Travel Photo Credit: Tono Balaguer

48 Hours in Miami

Miami has long been famous for white beaches and thumping nightlife, but a new emphasis on art ups the city’s cultural game.

wynwood-walls

FRIDAY

The former warehouse district of Wynwood has experienced a recent renaissance, with artists transforming the once-gritty neighbourhood into a mural-laden Eden—and it’s the heart of Miami’s contemporary art scene. Fuel up with an espresso from Panther Coffee before walking up NW 2nd Avenue to the incredible Wynwood Walls. More than 50 artists have contributed to the ever-changing outdoor display, including Shepard Fairey (creator of Obama’s 2008 Hope poster), but it’s worth seeing inside some of the over 60 galleries, too, including Pan American Art Projects—the art of the Americas—and the Robert Fontaine Gallery for contemporary works from the ’60s to today.

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Recharge with a local craft brew—Wynwood Brewing Company’s La Rubia Blond Ale is a light and crisp choice—at friendly hipster haven Wood Tavern. Nab a spot on the patio to enjoy an alfresco dinner of fresh carnitas tacos topped with cilantro, chopped onions and house tomatillo salsa, served piping hot from a lucha libre-themed taco truck.

Ocean Drive, on Miami’s famed South Beach, features some of the most pristine examples of art deco architecture in the country—like the McAlpin-Ocean Plaza hotel. (Photo: Sandra Cohen-Rose.)
Ocean Drive, on Miami’s famed South Beach, features some of the most pristine examples of art deco architecture in the country—like the McAlpin-Ocean Plaza hotel. (Photo: Sandra Cohen-Rose.)

Stay on the Latin theme and take a short cab ride over to Little Havana: SW 8th Street (known as Calle Ocho) hosts open-air festivities for Viernes Culturales on the last Friday of the month, while late-night venue Hoy Como Ayer regularly attracts the city’s biggest salsa and Latin funk acts.

Ocean Drive. (Photo: Tono Balaguer.)
Ocean Drive. (Photo: Tono Balaguer.)

SATURDAY

Candy-coloured retro hotels line the streets of the Art Deco Historic District at South Beach. Start your tour of the ’hood at the Art Deco Welcome Center to learn about Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco and Miami Modern styles, or sign up for a walking tour. Wander up Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue to admire the architecture, stopping for brunch at local hang Front Porch Cafe and Restaurant, where the buttery house special of mile-high orange-zest French toast is made with fresh-baked challah—and is well worth the wait for a table.

Robert Fontaine Gallery.
Robert Fontaine Gallery.

Once refuelled, continue your education at the Wolfsonian-FIU. This seven-floor museum offers insight into the role of design in history, so you’ll find wartime propaganda posters mixed in with vintage stoves, ceramics and paintings.

South Beach Aerial

By now, you’ve earned a break, and you’re in the right spot. South Beach is the Miami of postcards, offering an inviting stretch of white sand and warm waters. You’re entitled to spend the entire afternoon lazing on the beach, but if you’re feeling active, head to a Citi Bike station to pick up a cruiser. You’ll need it to explore the iconic Miami Beach Boardwalk, a flat stretch of bikeway from 5th to 46th streets that’s dotted with palm trees and is a mecca for the bronzed and beautiful.

Viernes Culturales.
Viernes Culturales.

A stone’s throw away, Ocean Drive is known for overpriced bars hawking happy hour specials, but for something a little more refined, make like Florida’s favourite former resident Ernest Hemingway and order a classic hand-shaken daiquiri at the Rum Line, a hidden outdoor tiki bar at the Loews Hotel that serves more than 100 kinds of rum. Beware of the menu’s more potent creations—the Zombie No. 305 might just knock you out with its mix of eight-year-old Bacardi, Mount Gay Black Barrel and more in an absinthe-rinsed glass.

SUNDAY

Brunch at Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink in the Design District, where the focus is unpretentious comfort food—think kimchi eggs Benedict with local pork belly, or buttermilk biscuits topped with short-rib gravy.

Walk off your meal with a stroll past the area’s high-end fashion stores, such as Prada and Hermès, or, for something a little different, head to the impressive 1921 Moore Building. It’s home to designer and potter Jonathan Adler, while nearby NIBA Home offers a collection of unusual—primarily handmade—furnishings from upcoming designers. Whether or not you find a souvenir, it’s an appropriate end to a weekend of sunshine and style in this eclectic city.

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