Miami Beach has long been associated with celebrities like the Rat Pack, Versace and J.Lo – but, with its warm, sunny days, pristine sandy beaches and towering palm trees, it may also be the perfect winter vacation retreat. During this time of year, daytime temperatures rise to the mid-70s and low 80s—ideal for sunning, swimming or just relaxing. South Beach, dubbed America’s Riviera, may be most famous for its bustling nightclubs and pastel-colored Art Deco buildings, but it also offers world-class hotels, restaurants and spas, for an indulgent getaway that need not involve clubbing and dressing up. So leave your stilettos at home, and read on for our suggestions for experiencing the relaxing side of Miami’s South Beach.
Where to stay in Miami Beach
Palms Hotel & Spa
If sipping mojitos by a sparkling pool as parakeets swoop between the palm trees sounds divine, look no further than the Palms Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach. The island-inspired décor of the 251-room hotel evokes a tranquil getaway. The 12-floor oceanfront property features lush tropical gardens that connect directly to the beach, and complimentary beach and pool umbrellas, towels and lounge chairs. Get pampered at the hotel’s Aveda spa, where the luxurious experiences are influenced by Ayurvedic philosophies. Experience the Elemental Nature Massage ($140 for 50 minutes) in a poolside tiki cabana – a personalized massage that factors in environmental and emotional factors such as lifestyle, diet and stress. Indulge your palate at the on-site Essensia Restaurant, where local, seasonal and organic ingredients dominate the gourmet menu. Visit the palmshotel.com for room rates and spa and restaurant menus.
Ritz Carlton, South Beach
Further south, the Ritz-Carlton, South Beach is steps away from the 10-block shopping and dining esplanade of Lincoln Road. The 374-room hotel features a 16,000-square-foot spa, two restaurants and an elevated outdoor pool. The property was completely restored from the original 1953 Morris Lapidus-designed hotel. Visit the website for room rates.
Where to eat in Miami Beach
Van Dyke Cafe
For a filling and delicious breakfast (think fluffy pancakes and eggs and bacon) that won’t break the bank, head to Van Dyke Café on trendy Lincoln Road.
Smith & Wollensky
Surf and turf anyone? Watch the cruise ships and enjoy magnificent views of the Miami skyline while dining on the most delicious steak and seafood ever at Smith & Wollensky, overlooking the Miami Harbor.
What to do in Miami Beach
Relax on the beach
Listen to the waves. It may not be a well-known fact, but South Beach boasts some of the best beaches in Florida. The water is clean and still warm during the winter months, and the sun is less intense than other times of the year. What about beach-combing? A plethora of seashells in various shapes wash up on the sand, for a perfect souvenir to take home. After the beach, take a leisurely walk along the wooden beachside boardwalk that runs from 21st to 46th streets.
Visit a museum
Miami has a thriving art scene, and the Bass Museum of Art, on Collins Avenue, features an impressive collection of antiquities, Renaissance and Baroque art as well as special exhibitions.