Fun in Miami Beach

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Historic Miami Beach advertisement
Historic Miami Beach advertisement

Miami Beach, a perennial favorite travel destination,  continues to entice with new upscale hotels and  cutting edge restaurants.

Where to Eat

Pao by Paul Qui

Argentine hotelier, Alan Faena, of the eponymous Faena Hotel, picked Paul Qui, a Top Chef and James Beard Award winner, to head the kitchen at Pao. Qui, who got his start in the Austin food truck scene, blends flavors from his native Phillipines, Japan and Asia in an eclectic menu. Expect the unusual.

Examples include: a seared tuna belly, cooked over white oak heated to 800 degrees, served on a bed of lettuce painted with butter. East Side King Fried Chicken,  lifted from his Texas food truck menu, is a boneless, crusted chicken, fried and served with a spicy banana ketchup. A well marbled smoked beef short-rib is paired with pickled vegetable puree, a nod to Korean street food.

Unicorn at Pao
Unicorn at Pao

Unicorn , a roasted sweet corn pudding presented in a sea urchin shell, is a favorite.

You’re in good hands with a  great sommelier and attentive waiters who have a comprehensive knowledge of the large menu.

Damien Hirst’s sculpture Unicorn is the restaurant’s centerpiece. Check out Hirst’s Gone but not Forgotten – the gilded skeleton of a woolly mammoth, currently on display in the courtyard.

Beachcraft

Beachcraft at 1 Hotel, Miami Beach
Beachcraft at 1 Hotel, Miami Beach

Five-time James Beard award winner, Tom Colicchio, is at the helm of Beachcraft at 1 Hotel. Colicchio honed his cooking chops in the south of France at 2-star Michelin restaurants, but emphatically states the Beachcraft menu is not French.  Using locally sourced ingredients, Colicchio’s fresh and inventive menu puts a spin on old favorites. Try his Mexican-inspired grilled octopus, glazed with a tangy ancho chile sauce or the sashimi paired with a compote of tropical fruit.

Lure Fishbar

Lure Fishbar Miami Beach
Lure Fishbar Miami Beach

Located in Emeril’s former restaurant space at the Loews Miami Beach Hotel in the St. Moritz building,  Lure has the best seafood in Miami Beach. Dennis, our friendly and helpful waiter, recommended the signature appetizer, crispy rice cakes, a spicy tuna tartare, with wasabi aioli, wrapped in crispy nori. An excellent start to our dinner at Lure.

The daurade, grilled whole, served with watercress and the scallop risotto with brussels sprouts are both excellent. The nautical themed restaurant also has a secluded, comfortable back terrace overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.

Icebox Cafe

Icebox Cafe Miami Beach
Icebox Cafe Miami Beach

Featuring healthy choices in a creative, contemporary menu, Icebox Cafe is a great choice for dining in Miami Beach.

Wild Salmon Burger at Icebox Cafe
Wild Salmon Burger at Icebox Cafe

Try the Bet a Beet Juice, the wild salmon burger and the Chocolate Delight dessert, all excellent.

Things to do in Miami Beach

Interested in the architecture of Miami Beach? Try the fun, informative 90-minute Art Deco walking tour offered by the Miami Design Preservation League. Miami Vice was one of the first TV series to film in Miami Beach and the Art Deco Carlyle Hotel on Ocean Drive was a favorite location.

The Carlyle Miami Beach
The Carlyle Miami Beach

Several times developers had bulldozers ready to demolish the historic Art Deco hotels of South Beach and replace them with high density towers of glass and steel. Without the tireless efforts of Barb Capitman and the Miami Design Preservation League, there would be no Art Deco Walking Tour in Miami.

Tip: It’s free to inspect the lobby of most art deco hotels, but to view the Versace mansion, it will cost you 57 bucks for a cocktail at the bar. Dinner may be your best option.

Wolfsonian Miami Beach
Wolfsonian Miami Beach

The Wolfsonian Museum and research library, on Washington Avenue in Miami Beach, is dedicated to preserving the history of modernism in a variety of different media: industrial and furniture design, rare posters, and art works.

The Wrestler by Dudley Talcott
The Wrestler by Dudley Talcott

This unique collection displayed on seven floors reveals the impact design had in shaping the modern world.  The Wrestler by American sculptor Dudley Talcott was first shown at the Los Angeles Olympics in 1932.

Tip: Free on Fridays from 6-9pm

Margaritaville Beach Resort, Hollywood

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Margaritaville Beach Resort, the $147 million Jimmy Buffett-themed hotel, is the new kid on the Hollywood, Florida boardwalk. Lyrics from Jimmy Buffet’s hit songs entered popular culture and now adorn the hotel walls as totems of his gone fishin-carpe manana-beach lifestyle.

Parrots at Margaritaville Beach Resort
Parrots at Margaritaville Beach Resort

Buffet’s loyal fans are known as parrotheads and colorful wooden parrots crown directional signs at the Margaritaville resort. Margaritaville’s hotel rooms bring the beach vibe inside with bleached, sand-colored wood floors and sky-blue accent notes.

Where to Eat

Guests have a choice between the following dining and drinking options: Margaritaville restaurant, the LandShark Bar & Grill, It’s 5 O’clock Somewhere (an outdoor restaurant with a fire pit on the intracoastal waterway) and JWB Prime Steak & Seafood, upscale dining in a casual setting.

JWB at Margaritaville
JWB at Margaritaville

JWB, named for James William Buffet, is a great steak and seafood restaurant with superb service. Start with one of their inventive cocktails.  If you like Mojitos, try the popular Caribbean Amphibian, made with pineapple vodka or a Perfect Partner – Hendricks gin with cucumber-infused watermelon – a refreshing take on a martini.

For starters, try the signature jumbo lump crab cakes, accompanied by a coleslaw, spiced with cumin, curry and golden raisins. Or the pan-fried oysters, presented in the shell on a bed of creamed spinach.  Both pair well with a dry Sancerre.

Locally speared Lionfish is sliced into a tasty sashimi and served in a mirin marinade with black sesame seeds. From chef Johnny Tucker’s creative specials, the JWB surf and turf gives you a great taste of both sides of the menu.

For dessert, try the caramel macchiato, where a chocolate bar meets a cocktail in a glass.

Things to do

Lone Palm Pool at Margaritaville Beach Resort
Lone Palm Pool at Margaritaville Beach Resort

Swimmers have the choice of three pools: The Lone Palm Pool, the adults only rooftop pool and the Landshark Pool which features a kid-friendly waterslide and tiki-style cabanas. There’s also a FlowRider, where pro surfers offer neophytes a lesson.  Resort fees also include chaise lounges set up on the beach. Lifeguards, not always present in  beach resort locations, are on duty in front of the Margaritaville resort.

For guests who want the ultimate in relaxation, try the St. Somewhere Spa, with eleven treatment rooms, steam rooms, scrub room, and rainfall showers. The 50 minute Swedish massage is highly recommended.

Your Guide to an Active Vacation