Known for trendy restaurants, five-star hotels, unparalleled nightlife, and wild annual events, Miami allows its visitors to let loose and indulge. But thanks to the locals’ strong, fitness-focused beach lifestyle, health-conscious travelers can reap the benefits: clean eats (think: hyper-fresh seafood) and plenty of outdoor activities.
If you’re heading to Miami for this month’s Art Basel—or any other time since the weather is always fair—here’s how to experience the best.
Check into the new Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club, an upscale hideaway in Surfside (about 20 minutes south of South Beach) that took over the 1930s The Surf Club (where the likes of Elizabeth Taylor and Winston Churchill congregated). Well-preserved Art Deco interiors make it feel timeless. Rooms have floor-to-ceiling windows with ocean views and all-white marble bathrooms with large tubs. In addition to a decadent spa, champagne bar, two pools, and Le Sirenuse Italian restaurant, the hotel also offers a 24-hour gym and complimentary bikes to cycle along the coast.
If you want to be in the center of all the action, the stylish, five-star The Betsy South Beach is another historic hotel, located right on Ocean Drive. The Betsy recently unveiled a multi-million-dollar renovation and expansion, now sprawling over two buildings (yet still intimate with only 128 rooms) with large suites, LT Steak & Seafood restaurant with busy patio scene, brand-new fitness center, and a courtyard and rooftop pool.
Get up early to head to Equinox South Beach for a workout or group fitness class. Then have brunch at Upland Miami in the emerging South of Fifth neighborhood. It’s a laid-back, locals-heavy restaurant from celebrity chef Stephen Starr. Walls are lined with illuminated jars of preserved lemons or artichoke, and the menu features seasonal and healthy items like the little gem salad with fresh avocado, cucumber, ricotta, and walnut vinaigrette.
Take a post-meal stroll along the nearby four-mile boardwalk hugging the shore (or take one of the public Deco Bikes to cycle around) and consider stopping at the beach to cool off in the ocean. Then, immerse in Miami’s famous Art Deco history with a guided tour by Art Deco Tours.
Back at your hotel, catch an early sunset at the pool (both hotel pools are big, so you can do laps), then get dressed up for Lobster Bar, a glamorous restaurant in South Beach that specializes in fresh, daily-caught lobster. It also serves upmarket dishes like the very rare A-5 Miyazaki 100 percent Wagyu Kobe beef filet mignon. Afterward, walk one and a half miles for a nightcap at Bodega. At this lively speakeasy bar, entered through a fake bathroom door behind a food truck storefront, a DJ pumps out dance tunes for late-night Miami vibes. If you want something a bit more upscale, the Champagne Bar at Four Seasons is elegant, contemporary, and full of fashionable types, where live music from local acts sets the scene.
After breakfast at your hotel, head to Key Biscayne, about 20 minutes south of South Beach. In Biscayne National Park, you can kayak through beautiful lagoons and mangroves. Rent your vessel from Sailboards Miami (they also offer windsurfing and SUP).
Afterwards, if you have time before lunch, kick back at Standard Miami, which is home to Miami’s best day pool party. Expect an eclectic, chilled-out crowd (from hipsters to business professionals) mingling by the waterfront.
Head back to the South of Fifth neighborhood to Richard Ampudia’s Lolo’s Surf Cantina. It’s a trendy, casual spot for authentic Mexican fare which includes uber-fresh fish tacos. After you fuel up, make a beeline to the new Frost Science Museum. The three-building complex is home to exhibits including the fascinating, 250-seat, domed planetarium for a visual joyride through space that feels incredibly realistic. From here, check out the larger-than-life murals, galleries, and contemporary boutiques at Wynwood in the arts district. (This is also where Equinox’s Om This Way hip-hop yoga event is happening on December 6th.)
For dinner, make a reservation at KYU. The dimly lit hotspot is sexy, industrial (stone walls, high ceilings, exposed pipes), and has an eco-vibe to it (think: potted micro greens on every table). Order signature dishes like the roasted cauliflower with goat cheese and shishito-herb vinaigrette and the Florida red snapper with brown butter-white miso.
Head back to South Beach and stroll Espanola Way, a vibrant, pedestrian-only street that recently unveiled a $2.5-million revitalization project. It’s home to al fresco restaurants, bars, and cafes, like the popular Havana 1957 Cuban café and Mare Mio restaurant and wine bar. Packed with night owls, Espanola Way feels like a street party on the weekends.