South Miami Beach is one of the most vibrant locations in the United States. The locals have an ‘anything’ goes attitude toward life, and it makes for a fun and exciting atmosphere.
Here’s a list of things to do and see while in South Beach area.
Beaches – This is a no brainer. Of course you go to the beach. The beaches are gorgeous. The water is warm and relaxing. The South Beach area around Lummus Park will get particularly crowded – especially on the weekends. If you want a little breathing room, move north up the beach to find a spot. Spend the $20-30 for a couple of chairs and an umbrella, and hang out all day.
Khong River House – There are a multitude of wonderful restaurants in the South Beach area. Experiment and enjoy, we recommend. But one of our favorites on a recent trip to the area was the Khong River House. Located on Meridian Avenue, just off the Lincoln Mall area, the Khong River House serves food based on the cuisine of northern Thailand. The menu is unique and inspiring. Traditional noodle-type dishes were mixed with stews, pork, chicken, prawns and duck entrees. And so much more.
As a bonus, the Khong River House has one of the best gin selections around (the restaurant specializes in the spirit).
Khong River House was recently named a semi-finalist for best new restaurant by the James Beard Foundation.
Hole-in-the-wall eateries – The food in Miami Beach is a treat. Unfortunately, much of what you see is pretty generic stuff, aimed at satisfying tourists instead of promoting great cuisine. But some of the best food wasn’t the priciest or fanciest. It was the small hole-in-the-wall eateries that abound that offered some of the most satisfying food. Most of these are found a couple of blocks west of the beach. Alma Mexican, on Washington Avenue, had fabulous burritos. And the pizza from Hot Sobe Pizza and Pasta (also on Washington Avenue), was great.
So, venture away from the main touristy areas and try the local food. You’ll be quite satisfied. Plus, it’s much better on your pocket book.
Espanola Way – Located a few streets west of Ocean Drive, right off Washington, Espanola Way is a several blocks of vibrant fun and excitement. The area was originally built in the mold of a Mediterranean village, like those found in France and Spain. It was originally a destination for the high society of Miami Beach, then later gangsters like Al Capone. The area fell in disrepair, but has been revitalized over the last few decades. It now houses numerous restaurants, bars and shops.
Visit Espanola Way – even just for a walk – especially at night when the lights are lit and the people are having a good time. Our favorite thing to do sit outside and enjoy a drink. The infectious atmosphere is wonderful. The food on Espanola Way can be a bit pricey, but the atmosphere is worth it. On our recent trip, we had a great time at Havana 1957. The food was solid, but the rum drinks were great and the service was top notch.
Lincoln Mall – If you’re looking to shop, Lincoln Mall is the place to go. Dozens of shops and restaurants line the wide and ever stretching area. You’ll find just about everything here – high priced galleries, an Apple Store, bookshops, and endless clothing stores and boutiques – from the simple to the big name brand.
The food on Lincoln Mall is hit or miss. And at times, pricey. But lots of outdoor seating makes it attractive.
Boardwalk – A trip to Miami Beach isn’t complete without a stroll down the boardwalk. Stretching for several miles, the boardwalk allows you to check out the ocean view on one side, and the hotels on the other. If you don’t want to walk it, rent a Segway or bike.
If you decide to walk the length of the boardwalk, do so in the morning, when the heat isn’t so intense.
Ocean Drive – Situated just across from Lummus Park, Ocean Drive is a legendary party zone. There are dozens of hotels and bars on the drive (or just off it), many famous for late night parties. But aside from partiers galore, Ocean Drive offers several top-notch things to do.
Art lovers will want to visit the Art Deco Museum located at the southern end of the area.
The party reputation aside, Ocean Drive offers some first class hotels and restaurants. We recommend visiting the historic Betsy Hotel. The boutique hotel is a first class.
Finally, nothing beats Ocean Drive for people watching. We loved to just pick a bar and sit back with a drink and watch the colorful world of South Beach go by.
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.