Miami: The Heat Is On

Miami in all its pastel perfection, as seen from the beach  (PhotoDisc)

With its white-hot beaches, red-hot restaurants, cool shops, and even cooler dance clubs, Miami offers visitors a taste of life in the fast lane. But it's more than a heart-thumping, thrill-seeking sanctuary. Thanks to a quiet, more refined side that doesn't get (or seek) much attention, this town should more than satisfy the craving for rest and relaxation—lest you forget the purpose of your trip.

South Beach is the center of the Miami tourism scene, but even with the camera-wielding crowds you can still enjoy it without thinking about anybody but the one on your arm. Hip hotels and celebrity hangouts like the Delano, the Shore Club, and the Tides line the wide city streets. Running the length of the beach, Ocean Drive—the town's main thoroughfare—teems with gleaming Art Deco façades. Famous avenues like Collins, Washington, and Lincoln are shopping districts by day and nightlife hubs by night. And Little Havana is an easy day trip from SoBe, a neighborhood that provides an eye-opening taste of Cuba, both in societal terms and cuisine.

For a truly memorable stay that combines the excitement of South Beach and the tranquility of a Zen retreat, stay at The Tides (1220 Ocean Dr.). Just beyond the hotel's lustrous façade lies all the activity of Ocean Drive, but you'd never know it from the spacious serenity of its white rooms. No doubt about it, The Tides is a honeymooner's hotel if ever there was one.

An equally sensual alternative is the Palms Hotel (3025 Collins Ave.). Located on one of Miami's most pristine stretches of sand, the Palms features simple yet elegant rooms, and enough yoga classes to keep you limber for weeks.

Lunch is an unparalleled pleasure at the Blue Door at the Delano (1685 Collins Ave.). Located on the lanai just a few steps above the hotel's pool, the peaceful ambience here invites you to remain seated long after you've signed the check. For those who like to combine eating, sunbathing, and seeing and being seen, make a beeline for the Nikki Beach Club (One Ocean Dr., 305.538.1111, www.nikkibeach.com).

Jaunts into Miami's shopping, dining, and nightlife districts will certainly prove fruitful if recreation is the goal. Lincoln Road, an especially popular evening destination, is a pedestrian mall that extends for blocks upon blocks of restaurants, boutiques, art galleries, and nightclubs. Rumi (330 Lincoln Rd., 305.531.7406) features a serious kitchen that serves modern Florida-Caribbean cuisine, while Sushi Samba Dromo (600 Lincoln Rd., 305.673.5337, www.sushisamba.com) delivers fresh sushi and ceviche with a Brazilian flair.

After a hard day of shopping, executing yoga stretches, or basking in the hot sun, unwind with a cocktail at one of the city's chic hotel bars. Two of the most inviting are the Rose Bar (1685 Collins Ave., 305.672.2000) in the stunning lobby of the Delano, and Skybar (1901 Collins Ave., 305.695.3100), which sits atop the Shore Club. Have a seat at the bar, order a mojito—as only a Miami bartender can make it—and toast to all your worries melting away.

To utterly remove yourselves from the glitz and glamour of SoBe, Coral Gables and Key Biscayne are just the spots. Coral Gables is home to the luxurious Biltmore Hotel, upscale shopping, and Mediterranean-style living. Key Biscayne is tranquil and lovely, a spot where two folks can leave ostentation behind, enjoy the natural setting, and explore—both the surroundings and themselves.

Published: 27 Jun 2005 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

Best Hotels in Miami

$164
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#2
EPIC Miami, a Kimpton Hotel
$199
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#3
Viceroy Miami
$213
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#4
JW Marriott Miami
$139
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#5
Miami Marriott Hotel Biscayne Bay

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