Recently, a friend reached out to seek my advice on the must-visit spots in Miami, appreciating the insights I gained from my travels in 2022 and 2023. Eager to share my newfound appreciation for the city, I’ve realized that Miami has evolved into one of my favorite destinations in the United States. Reflecting on my three-decade relationship with Miami, it all began in the mid-nineties when I first encountered its mesmerizing art deco and tropical charm.

I vividly recall the early days of my Miami adventures, back in 1994 when my friend and I explored South Beach on rollerblades—an exhilarating experience marking my very first trip abroad from Europe to the United States. These memories have become integral to my travel narrative, deeply ingrained in my appreciation for travel, and defining who I am and everything around me.

However, in the late ’90s and early 2000s, my enthusiasm for Miami vanished. The aftermath of hurricanes and the toll of wear and tear left the Art Deco buildings looking decrepit, and I found myself disheartened. This disappointment led me to stay away from Miami for several years, despite my frequent visits to Florida. It wasn’t until the last two years that I decided to give Miami another chance.

And what a revelation it has been! Miami, once tarnished by my earlier experiences, now pulsates with vitality, unveiling new neighborhoods like Wynwood and the Design District that beckon exploration beyond the confines of South Beach. The city has undergone a remarkable transformation, inviting visitors to discover its vibrant cultural diversity and evolving landscape. Now, let’s review my most favorite spots…

Recommended Retreats: Iconic Art Deco Stays

Hotel Trouvail Miami Beach 🔗

Nestled just steps away from the beach, Hotel Trouvail stands as Miami Beach’s best-kept secret. This contemporary boutique hotel presents a fusion reminiscent of St. Tropez meeting Miami, with a touch of Wes Anderson’s distinctive charm and color palette. The hospitality at Hotel Trouvail is nothing short of exceptional, marked by the effortless early check-in (like after my red eye arriving at 7 am and the room was ready) and a late check-out, which I had not expected and I might have been just very lucky on my last visit. However, the staff exudes warmth and personality, and the strategic location just North of South Beach strikes the perfect vacation spot.

Housed in a restored Art Deco building from 1940, Hotel Trouvail sits along the serene Indian Creek Waterway in the heart of Miami Beach. Its proximity to the trendy Faena district to the north and with the bustling center of Miami Beach just a few blocks south allows guests to immerse themselves in the best of Miami’s art, culture, restaurants, shopping, and nightlife while cocooned in the secluded, French-inspired setting. Complementing this enchanting locale, a complimentary trolley service conveniently stops at the hotel’s doorstep, while guests can also opt for a free beach cruiser bike provided by the hotel, ensuring effortless exploration of the surroundings.

Some of my time at the hotel was well spent in a cozy poolside ambiance, where the hotel cafe offers a fusion of French-inspired cuisine with a dash of Miami’s vibrant flavors or indulging myself in snacks and coffee specialties amidst moments of tranquility and relaxation.

The National Hotel 🔗

Situated prominently in the heart of Miami Beach, The National Hotel stands as another iconic gem with a rich history. Boasting a prime location directly on Collins Avenue, this hotel affords its visitors breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean and convenient access to the lively neighborhoods of South Beach Miami.

The architectural design pays homage to the distinctive Art Deco style of the 1930s, characterized by bold geometric patterns, symmetrical lines, and sleek curves. Meticulously preserved and thoughtfully renovated, this historic Art Deco establishment seamlessly blends classic charm with contemporary luxury for the utmost comfort of its guests.

The crowning jewel of The National Hotel is undoubtedly its impressive pool, offering an uninterrupted vista of the Atlantic Ocean horizon. This poolside haven serves as a true oasis of relaxation, enveloped by lush palm trees and stylish lounge areas that entice guests to unwind and bask in the warmth of the sun.

Diverse culinary experiences await within the hotel’s restaurants and bars, catering to a range of tastes from refined dining to delightful beachside refreshments. Personally delighted with the Spanish Tapas-inspired restaurant, Marvea 1939, I very much enjoyed the cozy yet elegant atmosphere on the hotel’s terrace overlooking the pool—an experience that seamlessly fused culinary delights with the beauty of the surroundings.

Top Picks: Miami’s Finest Eatery, an Artsy Café, the Best Happy Hour & Dive Bar

Ceviches by Divino Miami Beach 🔗

Ceviche, a culinary delight ranking alongside tacos and sushi, is a cooking art form perfected in Miami. However, not all establishments excel in this cuisine craftsmanship. Amid the many choices, especially in Miami Beach, the embodiment of gastronomic excellence unfolded for me at Ceviches by Divino, particularly if you share a fondness for sushi and raw fish.

Nestled in an industrial ambiance, yet basically a “hole in the wall”, Ceviches by Divino is a Peruvian-style Gastropub that has mastered presenting authentic flavors through a carefully crafted menu. Elevating the dining experience, this eatery excels in high-level Peruvian Tapas, Rolls, Pokes, and, of course, Ceviches. The foodie experience is further enriched by an extensive selection of popular craft beers and exceptional cocktails, curated to complement your lunch or dinner perfectly. 😍😍😍

The Lifeguard – Café, Restaurant & Art Gallery by Edwar Simal 🔗

More than a cafe, The Lifeguard is a cultural haven in Miami Beach. Surrounded by captivating artwork from Edwar Simal and his stunning photography of the lifeguard towers of Miami Beach, this café offers delectable sandwiches, fresh juices, a unique gallery experience, and very friendly owners and staff. Each piece adds flavor to your visit, creating a delightful combination of culinary and artistic pleasures.

Monty’s Sunset – South Beach 🔗

Located poolside and waterfront at the Miami Beach Marina, Monty’s Sunset is a premier spot for casual dining, local seafood, and stunning sunsets. With the best happy hour in town, make sure to come early to earn your spot at the bar, it’s a perfect place to mingle with locals and enjoy the vibrant South Beach atmosphere.

Mac’s Club Deuce – “Oldest Bar in Miami!” Est. 1926 🔗

A legendary dive bar since 1926, Mac’s Club Deuce remains a timeless refuge on South Beach. Voted the “best dive bar,” it offers a unique experience with daily 2-4-1 happy hours and a steadfast charm that captivates locals and global trekkers alike.

“One of the last true dive bars on South Beach, this place never seems to change. It’s a glorious refuge. For me, it’s always about the Deuce.”

Anthony Bourdain

Good to know: “No Reservations.” Open Daily 8a-5a (yep, 21 hours!) / Smoking Permitted / Cash Only!

Urban Exploration: Dipping into Miami’s Neighborhoods


Once a dilapidated Miami business district, Wynwood has undergone a remarkable metamorphosis into the world’s largest open-air museum. Stretching across 50 city blocks, this eclectic neighborhood is now adorned with vibrant murals crafted by globally recognized artists and innovators.

Wander through its maze of walls transformed into canvases, each revealing its own narrative. Keep your camera at the ready, as countless photo opportunities await at every turn. Wynwood’s free street art offers an array of bold portraits and intricate abstract designs, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in a whirlwind of artistic expression. Every stroll through these streets promises an unforgettable and delightful experience. My friends and I spent hours meandering through the area, exploring the art and taking breaks at various shops, and cafes before eagerly setting out to capture more of Wynwood’s captivating charm.

While a visit to the Wynwood Walls is not free, the experience is undeniably enriching, especially for those who cherish the spirit of street art, and seamlessly complement the free-spirited creations scattered throughout the area.

The district’s energy extends beyond the Wynwood Walls, with converted warehouses now lining the streets, serving as vibrant hubs for stylish bistros, lively craft breweries, and late-night bars, that contribute to the area’s hip and bustling atmosphere.

Design District

Famed for its contemporary and stylish ambiance, the Design District stands out with its sleek modern architecture, upscale fashion design stores, and art galleries. Catering to a discerning clientele, luxury fashion, and jewelry boutiques, along with celebrity-chef restaurants and fancy cafes, it creates an atmosphere of sophistication and exclusivity. But even for those less inclined towards glitz and glamour, the area is adorned with captivating public art installations, including the Fly’s Eye Dome, a geodesic dome designed by the visionary inventor Buckminster Fuller, serving as a prominent landmark.

My friends and I enjoyed a stroll through the district’s compact three-by-three blocks layout, capturing photos and indulging in some window shopping. We found shelter from the scorching sun at the Mexican Taqueria Tacombi, relishing homemade lemonade, and later treated ourselves to specialty coffee and ice cream at the Mia Market Food Hall.

Opposite the Institute of Contemporary Art, celebrated for its avant-garde exhibitions housed in a cutting-edge building, the Museum Garage emerges as a distinctive feature enhancing the district’s artistic allure. The garage’s unique architectural design provides an intriguing backdrop, making it a haven for photographers. With the array of captivating installations by renowned artists, this block in particular offers photographers endless opportunities to capture its dynamic essence.

Bayside Marketplace

Nestled in Downtown Miami, the Bayside Marketplace unfolds as a two-story open-air shopping center. If you find yourself with some spare time and harbor an interest in exploring the Miami Boat Tour of Millionaire’s Row & Star Island, this destination is worth considering, especially on a sweltering day. Treat yourself to a Miami boat tour, where the shoreline is adorned with opulent mansions and celebrity homes, providing a fascinating glimpse into the world of luxury living.

Other Cities Nearby

Coral Gables

Very close to Miami, Coral Gables almost feels like an extension of the city, and stands out as a captivating town with a rich variety of attractions.

Among its gems is the 1920s Venetian Pool, a stunning creation carved from a rock quarry, featuring grottoes, towers, and a picturesque bridge. My visit to this pool was truly amazing, as I have not seen anything comparable and offering a distinctly unique experience.

Then the Coral Gables Merrick House, a restored childhood home, pays homage to the city’s founder, George Merrick. For nature enthusiasts, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden attracts with tree-lined lakes, a tropical rainforest, and a mesmerizing butterfly display. The Lowe Art Museum boasts an impressive collection, showcasing works from Cuban and Caribbean artists.

And finally, the iconic Biltmore Hotel graces the landscape with its timeless elegance and historical significance. This landmark offers a luxurious retreat, blending classic architecture with modern amenities, making it a must-visit in Coral Gables.

Key Biscayne

Key Biscayne, a charming Florida town situated on a barrier island connected by the Rickenbacker Causeway to Miami, boasts two expansive parks—Crandon Park and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park. These parks feature long, sheltered beaches, mangroves, and tropical forests teeming with birdlife, butterflies, and loggerhead turtles. BUT be aware of the mosquitoes, wear long sleeves, especially during summer, and make sure to bring repellent any time of the year.

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park is home to the 19th-century Cape Florida Lighthouse, a delightful attraction offering stunning panoramic views when you climb it. Explore the Lighthouse Keepers Cottage at its base, fun to explore with its displays and historical charm.

Afterward, treat yourself to a late breakfast or a relaxing afternoon coffee at the nearby charming La Boulangerie.


In conclusion, I feel like Miami’s fascination transcends time. While its vibrant art deco architecture and tropical charm remain timeless, the city has undergone a remarkable transformation, unveiling new neighborhoods and cultural hubs like Wynwood and the Design District. Miami truly offers a wealth of experiences waiting to be explored.

I plan to return soon as there are still more places awaiting exploration on my bucket list, including Pérez Art Museum Miami, The Ancient Spanish Monastery, Superblue Miami with its digital installation and mirror labyrinth, Nikki Beach Miami, and other beach clubs waiting to be discovered. Not to mention, I look forward to indulging in Miami’s ever-evolving culinary scene.

Through my journey, I’ve uncovered new favorites and rekindled my appreciation for the city’s vibrant spirit. Whether being on a foodie trip or immersing in art and history, Miami continues to captivate and inspire with its diverse offerings.

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