Yes, there are way more than 10 things to do in South Beach, but with this list in hand you can hit the town runnin’—because you’re going to need all the energy you have to keep up with the party-hearty crowd in this tropical town.
1 Beach Day
Plan at least one full day to just hang out on the beach in your bikini—and maybe flirt with those cute lifeguards. The most popular spot is at 10th Street and Ocean Drive, on the sand just past the palm trees and lifeguard headquarters art-deco building. After your bain de soleil, cross Ocean Drive to the neon-pink Clevelander Bar, an iconic spot for soaking in the SoBe vibe and drinking with new friends.
2 Two-Wheel Exploring
Navigate your way through South Beach’s narrow streets and traffic on a rental bicycle. DecoBikes, a bike sharing and rental program, parks thousands of bicycles at some 50 stations throughout South Beach. Insert a credit card in the docking station’s tracker, choose a bike, hop on it and ride. You can park at any of the stations, and when ready to roll again, just pick one of the parked bicycles (remember it’s sharing, so you won’t necessarily find the same bike) and continue on.
3 Go Cuban
The no-frills Puerto Sagua, one of South Beach’s oldest Cuban restaurants, is the place to grab an early morning café con leche with hot-pressed Cuban bread at the counter. At lunch and dinner in the dining room, huge servings of black beans and rice, platters of picadillo and roasted pork, always served with plantains, come out of the kitchen. Although the restaurant is often packed, it’s worth peering around the tables for a look at the three-dimensional murals depicting Old Havana created by Cuban artist-sisters Haydee and Sahara Scull.
4 South Pointe Park
Make your way to the southern tip of South Beach for vistas of downtown Miami, cruise ship traffic and the monstrous port of Miami. The observation deck with lounges is a prime perch, and the pathway along Government Cut, blessed with cool breezes off the water, is where locals bicycle, dog walk and mingle.
5 Afternoon on Lincoln Road
With its cool assemblage of stores, galleries, cafes and bars, Lincoln Road is South Beach’s more casual hub. Poke into Britto Central, the home of Brazilian pop artist Romero Britto whose work is splashed across the city. Sip an espresso with the coffee snobs at the Nespresso café. Shop high-end at Lacoste and BCBG Max Azria or linger in Books & Books. A quick lunch at Shake Shack is a burger and milkshake, while cocktails are on the rooftop of Juvia’s, with a panoramic view of SoBe.
Pack your day with visits to three museums, all within walking distance of each other. The Bass Museum of Art has the only Egyptian gallery in Florida, complete with a mummy on display. The Wolfsonian is a study of art and design during the industrial revolution; a favorite piece is the wrestler sculpture from the 1932 Olympic Games at the entrance. And a real oddball is the World Erotic Art Museum, with paintings and sculptures that depict the culture of love through history.
7 Art-Deco Endeavors
Pop into the Miami Design Preservation League’s welcome center on Ocean Drive. This is the place to join an Art Deco District Walking Tour and get the lowdown on the buildings designed by Henry Hohauser, L. Murray Dixon and other talents from the early 1900s. But it’s also a great place to find art-deco-inspired souvenirs, from vintage jewelry to art-deco posters.
8 SoBe Night Out
With the fickle SoBe club scene, there are no guarantees what’s hot today is still sizzling tomorrow. But cash-cow classics like Mansion and Cameo are as close as you’ll get to locking in a fantastical party night. Highlights include near-naked dancing girls, fist-pumping music, and if you’re lucky a glimpse of a hip-hop hotshot.
9 Your Pillow
You have to sleep somewhere, so here’s the lowdown. If you like small, the Angler’s Hotel on Washington Avenue puts you in the middle of the bustle, while the Bentley Hotel plants you steps from the sand. For a celeb vibe, book at the Delano or SLS Hotel South Beach for over-the-top resort-style accommodations. Those watching their dollars will find boutique properties along Collins and Washington avenues that won’t break the bank.
10 Sidewalk Dining
Ocean Drive’s sidewalks turn into dining rooms, with crowds of people parading by. Rather than being part of the parade, be a spectator and request a table on the restaurants’ elevated patios. Our pick for seafood is Quinn’s at the Park Central Hotel. On Lincoln Road, outdoor tables are abundant. Your best bet is the sophisticated setting and continuously satisfying Italian creations of twin chefs Nicola and Fabrizio Carro at Quattro.