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Avalon Hotel photo credit: John Cameron Photography

Fun in Miami Beach

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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.

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.

Where to stay in Miami Beach

The Balfour Hotel Miami Beach

The historic Art Deco hotels, non-stop multicultural music and food events, the turquoise waters and wide, soft sandy beaches with their yellow, pink and green lifeguard stations make world-renowned South Beach in Miami Beach a destination like no other.

Miami Beach Lifeguard Stand
Miami Beach Lifeguard Stand photo credit: John Cameron

For our stay in South Beach, we chose The Balfour, a mid-century modern boutique hotel with just 82 rooms, located on the quiet south end of Ocean Drive in the desirable SoFi (south of fifth) area – close to South Beach’s outdoor cafes, and restaurants but far removed from the noise of the late night nightclubs.

The Balfour rooftop deck
The Balfour rooftop deck photo credit: John Cameron

We were welcomed by attentive staff with two glasses of bubbly and the helpful concierge instructed us on how to redeem our comped offer of a  free two hour bike ride. Cyclists, joggers and pedestrians all share the scenic 7 mile Miami Beach boardwalk from South Pointe to Surfside. This is a big don’t miss!

The Balfour Hotel Miami Beach
The Balfour Hotel Miami Beach photo credit: Sherel Purcell

Things to Do in Miami’s South Beach

Cycle to the beautifully landscaped Miami Beach boardwalk and head south to South Pointe Park and cycle to the Miami Beach Marina. If cruise ships are your thing, arrive at South Pointe Pier around 4:30 to watch the big ships depart. You could also head north towards the always popular Lincoln Road for more shopping and dining options. Or grab some towels from the front desk and relax and people watch on the beach.

Miami Beach Boardwalk
Miami Beach Boardwalk photo credit: John Cameron

We enjoyed a great sleep in our comfortable pillowtop king bed complete with Frette Italian sheets. Of the two inviting outdoor patios, we chose the sunnier front terrace for our delicious breakfasts, perennial favorites avocado toast and eggs benedict.

Life House Collins Park

A historic streamline moderne building constructed in 1934 is now the boutique hotel Life House Collins Park, located mid Miami Beach on Park Avenue, one block west of Collins Avenue, just behind the Miami Ballet and the Bass Museum.

Life House Collins Park Miami Beach Lobby
Life House Collins Park Lobby photo credit: John Cameron

Life House is a short walk to the shops on Lincoln Road, the renowned Sweet Liberty cocktail bar and the beach. Life House is on trend with contactless check-in – you self check-in, make your room keys, hustle your bags and valet your own car.  Parking is tight in this neighborhood so drop your bags off first.

Shakshuka at Life House Collins Park Miami Beach
Shakshuka at Life House photo credit: John Cameron

Dine al fresco facing the Collins Canal on the beautiful Life House patio . Their creative menu features  Mediterranean homestyle cuisine with flavors from Lebanon, Southern Italy, and Greece. Try the delicious Red Pepper Shakshuka fresno chilli baked egg, with feta and herbs.

When you want to chill out or read a book, check out the third floor rooftop landscaped outdoor terrace with a plunge pool.

Life House Collins Park plunge pool
Life House plunge pool photo credit: John Cameron

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 South 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

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Mike

    That sea urchin dish looks bizarre

    1. You have to admit the presentation is unique. My fav was the East Side King Fried Chicken.

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