Your Guide to South Beach

America's sexiest city, Miami lays claim to South Beach, one of the nation's greatest stretches of sugar-white sands. The neighborhood lies at the southernmost tip of Miami Beach, and its 2-mile-long swath of beautiful beaches attracts devilishly good-looking celebrities, sun-seekers and a spring break partiers. Explore beyond the sultry sands and be charmed by its historic architecture and trendy restaurants.

Where to Stay

Adrian Gaut for SIXTY Hotels

Originally designed by famed Miami architect Morris Lapidus in the 1950s, this iconic Miami Beach property recently reopened as the ultra-luxe Nautilus hotel. When not in their guestrooms, travelers staying at the 250-room, beachfront property can admire the Art Deco touches sprinkled throughout the hotel, or lounge in a poolside cabana or garden hammock. After dark, stroll down to the sunken lobby bar for a drink before dining at the sprawling Driftwood Room restaurant.

Sense Beach House

A soothing color palette and stylish, laid-back vibe greets guests upon their arrival at Sense Beach House. This 18-room boutique hotel's decor could be defined as beach-house-chic thanks to funky local art decorating the lobby, and cozy guestrooms filled with crisp, white linens. Head up to the rooftop pool for a sunset swim, or to the downstairs restaurant, Local House, for cocktails and a plate of fresh oysters.

Aloft South Beach Hotel

Aloft South Beach Hotel

One of South Beach's newest hotels is also one of its hippest. Aloft South Beach Hotel's mod exterior offers guests a glimpse of the mid-century modern touches they'll experience inside their accommodation. Rooms and suites feature balconies with views of the canal, pool, lake, or city, and include free wifi. Walk 3 minutes to the beach, or relax in the outdoor pool and hot tub.

What to Do

Art Deco Walking Tour

Jorge Láscar [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Thanks in large part to the '80s television classic, Miami Vice, if one visual were to define South Beach, it's the pastel-colored Art Deco architecture that dominates so many of its streets. Gain a better understanding of the neighborhood's historic architecture during a 90-minute walking tour sponsored by the Miami Design Preservation League. Tours depart daily from the Art Deco Welcome Center.

Whether you want to shop for a new swimsuit, sit down for an al fresco meal, or simply hang out and people watch for a few hours, the Lincoln Road Mall will suit all of your needs. This outdoor, pedestrian-only stretch of shops, restaurants, and bars fills with swarms of people, particularly as night falls.

South Beach regularly ranks among the world's best beaches with good reason. Sprawling for 2-plus miles along Miami Beach's southeastern tip, this stretch of sand is extraordinarily wide and perpetually lapped by turquoise waves. Bring your own chairs and umbrella, or rent one from a vendor. Amateur photogs will have a blast snapping shoots of the colorful, retro lifeguard stands dotting the coastline.

Where to Eat

Continental Restaurant in Miami Beach

The Continental

Famed restaurateur Stephen Starr recently launched Continental (an outpost of his original Philly restaurant of the same name), in South Beach to much fanfare. Tucked into a tiki bar-meets-mid-century modern setting, the Continental will keep you stuffed silly with favorites like the lobster mac and cheese and cheesesteak egg rolls. Start your meal with one of Continental's classic cocktails, like the Astronaut martini, made with peach vodka and rimmed with orange Tang.

Yardbird Southern Table and Bar

Valerie Conners

Check your cholesterol level at the door upon entering Yardbird, otherwise you might find it shooting through the roof. But guess what? It's totally worth it. Yardbird's claim to fame -- and the reason it's become a trendy mainstay of the city's hippest set -- is its fried chicken, which is lovingly brined for 27-hours before being cooked to juicy perfection. Don't miss the divine Chicken 'n Watermelon 'n Waffles, served with honey hot sauce, chilled spiced watermelon and a cheddar cheese waffle.

Joe's Stone Crab

Valerie Conners

Arguably South Beach's most iconic restaurant, Joe's Stone Crab transformed from a tiny lunch counter in 1913 to one of Miami's most popular restaurants. Today, Joe's ranks as one of America's highest-grossing establishments. What's the big draw? Stone crabs. Their sweet, meaty claws are only available seasonally from October through May. Joe's tuxedo-clad waiters also serve tasty plates of other seafood and shellfish, like oysters, as well as a surprising local's favorite: barbecue ribs. 

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