Let's get this out of the way: It's hard to find a reason to be unhappy in Miami Beach. Of course, the chance to surf, swim and sunbathe is a main draw for planning a trip, but the city's eclectic culinary scene, renowned shopping areas, buzzy dance clubs and iconic art deco museums are other top selling points for culture vultures, art aficionados and outdoor enthusiasts alike. Whether you want to lounge along white-sand beaches or explore world-class exhibits, chances are you'll find plenty of attractions to pique your interest in this dynamic and diverse city. Without further ado, here are top enticements for visiting Miami Beach this year.
You Can Catch Up on R&R
Miami Beach is a great place to relax, recharge and enjoy a change of scenery. "Because we have a lot of famous nightclubs, people think it's a rowdy party town, but there's plenty here to nourish the soul," says Lisa Concepcion, a Miami Beach-based love coach and founder of LoveQuest Workshops. For starters, you can kick-back in the sun. Plus, the area brims with spas for indulging in self-love. In fact, Miami Beach's Carillon Miami is home to the 70,000-square-foot Spa at Carillon Miami, South Florida's largest spa.
You Can Turn Up the Romance
Whether you're unattached and eager to check out a new singles scene or you want to take the romance up a notch, Miami Beach offers plenty of appealing attributes for solo visitors and couples, alike. "From salsa dancing at Mango's to taking in a happy hour sunset at The Standard and romantic beach walks down to South Pointe Pier, Miami Beach brings out everyone's inner sexy," Concepcion says. Spark or rekindle a romance at one of the area's trendy rooftop bars or with an enchanting stroll at the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
You Can Learn to Hang 10
The water sports scene along the West Coast can seem intimidating. If you're a novice looking to master the art of stand-up paddleboarding, head to Miami Beach. And if you really want to make waves, rent a jet ski and island hop around the Venetian Islands, a man-made chain of islands built to support the causeway connecting Miami Beach to the mainland.
You Can Visit Art Deco Institutions
Miami Beach is the birthplace of world-renowned art deco art and architecture. It's impossible to walk a block without noticing the art deco influence across the area. For a better understanding of art deco, take a Miami Design Preservation League walking tour, which stops at some of the most photographed art deco buildings in the area. If you would rather admire art deco art and furniture, visit the Wolfsonian-Florida International University museum and research center. On Fridays, admission is free from 6 to 9 p.m.
You Can Experience the City's Diverse Culture
Miami features a melting pot of cultural influences, and Miami Beach is special microcosm of cultures. From Cuban immigrants to Canadian snowbirds and European transplants, Miami hosts a diverse group of residents. Expect to hear rapid-fire Spanish everywhere you go, but don't consider it a language barrier. Most people speak English, too. If you come during Art Basel -- one of the world's most famous art exhibitions -- you'll get to admire contemporary work created by artists representing dozens of countries.
You Can Navigate Bike-Friendly Paths
Where else are cyclists allowed to ride along the sidewalks? Miami Beach is extremely bike-friendly. Between its dedicated bike lanes on main roads and causeways and the oceanfront promenade bike path, there's no need to ride along the sidewalk. With two locations on Miami Beach, Bike & Roll has an extensive selection of rentals, including classic beach cruisers, tandem bikes, off-road mountain bikes and aerodynamic Trek road bikes for those looking to ride faster and further. After all, Everglades National Park is just 50 miles away. If you're not an avid biker, consider renting Rollerblades or trying a Segway tour.
You Can Stay in the Lap of Luxury
With its 24-carat gold-lined pool reminiscent of the Trevi Fountain, Egyptian linen-laced double king beds and butler service, the Villa Casa Casuarina is often likened to Versace's Versailles. This mansion along Ocean Drive is reportedly the third-most photographed private residence (after the White House and Elvis Presley's mansion) in the country. It was bought by famed fashion designer Gianni Versace in 1992 and was transformed into a hotel. A room with a rotunda here will set you back about $1,000 per night, while a stay in Versace's former quarters starts at $1,200 a night. If you can't afford a room here, splurge for a memorable meal at the property's restaurant, Gianni's, or stay next door at its sister hotel, Hotel Victor, where rooms start at around $200 per night.
You Can Experience a Cutting-Edge Restaurant Scene
Miami Beach is a mecca for top-tier restaurants that cater to discerning palates. While you won't be able to eat your way through all of Miami Beach's top restaurants in one trip, start with NaiYaRa to enjoy Thailand-inspired cuisine, Bird & Bone for elevated comfort food, Via Emilia 9 for authentic Italian fare and Sushi Garage for premium rolls and sashimi. If you're looking for an offbeat local haunt, head to Drunken Dragon, one of Miami Beach's best-kept secret eateries. Located in a strip mall and marked by a neon sign labeled "Market," this under-the-radar Korean barbecue joint is a consistent crowd-pleaser. Step inside and you'll instantly see why locals come here to celebrate special occasions.
You Can Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
Below Hotel Victor is South Beach's most over-the-top destination for a sugar high. Score a coveted seat at Sugar Factory, and you could be rubbing elbows with high-profile celebrities. At Sugar Factory, you'll find floor-to-ceiling dispensers filled with candy. And, of course, there are delectable desserts like the Chocolate Chocolate Crepe (stuffed with white, milk and dark chocolate chunks and topped with whipped cream and chocolate ice cream.) The 21-plus crowd also goes crazy for Sugar Factory's signature 60-ounce alcohol and smoking (dry-ice infused) "goblets." On a diet? Order the Bubba Bubba Gum cocktail garnished with bubble gum tape, a delicious and relatively low-calorie candy.
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