Sure, it’s got sun and sand in ample doses. But, as an unofficial gateway to the Caribbean and Latin America, Miami is a hub of tropical offerings, varied cultures, and modern North American urbanism. The beach is sublime, indeed, but it’s also just the start of what the city has to offer.
Where to stay: A love child of Baz Luhrmann, designer Catherine Martin and Argentinian hotelier Alan Faena, the Faena Hotel is located in Miami’s newest arts and culture district, aptly named the Faena District. Inside the hotel, expect a theatrical decor aesthetic, plus four bars, three restaurants and a spa.
What to do: With collections that cross media, subjects and styles in a celebration of the city’s diversity, the Pérez Art Museum Miami features a distinct take on modern and contemporary art. And its unique architectural style, which includes a wrap-around veranda and floor-to-ceiling windows, offers views of Biscayne Bay.
Where to eat: The patio at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar is set within the famed Wynwood Walls, a massive collection of graffiti and street art murals covering the walls of warehouse buildings. Patrons can chow down on chipotle chicken empanadas and black bean soup amid one of the best street art collections in the country.
Where to stay: Located minutes from South Beach (with a fleet of rental bikes to get you there), The Standard Spa, Miami Beach makes staying active easy with a daily roster of on-site yoga, Pilates and other fitness classes. Guests can soothe sore muscles at the spa, which includes a hammam, mud baths and eucalyptus steam room.
What to do: It’s easy to work up a sweat in Miami, but for the coolest core-strengthening workout in town, hit the water. Local outfitter SUP The Workout offers stand-up paddleboarding classes for all skill levels (choose from group or private sessions) on calm Biscayne Bay. SUP Pilates and yoga sessions are also available.
Where to eat: In a city full of juice bars, Under the Mango Tree is a standout and a local favourite. For a potent energizer, wash down your spicy kale-melt sandwich or Brazilian acai bowl with a Superfood Frap, which consists of brewed espresso blended with raw cacao, maca, agave, almond milk and cinnamon.
Where to stay: Expect style, and food, that’s a notch above your typical surf shack at the Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club. The decor is old-school Miami glam, with mid-century accents that harken back to its days as a celebrity hangout. The hotel also houses the only outpost of Le Sirenuse’s Michelin-starred restaurant on the Amalfi Coast.
What to do: Get your taste buds acquainted with Miami’s diverse culinary scene on a food tour of iconic South Beach. Miami Culinary Tours’ 2.5-hour walking excursion takes you through the neighbourhood’s cool art deco architecture on a hunt for tasty local bites, including authentic ceviche and empanadas.
Where to eat: Home to an ever-growing number of condos—and a stronger urban vibe than South Beach—Brickell is becoming Miami’s foodiest neighbourhood. Sink your teeth into a Mexican torta stuffed with fried grouper and all the fixings at Coyo Taco, or indulge in Italian comfort food at Fi’lia.
Where to stay: Surrounded by fragrant gardens and more types of palm trees than you likely knew existed, the lush Palms Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach is an escape within an escape. The decor at this oceanfront resort gives off a tropical vibe, and the menu at its restaurant incorporates local ingredients including kale and green papaya.
What to do: Visit the Tropical Plant Conservatory and Rare Plant House at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden—located southwest of downtown in Coral Gables—to see more than 450 exotic plants, including rare palms and orchids. For an extra slice of nature, consider biking there via the Old Cutler Trail.
Where to eat: Farm-to-table California cuisine gets a South Florida twist at Upland in Miami Beach. Chef Justin Smillie creates rustic fare featuring many ethnic influences. Try the Florida prawns with olive oil and lemon, and rainbow roasted carrots with labne (a Greek yogurt) and togarashi (a Japanese spice).
Getting there: WestJet flies to Miami once a day from Toronto, starting Oct. 29, 2017.