Miami must-sees: discover the best of the city right now

Ahead of Design Miami (30 November-4 December) and Art Basel Miami Beach (1-3 December), we reveal the city’s highlights, from cool bars and spas to elevating dining and experiential art

Pool at The Goodtime Hotel, Miami
The Goodtime Hotel
(Image credit: Alice Gao)

Once the plane doors open and the hot humid air hits your face, you quickly realise Miami is not just a city of flashy clubbers and speedboat playboys, plastic surgeons and crypto wannabes – ‘a sunny place for shady people’, as Miamians like to say.  

The city is lush and vibrant, with rich blue water in every direction. Its abundance of natural light and sweeping subtropical views, postcard-worthy sunsets, and art deco gems dressed in fresh whites, pinks and baby blues, all paint a picture of beauty and tranquillity. 

It’s no wonder that the urbanites of NYC, LA, SF and beyond are flocking in droves down to this metropolitan paradise to seek a cure for their pandemic blues. This new luxury crowd is bringing more wealth and energy to the Magic City. With this new breed comes an army of new restaurants and cultural spaces. Design Miami (30 November – 4 December) and Art Basel Miami Beach (1 – 3 December) continue to grow and attract the creative troops, while residential towers attached to A-list architects such as Piero Lissoni, Frank Gehry, and Rem Koolhaas outline the iridescent evening landscape.

As designer and Miami resident Maria Sobrino reveals, this seems to be a new era for the city, affirming that the city is an exciting place to be. Here’s Sobrino’s guide to the best of Miami right now.

Miami tour: 8 ways to enjoy the city like a local

Uchi Miami

sushi on wooden board

Otoro gunkan dish at Uchi Miami, made from fatty tuna and rice

(Image credit: Hai Hospitality)

Award-winning Chef Tyson Cole merges Japanese flavours and textures with Florida’s vibrant energy and style with his second sushi restaurant outside of Texas, Uchi Miami. Following Austin’s legendary Uchi, the Miami restaurant offers an extensive menu of hot and cold dishes – among the favourites are hama chilli, and halibut in coconut beurre blanc foam – making this a winner right out of the temple gates. 

The contrast of cultures is also reflected in architect Michael Hsu’s restaurant’s design. Aside from a palette of natural materials such as wood and rattan, there’s a striking curved-brick wall installation, handwoven with rope by artist Vas Bets; murals by artist Nicole Salgar, and an outdoor living plant wall by design firm Plant the Future.

uchimiami.com (opens in new tab)

The Standard spa

Person stands on couch with ice cream at Standard Spa Miami Beach

The Standard spa

(Image credit: The Standard)

The Standard spa is the undisputed champion of glamour, and everything one could want in a spa experience and peaceful oasis currently in Miami. 

A favourite for staycations, it’s a tropical playground for grown-ups looking for fun and rest. The spa has been recently renovated by Shawn Hausman Design in collaboration with The Standard’s in-house design team. There’s a new ice room tempered to ease the muscles, a stunning cedar-clad sauna as inviting as the views from its oval-shaped windows framing the Biscayne Bay, an expansive Turkish-style hammam – inspired by the ancient traditions of communal bathing – where you can socialise whilst zenning out, Gio Ponti-tiled bathrooms, and a new post-treatment lounge with Danish rattan loungers and House of Hackney leafy prints where your troubles evaporate away. 

The ‘spa with guests’, as they like to call The Standard hotel, is an unmissable spot for those who want to be seen, or those who just wish to lounge on pool-side chairs pre or post-treatment.

standardhotels.com (opens in new tab)

Florida!

open book with illustrations

The Florida! book by A24

(Image credit: Courtesy A24)

Florida! is a unique, outsiders’ travel guide for those brave enough to dive into the wild side of the weird state of Florida. Through a collection of personal essays, fold-out maps, oddly-themed parks and festivals, beach tips and local recipes, Florida! reveals the magnetism and appeal of America’s most misunderstood state. 

Its colourful graphic pages are full of humorous illustrations by Miami artist Gabriel Alcala (lead singer of Miami band Jacuzzi Boys), which reveal the truth of Florida via colourful vignettes – from how to fight a shark, to the nuances of the perfect Cuban sandwich. Along the way, it also shines a light on the history of the African American diaspora in Florida. 

Edited by Gabrielle Calise and published by A24, this book meets all expectations of a wonderful read and a wonderful object to find either atop a coffee table, or discovered amidst a crowded bookshelf.

shop.a24films.com (opens in new tab)

Primaried Studio

room with chair and black 'flame' shaped chair


(Image credit: BFA/Diana Zapata)

Upon entering this all-white industrial space in the Little Haiti neighbourhood, it’s clear that the people behind Primaried Studio are design-obsessed. Their rotating collection of vintage furniture pieces, mostly in a bold 1960s, 1970s and 1980s palette, has been carefully curated with a historical narrative in mind. 

Now, along with its catalogue of Space Age design icons by the likes of Joe Colombo and Massimo Vignelli, the studio has teamed up with Ellie Hayworth, from New York and Miami design consultancy Hayworth, to extend its platform to contemporary creatives. The space showcases works by young talents including Miami collective Studio Boheme, Venezuela-based Atelier Caracas, Kouros Maghsoudi, and OM Editions. This is the kind of place that takes Miami to the next level. 

primariedstudio.com (opens in new tab)

Low Key bar and restaurant

outside eating area with picnic tables

(Image credit: Julian Liger)

For those wanting to get away from the busy South Beach and Wynwood crowds, Low Key is Miami’s newest spot to enjoy the beautiful winter weather. Because the local Miami crowd likes to take their ‘casual’ things very seriously, this Florida Keys-inspired Little River joint is the kind of place you can wear your flip-flops or your hipster gear, have frozen cocktails or a can of beer to pair with fresh and easy seafood dishes, all while maintaining the familiarity of a close friend’s back patio. 

The inspiration for the founders, also behind Over Under in downtown Miami, was the ease and breeze of the Lower Keys, its religion of enjoying the moment, and the right music to set the mood. It’s an instant classic, and a much-needed communal space for locals to meet and kick back.

lowkeymiami.com (opens in new tab)

Superblue

3,000 suspended lightbulbs

(Image credit: courtesy of Superblue)

A dedicated space for experiential art and design, Superblue made a big splash when it debuted last summer at a time when things in Miami were just getting moving again post-pandemic. The cultural venue, located in a transformed warehouse just opposite the Rubell Museum in the Allapattah neighbourhood, has already hosted an outstanding run of trailblazing artists in the field of immersive art – amongst them James Turell, Es Devlin, Drift, Studio Swine, and Nick Cave. 

Following this prestigious line-up is Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, who launches his new exhibition ‘Pulse Topology’ alongside Design Miami and Art Basel Miami Beach 2022. The highly sensorial artwork will comprise 3,000 suspended light bulbs flickering in harmony with the visitors’ heartbeats. The pulsating lights – which will respond to biometric data collected from viewers’ voices, breathing, fingerprints and heart rates – are a reminder that we are intrinsically connected as part of an ever-shifting human network; a beautiful reflective experience as we slowly heal from our collective isolation. 

superblue.com (opens in new tab)

The Goodtime Hotel 

The library at The Good Time hotel Miami

The library at The Goodtime Hotel

(Image credit: Alice Gao)

Envisioned as a tropical enclave within the pleasure-seeking locale of South Beach, The Goodtime Hotel, by David Grutman and Pharrell Williams, offers full-circle full-on escapism – a cosy library for work or some alone time, a holistic spa for meditative moments, a Mediterranean menu at Strawberry Moon restaurant, and a picture-perfect pink striped pool with lounge areas, fancy cabanas and music to set the vibe. Designed by Ken Fulk, its playful and unrestrained interiors nod to old Caribbean and Central America resorts, with a mix of pastel soft furnishings, rattan, flora and fauna murals, shell motifs, and art deco plasterwork. An ideal stay for those craving both stimulation and relaxation. 

thegoodtimehotel.com (opens in new tab)

El Salón cocktail bar

bar with patterned chairs

The bar at El Salón in the Esme hotel

(Image credit: Photography: Jen Castro)

Tucked in a corner off the busy and vibrant Española Way, this chic and intimate cocktail bar is part of the Esme Hotel Miami Beach, but can be easily missed by the surrounding tourists looking for a quick fix. Its subtly elegant, Arabic- and French-influenced interiors pay homage to the area’s bohemian past, when it was an artists’ colony built to resemble Mediterranean villages.

Perfectly complementing the beautiful dark wood surfaces, eclectic details, and quirky seating of this hidden gem is the impressive cocktail offering. For those with a refined palate, the drinks menu – methodically organised by flavour profiles, distinctive blends and carefully tailored spirits – does not disappoint.

esmehotel.com (opens in new tab)

Originally hailing from Puerto Rico, Maria Sobrino spent seven years with Wallpaper* as an interiors stylist. These days you can find her enjoying a dinner al fresco at her Miami MiMo apartment on Biscayne Bay, or riding her scooter around Miami in search of beautiful things, both exterior and interior.