Say hello to the Miami of the movies

by alex_dalzell

Trendy al-fresco restaurants, swish nightclubs, stunning art deco buildings, year-round sunshine and enough stylish shopping to make even Paris Hilton dizzy. It could only be magical, madcap Miami

Miami oozes cool. It spews from the art-deco facades of the stunning hotels on Ocean Drive. It glows from the cigars smoked on the streets of Little Havana. And it splashes from the paint brushes of the burgeoning arts district.

Everywhere you go in this sprawling city something hip and happening is going down, making Miami one of the coolest damn cities there is.

Most cities have iconic buildings, bridges and monuments to atttact your dollar, but Miami offers entire neighbourhoods. The most iconic is South Beach. Seductive and chic, SoBe (as the locals know it) is the Miami of the movies.

Candy-coloured art deco boulevards dotted with swaying palm trees, drop-top cadillacs with good-looking guys at the wheel and a party scene that puts the clock on hold. Miami is the place to be seen.

Ocean Drive, with its array of art deco hotels, is at the heart of the city’s design heritage. Day and night a hip crowd of models, artists, writers, tourists, strollers and strutters can be seen on the sidewalks, soaking up the glitz and glamour.

The suburb of Little Havana, home to the Cuban community, suggests Miami is more Latin American than just American. Its Spanish signs, cigar factories, street food stalls and benches of old men playing dominoes make this area well worth an ‘hola!'.

The nightlife in this colourful district is nice and spicy. Locals flock to salsa nightclub Hoy Como Ayer to show off their jaw-dropping dancing skills. Think you can boggie? Well, think again!

If any city was made for partying on a grand scale then Miami is it. Its wealth of chic pool-side bars like Nikki Beach, glamorous clubs like Louis and stretches of open white sands make it the obvious choice for to host the annual Winter Music Conference - a week-long electronic dance music festival held every March, attracting a staggering 60,000 visitors and the best DJs from across the world.

Of course, mingling in ultra-chic clubs and bars every night can lead to some serious wardrobe dilemmas. But when you’ve got a choice of shops that would make even Paris Hilton dizzy there is no need to fret about your threads. Lincoln Road in SoBe is an obvious choice, filled with trendy al-fresco restaurants, sidewalk cafes and designer shops. Weekend crowds are inevitable, but there are plenty of high-end stores to go around.

Unsurprisingly for a city that has seen such rapid growth, some areas are still developing. One to keep an eye on is the Wynwood Arts District, north of the downtown business district. This vibrant and energetic enclave of warehouses and gallery spaces has a whiff of Shoreditch-esque grunge about it and is home to the city’s groundbreaking arts scene. On the first Friday of every month crowds gather for the Wynwood Arts Walk, featuring free gallery openings and wild parties. 

The arts district lacks restaurants, but the few it does have are outstanding, such as Joey’s Italian Café which regularly tops the list as one of Miami’s gems. Its pizzas come highly recommended. 

The food in multicultural Miami is as cool as the people. Diners can opt for anything from Japanese sushimi to Creole curries which won't break the bank. Sushi Samba is a shining example - an colourful restaurant on bustling Lincoln Road that serves a fusion of Japanese, Brazilian and Peruvian cuisine. It's an unusual mix and the enthusiastic waiting staff will help you decide on some rewarding menu decisions.

Miami has bags of personality. It's multicultural vibe and many diverse districts means two or three days is never enough. You should spend at least a week exploring this stylish and exciting city before coming up for air.