Between its elegant beachfront accommodations and cosmopolitan arts scene, Miami seems to be shirking its reputation as a party destination and flourishing as a cultural hub in recent years. The city balances slow-paced resort leisure with art deco opulence and plenty of sunshine—making it an attractive getaway for those looking to give New England weather the cold shoulder.
Kick off your trip with a dash of tropical luxury at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, located on the 5-mile barrier island that’s perhaps the city’s most tranquil neighborhood. Connected to Miami’s bustling center by bridge, the property once housed a coconut plantation and evokes the Caribbean in its peaceful seclusion. Guests are greeted in the lobby by a bountiful bouquet of roses—one bloom for each of the hotel’s 490 rooms that are outfitted in breezy blues and whites, many of which boast balconies and ocean views.
After you’ve settled in, get your bod’ beach ready with the 100-minute Tequesta Ritual at the Ritz’s spa. Inspired by a ceremony performed by the Tequesta Native Americans who once inhabited the land, the treatment sloughs off dullness with an exfoliating scrub followed by a soothing algae wrap—capping off the pampering with a head and body massage.
Bright Horizons: The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne isn’t too far from the arts and culture to be found in Miami.
Museum of Science. Photo: Ra Haus
Keep the relaxation going with a cocktail in the lobby’s Rum Bar, which nods to 1940s Havana with dark woods, red walls and Palmetto ceiling fans. Opt for the Finca Vigia—a concoction of pisco, blueberry-sage syrup, ginger kombucha and elderflower liqueur served with coconut water ice cubes—that’s modeled after a tipple Ernest Hemingway sipped while in Cuba. You might even catch the bartender sounding off on a conch shell, paying homage to the bygone methods used to summon sailors to shore. Afterward, meander to Lightkeepers, the newest addition to the hotel’s dining scene, for a dinner of fresh coastal fare such as open blue cobia before you fall asleep to the crash of the waves.
In the morning, sip a locally roasted Panther coffee at Key Pantry, a subway-tiled lobby cafe, before hitting the resort’s two outdoor pools and 1,200-foot golden beach. Unwind in one of many lounge chairs or enjoy the water on complimentary kayaks and paddleboards and then grab a bite at one of the two beachfront eateries.
After a sufficient dose of sun, explore the city, starting with the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science. Celebrating its second anniversary this spring, the open-air museum boasts 250,000 square feet of exhibits culminating in a three-story aquarium that sorts Florida fish into their natural habitats. Touch stingrays in a tank that mimics Florida Bay and watch vibrant damselfish weave through corals or marvel at the 31-foot oculus lens that allows visitors to catch the action in the hammerhead shark-filled Gulf Stream tank from below.
For some local color, head to eclectic Wynwood, where chic boutiques butt up against industrial architecture, and street art spans every storefront and sidewalk. Once a warehouse district, the neighborhood rose to acclaim in the past decade after real estate developer and Emerson College alum Tony Goldman viewed it as Miami’s answer to Manhattan’s edgy SoHo. Swing by the iconic Wynwood Walls—an ever-changing outdoor mural gallery that’s showcased work from heavy hitters like Shepard Fairey and Kenny Scharf. Entering its 10th year, the Instagrammer’s paradise also features an indoor gallery, which will soon host the first solo show from Brazilian artist Eduardo Kobra. After you’ve worked up an appetite, walk a few blocks and grab a seat on the cacti-flanked patio at Bakan, a recently opened Mexican spot. Sample citrusy ceviche, veggie-topped queso fundido and Chilean sea bass tacos served on housemade blue corn tortillas.
A Miami getaway wouldn’t be complete without a stay in glamorous South Beach, and no place encapsulates the neighborhood’s swanky feel better than the W South Beach, which stands tall near a trove of art deco beauties and opulent manses on Ocean Drive. The black marble-swathed lobby hints at the chic design of the hotel’s rooms and suites—all of which feature king beds and ocean views.
Munch on brunch dishes like lobster eggs benedict at the W’s The Dutch—an outpost of the popular New York locale—and then hit the pool for the afternoon. Treat yourself by renting one of the 10 cabanas and while away the hours sipping the nectar from a coconut. For a change of scenery, take a few steps to the beach, where red-and-white striped chairs that look plucked from a Lana Del Rey video make perfect perches for people watching.
Prior to hitting the town for the evening, get acquainted with the hotel’s high rollers—and
we’re not just talking about the guests. The W’s star-studded art collection, featuring work from the likes of George Condo and Andy Warhol, is valued near $50 million. Then head to the South of Fifth neighborhood for a sumptuous dinner at Upland, a rustic-chic eatery adorned with white
shiplap and jars of preserved lemons. Indulge in dishes like pistachio pizza and truffle fettuccine before toasting a well-spent weekend in Florida’s “magic city”—you might just be under its spell. ◆
—Sneak a peek at Gianni Versace’s South Beach estate—featured in FX’s true-crime series The Assassination of Gianni Versace, and only a 10-minute drive from the W.
—For a laid-back beach vibe, grab a drink at Irma’s at the W—named after and built with debris from the eponymous hurricane.
Bakan, bakanwynwood.com; The Dutch, thedutchmiami.com; Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, frostscience.org; Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne, ritzcarlton.com; Upland, uplandmiami.com; W South Beach, marriott.com; Wynwood Walls, thewynwoodwalls.com