text & photography by LIDIA RYAN
Spring in the northeast can be a cruel tease; one minute it’s 70 degrees and sunny, and the next you find yourself digging up that winter coat again. When I just can’t take the cold anymore, a quick flight down to sunny Miami never fails to lift my mood.
South Beach is arguably the best part of Miami thanks to the nightlife, architecture and, of course, the beach. I always book an early morning flight so I can head straight to the sand.
A day on South beach means many things: burning sun, turquoise water, beautiful people and tropical cocktails served ocean side.
My usual hotel is the Marriott Stanton, where a coconut mojito is my go-to beach drink. This trip, I stayed at the Royal Palm Hotel; their cucumber mojito did the trick.
Art Deco District
If you appreciate architecture, a stroll through the Art Deco District on Ocean Drive is a must.
Fun fact: Miami Beach’s Art Deco District is the first 20th-century neighborhood to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. According to National Geographic, 800 historically significant buildings were built in this area between 1923 and 1943.
Today, most of the Art Deco hotels aren’t very nice inside, but the facades create a beautiful pastel-colored backdrop along the beach; it’s like walking through a post card.
You will often find vintage cars parked in front of the hotels too, making for perfect photo ops. The city celebrates these iconic buildings every January during Art Deco Weekend.
One of my favorite things to do in the afternoon is to go pool hopping. While actually swimming in the luxury pools is reserved for guests (or those brave enough to take a sneaky dip), anyone is welcome to have a drink or snack at the bar while taking in the majestic pool oases.
One of my favorites is the massive pool at the W Hotel. If you’re walking the beach, you know you’ve reached the W when you see chic magenta umbrellas, but I recommend going in through the front entrance so you can check out the Hello Kitty sculpture by artist Tom Sachs.
Seagrape at the Thompson Hotel is a lovely outdoor café to grab a coffee or cocktail.
The best part of the pool area at the Royal Palm, where I stayed, was relaxing in the wicker swinging pods. Swinging in the shade after a day of sun was the best way to cap off the afternoon.
At the end of Ocean Drive, you will find yourself turning the corner onto Collins Avenue. Here, you will find some very posh boutique and luxury hotels. This is the place to go at night. Start out with a glass of rose and dinner at a beautiful poolside restaurant. If you’re up to it, you live it up until 4am at one of the hotel clubs.
The architecture on Collins brings you back to the golden age of Hollywood. There’s no better example of the Hollywood glamour feel than the Raleigh Hotel, recently purchased by Tommy Hilfiger.
On your way to the glamorous safari-inspired outdoor bar and restaurant, you’ll pass by a gallery wall of vintage Hollywood photos.
Be sure to check out the Sagamore Hotel, called the Art Hotel because of the vast collection decorating the halls.
If you want to feel like Don Draper, check out the Mid-Centry Modern décor inside The Royal Palm.
For dinner, I recommend Cecconi’s at the Soho Beach House. You’ll find it on the north end of Collins Avenue next door to the famous Fontainebleau. The dining room feels like an enchanted garden with twinkle lights wrapped around twisted trees among the tables. You’ll feel like a millionaire when you see the mega yachts parked in the bay outside, but you won’t have to spend like one. The menu at Cecconi’s is surprisingly affordable. My friend and I dined on small plates and champagne for just $40 a person.