Yes, you can pull off a laid-back Miami vacation — here’s how to do it

Feb 28, 2021

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The first thing that comes to mind when you hear “Miami” probably isn’t “laid back,” but the cosmopolitan city is much more than what can be found on South Beach. Miami is also a place where you can relax and recharge, and for the following guide, we’re going to show you some laid-back places for your next trip.

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Hotels

Miami has a notoriously flashy hotel scene along Ocean Drive, where you’ll find hotels with raucous happy hours and nightclubs that stay open all night. If this isn’t your scene, the next few hotels might be more your speed.

Related: A beginner’s guide to visiting Miami: Everything you need to eat, see and do

Carillon Miami

The Carillon Miami. (Photo courtesy of Carillon Miami)

Located in North Beach, a quieter, more residential area of Miami, Carillon Miami (part of Leading Hotels of the World) consists of one- and two-bedroom apartments with living rooms and fully equipped kitchens, making it suitable for long stays. The hotel feels like a quiet sanctuary with floor-to-ceiling windows with views of the ocean and beds that can be customized for each guest. The resort has a luxury spa that includes a crystal steam room, an extensive menu of massage treatments, and facials for every skin type. There’s also an on-site acupuncturist and nutritionist available for guests. Outside of the resort, North Beach has a winding boardwalk made for long walks or bike rides.

Related: The best times to visit Miami

Acqualina Resort & Residences

If you’re ready to really splurge on self-care, check out Acqualina Resort & Residences (also a member of LHW). The beachfront hotel is in Sunny Isles, a barrier island located about 20 miles north of South Beach. The hotel includes one-, two- and three-bedroom suites that are lavishly decorated, and each room has its own balcony with intracoastal or ocean views. Visit the spa to indulge in hot stone therapy and a Himalayan salt stone massage, or book a consultation with a health and wellness coach. If you’d like to venture off the property, try nearby Oleta River State Park for kayaking, fishing, and walking the scenic trails.

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne

The Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. (Photo courtesy of Ritz-Carlton)

Venture a little farther out to Key Biscayne, and you’ll find some of the best beaches in Miami. Key Biscayne only has a handful of hotels, in part because the barrier island is less than 4 miles long. Book a one- or two-bedroom suite that’s decorated in calming shades of blue and gray. The suites also have full and half balconies available to take advantage of the sweeping views of the Atlantic Ocean. One of the standout services in the spa includes the “Moon Over Miami,” a combination of an orange salt and oil exfoliation, an Atlantic stone massage and a scalp massage. Nearby activities include the prestigious Crandon Park golf course and Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden.

Restaurants

Truly a melting pot of cultures and flavors, Miami has something for everyone. But if you want to skip the crowds for something a little more secluded, check out these restaurants that offer a multisensory dining experience.

Redfish

Dining at Redfish feels like you’ve been transported to your own private island. Located in the historic Matheson Hammock Park, Redfish is the only waterfront restaurant in Coral Gables. Matheson Hammock Park is full of Florida mangrove forests and spreads out into an open cove on Biscayne Bay. The restaurant has a spectacular view of the water, and the outdoor dining area is decked out in breezy white linens. Some of the menu highlights include fresh seafood plates like grilled branzino and sea scallops.

Related: Stone crab, Cuban sandwiches and mojitos: The 18 best places to eat and drink in Miami

Juvia

Juvia. (Photo courtesy of Juvia/Facebook)

You wouldn’t think that one of Miami’s best restaurants would be in the Lincoln Road Mall, Miami Beach’s quiet outdoor shopping district, but the unassuming exterior hides this rooftop restaurant that locals love. With a panoramic view of Miami, Juvia can only be accessed by elevator, and the restaurant is perched on the ninth floor. There’s indoor and outdoor dining, and the outdoor area includes laid-back lounge seating and a living wall, adding to the garden feel. The menu is a mix of French, Japanese and Peruvian food, so try the Asian beef carpaccio or the truffle risotto.

Joia Beach

Cross the MacArthur Causeway that connects Miami Beach to the mainland, and you’ll find Jungle Island and the unique day resort/restaurant that’s Joia Beach. The restaurant’s boho-chic decor feels like you’re in Tulum, and the restaurant provides views of downtown Miami and Biscayne Bay. The menu is eclectic and includes Turkish octopus, Tasmanian trout and Spanish boquerones. After eating, stick your toes in the white sand that stretches around the property or finish off your meal with a signature Pure Joia cocktail from the tiki bar while you watch the sunset on the lounge chairs.

Spas

And finally, what’s a relaxing weekend without a visit to the spa? If you only have a day in Miami or if you’re looking for a staycation activity, visit one of these unique spas and leave feeling rested and rejuvenated.

Related: 9 of the most amazing spas worth traveling for

The Wellness Garden & Spa

The Wellness Garden and Spa on the rooftop of The Betsey Hotel. (Photo courtesy of The Betsey Hotel/Facebook)

Book a massage on the shaded rooftop deck of The Betsey, one of South Beach’s charming boutique hotels. The only rooftop spa in Miami offers stone massages, manicures, pedicures and a coconut hot towel facial. The spa also creates a specialized aromatherapy experience for each guest at the beginning of each session. In true Miami fashion, there are also massage packages for you and your dog.

Related: 7 secrets Miami locals don’t want you to know

Tierra Santa Healing House

This 22,000-square-foot spa is on the third floor of Miami’s Faena Hotel, and the decor is crisp and bright, reflecting the brightness of Miami and the spa’s South American influences. There’s a team of doctors and healing instructors to address whole-body wellness, and there are several healing body rituals that use oils, butters and poultices made on site. Some other standout treatments include a triple lift advanced facial and the verbena detox, a ritual that uses a dry brush exfoliation, a full-body seaweed wrap and a scalp massage.

The Spa at Mandarin Oriental

The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental Miami. (Photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental)

Take your pick of luxury services at this downtown Miami hotel. Book services in one of the 11 treatment rooms or one of the six suites that overlook Biscayne Bay. The spa uses oxygen and hydrafacial machines for the advanced facials, and there’s also a Healing Wave ritual exclusive to the Mandarin Oriental that combines singing bowls with a back, scalp and foot massage. The spa also offers a variety of outdoor classes like tai chi and belly dancing.

Related: Getting to Miami on points and miles

Featured photo by matiascamiloriv/Twenty20.

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