When Art Basel launched in Miami in 2002, the glitzy international art fair gave the sun city a new purpose: to ride the wave of art tourism with the trendiest restaurants, the chicest hotels and the most architecturally significant arts venues. Sixteen years on, the only thing Miami still consumes more than mojitos is culture. It seems nothing can quench the city’s thirst for new museums, galleries and creative spaces. Major openings or reopenings in recent years—including the Bass Museum of Art, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami and the Faena Forum—have secured Miami’s reputation as a destination that is equal parts beauty and the beach.
Here are the top things to do on a culture-filled getaway.
1. Get tickets to Sensatia at the Faena Theater
Take in the multimedia circus show, Sensatia (on through May) at the Faena Theater, a modern riff on a Moulin Rouge-style cabaret. Between the performance and the venue, it’s tough to say which is more surreal.
2. Stay at The Julia Hotel
This is a new, adults-only, 29-room property in South Beach. You’ll love the refined touches like 20-foot ceilings in the guest rooms, daily wine-and-cheese happy hour and, of course, an original art collection.
3. Eat at a food hall
The culinary-gallery trend has hit the city in a big way. Italian market La Centrale Miami and New Orleans export St. Roch Market are set to open this year. But if you can’t wait, visit 1-800-Lucky, an Asian marketplace in the Wynwood neighbourhood with seven eateries and two bars.
4. Enjoy a picnic and a performance at the New World Center
While performances at the music hall are inside, you can see many outside on the 7,000-square-foot projection wall of the Frank Gehry-designed building.
5. Go to Little Havana
Between sipping cortadito coffees and eating Cubano sandwiches, visit Futurama 1637, a cluster of artist studios open to the public.
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Leave your devices at the door when you visit Sanibel and Captiva islands, just across the bridge from Fort Myers, Florida. Stay at the beachfront Island Inn, eat at Sweet Melissa's Cafe, go to Cabbage Key Restaurant, visit a wildlife refuge and search for a coveted junonia shell.