Miami Design District
Bordered by Buena Vista, Upper Eastside, Edgewater, Midtown, and Wynwood, the Design District is one of Miami’s trendiest zip codes. Filled to the brim with warehouses that have been renovated into chic showrooms full of innovative furniture designs and gallery spaces such as Locust Projects. It is also home to several brand-name fashion and watch shops like Cartier, Burberry, Alice+Olivia, Christian Louboutin, and Givenchy. Grab a bite at one of the neighborhood’s sophisticated restaurants like Ella, Mandolin Aegean Bistro, or MC Kitchen.
The coined arts district of Miami, this neighborhood is home to some eclectic galleries, such as the Rubell Family Collection and Pan American Projects. Aside from the galleries, Wynwood is home to some fantastic bars and restaurants: check out Coyo Taco for carne asada tacos and a margarita after a tour of Wynwood, or sit down for a plate of pappardelle gratinate at Joey’s Italian Cafe. During the day, you can snap all kinds of photos of colorful street art, which adorn almost every building, and visit the Wynwood Walls. For unique gifts, head to Frangipani. If you happen to hit the arts district at night, be sure to check out Brick and Wood Tavern for some great hip-hop music, a life-size game of Jenga, and a whiskey sour.
The epicenter of Cuban culture in Miami resides right here in Little Havana. With a rich history behind it, Little Havana, after waves of Cuban refugees settled into the neighborhood, became and still remains a top political and cultural spot in the city. Many older Cuban immigrants will meet up for a cafe con leche at Versailles, one of Miami’s top Cuban restaurants, to share memories and discuss Cuban politics. Many older Cuban men will also meet up at Domino Park for a game of dominoes and chat about the good ol’ days. Little Havana is also home to some of the best Cuban food around.
Known as “The City Beautiful,” Coral Gables is full of lush greenery, filled with trees, flowers, and other natural elements that give it a very whimsical, “garden” type of look. Walk along Miracle Mile to have lunch at one of the many great restaurants (like Red Koi or Tarpon Bend), stop for a drink at one of the bars, and have a look at some of the cute little boutiques for treasures to take home. The neighborhood features old Spanish architecture and is home to many must-visit spots, including Books & Books, an independent bookstore; La Palma, a romantic shaded trattoria with Italian dishes and a beautiful Sunday brunch; and Bangkok Bangkok for when you want an authentic taste of Thailand in the middle of the week. Coral Gables is also home to the beautiful (and haunted!) Biltmore Hotel, the University of Miami, and the Venetian Pool.
What’s great about Coconut Grove, a.k.a. “The Grove,” is that it is a perfect balance of laid-back and romantic vibes. The Grove boasts many incredible restaurants that are absolutely perfect for first dates, such as Peacock Garden Cafe, Plant Food + Wine, and Panorama Restaurant and Sky Lounge. Peacock Park is a wonderful place to go for a walk during the day, later evening, or even at night, and it connects to the boardwalk, right on the marina. Grab some fresh seafood and a margarita at Monty’s, or head to Cocowalk for a movie and some shopping. The Grove makes for a relaxed night out, and if you come here during the day, you can also hit some unique specialty stores and boutiques.
Ah, Miami Beach, the part of the city that everyone dreams of visiting when they first think of Miami. With its historic Art Deco vibes, delicious restaurants, and access to the beautiful ocean, it’s no surprise that it made this list. So much more than clubs, though, there are some great spots you’ll want to check out, including the Betsy Hotel, the Soho Beach House, and the Lincoln Road Mall. Española Way offers guests an authentic slice of Spanish cuisine, Spanish colonial architecture, and fairy lights hanging over your head like tiny stars. If you’re looking for something a bit more “divey,” head to Kill Your Idol, and if you’re in the mood for diner food, head to Big Pink.
Downtown is often overlooked, but the Olympia Theater, Miami’s historic performing arts center, hosts a slew of awesome events like The Moth, a live event where people come on stage to tell stories (almost like monologues) for $10, as well as Broadway productions and live jazz. There are some real hidden gems here when it comes to dining options, such as the quaint yet romantic Fratelli Milano and healthy food spot Jar + Fork, which serves up salmon curry bowls, delicious wraps, and cold-pressed juices. You can also walk over to Bayside, which is a gorgeous spot on the water with live music, shops, and restaurants.
Also known as the financial district, Brickell is popular with many transplants who move to Miami from other cities and countries. The area’s best-kept secrets include Sidebar and Blackbird Ordinary for drinks (Tuesday is ladies night at Blackbird); La Moon for when you have the munchies after drinking; and El Tucan, which is a fun and lively cabaret that offers a dinner menu and out-of-this-world drinks, as well as a show. El Tucan is reminiscent of Havana, Cuba back in the day, and everyone who visits dresses to the nines; you’ll for sure feel like you’re stepping into a movie set. The new shopping center, called Brickell City Centre, has also opened and houses stores like Agent Provocateur, AllSaints, Chopard, Lululemon Athletica, and Pandora.
If you’re looking for a great spot to get some sweet Instagram pictures, this is your place. The MiMo District, also known as Upper Eastside, is home to several brightly colored motels, including the newly restored Vagabond motel that looks like something out of a 70s movie or an Urban Outfitter’s catalog. Another cool thing about the MiMo District is Jimmy’s Eastside Diner, which was one of the filming locations of the movie Moonlight. Tiffany lamps in all different colors light the interior of the diner, and the menu offers fresh omelettes, hot cakes, salads, sandwiches, and burgers. And for those Instagram images, walk around the neighborhood to find some colorful, offbeat backgrounds for selfies.
The last stop on this neighborhood roundup is Midtown, which has some must-see spots as well. If you’re in the mood for a lovely night out with friends and are searching for a place where you can enjoy wine, listen to jazz, and munch on toasted bread with a selection of cheese, salami, olives, and jam, then add Lagniappe to your must-visit list. If you want to go back in time to the days of the speakeasy, head to Prohibition. The Midtown Mall has many shops to visit and restaurants to try out such as Gigi, for late night soba noodles, or Beaker and Gray. You’ll also have to hit the Grubstake thrift store for amazing finds (records, books, vintage dresses, and home décor) costing only a few dollars.