There is no place like Miami South Beach. The sounds, the smells, the air – something about it just captivates you. The energy is electric and so are the people. Whenever I have the opportunity to book a trip to Miami, I’m there. I recently went with a group of ladies for my bff’s 30th birthday and we had a ball. Below is my Miami Travel Guide, if you will, because I had to google a million sites to find some good, interesting places to go! Check out where to eat, play, and stay.
Cecconi’s Miami Beach is a real class act. The elevated rustic decor lends an old Italian air and the open atrium lets just a slight breeze come in off of the pool. We went in for the 4 to 7 Happy Hour, which is a number of bites and cocktails for either $4 or $7. We had the calamari fritti, whipped ricotta with truffle honey and almond, and burrata (which is slowly becoming a favorite of mine). I sipped on a pumpkin spice espresso martini while Stephanie, being the classic lady she is, had an old fashioned. Celebrations were abundant, and this was the perfect kickoff to our vacation.
Note: this place was full to the brim with kids. We were relieved our reservation was only for an hour, as I’m not quite sure we could withstand the cries and whimpering for another 30 minutes.
Yardbird – Southern Table & BarFirst, the ambience here is amazing. Located on the corner of Lenox Avenue, it’s no coincidence Yardbird felt like a restaurant straight out of Harlem. To that end, we kept mistaking this for Marcus Samuelsson’s Streetbird restaurant – be clear, there is no affiliation here (though I’m sure he should align with YB). Secondly our server, Joseph, was impeccable. He was not only patient with a table of seven indecisive women, he gave us the lowdown on how to navigate Wynwood like a local (we were headed there after brunch).
Third, and most unfortunate, the food left much to be desired. I’m very particular about chicken and waffles and this just wasn’t what I was hoping for. The chicken had lots of fat (that always leads me to believe someone didn’t take care when cleaning it) and the macaroni didn’t have much flavor. I did love how complex the waffle was though, it was both sweet and savory because of an interesting mix of herbs, spices, and cheddar cheese.
…the salads were a hit across the table. We ordered both the kale and the farmers salads and they were off the chain. Since I loved the feel of the restaurant so much, I’d go back and just order a big ass salad and a cocktail. Check out their brunch menu here.
The Salty DonutWe were so excited about The Salty Donut that I didn’t get a proper photo of the actual donuts. Truth be told, the line was long and by the time we got our donuts we were sticking our hands in them. Smack dab in the middle of Wynwood, this makeshift trailer in a random parking lot has hipster vibes written all over it. It felt like we’d timewarped back to Williamsburg! Waiting on the line was fun though, as we stood and chose which donuts we wanted with the rest of the crowd (most of which were sold out).
I was really adamant about making it to The Salty Donut because they offer gluten free options – a banana nut and a baked chocolate cake. I somehow, some way, ended up with maple bacon donuts as well. No idea how that got in there! As you can tell from the photos above, the Oreo and Nutella donut holes are popular as are the sticky bun donuts (they’re so popular there’s a limit of 1 per customer), so make sure to get there at a decent hour! Word is the donuts usually sell out by 4 pm.
The Restaurant at The RaleighI don’t have enough words to properly explain how we felt about The Restaurant at The Raleigh. Literally everything we ate was an explosion in our mouths, down to the fruit and coffee. I can’t remember the last time I had a breakfast so good! Pictured above is the vanilla french toast and when I say “BANGING”, I absolutely mean it. We all picked off of one another’s plates because everything was so tasty. On top of flavor, the price was just right at The Restaurant at The Raleigh. Cocktails included, our bill came out to around $40 per person. Taste + Price + Balmy Air and Perfect Miami South Beach Ambience = WINNER.
Havana 1957If you’re looking for authentic cuban food, Havana 1957 is the spot to go to. This food tasted like a slice of The Bronx in Miami South Beach. The most popular dish, The 1957 Specialty (pictured above), is full of garlic, peppers and the like and is a meal fit for two. We also ordered a Cuban Combo for the table, which came with pork chunks, plantain chips, fried yuca, tamal, and ham croquettes. Top with a mojito laden with sugar cane for a complete meal. One step in Havana 1957 and you’re transported back to mid-century Miami South Beach. See their dinner menu here.
Sunset Catamaran RideOne of the most surprising parts of our trip was a sunset catamaran ride. For $35 (with a discount code) we enjoyed a tour of Star Island, open bar and light snacks for 2 hours. It was so relaxing and so fun to just let the breeze catch us as the waves gently rocked us and the glimmer of Miami South Beach twinkled. I DEFINITELY recommend this catamaran cruise, it far exceeded our expectations! It was just a 15 minute cab ride from South Beach, it was worth the $20.
Wynwood WallsIf you are a lover of street or abstract art, Wynwood Walls is definitely the place for you. We caught so many astounding glimpses of heartache, joy, and #blackgirlmagic. Take a stroll around the district, take in the sights, and do some shopping. This also felt like hipster Brooklyn, but a lot more clean and organized. I left Wynwood Walls feeling SO inspired.
The Pool at The Raleigh The Raleigh is absolutely stunning, I will say it again and again. It has major retro vibes – whenever we stepped inside, I felt like we were sucked into a 1950’s vortex. We returned to The Raleigh on Saturday for the Saturday Soirée pool party. Being in Miami South Beach, I was expecting house music blaring from the speakers, fun inflatables, and lots of booze. This pool party was actually quite the opposite. It was fairly quiet with the tunes muted from the back of the pool, and hotel members and their families around the pool (so many cute babies!).
We made the choice to rent out a cabana for the day so we had a safe spot for our belongings, could get food and drinks with no problem, and have a shady reprieve from the sun. Those who are not hotel guests are able to enjoy the pool though, with hotel guests getting priority. In the back area, there are hammocks and couches for you to lay out or enjoy a moment with friends. It’s also a great place to host a party or a wedding, which was actually taking place when we were there. (The wedding party and planner were actually very pushy but the hotel staff were superb and accommodating!)
Lincoln Road Mall Lincoln Road is easily one of my favorite places in Miami South Beach, mostly because I am a crazy shopaholic. Some of my favorite stores – MAC, H&M, Rickys NYC, and Nine West, to name a few – are on the strip. There’s also a host of restaurants, including another location for Havana 1957 mentioned above, along with Shake Shack and Rosa Mexicano. Our hotel, Hotel Gaythering, was a stone’s throw from Lincoln Road which was very intentional. If we didn’t want to get into the noise and drunkness of Ocean Drive, we could go do some light shopping and take a walk along Lincoln Road.