Coastal Vote: A Beach-Lover's Guide to South Beach, Miami

Enjoy sustainable seafood at 1 Hotel South Beachs Wave Club
Enjoy sustainable seafood at 1 Hotel South Beach's Wave Club | Courtesy of 1 Hotel South Beach /
Doug ONeill

Surely one of the world’s chicest stretches of sand, Miami’s South Beach offers up stylish beach clubs, sushi restaurants and sea-spying places to stay.

At the southern end of Miami Beach, South Beach (aka SoBe) is one of the most talked-about beaches in the US. It’s a fun-loving sort of place: a longtime LGBTQ hub and one of the few beaches in the country where there’s a somewhat relaxed attitude toward topless sunbathing. Few American coastal spots rival South Beach for its nightlife and food scene, either, which ranges from Michelin-star bistros to hole-in-the-wall eateries. For daytime diversions, it’d be a shame to miss the Art Deco elements of South Beach and a foray into Little Havana to experience lively Latin culture is a must. Here’s how to see the beach in style.

1. The Betsy

Boutique Hotel, Hotel Barge, Spa Hotel, Hotel

LT Steak & Seafood,
Courtesy of the Betsy /

The Betsy Hotel is located on the quieter side of Miami’s iconic Ocean Drive. The 130 rooms and suites incorporate a taste of the tropical: palm-motif walls and potted house plants mixed with marble-finished bathrooms, walnut floors, fine art from the owner’s private collection and balconies with views of the Art Deco district. Staff curate events and activities such as yoga classes and live-music performances. LT Steak & Seafood, the main restaurant, specializes in Black Angus steaks and fresh-caught fish.

2. Nautilus by Arlo


Nautilus by Arlo
Courtesy of Nautilus by Arlo /

The Nautilus has so much going for it. For starters, the 250-room hotel is a three-minute walk to the Miami Beach Boardwalk. Next, the design: the historic property is one of the city’s original Art Deco landmarks. Plus, there’s the fitness element: guests can work out on a Peloton bike, a choice of three ellipticals and three treadmills, or do their crunches in front of an interactive Echelon mirror where you get on-demand boxing, Zumba cardio and boxing classes. All so you can look the part when hitting up SoBe’s sands.

3. 1 Hotel South Beach’s Wave Club

Eco Hotel

1 Hotel South Beach’s Wave Club
Courtesy of 1 Hotel South Beach /

Before we talk about the food, a word or two about the setting at 1 Hotel South Beach’s Wave Club. The Tulum-inspired al fresco restaurant makes liberal use of sprawling daybeds, swaying palms and overstuffed pillows. Being beachside and oh-so bohemian, you’ll be tempted to bury your toes in the sand – and, happily, Wave hosts Barefoot Sundays. It’s a place to relax and eat – specifically, the seafood: grouper ceviche, soft-shell crab and platters that use only sustainable sources.

4. Art Deco tour of South Beach

Art Gallery, Building, Architectural Landmark

Art Deco Hotels on Ocean Drive, South Beach, Miami, Florida, USA
© Stelios Michael / Alamy Stock Photo

Art Deco is to Miami what Gaudí is to Barcelona. The city has the highest concentration of Art Deco buildings in the world, especially in South Beach. Get close-ups of iconic landmarks (many of them on the beachfront), such as the Carlyle Night Club, Cardozo South Beach Hotel, Miami Post Office and the Marlin Hotel. Guides unpack the architectural history on both the Art Deco Walking Tour and the more spirited Miami Art Deco Cocktail Tour.

5. Delano Beach Club

Resort, Spa Hotel, Hotel

A cabana with a sofa and drinks at Delano Beach Club, with loungers and the pool in front
Courtesy of Delano Beach Club / Expedia

One of the whimsical highlights of the Delano Beach Club is award-winning hotel designer Philippe Starck’s Alice in Wonderland-inspired garden path that leads guests to the iconic swimming pool and the ocean. That connection to the sea continues at the Delano’s rooftop Ciel Spa, where guests can indulge in classic treatments, as well as the Ocean Meditation and Yoga for larger groups, and the Polynesian Body Bath, using milk and honey.

6. CJ’s Crab Shack

Restaurant, Seafood

Florida FL South Miami Beach SoBe Art Deco District Ocean Drive Art Deco historic District CJs Crab Shack restaurant restaurants food dine
© Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 8+ / Alamy Stock Photo

Snow crabs. Stone crabs. Alaskan king crabs. This family-owned crab shack on Ocean Drive in South Beach has been operating, in one form or another, since the family emigrated from Greece in 1921. In addition to the city’s favorite crab cakes, you can also chow down on oysters, lobster, grouper, salmon, scallops, calamari and other seafood. But do order DJ’s signature deviled crab: baked and served in its original shell.

7. Nikki Beach Club

Restaurant, Bar, Nightclub, American

Florida FL South Miami Beach Ocean Drive Nikki Beach Club restaurant restaurants food dine dining eating out casual cafe cafes bistro bistros
© Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg 13+ / Alamy Stock Photo

So, your hotel isn’t right on the beach? You can pay-as-you-go at Nikki Beach Club, which has been welcoming jetsetters and travelers since 1998. Splurge for a comfy day bed on the sand or under one of the cabanas. DJs spin on the decks, the menu ticks off sushi rolls and freshly caught seafood, and weekends see the club offer up Rosé Saturdays and Sunday brunches with waffles on tap.

8. Miami Beach Boardwalk

Architectural Landmark

MIAMI - CIRCA JUNE 2017: Athletic young woman rides bike along the Miami Beach promenade with backdrop of iconic art-deco buildings and palm trees of. Image shot 2017. Exact date unknown.
© Lazyllama / Alamy Stock Photo

The iconic boardwalk is often referred to as the South Beach Boardwalk or, simply, Beachwalk, because it passes by numerous legendary South Beach sights. You can follow the boardwalk all the way from 5th Street in South Beach to 46th Street at Indian Beach Park. You’ll pass through a number of ‘hoods and landmarks, including the Ocean Drive promenade, North Shore Open Park and Surfside. Bikes are verboten in some stretches, and be prepared to share your personal space with joggers.

Fancy a change of pace from the beach? Head to Tampa for one of the biggest thrill rides in the United States and book your stay at one of the best hotels near Busch Gardens, Florida.3

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.?>

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Culture Trip Spring Sale

Save up to $1,100 on our unique small-group trips! Limited spots.

Edit article