South Beach, Miami

At the end of September, MM, K and I headed to South Beach in Miami for a 4-day weekend. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised. South Beach reminded me a lot of Vegas – particularly the night life which revolves mostly around hotel restaurants and bars – but with more of an emphasis on outdoor patios, restaurants and bars. I really enjoyed Miami, but found the extreme heat (40+ degrees at mid-day with the humidity) a bit tough to handle at times. Our hotel pool was a welcome relief, to say the least.

We stayed at the SLS Hotel South Beach (1701 Collins Avenue) – a brand new hotel that was still technically in its ‘launch’ phase. The service we received was seamless, and the bars and restaurants were packed every night. The SLS is clearly poised to be the next big thing in South Beach.

I’d read a few complaints on Trip Advisor about the rooms being too small. The rooms are on the smallish side, but the three of us were very comfortable.

Our hotel room at the SLS South Beach – I love crisp, white bedding.

A closer look at the walls – what at first glance appeared to be wallpaper turned out to be beautiful wall hangings/panels.

Loved the black and white decor.

Bathroom.

The back entrance of the hotel – a lovely outdoor bar and the steps leading to the first of two pools.

Outdoor decor.

The SLS Hotel by night. Those cars parked in front (including a few BMW’s) are available to guests looking to head out for the night in style.

The hotel was absolutely gorgeous. And in the 40+ degree heat, the pool was a welcome relief.

Heaven.

Poolside drinks.

By day, we did a lot of shopping. I particularly liked the Lincoln Road pedestrian promenade – tons of shops and restaurants and it’s a pedestrian mall so there aren’t any cars.

Lincoln Road promenade.

We strolled along the beach and explored South Beach.

Miami Beach.

By night we hit up some bars. I really liked Lost Weekend (218 Espanola Way) and The Clevelander (1020 Ocean Drive) which had a good dance party going and plenty of bars. I’m not really a club person, and I don’t think spending $200+ on bottle service just to set foot in a place is the definition of a good time, so it was great to find some cool, low-key bars in South Beach.

Some highlights of our trip:

  • On our first night in South Beach we headed out for Happy Hour at Mangos Tropical Cafe (900 Ocean Drive), a restaurant/bar with plenty of live music and spontaneous salsa dancing on the bars. I loved the vibe and the drinks were great.
  • We then made our way to the 11th Street Diner (1065 Washington Avenue) for dinner, which K had seen on Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. I highly recommend this place. It’s cheap, open 24 hours, and they have the best tuna melt I’ve ever tasted.
  • On Friday night we had dinner at Prime One Twelve, a high-end steak and seafood restaurant at 112 Ocean Drive. It’s a bit of a walk from the action on Ocean Drive but definitely worth it. I strongly recommend this place – the food was impeccable and the service was top-notch. I would suggest making a reservation – I made one a few weeks in advance for 8 pm and when we left shortly after 9, the place was beyond packed with people waiting for a table.

My South Beach tips:

  • When in doubt, head to Ocean Drive. With so many bar and restaurant options, you’re bound to find something that you’ll like. It’s a little hectic (avoid it if you’re in a rush, or walk on the beach side of the street) but fun to stroll along. Washington Avenue is also a pretty safe bet.
  • Alcohol can get expensive in a place like Miami. Hit up a Walgreens and grab some booze for pre-drinking before heading out for the night. Also, you can pretty much find a Happy Hour special anywhere, particularly along Ocean Drive. Take advantage of them and don’t buy a drink anywhere where the price isn’t specifically listed.
  • If you’re looking to save a bit of cash on getting to and from the airport, see if the airport express  city bus goes past your hotel. It ran along Collins, and for $2.35 we got from the airport to our hotel in just over 20 minutes.
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