From Dive Bar to Disco, Here’s Your Guide to Miami Beach Nightlife

Party until the early hours on Miami Beach
Party until the early hours on Miami Beach | © Jose More / VWPics / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Jessica Vincent
10 December 2019

Thanks to an influx of cool-kid breweries, neighborhood dive bars and intimate cocktail hideouts, Miami’s glitziest stretch of sand is finally offering something for everyone.

There’s the perfect fit for every kind of partier in Miami’s bustling nightlife scene | © Jemastock / Alamy Stock Vector

From queer megaclubs to 1970s-inspired rock bars, here are the best places in Miami Beach to drink, dance and play some drunken Pac-Man.

Clubs and bars line the popular Ocean Drive in Miami Beach | © lucky-photographer / Alamy Stock Photo

Have a game of ‘Pac-Man’ at Bob's Your Uncle

Bar, Craft Ale Bar, Beer, Cocktails, Snacks
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Bob’s Your Uncle is unlike any other Miami Beach bar, with chandeliers and champagne making way for giant Jenga, pizza slices and Jell-O shots. There’s also a selection of 18 beers (eight of which are on draft), nine mule cocktails (the Cimarron tequila with Mexican mole bitters is the best) and countless board, card and video games, including Uno, Pac-Man and Cards Against Humanity. The open-plan bar is bright, spacious and suitably brewery-esque, with industrial light fittings, long wooden tables made for sharing and big chalkboards announcing the daily draft specials. The motto here is “come to have a drink, play a game and feel at home,” so it goes without saying that there is no fancy attire or bank loan needed – just bring your best gaming skills.

Get your dive bar fix at Mac’s Club Deuce

Bar, Pub Grub
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Long-time patrons gather at Mac’s Club Deuce Bar for cheap drinks and familiar faces
Long-time patrons gather at Mac’s Club Deuce Bar for cheap drinks and familiar faces | © Jack Hobhouse / Alamy Stock Photo
Opened in 1926 (and later bought by the legendary Mac Klein in 1963), Club Deuce is one of the oldest drinking dens in Miami. This iconic dive bar was featured in hit TV series Miami Vice and was dubbed as “one of the last true dive bars in South Beach” by Anthony Bourdain. Despite its fame, much remains the same: black walls glow day and night with neon-lit pin-up girls, the air is thick with cigarette smoke and anyone from a Texas cowboy to a Levi’s model can be found playing a game of pool or picking a track on the jukebox. The much-loved 11-hour happy hour – which runs from 8am to 7pm seven days a week – is still going strong, too. Staying true to its dive bar status, the drinks menu pretty much consists of two things only: shots and beer. But who needs handcrafted cocktails when you’ve got the best happy hour in town?

Step back to the ’70s at Kill Your Idol

Bar, Beer, Cocktails, Snacks
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Inspired by the punk rock scene of the late ’70s and ’80s, Kill Your Idol is all about the music. You’ll find a schedule of live performances – with anything from drag shows on Mondays to open jam sessions on Thursdays – almost every day of the week. If you’ve arrived early and there isn’t a band playing, don’t fret: there’s a 1970s jukebox loaded with plenty of Iggy Pop, Sonic Youth and The Smiths to keep you rocking into the early hours. The decor doesn’t disappoint either, with light fittings made from recycled glass bottles, an upside-down astronaut hanging from the ceiling and a bar decorated with a giant Bruce Lee, Jaws head and a talking deer. Regular drink deals – like $3 drafts and $2 lagers on Mondays – make this rocking dive bar one of the cheapest places to drink in South Beach.

Play the big kid at Ricky’s South Beach

Bar, Snacks, North American, Beer, Cocktails
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Ricky’s is where every big kid in Miami wants to hang out. Part bar, part pizza joint and part arcade, this 16th Street hangout is where you come to show off your table hockey skills, shoot some enemy robots in the Terminator game or ride a motorcycle through a 3D world. Once you’ve worked up a thirst in the video arcade, choose from a menu of 150 whiskeys or have the bartender mix a barrel of punch for you. The food menu here is just as fun: think vodka-cream pizza sold by the slice, strawberry-topped funnel cakes and buckets of toffee popcorn. The happy hour – which runs Monday through Friday, from 5pm-10pm – sees everything on the menu slashed down to 50 percent, including the pizza. And, if that weren’t a sweet enough deal, you also get two tokens to spend in the arcade for every drink you buy!

Skate and bowl ’til 5am at Basement

Nightclub, Bar, American, $$$
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Basement Miami
Basement Miami | Tim Snell/Flickr

Most nightclubs in Miami Beach have a dance floor, a bar and maybe an outdoor smoking area. But how many can say they have a bowling alley and skating rink? Thursday through Saturday, Basement opens up four technicolored, ’80s disco-style bowling lanes for groups of friends to drink, dance and strike out until sunrise. Next door, there’s a 2,000-square-foot (186-square-meter) ice rink for you to practice your toe loops and double backflips to hip-hop and house beats. Bowling and skating aside, the huge dance floor (brought to life with glittering disco balls, neon lights and world-famous DJ sets) is quickly becoming Miami Beach’s hottest place to party.

Party like a Hollywood star at LIV

Nightclub, Pub Grub, $$$
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Famous DJs regularly spin at LIV nightclub in Miami, where you can party ’til the wee hours
Famous DJs regularly spin at LIV nightclub in Miami, where you can party ’til the wee hours | © Photo by Thaddaeus McAdams / Getty Images
Looking for the real deal? Try LIV, the granddaddy of all South Beach clubs, located at the top floor of the Fontainebleau Hotel. The cover price is mucho expensive, and the drinks are, too. It’s even a challenge to get in – bouncers choose out of the line, so dress to the nines. The lucky ones, however, will be partying like true Hollywood stars.

Pro tip: Miami is a late-night city. This means that most clubs don’t get going until at least 11pm or midnight. If you arrive earlier than this, chances are it will be just you and the DJ. We recommend going for a few drinks at one of the bars mentioned on this list first, then heading to somewhere like LIV or Basement later in the evening.

These recommendations were updated on December 10, 2019 to keep your travel plans fresh.