miami travel guide

Check out Bossa Concept, a boutique that showcases designers from Brazil and across South America. (Photo: Nathan Lump)

Miami

Fashion, Food and (Lots of) Fun: 3 Locals Dish on Miami’s Can’t-Miss Hot Spots

Miami is one of the country’s true capitals of fun, but it’s far more than a place to party. From culture to food to fashion, the city is a dynamic center of more sophisticated pleasures, too.

To get an insider’s view of the variety the city has to offer visitors now, we asked three plugged-in locals — all themselves connected to some can’t-miss spots — for three recommendations of where to go and what to do in their hometown.

ALESSANDRA CAVALCANTE, FOUNDER, BOSSA CONCEPT

Local tastemaker Alessandra Cavalcante is the creative mind behind Bossa Concept, a boutique for women in Miami Beach’s Sunset Harbour that showcases designers from her native Brazil and South America whose wares you won’t find anywhere else stateside.

Think striking caftans and jumpsuits, billowing gossamer and wrap dresses, sexy swimwear and killer accessories like rattan handbags and platform espadrilles. 1201 20th Street, Miami Beach; bossaconcept.com

Alessandra’s picks:

Local and Authentic: Sherwood’s Bistro & Bar

miami travel guide
Explore Little River and dine at Sherwood’s. (Photo: Nathan Lump)

A charmingly dilapidated neighborhood favorite in Little River with tile floors, a tin ceiling and vintage midcentury lounge furniture, Sherwood’s draws crowds for its eclectic mix of comfort food — from coq au vin to gnocchi to fish and chips — and great cocktails. Great brunch, too.

Famous and Great: Mandolin Aegean Bistro

miami travel guide
Try a taste of the Mediterranean at Mandolin. (Photo: Nathan Lump)

On a beautiful Miami evening, everyone knows there are few better places to be than in the lantern- and candle-lit tiled courtyard of Mandolin, enjoying a bottle of crisp rosé and dining on excellently prepared Greek and Turkish dishes like Ali Nazik (ground lamb and hot chiles atop smoky pureed eggplant) and a pitch-perfect moussaka.

Worth a Splurge: Swan & Bar Bevy

For a big night out with the jeunesse dorée of Miami, head to Swan in the Design District, an Instagram-ready collaboration between Pharrell Williams and local hospitality guru David Grutman.

Bring your friends, tuck into the Dover sole or a dry-aged NY strip steak, order a bottle of Krug and you’re pretty much guaranteed a good time.

JULIO CABRERA, CANTINERO and FOUNDER, CAFE LA TROVA

miami travel guide
You’ll find some of Little Havana’s best food at Café La Trova. (Photo: Nathan Lump)

There are lots of Cuban restaurants in Little Havana, as well as places to hear live music, but the new Café La Trova, a partnership between James Beard Award–winning chef Michelle Bernstein and the acclaimed bartender Julio Cabrera, combines them with a panache like no other.

In a stylish space equal parts kitsch (a faux facade of an old Havana house, complete with Juliet balcony and a clothesline, forms one wall of the place) and retro-glam (the back bar has a faceted mirrored wall and a flashing pink neon sign that reads “80’s bar”), the empanadas and croquetas are superb, the cocktails whimsical and potent, and the music is on fire.

Julio’s picks:

Local and Authentic: Azucar Ice Cream Company

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Indulge your sweet tooth at Azucar. (Photo: Nathan Lump)

Azucar is a colorful artisanal ice-cream shop in Little Havana beloved for its Latin flavors, like quatre leches and Maria Abuela, a concoction of guava and cream cheese with crushed Maria cookies. You’ll also find classics like chocolate and pistachio among the 16 daily choices.

Famous and Great: Macchialina Taverna Rustica

Honest Italian fare without the pretense has been drawing crowds to Chef Michael Pirolo’s Macchialina for years. Handmade pastas like the short-rib and taleggio lasagna and an atmosphere reminiscent of a classic New York City red sauce joint — exposed brick, cushy leather banquettes — provide a welcome respite from the usual glitz and glam of Miami Beach.

Worth a Splurge: The Havana Collection

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Look for unexpected fashion finds in Little Havana. (Photo: Nathan Lump)

For a real-deal guayabera — done in high-quality linen rather the scratchy polyester you’ll find elsewhere — head to this old-school shop in Little Havana. Ladies will also find a nice selection of gauzy linen tops and lacework dresses.

For such a small space, the selection is vast, but never fear: The owner is often on hand to guide you through it all.

MEGAN RILEY, DIRECTOR OF EXTERNAL AFFAIRS, THE BASS MUSEUM OF ART

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Get your culture fix at The Bass. (Photo: Nathan Lump)

Housed in a beautiful 1930s art deco building — the former Public Library of Miami Beach — and renovated and enlarged in 2017, The Bass Museum of Art is a jewel of a museum focused on contemporary art.

In addition to its small permanent collection, it shows innovative exhibitions that explore the work of a diverse range of creators, including, recently, the textile and fabric artist Sheila Hicks and the provocative multimedia artists Haegue Yang and Lara Favaretto.

Megan’s picks:

Local and Authentic: KREL

Hidden in Upper Eastside’s cool Ironside complex — a collection of galleries, studios and showrooms — is KREL, Karelle Levy’s shop for limited-edition knitwear designed specifically for Miami’s tropical climate.

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Stop by KREL in the Ironside complex. (Photo: Nathan Lump)

Tank dresses, caftans, rompers, bandeaus and more come in zippy, Missoni-esque stripes; metallic solids; and ombre weaves. Visitors to the workshop can also select their own combinations and colors for a special custom piece.

Famous and Great: KYU

There’s a reason everybody loves KYU, the Asian-fusion restaurant in the heart of Wynwood, the city’s arts district.

Chef Michael Lewis deftly takes a kind of American tradition — the wood-fired grill — and gives it a dose of bold Asian flavors, as seen in dishes like wagyu beef brisket with black shichimi pepper and a Thai fried rice stone pot with fried egg and (recommended) king crab. It’s busy, fun and worth a visit.

Worth a Splurge: Private Boat Charter

What could be more “Miami” than hiring your own boat and crew to zip you around the city’s coastline and waterways?

Whether you get a vintage-style Italian speedboat or a full-on blinged-out yacht, it’s a great way to see the city — and few things are more fun that pulling up in your own boat for dinner or drinks at one of Miami’s posh waterfront restaurants and bars.

Ask your hotel concierge to connect you to the boat rental company that’s best for you based on the size of your party and personal style.