48 hours in Miami

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Swanky new hotels, a plein-air public art gallery and Cuban-inspired cocktails. To borrow a phrase from the Fresh Prince, ain’t no city in the world like this

In the popular imagination, Miami is often cast as a caricature: the exorbitant bottle service and bling of its clubs, the grotesque excess and cartel violence of Scarface, the soft-focus palm fronds and rattan of The Golden Girls. The reality, of course, is that the city’s culture is far more nuanced, from the exploding contemporary art scene anchored by Art Basel Miami Beach to the mid-century marvels of Miami Modern architecture to the profound Cuban influence on its food, music and ethos.


 

A Nautical Oasis

Mr. C Coconut Grove Hotel, Coconut Grove
Mr. C is the brainchild of hospitality mavens Ignazio and Maggio Cipriani, who’ve dialled up the glamour in every area. The design recalls an ocean liner with its streamlined curves, porthole-shaped windows, elegant dining room, nautical accents and epic Biscayne Bay views. There’s plenty of pizzazz in the service details, too, including complimentary Bellinis at check-in. Those with tykes in tow will appreciate kids’-package perks like a Mr. C teddy and homemade cookies and milk on arrival. 2988 McFarlane Rd., 866-786-4173, mrccoconutgrove.com

An Art Deco Wonderland

Faena Hotel Miami Beach, Mid Beach
Located in the mixed-use Faena District, which is filled with chic retail and residential spaces, this is less a place to lay your head than a full sensory experience. The hotel’s meticulously art-directed environs—from the peppermint-drop pool umbrellas to the gilded pillars—are the creation of hotelier Alan Faena, who collaborated with Aussie director Baz Luhrmann and his wife, Oscar-winning costume designer Catherine Martin, on the look. 3201 Collins Ave., 305-534-8800,
faena.com/miami-beach

 


 

A Celebrity-Stacked Affair

Swan and Bar Bevy, Miami Design District
Downstairs at Swan, a pink jewel box of a space, diners tuck into a quirky menu that somehow successfully coheres sea bass sashimi, fresh burrata with figs, and a concoction of brown-butter polenta with popcorn and roasted corn. Upstairs, strings of fairy lights add a twinkly vibe to Bar Bevy’s huge terrace. Both rooms have celebrity cachet: the double-decker hot spot marks the first foray into the restaurant scene from Pharrell Williams, who’s partnered with Miami nightlife impresario David Grutman. 90 NE 39th St., 305-704-0994, swanbevy.com

Old Havana Cred

Cafe La Trova, Little Havana
Now that Havana barely resembles its Castro-era self, this charming bar may be the best way to capture the vibe of Old Cuba. Co-founder Julio Cabrera has a long history as a cantinero, and he brings that experience to Cafe La Trova’s well-calibrated list of rum-based cocktails, which pair beautifully with pork belly and jámon serrano sandwiches, cheesy croquettes and other tapas. 971 SW 8th St., 786-615-4379, cafelatrova.com

A New-School Throwback

The Surf Club Restaurant, Surfside
At the Surf Club, Thomas Keller (of French Laundry and Per Se renown) takes a slight swerve away from his typical fare, landing squarely in Continental classics—Dover sole meunière, gazpacho, fettuccine alfredo, eggplant parm—that nevertheless demonstrate the same zealous reverence for high-quality ingredients. Served by white-clad waiters on starched tablecloths beside glorious arched windows, this new-school throwback is the kind of place Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack would have gone for a special occasion. 9011 Collins Ave., 305-768-9440, surfclubrestaurant.com

 


 

An Epic Block Party

Walk Through Wynwood, Wynwood
This area just north of downtown has morphed from a manufacturing district into a thriving hub for galleries, boutiques and artisanal foods. In 2009, the late developer Tony Goldman commissioned street artists to create murals on abandoned properties. Now known as the Wynwood Walls, this arena for public art has since expanded, and it hosts an art walk and block party every second Saturday of the month. wynwoodartwalkblockparty.com

Culture Fix

ICA Miami, Miami Design District
In the two years since it opened in Miami’s Design District, the Institute of Contemporary Art has hosted exhibitions by a greatest hits of culture-shapers, among them Francis Alÿs, Sondra Perry, Judy Chicago and Donald Judd. This season includes the infamous Yayoi Kusama. Admission is free as part of the museum’s pledge to foster public dialogue about modern art. 61 NE 41st St., 305-901-5272, icamiami.org

A Self-Care Amusement Park

The Standard Spa, Belle Isle
The Standard is anything but: it’s really the equivalent of at least half a dozen spas in one sleek package. In addition to conventional options (a Finnish sauna, an icy plunge pool, mud baths, a Turkish-inspired hammam), this waterfront idyll includes holistic add-ons from astrology to acupuncture to Ayurvedic consultation—all useful tools to help weary travellers reach nirvana. 40 Island Ave., 305-673-1717, standardspa.com