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My Miami: Inside Tips on Where to Beach, Eat, Party & More

by on June 16, 2014 · 22 comments

in Lifestyle, Miami

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This week, we introduce you to the TPG staff based far and wide across the United States and Europe. To learn a little more about them, they’re sharing with you their experiences in the destinations that they call home. Today, meet our Lifestyle Editor Shayne Benowitz and learn about her Miami.

Miami was never on my radar as a place that I might want to live one day. In fact, it wasn’t even a destination on the top of my list to visit. Before moving here, my only experience with Miami was about as touristy and stereotypical as it gets. I came here to catch a cruise. On those two cruising occasions, it was another Florida destination that captured my imagination—Key West. There was something about the water, the boats, its wild side and nonconformist lifestyle that appealed to me, and I dreamed about Key West for years.

I started my career in New York City as a middle school English teacher and I tested the waters in Key West during my summer vacation before eventually making the move to be apart of its ragtag community. When it came time to “reenter society,” I chose Miami to be my next home. I had tested the waters up here, as well, before making the decision, on a series of road trips up US 1 for long weekend stays. I liked Miami. I loved the nightlife, the luxurious hotels with oceanfront pools, the fashion and shopping, the restaurants. I think it was a weekend stay at The Raleigh hotel with my sister that sealed the deal, and later a New Year’s Eve celebration at the W Hotel South Beach with my best friend. I thought, this place is for me.

The facade of The Raleigh, the perfect hideaway in the heart of South Beach

The facade of The Raleigh, the perfect hideaway in the heart of South Beach

During my first year here, I remember thinking that it was the first practical move I ever made. I came here right before my 30th birthday, after a nomadic decade between New York, Key West and Paris, with the intention of finding a place to grow some roots and make a mark. After nearly four years here, it’s the first time in my adult life that I don’t have somewhere else on the horizon that I’m scheming about moving to.

Lifestyle Editor Shayne Benowitz (right) enjoying sunset cocktails at The Standard with her sister Kristy

Lifestyle Editor Shayne Benowitz (right) off to sunset cocktails at The Standard with her sister Kristy

I love Miami. And I love it a little more with each passing day. For me, this city merges two of my favorite things: a laidback beach culture that caters to an active, outdoor lifestyle and a cosmopolitan city with every luxury at your fingertips. It also has a late night, outdoor café culture that reminds me of Europe in the summertime.

Typical night out with the girls sampling the best cocktails in town at the Regent Cocktail Club in South Beach

Typical night out with the girls sampling the best cocktails in town at the Regent Cocktail Club in South Beach

And it’s more than that. I love that it’s a young city and continues to take shape rapidly before our eyes—and the feeling that you’re uniquely apart of it if you’re here right now. Its history is fascinating, renegade and slightly depraved, from the early tycoons who developed Miami Beach out of a swamp to the Rat Pack heyday in the 1950s and the celeb sightings today. Its relationship to Cuba and Latin American is another part of its history that I find fascinating and it makes Miami a fun international city to live in today. It also has deep roots in Jewish culture and a thriving, diverse community that you don’t find everywhere.

La Dolce Vita in Sunset Harbour

The view of Biscayne Bay from Sunset Harbour

The view of Biscayne Bay from Sunset Harbour

My favorite neighborhood in South Beach is Sunset Harbour and in the years since I moved here it’s turned into this incredible little slice of la dolce vita. At dusk, this corner of the island is bustling with good-looking people in their workout clothes heading to Green Monkey Yoga (my favorite), Barry’s Bootcamp (TPG’s favorite) and any of the many other fitness studios in the neighborhood. Others are lingering at café tables outside at Icebox Cafe, Panther Coffee and Pubbelly Sushi. It’s the perfect place to meet friends on a weekend afternoon to peek into boutiques like Frankie., Eberjey and Sunset Clothing Co. Or you can head over to South Beach Kayak and rent a standup paddleboard for a cruise through Biscayne Bay.

Art, Culture and Wynwood

Between Art Basel’s presence in Miami for over a decade (North America’s largest contemporary and modern art fair) and arts trailblazers like Tony Goldman and the Rubell Family, Miami arguably has one of the most exciting contemporary art scenes in the country. Wynwood Arts District (just north of downtown) is ground zero for this thriving movement and I’ve loved being apart of it through my friendship with Robert Fontaine of Robert Fontaine Gallery and his incredible roster of international contemporary artists. It’s been a true education.

Inside Robert Fontaine Gallery in Wynwood

Inside Robert Fontaine Gallery in Wynwood

The neighborhood itself is seriously cool, and shouldn’t be missed on a visit to Miami. The heart of the neighborhood runs along NW 2nd Avenue and streets in the 20s. By day, pop into the galleries (there’s over 70 in the neighborhood) and hip shops and boutiques for vintage clothes and Miami designs. Don’t miss Plant the Future where fine art meets potted succulents in the coolest possible way. In the evenings, hit up bars like Wood Tavern and Gramps for a laidback atmosphere, reasonably priced drinks (try the Penicillin at Gramps made with Scotch, lemon and honey), good music and a fun local crowd. The Second Saturday Art Walk takes place (you guessed it) the second Saturday of the month when galleries stay open late, food trucks line the street and the sidewalks are packed with revelers.

Another incredible addition to Miami’s already stunning skyline and cultural landscape is the Perez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) inside a Herzog & de Meuron-designed building that opens itself up to Biscayne Bay. And speaking of impressive buildings, don’t miss Frank Gehry’sNew World Center on South Beach where you can lounge in a beautifully landscaped park and watch the symphony or old movies projected onto the 6,000 square-foot side of the building. It’s these new cultural landmarks fused into Miami’s identity that makes this city so dynamic.

Beauty and the Beach

Practicing handstands on the beach with my friend Betsy (left)

Practicing handstands on the beach with my friend Betsy (left)

It’s also Miami’s natural beauty and sunny climate that makes it a place I love to call home. The drive across the causeways heading to or from the beach never ceases to be breathtaking, no matter the weather or the time of day. From the Atlantic Ocean to Biscayne Bay to the Miami River snaking through the heart of the city, Miami provides so many stunning views from so many vantage points. And the beach—I grew up in Newport Beach, California and a love for the ocean and the sand is apart of my DNA. The fact that I live in an oceanfront condo with a balcony overlooking the ocean puts a smile on my face every day. The best weekends here involve at least one beach day with good friends and a few bottles of wine (or Champagne, who am I kidding?).

Miami’s nickname the Magic City is apt. My experience living here has been nothing short of magical.

Do you have a question for Shayne about Miami or your own favorite spots to share? Post them in the comments below.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • JK

    While I like that Miami is getting some love, it’s disappointing that this only talks about what most people already know about Miami: beaches and Art Basel. Maybe talk about something south of the airport?

  • Daekwan

    Awesome article. I’ve lived in major cities up and down the east coast.. but Miami remains my final dream destination. Here’s hoping one day I get to live the good life in south Florida!

  • TraderSam

    I am from newport beach too! Have been in miami for 4 times this year alone. Where are the good live music there?

  • Steve

    An annoyance of mine (and it happened more than once in the article): you know “apart” means “away” or “separate” and “a part” is “making up a whole” (which is what you want to write). Surprising from an English teacher.

  • offdalip

    I’ved lived in Miami for 30 years until 2001. My mom still lives there. It’s a nice enough place to visit. But I wouldn’t want to live there especially now that Miami has Outlawed Kitesurfing at all but 2 beaches. Actually, every Miami
    beach since the only 2 open remaining ones are in Cutler Bay and Key Biscayne , technically.
    You Should have also mentioned Coconut Grove.

  • http://www.shaynebenowitz.com/ Shayne Benowitz

    The Stage is a great spot for live music and so is Bardot, both in Midtown. Good spots!

  • http://www.shaynebenowitz.com/ Shayne Benowitz

    I like Bardot and The Stage for live music, both are in midtown.

  • offdalip

    Tobacco Road and Scotty’s Landing usually have Blues and Beach music respectively. SoBe is more TechnoPop and goes on late night……

  • Gene_Frenkle

    What beach is that you are doing handstands on? The reason I ask is because it looks like a good snorkeling beach.

    Great article, I would just add that the key to a quality Miami vacation is lots of research. Miami is EXPENSIVE and there are lots of tourist traps. Just stopping at a sidewalk cafe for a drink is fine, but I would only eat at a restaurant that I have researched. I also would only go to a nightlife spot that I have done research on and know how expensive it is in advance. Also, watch out for the tips being added to even drink orders…most restaurants add the tip due to all of the foreigners vacationing in Miami.

  • offdalip

    No rocks on MB or Crandon so it must be Virginia Key (this is one beach city of Miami actually owns), esp. with the water color change. You don’t get good water visibility there. You do hit exceptional water visibility once you hit Biscayne National Park especially off Elliott Key, just rent a boat and head towards the underwater rocks that are 10 feet underwater 1/2 mile east of elliott key for snorkeling

  • CD

    Another good place to check out if you like pilates is also in sunset harbor…http://www.hauserpilates.com/ Hauser Bayside Pilates. They are awesome!

  • Mike

    Maybe also mention that spanish and russian are the two main languages in miami. I live in fort lauderdale and anyone living in south florida know what i man.

  • Sherry

    Try 66str and Collins avenue,the best spot in Miami!

  • Good Riddens

    Been in here for 30 years with deep roots in South Miami, Miami beach, Sobe, Miami Shores, Downtown. After a week in Cali recently I’ve decided to run from Miami as fast as possible. I was blown away at how nice, intelligent, polite, forward thinking the people on the west coast were. Miami today is just like its people, beautiful on the outside but empty shells on the inside. CANT WAIT TO LEAVE!!!

  • http://www.shaynebenowitz.com/ Shayne Benowitz

    The beach is around 30th Street. Yes, Miami is a very expensive city and requires some research to navigate properly. Maybe a good follow up story to this post. Thanks!

  • http://www.pausethemoment.com/ Ryan Gargiulo

    I’ve been to Miami a few times and I’ve still yet to experience the actual heart of downtown Miami. All of my visits have taken me straight from the airport to South Beach.

    One thing I always tell people when they ask me how I feel about South Beach is that I’ve never traveled to a destination that made me more motivated to workout than when I take that first step out onto Ocean Drive. Is it just me or are the majorty of people that hang down by SoBe always looking super fit and sexy?

    All this talk about South Beach and now I’m feigning to get back there! Even if it’s just a quick stop into Red, the Steakhouse. Mmm!

    P.S. – I did get the chance to visit Wynwood on one of my visits and I simply can’t recommend it enough. If there’s two things you cannot miss in Wynwood it’s the Street Art Tour http://www.pausethemoment.com/street-art-wynwood-miami/ and brunch at Morgan’s!

  • dwduck

    Los Angeles: a city of philosophers.

  • studd

    The city of Miami is also really poor, usually 2nd or 3rd poorest in nation. One of the largest divides between rich and poor. Huge racial divides, Ever been to Liberty City when there wasn’t an event at the Ice Palace? Crime is really bad, still bad and the police force on Miami Beach are still out of control, violent and dangerous. (Google is your friend) The tow companies in the City of Miami Beach run a well known scam, including fake privately owned parking lots that look like city lots, towing cars for fake reasons, and running shakedown operations akin to something from the Mob. Service standards at hotels, restaurants, everywhere takes some time to getting use to…. they are severely lacking and no amount of complaining will improve them because they have heard it all before and they will not ever see you again so they don’t care. All of these are really important to mention to tourists who provide Miami with a never ending supply with unwitting victims.

  • studd

    You laugh but when I moved from MIami to LA I was shocked at how intelligent and well spoken the “superficial” people of LA were compared to the models, aspiring artists, and other assorted trash of Miami. People are beautiful in Miami but really, really stupid or they are unintelligible because of significant language, and cultural differences that just do not occur in LA. Good Riddens would be better off in San Francisco. The only good thing about people in Miami is that they will tell you to your face what they think of you or they will just ignore you if you cant do something for them, directly and openly in ways people on the West Coast of the USA still don’t understand.

  • studd

    Virginia Key is the huge sewage processing plant location for most of Miami. Miami works hard to repress the high levels of pollution in the bathing and drinking water.

  • studd

    All these articles about Miami in the summer? Usually Visit Miami subsidizes this stuff targeting Europeans, the Crisis must mean that tourism PR is not working in the EU this summerr?

  • offdalip

    Yes indeed it is…on the west side.
    It is also one of the nicest beaches in FL…. on the EAST side

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