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