About 70 miles south of the compliant confines of Palm Beach County, a little island rages all night long in the Atlantic Ocean. Meet Miami Beach. You know, the place that’s always in the news for rising seas and weird Florida crimes. The place the Kardashians have “taken.” The place to enjoy reckless nights and topless days under the sun, even when it doesn't suit your age.
But to locals, Miami Beach is so much more. Beyond the mojitos, dirty dancing and HOT club promoters named Mauricio, the island exhales a unique history, one rich in culture. From Art Deco architecture and stone crabs to powdery beaches and clear waters, Miami Beach has more to offer than what you see on reality TV.
For the best food and drinks, art and even relaxation, THIS is the ultimate guide for things to do in Miami Beach.
1. Eat like a celebrity.
For the quintessential South Beach experience, go to Joe’s Stone Crab. For starters, Muhammad Ali, Madonna and Frank Sinatra dined here. Joe’s opened in 1913 (before Miami Beach was even a city) by Hungarian-born Joseph Weiss, who served a mean fish sandwich and fries. It wasn’t until 1921 that an ichthyologist (someone who studied fish) from Harvard observed a large amount of stone crabs in the bay and persuaded Joe to cook them to see if they were edible. The rest, my friends, is history.
If you go, order some sweet-tasting claws, coleslaw and hash browns for the table. Pro tip: Ask for a side of Joe’s famous mustard sauce for dipping.
2. Treat. Yo. Self. This spa will spoil you, that’s for sure.
The Standard Hotel coins their spa as a “hydrotherapy playground,” complete with a Hamam (Turkish bath), cedar sauna, arctic plunge room, mud bath, salt water infinity pool by Biscayne Bay... ah, the list goes on. And the best part is that hotel guests get access to those bathing pools. YAY!
If you’re not bougie enough to stay there, purchase a day pass for $75 Monday through Thursday. (Don’t go on the weekend. It’s twice as expensive.) Pro tip: Buy a massage or facial and you’ll get to enjoy the spa amenities, too!
3. Best spot for an Instagram photo shoot.
Welcome to the Delano! Named after President Franklin Delano Roosevelt by its original architects, this hotel was built in 1947 in traditional Art Deco style. In 1994, the hotel’s interior got a major makeover, including sheer white billowing curtains that span nearly 40 feet from ceiling to floor in the lobby.
Some have compared the hotel’s lobby to a museum, as the decor includes many pieces of art, including a brass Salvador Dalí “Leda” chair. Pro tip: There is a glamorous silver table for two in the shallow end of the pool.
4. Best bar in Miami Beach... and maybe the world?
From 2014 to 2016, this spot made it on “The World’s 50 Best Bars” list. And Esquire said “Why can't the rest of Miami Beach be this understatedly and effortlessly cool?” If you haven’t already figured it out, we’re talking about the Broken Shaker, a romantic little enclave hidden in the back of one of Miami Beach’s upscale hostels, the Freehand.
Sip on specialty cocktails under the stars, with dreamy string lights bobbing between palm trees. Herbs and spices grown in the hotel garden infuse the drinks, which are never repeated, as the menu changes monthly and sometimes weekly. But a little birdie told us you can ask for your favorite concoction off-menu anytime.
5. Late night eats that can ward off a hangover.
Looking pale? Go to the Big Pink. Established in 1996, this chirpy diner boasts larger-than-life portions, serves breakfast all day and is open until 5 a.m. on the weekends. And if you find yourself a little too flushed, order in. Your American fare will be delivered in a bright pink Volkswagen Beetle. Totes adorbs and amazingly delicious!
6. In case you’re feelin’ frisky... XXX
Located on South Beach’s bustling Washington Avenue, the World Erotic Art Museum offers something else for partygoers. NO, not that! Get your mind out of the gutter. WEAM has more than 4,000 works of eclectic, erotic art, with some pieces dating back to 300 BCE. From dominatrix barbies to Dali, you’ll be enchanted by a diverse culture of works from every region of the world. Besides, where else can you get a pic with an 8-foot-tall fiberglass penis? Pro tip: Don’t go with mom and dad, obvi.
7. Get drunk on Art Deco!
Take a stroll down Ocean Drive with this 3-hour guided Art Deco Cocktail Tour. Guides will transport you into the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘80s, chronicling young Miami Beach’s exotic history. From affluent pioneers and famed architects to mafia influence and Miami Vice, you’re guaranteed to learn something new. While other walking architecture tours might leave you feeling muggy, this one has you sipping on signature cocktails in dazzling hotel lobbies.
Arman Haghayegh contributed suggestions to help curate this list.