Bienvenidos a Miami! This sexy seaside city is filled with beautiful white sand beaches, beautiful art deco buildings, beautifully delicious food, and, of course, beautiful people. Whether you're looking to embed yourself in the glam party scene of South Beach, or immerse yourself in the authentic experience of exploring Little Havana, or you just want to sit on the beach and enjoy the views, there's so much to see and do if you have 48 hours to spend in Miami.
Miami has no shortage of delicious restaurants, so get busy trying some of the best with a quick stop at the beloved Versailles Restaurant for a Cuban sandwich, a mojito (or a Cuban coffee), and some tostones. It looks a little bit like the kind of place your grandparents might go...you know, if you had Cuban grandparents who enjoyed amazing and authentic Cuban food. But, the vibe is fantastic and you'll definitely want to go back the next time you're in town.
Work off your meal at Versailles with a trip to Miami's iconic South Beach. Expect to find warm, white sand, bright blue water, and some world-class people-watching. While at South Beach check out the art deco lifeguard stations, rent beach chairs, hit up a food truck, go in the water, or just take a nap on the sand.
Joe's Stone Crab is an old-school Floridian seafood joint... you know, the kind of place that always has an hour wait (although the restaurant can't seem to squash rumors that slipping the maitre d' a tip gets you a seat sooner). Grab a drink at the bar and enjoy the people watching as you wait for your table. It's all worth it when your dinner arrives, though: the stone crab in the signature sauce, the king crab, and even the fried chicken are divine, and the key lime pie is the perfect end to the meal.
Mac's Club Deuce is a kitschy dive bar that's stayed open in South Beach for 89 years. The strong, cheap drinks, the great jukebox, and the awesome Miami Vice-style neon (literally, some of the signs are old props from the show, and rumor has it that the wrap party was held here) make this place one-of-a-kind.
If you're up for a Miami dive bar crawl, head to Kill Your Idol next. Live shows and DJs, strange decor (think "life-sized statue of Bruce Lee"), incredibly cheap drinks (happy hour lasts until 10pm), and an interesting, punk-y crowd all combine forces to make Kill Your Idol a hip dive worth a stop.
Who would have thought that the best new bar in Miami would be located in a hostel? To be fair, the hostel is the Freehand, which is from the people who run the impossibly cool Saguaro hotels, so don't expect anything less than Instagram-worthy style. The bar is a James Beard award semi-finalist when it comes to the cocktails, which feature ingredients like "bee pollen honey vinegar" and "spiced white chocolate agave."
"Ancient remedies meet modern mixology" in Albert Trummer's Drawing Room, which is presided over by a world-renowned cocktail crafter. Drinks like painkillers, aphrodisiacs, and stress relievers can be found on the menu here, and are brought to you on a brass cocktail cart in a Victorian apothecary-type setting.
The Raleigh Hotel is a landmark art deco hotel that's been a staple in Miami Beach since the 1940's, when it was built. It features one of the most beautiful pools in America, made famous in several Esther Williams films, plus beachfront access, and swanky vibes all around.
Time for some brunch, and no one does brunch better than Southerners. Case in point: Yardbird Southern Table & Bar. Smoked brisket biscuits, chicken and waffles, shrimp and grits, and Elvis-style pancakes are Southern staples that grace the menu of this popular eatery.
We've explored Miami's 1940's art deco history, and its 1980's neon history, but the city has been home to the rich and fabulous for over a century at this point. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is located in a 1914-era historic home, built in a sunny Tuscan style. It has 70 rooms to explore, all done up with antiques and exhibits, plus 10 acres of formal gardens and even more forested land.
When you're ready for a bite to eat, La Camaronera is a little fish market-turned-restaurant that's famous for its snapper sandwich (also known as the pan con minuta), and fried shrimp. It's pretty basic, but it doesn't need to be anything more than delicious.
Maximo Gomez Park is a little community hangout spot right in the middle of Little Havana, Miami's Cuban neighborhood. It's also known as Domino Park, because so many old men play dominos here. It's a great place to make the central location for some exploring of this culturally rich part of Miami! Check out the restaurants, grab a Cuban coffee, look for cigars, listen to some music, and soak it all in.
When you're ready to cool off from all the Miami heat, head to Coral Gables for a dip in the Venetian Pool. Once a lavish pool for a swanky private neighborhood, the Venetian Pool is now open to the public, and it only costs a few bucks to get in. Grottos, islands, waterfalls, and sand for sunbathing make this a totally different experience from the beach, but still allow you to get your sun and swim on.
If you're ready for a drink, head to Coyo Taco. This joint doesn't advertise that they have a bar offering 50 different kinds of tequila in the back, but it's there and it's outstanding. The PaletaRita is a margarita with a popsicle stuck into it, it doesn't get any better than that.
If that tequila was a lot to handle, soak it up with a modern take on a classic comfort food dish at Blue Collar. Don't let the fun decor (which includes a great collection of lunch boxes) fool you. You'd be hard-pressed to find better conch fritters, grilled mahi mahi or perfectly sautéed kale packed up in a plastic box for lunch. You definitely won't leave hungry.
Live salsa music in a historic club that was popular between the 1930's and 1950's, with a rad outdoor patio and killer drinks? Yes please. Ball & Chain is the perfect way to end a trip in Miami. Plus they make some great Cuban food if you find yourself in need of more sustenance!
The best time to visit Miami, weather-wise, at least, is probably spring, before it gets too hot...but the party scene and fair weather attract a lot of people. If you're looking to avoid the crowds, try January or February, however it can be a bit chilly in winter, so pack accordingly. Keep in mind, fall is hurricane season, so if severe weather freaks you out, aim to avoid then.