ll introduce you to a dynamic arts and culture scene that is surely the most vibrant in the US.

Need to know

Get to grips with the basics

  1. Pay up: The standard US rules apply for tipping and that means shelling out more than you might in Europe or Asia. The rule of thumb is 15 to 20 per cent in restaurants.
  2. Urban jungle: Don’t be surprised if you spot an iguana hanging out on Brickell Key or a zebra longwing butterfly in Coral Gables. Consider heading out of town to the alligator-infused wetlands of the Everglades.
  3. Dressed to impress: With any warm climate you need to be practical and no one will bat an eyelid if you turn up for dinner in shorts and other casual attire.
  4. Sí, hablo español: Miami is basically the capital of Latin America. While speaking Spanish isn’t essential, you’ll constantly hear it during your stay and even a smattering will give you extra insight into the city.
  5. Diverse designs: There are few cities that seem to offer such a rich canopy of architectural styles. If you’re going to truly appreciate this place, make sure you get beyond South Beach’s Art Deco District.

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Hotels

Hospitality at its finest

  1. The Raleigh, South Beach

    Classy affair

    Unlike many of its neighbours, the art deco building has a quiet appeal, from its petite café off the lobby to its classic Martini Bar and trademark black-and-white deck furniture. Everything about this hotel feels authentic.

  2. Vagabond Hotel, Mimo District

    Refreshing memories

    Get staff to show you the before-and-after video of the refurbishment: the derelict building the owners acquired barely resembles the sparkling example of Mimo architecture that it is today.

  3. The Miami Beach Edition, Mid-Beach

    Alluring addition

    Aside from the private beach there are two pools and a shaded nook where we’d recommend catching an outdoor film or resting in a hammock.

Vocabulary

Local lingo

  1. Bueno: Translates to “good” but can also mean “well”
  2. Cafecito: The only coffee you should be drinking in Miami
  3. Chanx: The anglicisation of chancleta – a flip-flop
  4. Getty: A get-together or small party
  5. Porfa: Please, you should know this: it’s the shortened form of por favor
  6. Tiki-tiki music: Fast-paced house or techno

Food and drink

Smart bites and top stops

  1. Makoto, Bal Harbour

    Japanese fine dining

    Chef Makoto Okuwa cut his culinary teeth in Nagoya under the tutelage of sushi master Shinichi Takegasa. His high-end Japanese menu pairs perfectly with the extensive list of speciality sakés and Japanese craft beers on offer.

  2. Blue Collar, Mimo District

    Take comfort

    Blue Collar –is owned by Daniel Serfer, the man behind the equally popular oyster bar Mignonette. This venue has an extensive menu that focuses on meat-heavy comfort fodder.

  3. 27, Mid-Beach

    Beautifully balanced

    Set inside a historic house, the atmosphere here – thanks to the design by Roman and Williams – is inviting and unpretentious, with eclectic furniture and mismatched dishes.

  4. David’s, South Beach

    Fit to burst

    David’s has seen plenty of changes since it was founded in 1977. The Cuban sandwich (also known as a Cubano) is particularly good: ham, pork, Swiss cheese, pickles and mustard.

  5. Martini Bar at The Raleigh, South Beach

    Great escape

    This venerable spot secluded from the lobby of the hotel has been pouring cocktails for more than 70 years. A handful of red stools face the art deco bar, where you’ll find Nash Pacariz mixing nearly any cocktail requested.

Retail

Shop talk

  1. Base, South Beach

    No-nonsense menswear

    Base’s flagship, founded in 1989, is the definition of a well-executed concept store. Creative director Steven Giles stocks clothing from Norse Projects and Zanerobe, watches by Nixon and an in-house line of fragrances.

  2. The Webster, South Beach

    Chic temple

    The oversized shop lines its three floors with more than 95 top brands, including Celine, Acne Studios and Opening Ceremony, accompanied by a choice selection of magazines.

  3. Wynwood Letterpress, Wynwood

    Pencil in a visit

    This design-and-stationery shop, started by Bridget Dadd and her husband in 2015, is the perfect spot to find a unique gift – perhaps some California-made Blackwing 602 pencils or quirky stationery from Rifle Paper Co.

  4. Books & Books, Coral Gables

    Laidback and literate

    This is a bookshop with few equals. Designed by Tokyo-based architecture firm Klein Dytham, the shop consists of three two-storey buildings with more than 140,000 book and magazine titles.

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