Where do the Americans flock to escape the plunging winter temps? South Beach, of course! The sandy star of Miami, this famous hotspot touts a talented line-up of colourful character-laden neighbourhoods. Thanks to the city’s location on a sun-drenched peninsula jutting into the Caribbean, catchy Latino swagger infuses the cosmopolitan-meets-surf-chic feel. This is the Magic City, after all – there’s always more to discover than first meets the eye. But if you only have two days, this 48-hour itinerary will give you a taste of the many sides of Miami worthy of your gaze, all without having to zig-zag across town.
10.00AM: All for Art Deco
Pick up a coffee and sip while strolling the candy-coloured streets of the beautiful Art Deco District, home to over 800 flamboyant and bold buildings hailing from the 1930s and early ‘40s. Lined with treasures in the Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival, and Miami Modern (MiMo) styles, some of the most impressive buildings to catch sight of include the Waldorf Towers, Park Central Hotel and Breakwater Hotel. The Art Deco Welcome Center runs 90 minutes guided walking tours for those interested in a bit of commentary, kicking off at 10.30am.
12.00PM: Lunch with a side of atmosphere
Pick a restaurant or quaint cafe along Espanola Way, a relaxed strip of eateries, shops and design studios nestled in charming Spanish colonial architecture. Otherwise hit the hustle and bustle of beachfront Ocean Drive, brimming with eateries and people-watching potential.
1.30PM: Wander the halls
A couple of standout museums around South Beach are worth a quick look, especially for art buffs. The Wolfsonian-FIU Museum, Bass Museum of Art and the World Erotic Art Museum are all close by, as is the Jewish Museum of Florida, located in two former synagogues.
3:00PM: Wheel your way up South Beach
Six-figure sports cars and perfectly toned roller bladers regularly do laps of Ocean Drive. But the best way to explore is on two wheels. Hire a bike and leisurely pedal all the way up to South Pointe Park and South Pointe Pier before cooling off with a dip in the crystal clear waters. The most popular beach in town, South Beach - also referred to as SoBe - is the quintessential Miami that gets splashed across the postcards, shimmering white sands and all. Golden brown bodies soak up the sun, models saunter along the foreshore and even celebrities get their downtime here.
7PM: Dine, shop and play
Lincoln Road is a one-stop shop for guilty pleasures in the form of food and full shopping bags. A seemingly endless 10-block pedestrian promenade lined with shops and restaurants, what’s even better than the sheer variety on offer is that it’s open till late, leaving plenty of time to explore it all. When the hunger strikes, tuck into any flavour from Cuban and German to Italian and Asian.
9AM: Dabble in design
For those with an interest in the visual, start your day with a stop in Wynwood to browse the galleries and the artwork spilling out onto the streets – colourful street art takes over the buildings and walls around every corner. Otherwise indulge in more contemporary inspiration in the nearby Design District, brimming with contemporary showrooms, galleries and eclectic home-design stores.
11AM: Get a taste of Cuba
Miami is infused with Latin culture and there’s nowhere better to soak it up than in Little Havana. Life plays out in Cuban time here, so the key is not to rush. Kick back and soak up the atmosphere over a strong Cuban coffee before exploring the main drag, Calle Ocho, home to plenty of cigar shops where they’re still hand-rolled to this day. Maximo Gomez Park is also a must just to witness the spirited rounds of dominos.
1.30PM: Soak up European splendour
Perched on the waters of Biscayne Bay, the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens centres around an Italian Renaissance-style palace, magnificently opulent from the inside out. An impressive 34 of the 70 extravagant rooms hold European antiques and artworks spanning the 16th to 19th centuries. Thirty acres of splendid gardens perfectly complete the fairytale setting.
3.30PM: Cool down Venetian style
Spend the afternoon in what very well may be the most beautiful outdoor swimming pool in the world, at the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables. An historic public pool that’s been drawing visitors for decades, it’s decadently fringed with palms and adorned with cascading waterfalls, coral rock caves and Venetian-style architecture.
7PM: Do dinner downtown
The best time to see Downtown Miami is around sunset, as the city switches up a gear and the soaring skyscrapers light up in a dazzling display. Home to many top-notch restaurants, it's a great spot to dine. Local favourites include Zuma, DB Bistro Moderne, Perricone’s Marketplace and Azul, at the Mandarin Oriental. After dinner, move on to one of the pulsating bars in the area or back at South Beach for a taste of the famous local nightlife to top off your 48 hours in colourful and catchy Miami.
Did you know?
Miami has featured on the silver screen time and time again, including scenes from the 1964 Bond movie Goldfinger, Brian De Palma’s remake of Scarface, The Birdcage, The Bodyguard and Godfather II. More recently Miami starred in award-winning director David Frankel’s Marley and Me and the pilot episode of Entourage.
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