Dependably great weather, gorgeous public beaches, excellent food options, world-famous nightlife and just enough cool sights to rouse you through your hangover the next morning… There’s really no reason to not look into a Miami itinerary this winter—at least for a long weekend. Skip Miami Basel (the first week and weekend in December), when the city is jammed and it’s impossible to move, let alone get a table or a drink, but any other time is fair game. Here’s what to know to plan a killer weekend in Miami. Good luck heading home on Sunday night.
Miami Itinerary: Stay
It’s kind of a miracle Miami hasn’t started to sink under the weight of all its hotels. To say there are many to choose from is as much an understatement as saying, “Man, there’s a lot of avocado toast around these parts.” There’s no reason to shell out lots of dough on your room though as you’ll not be spending much time there. Three wallet-friendly options include the super-social Freehand, the reimagined and renovated 1950’s motel Vagabond Hotel and the boutique, serene Life House Hotel. Of course, Airbnb is another great option, particularly if you’re traveling with a group.
Miami Itinerary: Eat
Unsurprisingly for a city that parties hard, brunch is a big deal in Miami. You can go all out with chicken and waffles at Yardbird, shakshuka at 27 Restaurant or chilaquiles at Sweet Liberty, or pick up something quick at Versailles, known for its excellent Cuban coffee and Cubanos, at La Sandwicherie famous for its sandwiches on freshly baked croissants or check out the new Time Out Market.
- Come dinnertime, you’ll have some tough choices to make. Brick-oven pizza? Lucali (1930 Bay Rd.). Mind-blowingly delicious tacos? Coyo Taco. Excellent, interesting burgers? LoKal. Mediterranean dips in a delightful setting? Mandolin Aegean Bistro. Fun takes on drunk food? Cracked by Chef Adrianne. Pan-Asian deliciousness? 1-800-Lucky.
Miami Itinerary: See & Do
Over the past couple decades Miami has become a mecca for contemporary art of all kinds—we’re talking graffiti art, performance art, crazy stuff and not so crazy stuff. And breaking up beach time with some culture is not a bad idea (especially mid-day when the sun is strongest). Art in Miami tends to be clustered into two areas: Miami Design District, home to schmancy boutiques and high-end galleries and restaurants but also the free-to-enter Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (which offers free guided tours at 1pm every day) and the De La Cruz Collection. The grittier (and cooler) Wynwood is famous for its outdoor graffitied walls, artist studios and funkier dining options, including great food trucks. On the second Saturday of each month, artists open their studios to the public, there’s live music and the area becomes somewhat of a street party.
This winter, another trippy activity to check out is Luminosa Festival of Lights, an exhibition of colorful Chinese lanterns hanging throughout 13 acres of a park on Biscayne Bay. And for something a bit more chill, grab a blanket or big towel and a picnic and head to New World Center symphony hall on one of their SoundScape Cinema nights, when movies are projected against the exterior wall of the incredible Frank Gehry–designed building. But let’s be honest… As much as we talk about cultured activities, it’s the sun, sand and sea that lures most to a Miami vacay. The city has tons of beach options and you can’t go too wrong, especially anywhere in South Beach, specifically the stretch adjacent to Ocean Drive between 5th and 15th Streets. Also fun: head to Key Biscayne’s Bill Baggs State Park, which is overlooked by a pretty lighthouse and offers more activities than just hard-body people watching (think stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, fishing). Want the sun but not the sand? Many swanky hotels will let you hang by their pools if you order (overpriced but tasty) cocktails and lunch.
If you’re not already convinced, here’s more: there are direct and cheap flights from most US cities to Miami airport (also check prices into Ft. Lauderdale, which can sometimes be cheaper), which means you can go from your desk in grey weather to sitting under a beach umbrella—holding a cocktail with a little umbrella in it—in a matter of hours. (Shorter if you ship your luggage ahead of you.) We’d love to hear about your favorite spots in the Magic City, so please share them in the comments!