If there’s one place I’d consider moving outside of New York, it would undoubtedly be “The Magic City.” I love everything about it—the food, the culture, the people, the bars, the hotels, and ugh…THE WEATHER! Don’t even get me started on the weather.
Even if you’re not a beach person (judging you), there are still SO many things to do in Miami. Trust me. Below is a list of my favorite places—some are new, some are mainstays. I’ve also conveniently included links to stalk each property on Instagram, because if you’re like me, you weigh Instagram heavily when choosing a place to eat or stay. (Not kidding.)
Whether you’re going for a romantic weekend with a significant other, planning a bachelorette party, or doing a family vacation, consider this list your bible.
Joe’s Stone Crab
If you were to ask a local which restaurant best represents classic Miami, they would say Joe’s. It’s an institution. The place has been around since 1913 and eating there will transport you to another era—servers wear suit jackets and bow-ties, and the whole thing is like a theatrical performance. And the best part? It’s not stuffy in the least. Plus, you’ll probably run in to a celebrity or two (celebs, athletes, and politicians always hang out here.) They don’t take reservations so prepare to wait. Believe me, the experience is worth it.
Stalk them on Instagram: @joesstonecrab
Mind-blowing Mediterranean in the Design District. (Omg my mouth is watering just thinking about the dips. I die for a dip, as you know.) Go for lunch so you can take advantage of the beautiful outdoor seating—the atmosphere will make you feel like you’re in the middle of Greece. Not exaggerating. Pro tip: after lunch, pop into Mrs. Mandolin down the block. It’s a shop owned by the restaurant and has the most insanely curated selection of home decor, accessories, and more.
Stalk them on Instagram: @mandolinmiami
It’s in Bal Harbour (not South Beach, where I usually suggest staying) but if you want really good, fancy sushi and Japanese food, you go to Makoto.
Stalk them on Instagram: @makotobalharbour
A classic greasy spoon diner that is a GODSEND for a hangover. Also: they deliver.
Stalk them on Instagram: @bigpinkmiami
A fun and sceney steakhouse. Bougie would be the operative word here.
Stalk them on Instagram: @primeonetwelve
Amazing Asian fusion cuisine in Wynwood, which is the hip art district—very trendy, buzzy spot.
Stalk them on Instagram: @kyumiami
Fab health food; smoothies & acai bowls in Brickell.
Stalk them on Instagram: @bluetreejuice
A plant-based hotspot from Miami nightlife impresario David Grutman (he owns LIV nightclub.)
Stalk them on Instagram: @plantasouthbeach
Jaya at the Setai
Fancy Thai food; one of the best meals I’ve ever had.
Stalk them on Instagram: @thesetaimiamibeach
If you’re looking for a dining experience that also feels like a night out, go to Komodo. It’s a three-story restaurant and lounge in Brickell that’s perfect for a big group of girlfriends or guys. The people watching is, shall I say….next level. And so is the food. Fancy Southeast Asian cuisine and fab cocktails.
Stalk them on Instagram: @komodomiami
Cute Thai street food-inspired spot with great cocktails.
Stalk them on Instagram: @naiyaramiami
I haven’t been here yet, but apparently it’s the hottest new kid on the block. It’s located in the Design District (which you should spend time hanging around, if you haven’t). The food is described as “modern European” and—fun fact!—Pharell is a part owner. Celeb hangout with stunning Instagrammable interiors.
Stalk them on Instragram: @swanmiami
Popular sushi joint with a vast Asian-inspired menu.
Stalk them on Instagram: @pubbelly.mia
I love Matador Room at The Edition for brunch or dinner. It’s one of Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restos and technically described as Latin/Caribbean, but it’s really a little bit of everything. Order the avocado pizza.
Stalk them on Instagram: @matadorroom
Cecconi’s at Soho House
They put on the most INSANE Sunday brunch spread—the fanciest buffet you’ve ever seen. Breakfast food, sushi, oysters, pasta…you name it. They even walk around with a Bloody Mary cart and make tableside Bloody Mary’s.
Stalk them on Instagram: @cecconismiami
So I’ve actually never been here because we have one in New York which I’ve been to, but everyone in Miami loves it. It’s a brasserie-style dining room with Italian/California-inspired cuisine.
Stalk them on Instagram: @upland_mia
I ate here on a recent trip to Miami and it was absolutely mind-blowing. Japanese-Peruvian style cuisine (which is such an incredible combo.) Here’s what to order: truffle spinach salad, tuna tartar, pollo den miso, shishito peppers.
Nothing screams trendy like a bar located on top of a “designer” parking garage, am I right? I’m a big fan of Juvia. It has a gorgeous outdoor rooftop space, and the inside bar is fantastic as well. I’d also recommend it for dinner. Gorgeous views and chic crowd.
Stalk them on Instagram: @juviamiami
I don’t care what anyone says about the Delano—it will always be my favorite place for night time cocktail. There are definitely newer, “cooler” places, but I love the Delano because it is SO quintessentially Miami. The billowy white curtains, the massive pool, the girls stumbling around in 7-inch heels they can barely walk in. UGH. It’s perfect. Walk through the lobby of the hotel and outside, past the restaurant to the pool bar. Also fun during the day, but I prefer it for after dinner drinks.
Stalk them on Instagram: @delanobeachclub
Trendy hipster outdoor spot at the Freehand Hotel. String lights, couches, etc. You get the vibe.
Stalk them on Instagram: @freehandhotels
A laid-back bar in the heart of South Beach that has an awesome oysters and rosé happy hour.
Stalk them on Instagram: @sweetlibertymia
I haven’t been, but looks super cute & instagrammy.
Stalk them on Instagram: @casafloridamiami
If you have an unlimited budget, this is where you should stay. The rooms are huge and gorgeous, and there’s so much to do in the hotel itself, you literally don’t have to leave. The rooftop pool is my favorite in all of Miami. It’s epic.
Stalk them on Instagram: @1hotels
Another one I’d recommend if you have an unlimited budget. It’s a bit more subdued—a calmer, more zen alternative to the 1 Hotel. Good for a romantic couples’ getaway.
Stalk them on Instagram: @thesetaimiamibeach
CHIC CHIC CHIC. I just stayed here and absolutely loved it. Everything about it is chic. Plus, if you’re a Starwood/Marriott loyalist, you can use your points here.
Stalk them on Instagram: @editionhotels
Not on the beach, but it’s a fun, young scene and slightly more reasonable price-wise than some of the others on this list. Would be good for a bachelor/bachelorette party.
Stalk them on Instagram: @mondrianhotelsobe
We discovered this gem last year and I can’t say enough great things about it. It’s a super intimate boutique hotel that I would describe as “under-the-radar affordable luxury.” Since it’s not directly on the beach, the price is lower than a lot of its luxury competitors—but the quality and service is equivalent. There’s also a Bond St. at the hotel, which is another plus in my book.
Stalk them on Instagram: @theplymouthmiami
Me being my diva self poolside at The Plymouth.
The Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club
Ok so The Cadillac is new to my list, and I’ve decided to include after my recent stay there. I can’t recommend it enough. Amazing location in Mid-Beach (particularly if you plan to explore Wynwood or the Design District at all since it’s close to the Causeway.) Service was phenomenal and it has that luxury hotel sophistication (including fancy hotel lobby scent) but tends to be more reasonably priced than places like the 1 Hotel or Setai. They have Peleton’s in the gym, which was a nice bonus. It also manages to be kid-friendly and adult-friendly at the same time, since there’s a kids pool and then a section reserved for adults only. Another bonus: it’s part of Marriott, so if you have points, you can use them here.
Stalk them on Instagram: @cadillachotelmiamibeach
Another one that I love for a big group. I stayed here for a girlfriend’s bachelorette party and it was perfect. A ton of food options, a great pool, and best of all—one of Miami’s best clubs (LIV) is in the hotel, so you can stumble home without having to get an Uber.
Stalk them on Instagram: @fontainebleau
Nautilus, a Sixty Hotel I haven’t stayed here but hear it’s cute and reasonably priced. Stalk them on Instagram: @nautilussobe
After hearing negative feedback from multiple people about the property, I’ve decided to remove it from my list.
The rooms here could use a refresh but I still love the overall scene/pool/restaurants. It has an amazing location, great beach access, and a cool clientele—which makes it surprising that you can sometimes get super cheap nightly rates. The last time we stayed here I booked on HotelTonight, and I think we paid $200, which is almost unheard of. (Speaking of HotelTonight…check out my list of 8 Travel Apps I Use to Jetset Like a Boss.)
Stalk them on Instagram: @shoreclubsouthbeach
You need to have a membership, and if you do, you know the drill.
Stalk them on Instagram: @sohohouse
I personally haven’t stayed here but I know a lot of people who swear by it. Also has a great spa and bar/restaurant — The Lido. Good vibes, better views.
Stalk them on Instagram: @thestandard
I haven’t stayed here in a while so I’m not sure what it’s like these days, but I’d say it’s a safe luxury option (and also good for Starwood members.) Keep in mind there are two W’s—one on the beach in South Beach, and another in Brickell. I would only recommend the Brickell location if you’re going for business.
Stalk them on Instagram: @wsouthbeach
If your personal brand is EXTRA, then you would be making a big mistake—huge—by not staying at Faena. It’s the hotel that you’ve seen all over Instagram because of there’s an enormous golden wooly mammoth encased in glass smack in the middle of the pool area. In my experience, the crowd here skews older (and rich! naturally), which can be either a good or bad thing, depending on what vibe you’re going for. The rooms are decadent and stunning, and the service is fantastic.
Stalk them on Instagram: @faena
HOTELS IN BAL HARBOUR + SURFSIDE + KEY BISCAYNE
St Regis Bal Harbour:
A great “get away from it all” option that’s a bit further north, away from the hustle and bustle. Really good for families, and has an incredible beach, plus the classic over-the-top St. Regis service (aka personal butlers for every guest.) I love this place so much that I recently spent three full days here without ever leaving the property. (You can read about the full experience here.)
Stalk them on Instagram: @stregisbalharbour
Four Seasons Surfside:
I love Surfside for couples, minimooners, or babymooners. I saw so many cute pregnant women when I was there, I felt like I was going to get knocked up by association. It’s super chic and has one of the BEST hotel bars I’ve been to in a while. It’s also home to an outpost of the famed Positano restaurant Le Sireneuse. (Check out my No-BS Guide to Positano here.)
On the balcony at Four Seasons Surfside
Ritz Carlton Key Biscayne:
Adding this to the list after my most recent stay here because it was fabulous. The property itself is massive, has an incredible beach, and—as is the case with most Ritz’s—the service was top notch. Ordinarily I wouldn’t have thought to stay in Key Biscayne, but if you’re looking to relax on the beach at a fab hotel and not hit the town in South Beach, it’s perfect. The crowd is a mix of families and couples, and there’s a LOT to do for kids (i.e. outdoor movie nights, water gun fights, organized games on the lawn), so I’d definitely recommend it if you have young children. Even if you don’t have kids, there’s an adults-only pool and bar area that’s super chill. All in all, I thought the property was awesome and wish I’d had more time there.
Stalk them on Instagram: @ritzcarltonkeybiscayne
THINGS TO DO IN MIAMI
- Wander around the Miami Design District
- Spend all of your money at the Bal Harbour Shops
- Get cultured at the Perez Art Museum Miami (aka PAMM)
- Channel your inner science nerd at The Frost Museum of Science
Check out the amazing street art in Wynwood, and stroll through the Wynwood Walls (grab coffee at Panther)
- Get a massage at The Standard Spa
- Regret all of your life decisions at the SLS’s Hyde Beach pool party (only advisable for bachelor/ette parties or those under the age of, like, 35)
- GO TO THE BEACH (duh)