Miami is South Florida’s cosmopolitan beauty, while South Beach is its sultry pin-up model. South Beach is all about epic nightlife, glamorous beaches, Art Deco hotels and world-class cuisine.
Most visitors stick to Ocean Drive and the typical tourist traps, but there are plenty of pockets of splendor throughout South Beach. We’ve included both classic tourist haunts and little-known local faves in this guide to give you a taste of both worlds.
When to Visit South Beach
Winter is the high season in South Beach. The sun is almost always out and temperatures usually get into the 70s during the day. Perfect.
But high season means high prices. If you’re looking for a deal, travel during the shoulder seasons of spring and fall. It can get a bit hot then, but it’s far better than the swamp-like humidity and tropical downpours that are part of Miami’s summers.
South Beach Hotels
If you prefer to stay somewhere more peaceful, check out these North Miami Beach hotels. They’re all a short trip away from the hustle and bustle of South Beach, but with a more peaceful vibe for those who value a good night’s sleep.
But if you’re the type who wants to be in the center of it all, you can’t go wrong with the Art Deco hotels on Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive. Read about our favorites here.
Budget is not a term most people associate with South Beach, but there are a few good deals to be had. Keep an eye on sites like Expedia for the flash sales.
- La Flora Hotel – a boutique Art Deco hotel just a short walk from the beach and all the hip happenings of South Beach. Rooms come with pillowtop mattresses, mini-fridges and free wifi. Complimentary continental breakfast is included.
- Clevelander South Beach – Smack in the middle of the Art Deco historic district, the Clevelander is an iconic adults-only spot in South Beach. They’ve got three bars, two rooftop decks, a nightclub and live music every night of the week.
- The Hotel of South Beach – This hotel packs in a ton of style and sophistication for such a budget price. It’s a three-minute walk from the beach, but you’ll have better views from the modern rooftop pool. There’s also a rooftop bar and lounge, perfect for sipping cocktails and enjoying the sunset.
- Loews Miami Beach – This beachfront resort has a full-service spa and six restaurants and lounges. Chill in one of the VIP cabanas or daybeds by the pool or borrow one of the hotel’s kayaks, paddle boards or boogie boards and get out on the ocean.
- Delano South Beach – Listen to swank tunes from the luxurious pool’s underwater sound system. Enjoy a massage with a view at the rooftop spa. Dine on world-class cuisine at one of the three restaurants or sip a signature cocktail in one of the two bars. The Delano has it all.
- SLS Hotel – Combining classic French style with playful touches like a 10-foot tall silver duck, the SLS is really known for hosting the hottest pool parties in town. They’ve also got four gorgeous restaurants and bars, a fitness center, salon and concierge services.
South Beach is Spanish for luxury. There’s no shortage of opulent beach hotels on the million dollar sand bar.
- The Setai – This beachfront, Asian-inspired resort features three infinity pools, an on-site spa, four restaurants, plus yoga and tai chi classes if you get tired of partying like a rock star. Travel + Leisure named it the #1 Miami Beach Hotel, so you know it’s good.
- The Ritz-Carlton – The Ritz is always good for luxury, and this is no exception. Ocean view balconies, marble bathrooms and a posh spa pile on the charm. Add to that the resort’s elevated outdoor pool, upscale dining options and 24-hour fitness center. Magnifique.
South Beach Restaurants
Close your eyes, spin around and point. Anywhere you eat in South Beach is going to be good. But we’ve got a few faves.
- Las Olas Cafe – You can’t leave Miami without trying some Cuban fare. Try their Cuban sandwich, pescado enchilado or sweet plaintains.
- News Cafe – A South Beach landmark, News Cafe has tons of outdoor seating and is the perfect place for people watching. They serve everything from breakfast to pasta to middle eastern fare.
- Spitfire – Specializing in traditional Mediterranean street food, Spitfire makes all their ingredients fresh. Try the rollo or quinoa bowl.
- CVI.CHE 105 – This is one of the hottest restaurants in South Beach, so it’s always packed. It’s a hip Peruvian joint that specializes in ceviche (duh) – a dish made from fresh, raw fish marinated in citrus juice and spices.
- Pubbelly – a noodle bar on one side and a sushi restaurant on the other, Pubbelly blends Asian flavors like miso and pork belly with Latin influences like mofongo and amberjack. Add good old fashioned craft beer for a truly one of a kind restaurant.
- Yardbird – Holy mother. Yardbird is definitely one of the top eateries in South Beach. They serve inventive farm-to-table Southern comfort food like buttermilk biscuits with pepper jelly, a fried green tomato BLT with pimento cheese, and, the pièce de résistance, chicken ‘n’ watermelon ‘n’ waffles – crispy fried chicken, chilled spiced watermelon and cheddar cheese waffle drenched in bourbon maple syrup.
- Lucali – A local favorite, Lucali serves up the best pizza in South Beach. The perfect mix of crisp yet soft crust plus tangy, sweet and spicy sauce serve as the perfect base for their fresh toppings. Their meatballs and kale Caesar salad are also excellent.
- Joe’s Stone Crab – Joe’s serves seafood, fried chicken and, what else, stone crab. They’re a celebrity favorite that’s been run by the same family for over 100 years. Be sure to save room for the key lime pie.
- The Bazaar by José Andrés – You don’t get your name on a restaurant unless you’re really good. Andrés is an award-winning chef who was named one of Time’s 100 Most Influential People. His sophisticated Spanish tapas dishes are served in the ornate setting of the SLS Hotel.
- Hakkasan – Another hotel restaurant, this time in the Fountainebleau, Hakkasan serves up award-winning Cantonese cuisine in an elegant underwater-like atmosphere. The dishes are seriously lavish – think Peking duck with caviar, steamed crystal lobster dumplings and roasted silver cod with champagne and honey.
South Beach Bars
If there’s one thing South Beachians (is that what they’re called?) love more than partying, it’s drinking. And they’ve got some great places to indulge.
- Mac’s Club Deuce – South Beach’s quintessential dive bar, Mac’s is dark and dingy with plenty of questionable characters. Drinks are cheap, the jukebox is good and there’s always somebody willing to play pool.
- Bodega – You might be confused when you first see Bodega, what with the picnic tables and vintage Airstream taco truck out front. But follow the beautiful people to the back. Enter what looks like a porta potty door, head through the graffiti-laden bathroom and pass through another door to South Beach’s hottest secret club. There’s a considerable menu of cocktails, many featuring tasty mezcal.
- Bay Club – This cocktail den adjacent to Lucali features a rotating menu of bespoke beverages. Try the Red Hot Rita – watermelon-infused El Jimador, lime, agave and sriracha – or the Hucker Park – Rittenhouse rye, cherry herrings, lemon juice and chai tea. Very chill atmosphere with both indoor and outdoor seating.
- Abbey Brewing Company – The only brewpub in Miami Beach, The Abbey serves award-winning craft brews in a down to earth atmosphere. In addition to the draft beers, they’ve got an assortment of fine spirits and port wines.
- Sweet Liberty – This award-winning neighborhood bar serves up unique drinks like the Sweet Potato Pain Killer – rum, sweet potato juice, coconut cream, orange juice and all spice – and the Whisky Flip – Evan Williams, sherry, rum-raisin liquer, coconut, smoke and a whole egg. Don’t miss it.
- Martini Bar at The Raleigh Hotel – This bar is as intimate and sexy as they come. Terrazzo floors, a curved mahogany bar and jazz lulling in the background make it quite the classy joint. There’s a full-service bar and nice selection of wines, but the finest drink is, what else, the martini.
- Rose Bar at Delano – The candlelit Rose Bar oozes glamour and sophistication. Just off the grand lobby of the Delano, it makes the perfect spot for people watching. Try their take on a margarita, the 17th Street Cocktail – made with tequila, Grand Marnier, green chartreuse liqueur and lime juice. *kisses fingers in Italian*
South Beach Clubs
Ain’t no party like a South Beach party ’cause a South Beach party don’t stop. South Beach has tons of world-class clubs, but there are a couple that stand out.
- LIV – Party like a rock star at this celeb fave. Don’t be surprised if you run into the Kardashians, Miley Cyrus or Pharell here. You’ll even find celebrities like DJ Khaled and Iggy Azalea spinning tunes here.
- Basement at Edition – Another celebrity hangout, Basement is the only place in Miami where you can dance, bowl and ice skate the night away. Yes, Basement houses a crazy dance club, four-lane bowling alley and mini ice-skating rink all under one roof.
South Beach Shopping
If you’re looking for high-end, you’re in the right place. South Beach has more posh stores than you can shake a stick at. Whatever that means.
- Lincoln Road Mall – an open-air shopping paradise filled with classy boutiques and designer stores. They’ve got all your favorites including Armani, Lacoste and Lululemon. There’s also a fantastic antique market every other Sunday.
- Espanola Way – Head here for one-of-a-kind collectibles, designer clothing and some incredible art galleries, all in a historic Spanish village.
- Collins Avenue – Tons of name-brand shops here – Armani, Barney’s New York, Urban Outfitters, Victoria’s Secret and more.
South Beach Arts & Culture
- Art Deco Museum – founded by the Miami Design Preservation League, the museum explores the history of Miami Beach’s famous Art Deco architecture. Take one of their tours to experience a time warp straight to the 1950s.
- New World Symphony Concerts – Even if you aren’t into classical music, you’ll want to see this. The concert program is projected onto a soaring 7,000-square-foot projection wall – quite the visual and auditory experience.
- SoundScape Cinema Series – Shown every Wednesday night on the same 7,000-square-foot project wall as the New World concerts. They show everything from classics like Casablanca to newer films like Big Eyes.
- The Holocaust Memorial – Dear lord, this place will rip your heart out. But it’s worth it. The first thing you’ll see is the striking 40-foot tall arm stretching toward the sky. Get closer and you’ll notice the 130 life-size figures of tortured men, women and children clinging to the arm. Epic is an understatement.
- The Wolfsonian – A museum, library and research facility run by Florida International University. The collection includes over 180,000 pieces exploring how art and design have shaped history.
- World Erotic Art Museum – sculptures, photos, paintings and drawings all about the history of erotic art. They have works from Picasso, Dali and Rembrandt to name a few.
South Beach Parks & Recreation
- South Pointe Park – the best view in South Beach, east to the Atlantic and west to the Miami skyline. The park contains a public beach, pier, running and biking paths, a dog park and concessions.
- Miami Beach Botanical Garden – A gorgeous little oasis with hundreds of local trees and plants, a Japanese garden and beautiful water features. The garden hosts many events throughout the year from educational speakers to yoga classes to dance parties.
- Citi Bike rentals – South Beach is totally flat, making it great for exploring by bike. Citi Bikes are inexpensive and easy to use. Look for one of the dozens of docking stations around the area, grab a bike and when you’re done, return it to any docking station you like.
More Things to Do in South Beach
- Learn to salsa at a Latin club
- Sunbathe on one of the white-sand beaches
- Catch a drag show at The Palace
- Smoke a hookah at one of the many hookah bars
The list never ends. South Beach has it all. Good luck narrowing it down.