South Beach promises a good dose of glitz and glamour—and that’s only one reason to visit this fashionably hip neighborhood. Its urban beach scene has an international flair; expect buff bodies lounging on the golden sands in the latest European swimwear and the melodic sounds of French, Portuguese, Spanish and even Russian just about everywhere you go. Off the beach, SoBe’s grid-like narrow streets connect the Atlantic Ocean to Biscayne Bay. Meander past art-deco buildings, drenched in soft shades of blue, pink and yellow, as you explore this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood. In-the-know tip: Don’t miss the shops and restaurants in the very cool and quieter South of Fifth (SoFi) neighborhood, stretching from 5th Street to the tip of the barrier island.
The blocks of beach along Ocean Drive from 5th to 15th streets are most populated. Stop and watch a volleyball game before claiming your spot on the sands. The ambitious do pull-ups on workout equipment, while the rest of us splash in the Atlantic’s waves. After the sun grab a drink at any of Ocean Drive’s alfresco bars and cafés. The party is always on at the iconic Clevelander on 10th St.
The happening corner of Collins Avenue and 17th Street is home to the Gale South Beach. Go small and retro in this recent redo where walls covered with 1940s vintage photos and postcards blend with modern furnishings that have a distinct art-deco twist. Sleep on super-thick mattresses and relax on private balconies, where the staff has planted Key lime trees.
Head to Juvia on Lincoln Road and ride the elevator to the rooftop dining room. A green wall of jungle foliage enhances the outdoor seating—sit and sip an herb-infused cocktail. Inside floor-to-ceiling windows provide views of the Miami Beach Golf Club, Atlantic Ocean and a cityscape that lights up as the sun sets. When hungry order the Hawaiian blue prawn on sugarcane skewers.