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

Feb. 28, 2021
7 min read
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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.

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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 image by (Photo by matiascamiloriv/Twenty20)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG featured card

Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards

2 - 10X points
10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day

Intro offer

75,000 bonus miles
Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

Annual Fee

$395

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023
Best card for premium perks while traveling
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
5X5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel.
2X2 Miles per dollar on every purchase, every day
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

    75,000 bonus miles
  • Annual Fee

    $395
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023