Author Archives: Josie Gulliksen

Bayfront Park: Versatile venue’s bayside in Downtown

Bayfront Park has a great amphitheater and is conveniently located in the heart of Downtown Miami. It’s easily accessible by Metromover (the Bayside stop leaves you across the street from the park) and there’s always something going on here.

When the weather’s cool it’s the spot for a weekly Friday night Downtown Concert Series hosting a variety of local musical acts. The remainder of the year it’s the site for great Fourth of July and New Year’s Eve bashes. They’ve got Yoga in the Park Monday and Wednesday nights and Saturday mornings, boat charters and para-sailing and for a no-fuss lunch, the ever-popular lunch trucks (there are several ones that park here on different days of the week) offer a great alternative to a sit-down restaurant and the view can’t be beat.

Bayfront Park is located at 301 North Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 305-358-7550

A Great Gatsby Gables at Grand Biltmore Hotel

Picture 14The Florida of yesteryear, the 1920s to be exact, is what the Biltmore Hotel, the grand estate property of Coral Gables, represents. This place is a true escape to another era, a la Great Gatsby, with lawns and greenery as far as the eye can see, blended with Italian, Moorish and Spanish architectural influences. Picture this: statuesque columns leading to the ceiling arches are reminiscent of a grand church and a baby grand piano sits alongside floor to ceiling French windows and begs to be played.

Although leaving the lobby might be tough, there’s much more to explore here. For dining there are four excellent options, with each one better than the next: award-winning Palme d’Or, the Italian courtyard restaurant Fontana, casual al fresco Cascade Grill, and the 19th Hole that overlooks the stellar Biltmore Golf Course. The Cellar Wine Club offers 100 wines by the glass and an intimate club-like setting. The rooms and suites are adorned with European feather bedding and Egyptian cotton duvet covers, custom-designed furniture in the seating areas, tile flooring and picture perfect windows overlooking the grounds and pool.

And if that weren’t enough luxury wrapped up in the Biltmore, there’s always the spa. The airy room filled with candles, comfy lounge chairs, beds and a gorgeous tiled spa tub, is a sanctuary for facial treatments, body scrubs, wraps, manis, pedis and all important massages. Complete the spa day with a luscious brunch, a long-time favorite for locals and guests.

FDR at Delano

FDR at DelanoThe SoBe nightlife scene is now underground at FDR at Delano, the hotel’s new subterranean space, named after the hotel’s presidential namesake.

As over-the-top as other clubs on South Beach, the space is a bit more intimate with Old-world elegance and comfort. Cocktails and internationally renowned music acts and DJ’s are a given here.

Check it out at 1685 Collins Ave., 305-672-2000.

Cafeina: Wynwood’s lounge of choice for locals

Stroll down 23rd Street in the heart of Wynwood’s Arts District and an orange sign with the word Cafeina will undoubtedly stand out since it’s hanging in front of a non-descript building in the mostly warehouse-filled district.

Step in though and it’s anything but. Part lounge/restaurant/gallery, Cafeina is many things to many people. Sure it’s all three but as a lounge it is the type of place that the locals love and is a great discovery for those not in the know.

The action here happens both indoors, among dimly lit chandeliers and candlelight on comfy chairs, and outdoors where the dance floor shares space with lovely patio furniture and even hammock beds. The DJ here knows how to mix the perfect blend of club/dance music that sets the mood and matches the vibe.

Cafeina is located at 297 NW 23 St., Miami, FL 305-438-0792

Ring in 2014 in style with bevy of choice parties around the 305

biancaThere’s no shortage of New Year’s Eve parties around Miami. Whether you’re looking to ring it in quietly in a restaurant or with elegant food and a hot DJ there’s something for everyone.

Be the first to check out Italian designer Roberto Cavalli’s venture into restaurants when he opens his venue Cavalli Miami Restaurant & Lounge on New Year’s Eve with two dinner seatings and various VIP packages. Designed to resemble the designer’s Villa in Tuscany and serving the family’s signature wine. Located in the SoFi side of the beach at 150 Ocean Drive, 305-695-4191.

Or, head to the Hotel Astor at 956 Washington Ave., Miami Beach where JP Rigaud, DJ Nova and Omar G provide the music during one of two a la carte dinners at 8 and 10:30 p.m. and during the open bar option from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m. Call 305-531-8081 for reservations.

The Pubbelly trio are going old school at PB Steak, 1787 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach with a a couple of options. Tableside service includes Maine lobster rolls, oysters Rockefeller, beef wellington and an iceberg wedge BLT and a $75 10-item small plate menu includes French onion soup dumplings, foie gras crème brulee, scallop crudo and buffalo style veal sweetbreads. Call 305-695-9550 for more information.

And for $625, the three-course dinner at the Bianca at the Delano, 1685 Collins Ave., Miami Beach the decadent menu includes tuna toro crudo to start followed by a grand chilled East Coast seafood plateau, white truffle risotto and surf and turf of king crab stuffed Maine lobster and Hudson Valley foie gras. Equally rich and luxurious sides and dessert are also part of the dinner. Call 305-674-5752.

Celebrate Heat season with new RedFrog Bar at AmericanAirlines Arena

The fast-paced action of the Miami Heat and those monster slam dunks from King James deserve to be celebrated with a tasty libation and thanks to the new RedFrog Bar at the AmericanAirlines Arena there’s a new way to toast great plays and victories.

Basketball fans can thank Carnival Cruise Lines, who as partners of the two-time defending NBA champion Heat, decided the best spot to expand their on-board signature brand watering hole was the AAA.

RedFrog beerVisit the 100 Level where you’ll find the RedFrog Bar and Carnival’s private label brew the ThirstyFrog Red, a rich-colored draught beer with toasted notes from the fine caramel and black malts used during the brewing process. The medium-bodied beer has a malty, slightly sweet taste that’s well balanced with elegant European grown Noble aroma hops.

At the 400 Level RedFrog they up the ante with signature cocktails like the Rum Runner Jumper — a blend of two Bacardi rums, banana liqueur, orange and pineapple juice, bitters and grenadine. The mojito, a Miami fave, gets a makeover with spiced rum and brown sugar and the Painkiller packs a punch with two Bacardi rums, coconut syrup and orange and pineapple juice.

Cheer on (and toast) the Miami Heat to a third NBA championship at the AmericanAirlines Arena, 601 Biscayne Blvd.

Sightseeing four-wheel limo style

Looking like a Jeep/Limo hybrid, the tricked out ride used for the Tons of Fun Tours offered throughout Miami by Florida Jeep Tours provides an unforgettably unique experience.

JeepClimb aboard the eight-passenger vehicle, complete with captain’s chair for an open-air and also air conditioned tour of Miami’s hottest neighborhoods. Ride through the celebrity playground that is South Beach, take in the serene and natural setting of Key Biscayne, the thriving young hot bed of condominium lifestyle with bustling nightlife and restaurants in Brickell, tour the artsy and urban area of Wynwood and the old-Florida, yacht-filled and still somewhat bohemian Coconut Grove.

Here’s a breakdown of what they offer:

Miami’s Best Jeep Tour is a three-hour tour that takes you across Biscayne Bay on the historic Venetian Causeway through some of the 32 man-made islands that dot the Bay, over to South Beach, playground of the rich and famous and home to the largest collection of Art Deco architecture anywhere in the world. There is also a similar albeit shorter two-hour nighttime tour that showcases the area’s glowing neon and pulsing all-night-long party atmosphere.

The two-hour South Beach Jeep Tour follows the same route as above then heads back to Miami via the MacArthur Causeway past Star Island and Palm Island, the home, past and present, to celebrities such as Elizabeth Taylor, Al Capone, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, Gloria and Emilio Estefan and Marc Anthony.

To book a tour visit their website here.

The December Art Basel Takeover

The art season kicks into gear in October but it truly heats up in early December when Miami’s streets are overrun with art collectors in town to catch the latest cutting edge art that Art Basel has to offer.

It’s just four days — December 5-8 — but the whirlwind and mayhem that surrounds the event is simultaneously exhilarating and exhausting. The best advice is to map out a schedule way in advance in order to hit all the highlights.

Courtesy of Art Basel

Courtesy of Art Basel

The satellite fairs on Miami Beach, in Wynwood, the Design District and countless other neighborhoods are as much the place to see and be seen than the actual Art Basel event at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

And truly, just driving around the city provides a taste of Basel madness. Past years have featured giant neon alligators climbing the Freedom Tower, oversized neon pink shells strategically placed throughout the city and beachfront containers that serve as exhibition space. Public sculptures dotted the streets and were an unexpected surprise, a way for Basel to reach the masses.

For a complete rundown of events, fairs and parties, visit

Midtown’s Sugarcane not just a dinner hotspot anymore

Fat boy hashMaintaining the level of hotness in Miami’s fickle foodie community is not an easy feat but Sugarcane’s been rocking it for three years, much of that due to the talented and creative Chef/Partner Timon Balloo.

His menu of off the charts delectable small plates and unmatched artisanal cocktails keep the place slammed and riding on that success this is now a great spot for brunch too.

Sugarcane cocktailEspecially with a slew of continuously evolving fresh and inventive dishes from sweet to savory. Take a trip to New Orleans through the vanilla bean beignets made with sea salt and bacon ganache or go a little Greek with the heirloom tomatoes with pickled watermelon and feta cheese. Or try the loaded up Fat Boy hash with bacon jam, two fried eggs and hollandaise.

Of course pancakes and waffles make the cut and here they’re served with house gravlax and creme fraiche or berries and vanilla creme (respectively).

And since this is brunch, pairing this with an appropriate artisanal cocktail would certainly make the meal complete.

Click here to check out Sugarcane’s brunch and cocktail menu.

SushiSamba’s carnaval celebrates Brazil’s independence

Samba the weekend away during SushiSamba’s Brazilian Independence Day celebration Sept. 6 and 7 at 9 p.m. at the restaurant’s Miami Beach and Coral Gables locations.

Costumed dancers shake things up performing the country’s traditional samba dance and the 400-year-old traditional capoeira dance that incorporates martial arts moves to the sounds of a live band.

SUSHISAMBA caipirinha 2The lively music and dance lends itself to sipping a refreshing caipirinha Brazil’s most popular drink made with Cachaca, sugar and fresh squeezed lime juice which during this weekend special event is available for $6.

Have to enjoy some traditional food along with the cocktail and top choices include short rib pasteis yellow corn seviche with queso fresco, black bean acaraje avocado crema and pickled onion and local fish steamed in a banana leaf with grilled tiger shrimp and mango chutney.

Click here for Coral Gables location and here for Miami Beach.

Decisions, decisions…not at L’Entrecote de Paris

Sometimes all you want is a little simplicity in life and that includes not taking an eternity to decide what you’re ordering at your favorite eatery.

L'Entrecôte de ParisThat’s easily done at L’Entrecote de Paris, opening in the Brickell area Sept. 5, where they’ve perfected one dish, France’s legendary and signature Steak Frites. In fact, it’s the only entree on the menu but that’s alright because it’s done to perfection. A specialty select cut of meat is delectably prepared rare, medium rare or well done and the 7-ounce portion for lunch and 9-ounce dinner portion is elegantly fanned out on the plate and topped with the chef’s 21-ingredient secret sauce. The expertly prepared crunchy shoestring fries are the ideal topping.

_MG_4926All guests start off their meal with fresh mixed green salad featuring frisee and romaine with cherry tomatoes, walnuts drizzled ever-so gently with mustard dressing. And to finish things off choose from a light as air circular tri-color mousse of mint, white chocolate and chocolate drizzled with chocolate sauce. The traditional creme brulee, profiteroles and a selection of five macarons are among other dessert choices.

Aperitifs like house made quiches, cheese platter and pates are perfect starters and Russian River Valley Pinot Noir and a Left Bank Bordeaux are highlights of an extensive, carefully-chosen wine list.

Try this fantastic French Bistro for lunch, dinner or for an after-work cocktail at the polished wood and brass-accented bar.

L’Entrecote de Paris is at Brickell Plaza, 1053 SE 1 Ave., 305-759-9995 or click here to visit their website.

Andale to Huahua’s Taqueria for Mexican grub

Huahua's hot saucesAuthentic Mexican has come to Lincoln Road on South Beach by way of Chef Todd Erickson’s latest venture, a casual and pet-friendly eatery Huahua’s Taqueria set on the quieter side of the famous street. Chef Erickson knows his Mexican cuisine, hailing from Arizona and spending much of his childhood also traveling to New Mexico.

You’ll know you’ve found the place when you spot the adorable grey cartoon chihuaha with the blue Mexican hat, bright silver chairs and shelves brimming with hot sauces.

Huahua's cornThose 21 hot sauce varieties are perfect on their tacos and enchiladas. But start first with the grilled Mexican sweet corn topped with cotija cheese and fresh cilantro or the chips with queso blanco, a mild and flavorful cheese sauce perfect for dipping. It’s a nice change from the traditional tomato-based salsa. Then move on to either the chili rubbed shrimp taco topped with jicama, lime, cilantro and spicy mayo or the pollo al pastor taco with chicken topped with charred pineapple, cilantro, onion and lime crema.Huahua's chips

There’s a reason for the doggie on the signage too, because they’re welcomed here. With just limited seating indoors, tables and chairs are outside and all of them equipped with nearby silver bowls in four sizes to accommodate the tiniest to the largest pooch.

They’re at 1211 Lincoln Road. Call 305-534-TACO (8226) or click here to visit their website.

A play on brunch at Tongue & Cheek

The restaurant’s name is certainly a play on words but the owners of Tongue & Cheek aren’t messing around when it comes to brunch. They’re taking it as seriously as any other meal of the day.

Chef Jamie DeRosa got the reigns in the kitchen where he’s concocted an all-inclusive menu for foodies with a sweet or savory tooth and those who want traditional as well as something with a bit of a twist.

T&CThe King Crab benedict with Tabasco hollandaise and baby arugula’s got some kick or the Cuban sandwich with pork cheeks and pickled cucumbers will wake up anyone hungover from a night of clubbing on South Beach. Or perhaps indulge in lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry jam, sticky buns with brown butter pecans or a basket of housemade donut holes in three varieties.

Wash it all down with what else…a bloody mary but not just the usual, here there’s a Barbecued Bloody Mary with Woodford Reserve and Belvedere Vodka and the True Blood, the traditional with Belvedere Vodka, horseradish and pickled vegetables. And if necessary, finish up with coffee which is free throughout brunch.

Brunch is on Sundays at Tongue & Cheek at 431 Washington Ave., Miami Beach is from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Click here to visit their website or call them at 305-704-2900.

Taste of summer at Sardinia Enoteca

On the quieter side of South Beach, away from the clubbiness of Washington Avenue and the hawkers on Lincoln Road, many restaurants are popping up along Purdy Avenue in the Sunset Harbor neighborhood. Purdy is where the Italian eatery Sardinia Enoteca can be found, as well as their summer lunch and dinner specials running June and July.

Mimicking the popular early fall Miami Spice deals, Sardinia is offering a prix fixe $23 lunch and $39 dinner menu for the two months.

Cozze 2Owner Antonio Gallo and Executive Chef Pietro Vardeu have concocted several delicious choices. For lunch try their spaghetti carbonara, housemade potato gnocchi or Sardinian tuna fish as an entree and delicate mussels or a fresh caprese salad as an appetizer. Dinner selections include a few creative octopus appetizers and choices of housemade rigatoni or diver scallops as entrees. The Wine & Dine Special as they’re calling it, also includes 40% off select wine bottles.

In addition, they’ve launched happy hour specials  on drinks available Monday through Friday from 4-7 p.m. They include $7 wines by the glass of Bianchi, Rossi or Frizzante or well and featured Stoli cocktails. Corona, Miller Lite, Stella Artois, Heineken or Peroni are all $3.

Sardinia Enoteca is located at 1801 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach. Visit their website at for a complete list of what’s available.


Take Me Out To The Ballgame!


Batter Up! The Texas Rangers are currently in first place in the American Leagues’ Western Division. Some of baseball’s most exciting players are in the Rangers uniform, such as Yu Darvish, Ian Kinsler, and Adrián Beltré. Catch all the Major League Baseball action by the boys of summer and nab a hot dog and some peanuts while you’re at it.

Click for more information.

Under The Sea at Fernbank

UnderSea webposter

Dive into an IMAX® adventure to explore some of the ocean’s most exotic and isolated undersea locations and experience face-to-face encounters with the mysterious and unusual creatures found under the sea.

Just in time for summer, Fernbank Museum invites you to enjoy an underwater IMAX® adventure! Under the Sea explores some of the ocean’s most exotic and isolated undersea locations and is narrated by Jim Carrey. You’ll come face-to-fin with some of the planet’s most extraordinary marine creatures—from the exquisitely stunning to the downright deadly.

Under the Sea offers an inspirational look the impact that global climate change has had on our ocean wilderness, combining stunning underwater cinematography with state-of-the-art digital surround sound.

Click here for more information.

Mobile outdoor feast…for a cause

Denver’s favorite summer lunch tradition, Civic Center Eats Outdoor Cafe, is the perfect venue to sample goodies from the area’s growing food truck invasion. Cop a squat at one of many shaded tables set up at historic Civic Center Park and munch on a variety of foods while listening to live music. Hey, beats a desk lunch any day. Tuesdays and Thursdays, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. through Sept. 27. Proceeds benefit the Civic Center Conservatory.


Light up the sky, on Fourth of July

Photo courtesy of

OK, so Fourth of July falls mid-week this year, smack on a hump day, but this is Miami, why would that stop us? After all, South Beach hotel pools are always hot to trot for a party and what better occasion than patriotic Fourth of July. Think the Delano, Shelbourne or Raleigh for upscale and the Clevelander (across from Lummus Park) for debauchery.

They’re also the perfect place to watch the fireworks display on 8th and Ocean at Lummus Park while sipping a cosmo, frozen concoction or downing shots poolside. Click here to learn about “Fire on the Fourth of July.”

If South Beach isn’t your scene, there are other more sedate, all-American parties in other parts of town.

Try Downtown Miami’s Bayfront Park for the city’s biggest Fourth celebration “America’s Birthday Bash.” There’s food and drinks, live music and a kids’ zone, open from 3-7 p.m. At 9 p.m. the sky lights up with a spectacular fireworks display, each year bigger and brighter than the year before. Click here for details.

On Key Biscayne they kick the day off with an all-American parade featuring marching bands, slilt walkers, parade floats and plenty of good eats. It’s a small-town celebration right through the town’s main street. Afterwards, hang out at either Crandon Park Beach or Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park enjoying an all-day barbecue and take in the many fireworks displays over Biscayne Bay. Click here for more information.

And funky, waterfront Coconut Grove is the site for several celebrations. Start the day with a morning picnic at the Barnacle State Historic Site, featuring lawn games, kite making and crafts. Then walk a few blocks to CocoWalk for a scavenger hunt, hot dog eating contest, a beer pong tournament and music by local band Deck 52. And over at Peacock Park there’s live entertainment and delectable food and beverages from local restaurants. It all culminates with a fantastic fireworks display over the bay. Click here for details.

Wind in your sails at Hobie Beach

It’s easy to catch the wind in your sails on Key Biscayne’s Hobie Beach. Located just a few minutes past the toll booth into the island on the right hand side, this has long been the stomping ground for active beachgoers.

The shallow, calm waters and windy conditions make the perfect environment for windsurfers as well as paddleboarders, who are also joining in the fun nowadays. There are plenty of hobie outfitters ready to rent out their equipment. Parking is easy, convenient and free and the view of the Miami skyline is the absolute perfect backdrop. Grab a cool, frosty frozen lemonade and some snacks and make a day of it.

Hobie Beach is off the Rickenbacker Cswy., Key Biscayne. Click here for info on catamaran rentals.


Goooooooooaaaaaal! Kickin’ it in summer

Soccer fans will be kicking it up in June around Miami, catching the European action at one of the tons of pubs that have popped up around the city in the last few years.

Waxy O’Connor’s on Miami Beach and in the Brickell area are where to catch all the action on their more than 15 flat screen TV’s. They’ll even open early and be serving breakfast for early risers who can’t miss a single minute.

Brickell Irish Pub and Fado Irish Pub at Mary Brickell Village are two great alternative spots for soccer fans should the others be too packed. On the riverfront Finnegan’s on the River is perfect for open-air viewing on the water.

There’s nothing better than watching a soccer match, draft in hand surrounded by equally obssessed and fanatical fans.

However, if it’s a full-on sports bar you prefer, there are lots of options there too.  Duffy’s Sports Grill or Duffy’s Tavern in South Miami are great too, as well as Village Tavern.

The soccer action begins on June 8 and runs the entire month. Click here to view the schedule of matches for UEFA Euro 2012.

Eat your way around the “City Beautiful” during Coral Gables Restaurant Week

Getting a jump on the summer season, when mostly locals are in town, Coral Gables known as the “City Beautiful” is offering diners incredible deals at some of the area’s best known restaurants. Similar to the Miami Spice promotion in August, this one lasts only two weeks from June 4-17.

Caffe Abbracci

The Fifth Annual Coral Gables Restaurant (a misnomer since the promotion lasts two weeks) includes 20% off regular prices on a fixed three-course lunch and/or dinner menu. The list of restaurants is impressive and features some of the city’s finest, as well as some newcomers.

Italian restaurants like Anacapri on Ponce, the classic and institution of Italian cuisine in the Gables Caffe Abbracci, Caffe Vialetto and Randazzo’s Little Italy are participating as are Le Provencal, Cibo Wine Bar, Talavera Cocina Mexicana and John Martin’s Irish Pub.

Click here to view all participating restaurants and their menus.

SoBe’s newest hotspot Mokai already attracting celebs

Since today’s reality celebrities are always lumped in with A-listers, let’s consider Kendra Wilkinson (of reality television’s “Kendra on Top” on WE TV) stopping in at SoBe’s newest nightclub Mokai for a night of partying with girlfriends, a true celeb sighting.

 The scene at Mokai is typical South Beach. Scantily clad dancers, sometimes alone but many times in pairs (or trios), set the scene for a night of revelry and debauchery like only SoBe can deliver. DJ’s pump the house music nightly, since the nightclub scene really never dies, while bottles of bubbly pop all night in the VIP section.

Weeknight parties here have kitchy names like Ransom Mondays, Relapse Wednesdays and Weekend Warrior Fridays. On Saturdays Gino G., Mike Russ, S1 spin while Weisson plays drums.

Mokai is located at 235 23 St., Miami Beach, FL, 305-673-1409,

Game watchin’ and gourmet noshin’ at Duffy’s Tavern

When it comes to Miami sports bars, Duffy’s Tavern located on the cusp of the Coral Gables/South Miami neighborhoods, is an institution where just about any University of Miami sports fan has spent some time, no doubt downing many drafts while watching the ‘Canes and the Miami Dolphins in action.

This locals hangout, filled with memorabilia from those football team’s glory days, is the ideal spot to soak in and experience old Miami. The jukebox here is legendary as are the autographed photos that adorn the walls.

There’s nothing fancy at Duffy’s, it’s the typical wooden bar, table and chairs and the friendly bartenders and loyal patrons who love to reminisce about good times they’ve spent here. It’s the type of place that gets recommended when you say “I want to avoid the tourist traps and go where the locals hang.”

Duffy’s Tavern is located at 2108 SW 57 Ave. 305-264-6580, click here to visit their FB page.

Lush gardens inspirational at Ancient Spanish Monastery

Traverse West Dixie Highway in North Miami Beach and just after the bend in the road, there’s a hidden gem where gardens, statues and and gorgeous open-air courtyard of this historic building are enough to get anyone’s creative juices flowing.

It’s the Ancient Spanish Monastery which was dismantled stone by stone in 1925, transported to the United States then re-constructed at its current location in 1952.

The result is a gorgeous, inspiring location filled with statue-filled manicured garden pathways with benches for reflecting, writing, drawing or painting. The open-air courtyard with flowing fountains, stately columns and welcoming archways are perfect for meandering through. The grounds easily transport visitors to old-world Spain, so much so if you sit quietly, the once-inhabiting monks’ presence can almost be felt.

The Ancient Spanish Monastery is located at 16711 West Dixie Hwy., North Miami Beach. (305) 945-1461,

Stella McCartney (Beatle’s daughter) sets up shop in Bal Harbour

Swanky, open-air and the epitome of high-end in Miami Beach’s north end, the Bal Harbour Shops are now home to a Stella McCartney boutique. Yes, the famous Beatles’ fashion designer daughter has set up shop where Miami’s elite go for their designer duds.

Models showcase McCartney's fashion at her Bal Harbour store opening. Courtesy of

Airy and bright, the store is set up in true boutique style, with her unique, bold, colorful fashions hanging neatly off dangling racks. The shoes and handbags have their own displays and toward the back is a quaint, colorful kids’ clothing section.

The beautiful parquet wood floors feature violet and pink hues (the designer’s favorites) while  at the front of the store a coffee table and chairs greet shoppers. Perhaps they might enjoy leafing through the book that features photos of her famous Dad.

The Bal Harbour Shops are located at 9700 Collins Ave. 305-864-2218. Click here to visit the site.

Que rico! Miami’s five best spots for Cuban eats

There are so many Cuban restaurants in Miami that it’s hard to figure out where to get the most authentic flavors of the island. Spread out all over Miami, the list of the best five are both on the mainland and over the Causeway.

The tried-and-true two — La Carreta and Versailles have to be on the list. Yes, it’s a bit cliche but the food at each is really authentic. And if anything, making this list is a testament to their longevity. There’s only one Versailles but there are several La Carreta’s so make sure to go the original one, with the wagon wheel out front, on Calle Ocho (SW Eighth St.) and 36 Ave. The bakery at Versailles as meeting place for many Miamians is a time-honored tradition as is a late-night dinner at La Carreta after a night of partying.


Habanero steak at Islas Canarias

Sergio’s on Coral Way and 32 Avenue is great for midnight sandwiches, an afternoon cafecito and their never fails, cure anything that ails you sopa de platano (plantain soup). While over at Islas Canarias in Kendall the croquetas are killer as are their stuffed tostones and paella.

And believe it or not, South Beach’s David’s Cafe II on Lincoln Road has excellent black beans and rice, picadillo and palomilla steak. A welcome authentic, Cuban restaurant that’s surviving among all the other nouveau cuisine places.

La Carreta, David’s Cafe, Sergio’s, Versailles, Islas Canarias

The Dutch at the W epitomizes simple elegance

The Dutch at the W Hotel on South Beach is turning the chic, boutique hotel on its head offering an unpretentious menu and equally casual atmosphere. It’s easy to relax in the lovely, bright restaurant where the kitchen is expertly run by renowned New York chef Andrew Carmellini.

Of course, housed within a hotel, which is unusual unto itself given that most hotel restaurants really aren’t of such a high quality, they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. Hazelnut crusted French toast amd crab cake benedict with asparagus and a kicky chipotle hollandaise elevate the breakfast standards while entrees like short rib ravioli, roast mushroom and taleggio fonduta and pappardelle, lamb ragu, sheep’s milk ricotta and milk are great for lunch and hefty enough they could be on their supper menu. Short ribs and sea scallops make a second appearance on that menu but are dressed up differently.

The Dutch is in the W Hotel, located at 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, 305-938-3111,

A clubbing evening…at home (or House Nightclub)

The bar, at House Nightclub

Those club promoters, what will they think of next. Well, it seems like next has already arrived and it’s called House Nightclub in the Wynwood neighborhood. The concept is just what it seems, a nightclub that looks and feels like…a house. A very modern, futuristic house.

Naturally, it’s housed in a former warehouse and although there are kitchens, showers and bedrooms within this club theme, for sure no clubgoers will be wearing robes and house slippers. They will however, grab their cocktails in the kitchens which will serve as bars, lounge on beds while sipping (or perhaps slammin’) their chosen concoctions and hang out in showers that double as VIP rooms. Promoters are calling it the “Ultimate House Party,” a cyber modulated world with holographic technology, 360 degree panoramic projections and 3D architectural mapping.

Check out details about House Nightclub in Wynwood at their website

Old Florida’s alive and well at Miami River Inn

Forget for a minute the barrage of fancy high-rise hotels that dot the Miami skyline and envision a leisurely weekend stay at the Miami River Inn, where old Florida is embraced, celebrated and preserved and has been since 1910.

Set along the historic Miami River (hence, the name), this quaint bed and breakfast has survived the changes that have made Downtown Miami into a thriving, modern metropolis.

The pale yellow house with lime green trim cries out Florida citrus while the lush tropical landscaping surrounding the pool provides a soothing, relaxing, sun-soaking oasis.

The Inn’s four cottages each with 10 rooms, feature hardwood floors, antique brass, wood and wicker furnishings, lovely sitting areas, garden views and comfortable, beautifully dressed beds. First floor rooms feature porches that open to the garden area, while second and third floor rooms provide a remarkable view of the Miami River and Downtown Miami.

The croquet green is a fun way to pass the time followed perhaps by a complimentary glass of wine in the evening.

Miami River Inn is located at 118 SW South River Drive, 305-325-0045,

CVI. CHE 105: Peruvian classic with a hip twist


The small, mom and pop eatery in Downtown Miami is slowly disappearing, replaced by modern, hip restaurants and leading the trend is Cvi.che 105.

Chef/owner Juan Chipoco and sous chef and co-owner Luis Hoyos have created an incredible ambiance and menu that is indicative of their passion for traditional, delicious Peruvian cooking. The space is deceivingly large and inviting,  with a bright interior, open kitchen and ultra-contemporary furnishings and accents.

Chipoco blends sexy dishes like seafood orgy ceviche, a blend of marinated raw seafood including fish, calamari and shrimp served in typical Peruvian tiger milk with more traditional ones like Mama Ele Corvina Fish – his grandmother’s recipe of pan roasted fresh corvine fish served with a crab cake in a rocoto sauce and a homemade potato cake

 They also take great care in developing specific flavors for each ceviche depending which region of Peru it represents.

Cviche 105 is located at 105 NE 3 Ave., Miami, FL 305-577-3454,

Consign of the Times: Bargain designer duds and wares

Not only is the name catchy with its play on words, Consign of the Times is a legendary spot with two locations in Miami where fashionistas shop to find great deals on designer clothing, accessories and home furnishings.

Making their mark since opening in 2001, the store quickly became the go-to spot in Miami Beach and South Miami, especially during season for gowns, jewelry, shoes and handbags. Their high-end luxury pieces are continually rotated and revamped in an effort to keep their return customers pleased with their findings.

The list of designer names is impressive and includes Louis Vuitton, Prada, Gucci, Hermes, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blanik, Chloe, Christian Louboutin and Bottega.

Boutiques are located at 1635 Jefferson Ave., Miami Beach 305-535-0811 and at 5900 SW 73 St., South Miami 305-667-6675,

Ballet Flamenco La Rosa: Passionate castanet moves

Ilisa Rosa, artistic director of Ballet Flamenco La Rosa. Photo by Ali.

One of Miami’s most beloved dance troupes Ballet Flamenco La Rosa, led by artistic director Ilisa Rosal, who formed the group in 1985. In their nearly three decades of existence, Rosal has developed more than 100 flamenco performances.

Serving as a choreographer and dancer as well, Rosal and her troupe take flamenco beyond the traditional well known dance and in their performances, present it in a theatrical setting. Their original numbers explore the connection between flamenco and other dance forms including Middle Eastern, Indian, jazz, tap, blues and Afro-Cuban.

They regularly collaborate with internationally renowned guest musicians and dancers who enhance the experience. In “Celtic Callings” they were joined by the Breffini Irish Dancers while productions like “Las Brujas de Salem” (“The Witches of Salem”) and “Rey Lear” were inspired by Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” and Shakespeare’s “King Lear,” respectively.

Ballet Flamenco La Rosa performs throughout the year at various venues around Miami and also host weekly classes at the Performing Arts Network, 13146-8 West Dixie Hwy., North Miami 305-899-7730,,

Best of Miami’s beaches for fun in the sun

Narrowing down the top-five beaches in Miami is no easy feat, especially since South Beach gets all the glory, but there are four others (of course South Beach makes the list) that deserve a top spot too.

South Beach, from South Pointe Park to 14th Street is pure beauty, decadence and what put the area on the world map, once hailed as “America’s French Riviera.” There’s no shade here, just pure beautiful Miami sand, clear waters, plenty of eye candy and lots of bars and restaurants along Ocean Drive for fun before or after the beach. Click here for info on Miami Beach.

Further north in Miami Beach’s Surfside/Bal Harbour area there’s a great little stretch of beach along 94th to 96th streets. Behind the condominiums the water is pristine. Chair and umbrella service is available, showers are nearby and it’s quiet and uncrowded. Parking’s great too, plenty of it on the surrounding streets unlike South Beach where it’s a challenge. Click here for info on Surfside.

Crandon Park Beach

The remainder of the beaches on the list are on Key Biscayne  where the water is quite different and a bit warmer. The area has a much more natural feel. Pay $1.50 to get on the island and just a few miles down the road on the right is Hobie Beach, shallow, no wave water, perfect for windsurfing. Further down are the Crandon Park beaches, known for great picnic areas, shallow, warm waters and cool sandbars. At the tip of Key Biscayne is Cape Florida/Bill Baggs State Park beach. There are several areas to drive in and park and one of the best is the one closest to the Lighthouse. Similar to Crandon, picnicking here is ideal with barbecues, a food stand, shady areas and nature trails . Click here for info on Key Biscayne beaches.

Kitesurfers glide, soar through the air

Catching some air then gliding on the water is the ultimate thrill when it comes to kitesurfing and just like the name implies, the sport uses both skill sets.

Riders are strapped to what looks like a cross between a boogie board and a small surfboard while they hang on to a kite contraption that allows them to soar through the air and then land on the water. It’s ideal for adventurous types who love getting out on the water and experiencing more than just tanning on the beach. MiamiKiteboard in Crandon Park on Key Biscayne even does trips out to remote islands with great sandbars. The warm waters of Crandon Park make it the ideal place to learn and participate.

Miami Kiteboard is located at Crandon Park, North Beach, 4000 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne, 305-345-9974. Click here to visit their website.

The Abbey’s very “un” South Beach

The door stays open, no velvet ropes or long lines here, The Abbey Brewing Co. is one of the most “un” South Beach spots on the beach. It’s a dark bar with no pretense, just a place to hang, talk and drink.

Unlike all the Irish pubs and other fancy prew pub spots around Miami, The Abbey has been doing hand-crafted beers since 1995, way before it became the trend. They’re proud of their award-winning brews here and boast about them on their website. There are plenty of bottled beers as well as tons of drafts. Stained glass, dark wood, dart boards and funky art make this place a beer/pub lover’s paradise. Some pub grub and quality cigars go great with the beer selection and complete the experience.

The Abbey, 1115 16 St., 305-538-8110. Click here to visit their website.

Salumeria 104: Midtown’s ode to the trattoria

Lovers of salami, cheeses, olives and the like are flocking to Salumeria 104 in Midtown Miami. It’s the latest addition to the area’s “restaurant row” and an ode to the Italian trattoria.

Sure there are fantastic pastas on the menu, but the star here is the salami after all, it’s billed as a “Salami Shop and Trattoria.” Those nifty wooden boards get plenty of use here, piled high with hard salami rounds and thin slices of prosciutto and truffle ham and a round ramekin filled with olives. It’s a veritable feast for those who love to nibble.

One of their most authentic dishes and one not easily found on Italian restaurant menus is the gnocchi alla romana. Unlike the traditional small round gnocchi, these are thick round homemade semolina gnocchi topped with parmesan cheese and crispy prosciutto and baked until it’s crispy and bubbling. Aside from the mouthwatering pastas, they’re also serving succulent roasted pork loin wrapped in crispy pork belly and slowly braised pork spare ribs.

Salumeria 104 is located at 3451 NE 1 Ave., #104, 305-424-9588,

The Federal’s serving unique eats

The latest installation in the ever-growing MiMo (short for Miami Modern) section along Biscayne Blvd. is a funky, tiny little spot called The Federal. They’re serving up equally funky eats not normally found on most menus.

Just look at some of the dishes, especially the names:

Jar-o-Duck with candied sweet potato, charred fluff and slow-cooked Hudson Valley duck; diet coke and foie gras fritters with corn-nut mayo and velveeta foam; Crispy Niman Ranch pig ears with pineapple, radish, jalapeno and kumquat-apple vin; crispy beef bits bbq scented omasan, savory maple.

OK, there are some traditional items like cheese biscuits, chicken, steak, shrimp & grits, salads, collard greens and mashed potatoes.

The decor is as quirky as the menu, completely rustic with intricate wood sculptures along the wall and plain and simple seating. It’s all about comfort here, no pretense.

The Federal is located at 5132 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 305-758-9559

Tuyo’s spectacular view mirrors chef’s menu

Miami-Dade College Culinary Institute’s Tuyo Restaurant is a sight to behold, for everything from a spectacular Downtown Miami and Biscayne Bay view to the meticulously thought out menu by Executive Chef Norman Van Aken, considered the “founding father of New World Cuisine.”

Van Aken’s restaurant ventures throughout Miami have left an indelible mark on the culinary world and wherever he lands, fans and foodies flock. Tuyo, which is Spanish for “Yours” is on course to do the same with a farm-to-table concept and strict sustainability practices.

They use only locally or Southeast U.S. sourced ingredients like the salad of local lettuces, heirloom tomato and avocado, with salt roasted beets, pepitas and blue cheese. Or the pan-c00ked fillet of Key West yellowtail snapper served over mashed potatoes with citrus butter and malabar spinach.

Their commitment to their local and sustainable practices is outlined right on the menu where it states that “certain items on the menu may vary due to local availability and seasonality.”

Tuyo is located atop the Miami-Dade College Culinary Institute at 415 NE Second Ave., 305-237-3200,

Matheson Hammock Park gives glimpse of Miami past

The drive to Matheson Hammock Park is just as gorgeous as the natural setting that surrounds the actual park. Located on scenic, tree-lined, woodsy Old Cutler Road, the park is a wonderful glimpse into Miami’s past.  

Opened in 1930, the original idea of preserving the natural beauty surrounding the park remains today and is evident in the beautiful expansive view of Biscayne Bay. The man-made atoll pool, one of the park’s highlights which is flushed naturally with the tidal action of the Bay.

The sea breeze is ideal for picnicking at their pavilions, enjoying their nature trail or perhaps grabbing lunch in their coral stone restaurant. Kayakers and canoers love visiting here for a rest stop and grabbing lunch and relaxing before heading back.

Matheson Hammock Park is located at 9610 Old Cutler Road, 305-665-5475 ,

Gotta love-a that pizza pie: Miami’s top five

Thin New York style, thick Sicilian, stuffed Chicago style, cheeseless or nouveau — the variety of pizza styles seems endless and when it comes to the slice or the pie, seems like everyone’s a connoisseur and has their favorite.


In Miami for example,  most of the best pizza joints are downright institutions, loved by diehards who have been loyal to their favorite spot for countless years.So…(drumroll please), here’s a list of Miami’s top five, in no particular order:

  • Steve’s Pizza in North Miami on Biscayne Boulevard and NE 121 Street. The joint’s been a neighborhood institution for more than three decades because they’re still churning out authentic New York style pizza, giant slices at that, in a no-frills, no-nonsense environment. Just great pizza and all the traditional favorite toppings. (Or not!)
  • On the complete opposite end of town in the South Miami-Dade Kendall neighborhood at 8080 SW 67 Ave. is The Big Cheese. This family-style restaurant has fantastic pizza and it’s obvious by the immense wait lines that form on the weekends. It’s their loyal customers who can’t get enough of the place. It’s traditional NY style thin pizza here too. 
  • In the heart of Miami it’s easy to find the best pizza spot, it’s Casola’s at 2437 SW 17 Ave. where all the Miami cops and paramedics go for lunch. Their slices rival Steve’s in size (and taste) and best of all, they always have a slice or two cut up into tiny bite size pieces for nibbling while waiting to order. Lines are long but it’s worth it.
  • A newer kid on the block than those three, but giving them a run for their money is Andiamo Brick Oven Pizza on Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard and 56 Street. The brick oven flavor makes the pizzas here unique, as do the array of fantastic, nouveau toppings available. The cool, triangular shaped location makes for great alfresco or indoor dining in a very hip area of town. At just a decade old, Andiamo packs ’em in week in and week out and has legions of fans.
  • Finally the newest kid on the block but a force to be reckoned with is star chef and Miami’s pride and joy, Michael Schwartz’ Harry’s Pizzeria at 3918 North Miami Ave. in the Design District. Named after his son Harry, Michael’s not deviating from his farm to table concept used at his Michael’s Genuine. He’s growing his own herbs in front of the restaurant and using delectable ingredients like short ribs, rock shrimp, roasted pork and non-traditional pizza cheeses like cave aged gruyere, fontina and manchego.  

By no means is this meant to be a comprehensive list but these are just some suggestions and these restaurants are the ones getting it right.

C Madeleine’s: Quietly hidden, big name designers

Vogue, Elle, Daily Variety and Lucky Magazines have all hailed C Madeleine’s in North Miami as the hidden gem that all fashionistas must find, trouble is it’s quite discreet, tucked quietly into a small spot along Biscayne Boulevard and NE 137 St. that’s almost not visible, even though there is a sign.

Fashionistas will go crazy for the vintage and couture clothing, bags, accessories, shoes and jewelry that range from the 1900s to even present day. At C Madeleine’s they take pride in offering customers quality, custom made items that make add a unique element to any wardrobe. The items sold here are either one-of-a-kind or one of only a few manufactured.

With a selection like this, it’s no surprise the place is a celebrity haunt, attracting the throngs of them that descend on Miami for jetsetting to events and weekend getaways.

C Madeleine’s is located at 13702 Biscayne Boulevard, 305-945-7770,

The River Seafood & Oyster Bar: Aphrodisiacs galore

The ambiance at the River Seafood & Oyster Bar is a cross between restaurant and after work, happy hour hot spot. It fits the bill for both and they’re doing it nicely either way.

The bar area lends itself to hanging out with friends enjoying some cocktails after a long week at work and since it’s just steps away from the Brickell Financial District and Downtown Miami let’s just say, Fridays are hopping here. The time to go is Mon.-Fri. 4-7 p.m. for drink and food specials.

As a restaurant, Chef David Bracha’s been packing them in since 2003. Naturally, the menu is jam-packed with seafood — Key West snapper, Alaskan halibut, crab po’ boy, ceviche, conch chowder and tons more. Landlubbers can enjoy an angus beef cheeseburger, chimichurri style skirt steak or grilled chicken salad.

Overall, the River’s inviting ambiance, great location and stellar menu make it a place worth stopping in.

Located at 650 South Miami Ave., 305-530-1915,

Mayfair Hotel & Spa: Elegant style in Coconut Grove

The iconic and elegant Mayfair Hotel & Spa has been a landmark in Coconut Grove for more than 20 years and their boutique style makes staying here a true getaway.

This luxurious 179-room all-suites hotel is located in the heart of the neighborhood, near great shopping, restaurants and nightlife, yet is quiet and secluded. Perhaps it’s the private balconies and Japanese hot tubs featured in most of the rooms. The rooftop pool and cabana club could be yet another reason.

The rooms, designed by legendary Miami architect Ken Treister, feature a door set in a hand-carved mahogany frame, sculptured plaster ceilings, Tiffany stained-glass windows and furnishings from Europe, Asia, Mexico, the Caribbean and South America.

The on-site spa features seven private treatment rooms, couples suite, relaxation lounge and boutique and there’s also Spartico, the on-site trattoria featuring gourmet pizzas and Italian fare.

Mayfair Hotel & Spa is located at 3000 Florida Ave., Coconut Grove, FL 305-441-0000 or 1-800-433-4555,

Loews Miami Beach: Elegant, hip, gorgeous

With a recent $50 million renovation (who would’ve thought that was necessary), the already spectacular Loews Hotel in the heart of South Beach is now well…beyond chic. The re-designed lobby, guestrooms, entrance and addition of ice cream shop and boutique take the hotel to another level.


With 790-gorgeously appointed rooms and suites, they are spacious with flat-screen televisions, comfortable and luxurious seating areas, bedding, bathrooms and balcony views. For those who need to stay connected there’s hi-speed WiFi.

The oceanfront pool is the perfect spot to relax and for the ultimate in massage, facials and more the Elemis Spa awaits with yoga and fitness classes, a rooftop sundeck and full hair and nail salon. They make getting ready for an evening out on South Beach a breeze.

The Loews is located at 1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 305-604-1601,

Fruit & Spice Park: A visit to this South Dade gem is priceless

The trek to Fruit & Spice Park in The Redland may be a far jaunt but it’s worth the trip. The 37-acre park is the ideal way to take in the natural setting of this southern area of South Florida.

Thanks to the park’s tropical climate, the grounds are home to more than 500 varieites of fruits, vegetables, spices, herbs and nuts as well as a variety of exotic plants. The varieties of fruits and plants is astounding like 150 of mango, 75 of banana and 70 of bamboo. Also growing here are pumpkins, avocados, persimmons, black sapotes, papaya, starfruit, dragonfruit, guava and jackfruit.

They all make the perfect ingredients for the fantastic smoothies prepared at the on-site Mango Cafe. They’ve also got a Fruit & Spice Park sampler, a variety of fresh salads, wraps and other specialties.

Fruit & Spice Park is located at 24801 SW 187 Ave., 305-247-5727,

Hotel Urbano: Chic, artsy in heart of Brickell

Most of the hotels around Miami’s upscale Brickell area near Downtown Miami are big name large hotels so when Hotel Urbano opened its doors hailing itself as an “urban, art boutique hotel with a resort flavor” it was a welcome addition to the area.

The 65-room, three-story hotel features double and king rooms with pool and city views, balconies and walk-out lanais. Comfortable seating area with balcony view, flat screen television, premium cable channels and comfy robes make the getaway experience even more complete.

Highlights at Urbano include a rockin’ menu at the Bistro Urbano Restaurant & Bar by Executive Chef Anthony Velazquez, ecclectic art that rotates regularly when art shows are held and a relaxing, inviting pool area with firepit, waterfall and comfy lounge and covered couch seating. Sipping a cocktail from the bar and nibbling on some killer apps by the pool is the way to go. And it’s easy to stretch out the evening with the nearby pulsating Brickell nightlife.

Hotel Urbano is located at 2500 Brickell Avenue, Miami, FL

Villa 221: Party in a Downtown house

There’s no shortage of creative thinking in Miami when it comes to the nightclub scene after all, they’ve been doing it on South Beach since the 1990’s when they turned the Versace Mansion into a nightclub and now into a boutique hotel and restaurant.

Now Downtown Miami is getting in on that scene with Villa 221. On their website it’s billed as a special event venue but it’s definitely a club space also. Sizzling Salsa Wednesdays, College Night Thursdays, 80s Night on Fridays and music by DJ Mark Leventhal on Saturdays. 

Villa 221 is located at 221 NE 17 St., Miami, FL 305-416-5280

Cape FL Lighthouse: Shining beacon of Key Biscayne

The island of Key Biscayne is a haven for nature lovers, beachgoers, hikers, bikers and explorers and one of the best spots to enjoy all of these is at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.

The park is comprised of nature and bike trails, a beach with picnic tables and barbecue grills and one of the most impressive sites on Key Biscayne, the Cape Florida Lighthouse.

Built in 1825 and reconstructed in 1846, guided tours of the regal white lighthouse that greets beachgoers at the tip of the park, as well as the lighthouse keeper’s cottage, are available twice daily Thursdays through Mondays. The lighthouse is the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County.

So, cook up some grub or eat at Lighthouse Cafe or Boater’s Grill, do some kayaking or snorkeling and by all means, be prepared to climb the lighthouse steps and be amazed by the view.

1200 S. Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne, 305-361-5811,

Deering Estate: Lush gardens, perfect setting for strolling, events

The historic Deering Estate at Cutler is one of Miami’s best known attractions and an absolute don’t miss when visiting. This historic 444-acre estate built by Charles Deering and occupied by his family until the 1980s when the attraction became part of the Miami-Dade Parks system.

Aside from featuring the glorious estate home which is open for tours, the grounds encompass a variety of rare and native plants, more than 40 species of trees, inhabiting birds, butterflies, foxes and other wildlife and several nature trails. And there’s always something going on here from art exhibitions by master sculptor Dale Chihuly to special events like the annual Chocolate Festival, Moonlight and Music series and Ghost Tours.

Conservation and Preservation are major components of the work done to keep the Deering Estate at its peak. It’s well worth a visit for a leisurely day on the bay strolling the grounds.

Deering Estate at Cutler is located at 16701 SW 72 Ave., Miami, FL

Dr. Paul George walking tours offer a Miami history lesson

Miami-Dade professor Dr. Paul George is an iconic figure in the Miami community thanks to his popular walking tours of the city’s historic neighborhoods.

For more than two decades, Dr. George has shown tourists and locals alike what makes the Magic City tick when it comes to places like Little Havana the home of famed Calle Ocho, the Miami Cemetery where legendary Miami figures like Julia Tuttle are buried and the Miami River cruise along the historic body of water that meanders through the now skyscraper-like landscape of Downtown Miami.

His tours touch on the architecture of the area as well as the historic figures responsible for developing it; local black history; the influence of Al Capone and other mafia figures and historic events like the Cuban Missile Crisis.

The tours usually depart from History Miami located at 101 W Flagler St. 305-375-1492,

Lowe Art Museum: Showcasing worldly classics

The massive 17,500-object collection on view at the Lowe Art Museum, located in the heart of the University of Miami Campus in Coral Gables, features a vast array of artworks from around the world.

They focus on the classics here and have spent decades perfecting and expanding their pieces. Renaissance and baroque paintings and sculptures, Native and Ancient American art as well as Asian works share space. And that’s only their permanent collection.

Their changing exhibitions include photography, African-American art, lithographs, watercolors, pastels, acrylics and screen prints. Special events hosted at the Lowe include lectures, dance performances and family days.

Their billed as showing 5,000 years worth of art and that’s worth checking out.

The Lowe Art Museum is located at 1301 Stanford Drive, Coral Gables

New World Symphony: Classy new venue

The New World Symphony is known for presenting classical music with a few re-interpretations and now they’re presenting them in a brand new venue on Miami Beach. Just to see a master like Michael Tilson Thomas waving his conductor’s wand and leading this masterful group is exciting enough.

Now however, NWS has a new venue, the state-of-the-art New World Center designed by world-renowned architect Frank Gehry as well as an outdoor venue called Soundscape and designed by Dutch architectural firm West 8.

So now it’s even easier to catch a performance by this talented orchestra in a great outdoor setting on the 7,00o-square-foot projection wall in the 2.5 acre public park. Along with their regular performances they also host monthly special events including family days, solo spotlights and Pulse where they transform the already incredible indoor venue into a nightclub setting.

The New World Symphony’s New World Center is located at 500 17th St., Miami Beach, FL

Coral Gables Art Cinema: Reel indie films shown here

Lovers of independent films usually have to wait until March for the Miami Film Festival to come to town but the Coral Gables Art Cinema’s, a new 144-seat venue, run by Coral Gables Cinemateque, Inc., has changed that.

With stadium seating and rare 16/35 mm films shown in HD professional theater-quality sound, the bill includes American independent, foreign and classic films not found in typical multi-screen movie theaters.

The intimate cinema is a welcome addition to an already vibrant restaurant, cultural and shopping scene in Downtown Coral Gables. Housed inside a historic building on one of the city’s best known streets, Aragon Avenue is home to some of the City Beautiful’s best restaurants taking dinner and a movie to another level.

Coral Gables Art Cinema is located at 260 Aragon Ave., Coral Gables, FL, 786-472-2249,

Jimmy’Z: Monfongo dish is star here

Jimmy ‘Z Kitchen in Wynwood is a great casual spot to try some of the best mofongo, the Puerto Rican diet staple, prepared in Miami and the variety of ways they serve it is impressive.

Mofongo with churrasco. Photo by Charles Buscemi @barefootcount

Located inside a cool, huge space in the artsy Wynwood District, Chef Jimmy Carey, a veteran of kitchens around Miami, is creating the amazing dishes here. Mofongo is a mash of fried green plantains, garlic, olive oil and crunchy pork rinds served in a mound in the center of the plate on a bed spicy tomato sauce. They serve it with juicy, succulent shrimp or tender, moist churrasco steak or lambchops.

The panini sandwiches here are tops too, along with Cuban-inspired roasted mojo pork, Caribbean shrimp or chicken creole and scrumptious salads. They’ve also got grilled skirt steak with chimichurri (parsley and oil-based) sauce. That’s an Argentinean specialty so it’s almost like an homage to Latin American flavors.

Jimmy’Z is located at 2700 N Miami Ave. 305-573-1505

Morgan’s is great any time of day

The lilac color is immediately recognizable and helps Morgan’s in Wynwood stand out from the pack. The wooden house structure is also unique to the area. They also have another location in Miami Beach.

Brioche French toast at Morgan's

What’s great about Morgan’s is they’re good for anytime of the day. Their brunch is phenomenal and lunch and dinner are fantastic too. They bill themselves as “Miami’s Modern Homestyle Comfort Food” and on that, they deliver.

During the day, this bright and airy place offers delectable brunch items like pillow light brioche French toast, eggs benedict with smoked salmon, a cheese board with gruyere, stilton, brie, fig paste, fresh fruit and crostini and on the heartier side, Kobe style sliders with caramelized onions and cheddar. And as if that weren’t enough, there’s…lunch and dinner. The center cut pork loin with apple brandy sauce and butternut squash or the pan roasted herb chicken with gigante bean salad and preserved lemon are two great choices.

Morgan’s is located at either 28 NE 29 St. 305-573-9678 or 1787 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach 305-397-8753

Harry’s Pizzeria: Chef’s homage to his son

Guess running one of the most successful restaurants in Miami isn’t keeping Chef Michael Schwartz busy enough since he’s now launched Harry’s Pizzeria just a few blocks away from his signature restaurant Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink.

Named after his son, Harry’s is located in a quaint space that used to be Pizza Volante, a restaurant closed by fellow renowned South Florida chef Jonathan Eismann. Harry’s though is quite different in that Chef Schwartz continues using only the freshest, local ingredients.

Walk up to the front doors and guests are immediately greeted to wooden planters filled with fresh herbs that are most definitely used on the variety of incredibly crispy wood-burning oven pizzas served here. Fresh arugula, figs and pork is just one of the unique combinations offered on a pizza here. The polenta fries and trio of meatballs in homemade sauce are more than worthy appetizer choices.

Harry’s Pizzeria, 3918 N. Miami Ave., 786-275-4963,!/pages/Harrys-Pizzeria/246223715420127

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar: Classic eats meet urban art

Like most venues in the Wynwood area, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar is a unique restaurant that offers diners great classic food along with funky urban art. One of the new kids on the block in the neighborhood, this spacious eatery offers both indoor and outdoor seating.

The feeling here is industrial warehouse meets comfortable and natural. The decor is a blend of driftwood accents, dark oak tables, high ceilings and oversized, colorful graffiti almost tattoo art. Outside the art continues with garden seating among the famed Wynwood Walls which are filled with artistic graffiti.

Enough about the decor though after all, it is a restaurant so food’s the main draw here. Clay pots are the hit here with snapper and mussel curry with  charred pineapple and basil or braised lamb with carrots, mint cardamom-panko bread crumbs and sour cherries. All are served with jasmine or brown rice. Skewers make good appetizers with choices like pork with cilantro-sesame dipping sauce or beef with basil dipping sauce.

Wynwood Kitchen & Bar is located at 2550 NW 2 Ave., Miami, FL

The Forge: Miami Beach’s legendary eatery

The Forge Restaurant/Wine Bar has been the mainstay on the northern end of Miami Beach since the 1920s, known as an old-world steakhouse with matching elaborate decor. Current owner Shareef Malnik, who took ownership in 1990 from his father who owned it since 1969, has given the place a makeover, both in decor and on the menu. 

It’s still elaborate and decadent but instead of the dark wood, robust interior things have been lightened up in tone, lots of whites, silvers, mismatched chairs which give the place character and a wine cellar/selection that can only be described as massive.

Executive Chef Dewey LoSasso, a veteran of New York and Miami restaurants, has created a menu all his own with pastas and risottos, unique appetizers like smoked salmon croquettes and quinoa pancake stacks plus main entrees like steamed local snapper in a bag and to keep with tradition an entire section of select meats.

Eating at the Forge is an experience like no other. They’re located at 432 41 Street, Miami Beach, 305-538-8533

Brook Dorsch, a pioneer of Wynwood’s Arts District

When Miami’s Wynwood Arts District was beginning to take shape more than a decade ago, gallery owner Brook Dorsch immediately moved into a 3,600+-square-foot warehouse space and along with a handful of other daring and fellow gallery owners pioneered what is now considered a hotbed in Miami’s thriving arts community.

And with that, who better to dish about his favorite Miami spots, hangouts, etc…than someone who’s in the thick of it all, making it happen.

What is your favorite season in Miami?

My Favorite time in Miami is the Fall/Winter, it’s the best time to be outside, especially since biking is my favorite activity during the winter months. Als, the city is alive those months since it’s the time of the art fairs, so it is nice to be able to wear a jacket and not be drenched in sweat. I consider Spring/Summer more of a slow time, a time to relax.

What’s your favorite neighborhood for dining out, for nightlife?

My favorite Area for eating out is MIMO, the Biscayne corridor between 50th and 79th streets. Although Wynwood is adding new spots every week. Then there are always the food trucks which don’t tie you down to any neighborhood.

For nightlife I like the 14th street area in Downtown Miami, particularly for  The Bar and The Vagabond but my personal favorite is Churchills in Little Haiti. West of Wynwood has some new DYI spots that have just opened – Chum Bucket and Beelzebub’s Cave – and I can’t wait for the opening of Lester’s.

Where do you like to shop?

The best place to shop for Seafood is Casablanca market on the Miami river. I don’t generally just shop – but I stumble… I usually prefer smaller stores to any big chains. Sweat Records and some small secondhand shops on NE 2nd Avenue are fun. Markys on 79th for all things Russian. Everything else is online.

What inspires you about Miami?

The attitude. Miami has an attitude that most people don’t like, and scares away the people that can’t handle it. Sort of like being a tough New Yorker, that has been stuck in a Spanish sauna for 44 hours. I have lived in some of the toughest neighborhoods in Miami, and people are great! You just have to go with the flow. I couldn’t live anywhere without culture, or a diverse population – I feel that that is how we can become real Americans (by jumping into the middle of the melting pot). Miami has this strange mix of culture, sun and booze to create a place with character. Miami forces you to become resilient.

Do you have an insider tip for tourists visiting Miami for the first time?

Go with the flow. Don’t eat on Ocean Drive – unless someone else is paying! Seek the quiet spots, and absorb the local flavor – with an exception of the best tourist destination are the real kitschy ones, everything from Coral Castle way down South to Jimbo’s on Virginia Key.

Are you a regular somewhere, have a favorite local hangout?

Churchills, Buena Vista Deli in nearby Buena Vista near the District and Club Deuce and the Abby when I am on the beach. They don’t yell “Norm”, but they know who I am.

Do you have a secret spot in the city (to unwind, get away, people watch, read a book, escape)?

Simpson Park, Shark Valley, the Bird Sanctuary in Grenoylds Park, and Miami Beach, the actual beach at night…for places to chill and enjoy. For peoplewatching check out the alternative non-profit art spaces — Locust Projects, Dimensions Variable, Swamp-Space, the Little River Yacht Club and Bas Fisher. And when Lester’s in Wynwood – a coffee, beer and wine bar  opens – it will be my new second home.

What are your favorite restaurants/museums/parks/ shopping places/bars/etc?

I support all of the Museums – so I can’t pick favorites, but I will always recommend them. But the Private Art collections are fantastic as well. The Marguiles, De La Cruz, Rubell and World Class Boxing are great to visit. For Places to eat – Gigi’s, Metro Bistro, Magnum (for fun). Did I mention Churchill’s?

db Bistro Moderne:

In Miami a top-notch restaurant doesn’t have to be free standing to be respected, take db Moderne Bistro inside Downtown Miami’s swanky JW Marriott Marquis Hotel. They’ve nabbed acclaimed Chef Daniel Boulud to work his magic in the kitchen to come out with their stellar menu.

Three times a James Beard award recipient, Chef Bouloud is revered for creating a menu that’s traditional French bistro mixed with contemporary American flavors. The dining room’s elegant design and great view of the Miami river are the perfect complement to a menu ripe with original creations and a wine list with amazingly affordable bottle selections beginning at a modest $25.

Taking advantage of the bounty from the sea in Miami, there’s a tasty selection of seafood appetizers. Classics like coq au vin and tomato tarte tartin are listed alongside the popular db burger which is an exercise in decadence. They take a sirloin burger and fill it with braised short ribs and foie gras on a parmesan bun and serve it up with pommes frites (the real French fries).

db Moderne Bistro is located inside the JW Marriott Marquis, 255 Biscayne Blvd. Way, Miami, FL

Xixon: Spanish chef serves passionate menu

Xixon Cafe has settled in nicely into their new digs on Coral Way and what a phenomenal location it is. The place is elegant, sophisticated while still maintaining a casual touch that evokes the look and feel of Spain throughout.
Upon entering there’s a market and deli selling specialty cheeses, hams, chorizos, peppers, olives and olive oils all imported from Spain.

The new larger location has two floors in addition to the main floor and each space supplementing the other by offering different dining ambiances, downstairs the Vinoteca and upstairs the Mezzanine with oversized tables for larger groups and private parties along with a main dining room and Tapas bar.

In the kitchen, Chef Jon Gonzalez, a native of San Sebastian, is preparing the classics as well as some more contemporary recipes. He uses plenty of fresh caught fish and seafood for his recipes and introduces daily tapas and entrees to keep the menu interesting.

Xixon is located at 2101 SW 22 St. Miami, FL 

Yardbird Southern Table & Bar: Comfort food done right

With a website name like, there’s no doubt that Miami Beach’s Yardbird Southern Table & Bar takes their chicken and comfort food for that matter, seriously. They don’t even call it a dinner menu, it’s called supper.

A rustic interior with small jam jars on display, cute sayings printed along the bar like “Say Please and Thank You” and “Run Chicken Run” and lots of natural wood to evoke a country setting.

Things to try here: Shrimp ‘n grits made with Florida shrimp, crisp Virginia ham and South Carolina stone ground grits (they love using the best Southern ingredients here and make sure to name them too). The Llellewyn’s Fine Fried Chicken is a 1/2 a Bell & Evans bird served with  cheddar and chow chow waffle, spicy Tulepo honey and citrus pepper watermelon. The melons and cheese appetizer of fresh melons, grilled farm cheese, fresh celery in Meyer lemon Texas olive oil is a great starter.

The restaurant is located at the corner of 16th St. and Lenox Ave. in Miami Beach, 305-538-5220

Seasons 52: A fresh take on seasonal faves

At Seasons 52, they pride themselves on offering fresh, seasonal ingredients with a casual and unique flair. Organic greens, vegetables, seafoods and meats command the menu as well as a wealth of eye-pleasing appetizers, flatbreads, entrees, salads and desserts.

Some of their tasty selections include an all-natural chicken cabernet with Lundberg organic wild rice, vegetables and red wine sauce; a lemongrass salmon salad with organic field lettuce, grilled pineapple, jicama and sesame dressing and flatbreads topped with garlic chicken, balsamic red onions, roasted red peppers and mozzarella cheese, to name just one of five delectable ones offered.

And to match the casually elegant menu, the restaurant’s atmosphere is a pleasant cherry wood interior with warm lighting, an inviting bar and wood beams running along the ceiling.

Seasons 52 Restaurant is located at 321 Miracle Mile, Coral Gables, FL

Deposits, withdrawals and partying at The Bank

Leave it to Miami club promoters to concoct an idea as outrageous as using a historic bank building in the heart of Downtown Miami, and one that’s on the National Register of Historic Places no less, as the latest hot club venue.

That’s exactly the idea behind The Bank. One thing’s for sure, the interior is brimming with exquisite architectural touches like vaulted ceilings and ornate Roman columns, evocative of the 1920s economic boom and when the building was created.

They’ve split the place into four separate rooms — The Garden, The Vault which is their main room, The Gallery and the appropriately named The Capone Room. 

The Bank is located at 139 NE 1 St., 786-309-BANK,

The Stage: Live music adds to vibe here

The live music scene is abuzz in Miami and there’s no better area for a  hotspot like The Stage than the super cool hipster Design District. Housed in a spacious warehouse type venue, it’s wide open in here but at the same time intimate. Music lovers can sit or stand as close to the stage here as they like or relax on a comfy couch and take in the cool sounds that way.

The bar’s fully stocked here and is matching in its grandiose size after all  this place is 10,000-square-feet with a 200-square-foot stage. New Orleans was the inspiration for the design and performers include local favorite Joe Donato as well Atlanta’s Stokeswood and Arboles Libres.

The Stage is located at 170 NE 38 St., Miami, FL Boutique shopping’s just a click away is revolutionizing online shopping, giving fashionistas exactly what they want, boutique shopping that’s just a click away.

Originated in Denmark, the site features clothing, accessories, shoes and more from more than 100 boutiques in South Florida. The idea behind the site is to offer the best of fashion boutiques combined with the flexibility and availability of online commerce.

There are shops from Miami all the way Palm Beach featured. Names include Cheap n Chic in Miami, Deco Collection on Miami Beach, Essence and Emporium boutiques in Coral Gables, Isabel Riera in Coconut Grove, Kristine Michael in South Miami, Lorie Lester Studio & Boutique in the Upper East Side and several others.

That’s just a sampling of what’s available at This user-friendly site gives big box retailers some much-needed competition and provides a more unique shopping experience.

Fashionista: The Grove’s latest boutique incarnation

Coconut Grove is a neighborhood that prides itself on a Bohemian lifestyle, something the area’s been known for since the 1970s. It still only features one open-air mall CocoWalk and it’s a mid-size one at that.

Goes to figure that boutiques would be all the rage in the Grove. There are some that have been around for nearly two decades and there are always new ones joining the landmark ones. Fashionista, a boutique/consignment shop features a true Grove feel with a colorful interior, interestingly displayed clothing and accessories.

They feature designers like Chanel, Christian Dior, Diane Von Fustenberg, Jimmy Choo, Manolo Blahnik, Dolce & Gabbana and True Religion.

The Fashionista is located at 3135 Commodore Plaza, 305-443-4331,

Soundscape Park: Al fresco music in heart of South Beach

The New World Symphony has a new home and fantastic outdoor space where there performances can be viewed by the general public. Soundscape Park is in the heart of South Beach, between Lincoln Road and the Convention Center and Fillmore concert venue.

The space is a welcome addition to an area that was begging for such a wonderful spot to listen to music al fresco. Aside from being a great spot to sit and read or admire the wonder that is Miami Beach, it’s best known as a spot where the general public can sit and enjoy a live performance by the New World Symphony. That’s thanks to a screen that projects the performance to the Soundscape audience. It’s the perfect spot to bring a blanket, wine and cheese picnic and catch the spectacular musicians, led by award-winning Artistic Director Michael Tilson Thomas.

Soundscape Park is located at 400 17 St., Miami Beach

Stiltsville Tours: Homes on water evoke old Miami

The 1920s and 30s may have been the heyday boom in Florida. The time Art Deco got famous, when Flagler’s railroad was chug-chugging and visits to Miami were about sun and fun.

It was also the time when a little place called Stiltsville on Biscayne Bay emerged. Today, there are a mere three or four “shack” homes built either on wood or reinforced concrete pilings ten feet above the shallow water. They’re situated one mile south of Key Biscayne’s Cape Florida.

There are several tour companies that make trips out to Stiltsville and recount the story of how the houses were built and the transformation of its heyday to the few that still stand.

Island Queen Cruises does their tours through History Miami. Miami historian Dr. Paul George conducts the tours. Call 305-379-5119 for reservations.

Foxhole Bar: Billed as bar for locals on South Beach

Yet another drinking hole is opening on South Beach. The Foxhole Bar is the antithesis of the high-energy nightclub, being billed as “An upscale locals joint in Miami Beach,” according to their website.

And by the looks of the hard-to-find location keeping it local is the idea. The place is hidden behind a Domino’s Pizza spot off 14th St. and Alton Road. Built and designed to resemble a speakeasy, there are pool tables, dartboards, leather bench seating and even gun memorabilia on display.

This is a spot to sit and sip a two-finger bourbon, a good brew plus a number of other old-time drinks. Sure, they can make a cosmo here but it doesn’t quite fit.

The Foxhole Bar is located at 1426A 14 Ct., Miami Beach 305-534-3551

Surfcomber Hotel: Art Deco gem is glammed up

The Surfcomber Hotel is an icon of the Art Deco hotels on South Beach that’s a great place to stay and party.

The hotel’s exterior facade remains in the Art Deco style, something that’s unique about the buildings on Miami Beach, they like to maintain and preserve that look. Inside, the rooms have been simply updated with minimalist, clean decor, soothing colors, flat screen televisions and other great amenities.


Oceanfront and city view rooms give a taste of the best South Beach has to offer. In-room spa services, a fitness center and pet-friendly accommodations make for a great stay. It’s easy to stroll down Lincoln Road, Ocean Drive, Collins or Washington Avenues from here meaning nightlife, shopping and of course…the beach…are just steps away.

The Surfcomber Hotel is located at 1717 Collins Ave. 305-532-7715 or 800-994-6103

The Cheese Course: Gourmet nibblin’s

It’s not all about nibbling on some cheese at The Cheese Course in Midtown but that’s definitely the place’s biggest draw. The menu is mainly comprised of a veritable enormity of combinations of hard and soft cheeses with perfect accompaniments.

Some brie and manchego with olive tapenade, or perhaps a robust stilton and limburger with a side of fig spread. The combinations here are endless and what’s fun is trying as many different ones as possible. The sandwiches here are excellent too, all served on fresh baked baguettes. One of my personal faves is the Spanish serrano ham with manchego, black olive tapenade, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar and greens.

The wines available for pairing are top notch too and it’s virtually impossible to leave without buying something from their incredible market.

The Cheese Course is located at 3451 NE 1 Avenue, Miami, FL

Arkadia: Fontainebleau’s latest club

Hip hop superstar Drake christened the place, throwing himself a smokin’ hot birthday party and the next night at the Preview Party the likes of New York Yankee Alex Rodriguez, Miami Heat’s LeBron James, actor Edward Norton and model Elle McPherson were present. Seems like Arkadia, billed as an ultra-lounge and pool concept at Miami Beach’s Fontainebleau Hilton, is the newest celeb and beautiful people haunt.

DJ Ross spins the tunes from a booth covered in laser-cut gold mirrors (the ceiling and bars are covered in these too), while clubgoers sip cocktails, champagne and other libations from one of 25 tables and a handful of cushy, overstuffed, tufted sofas. Looks like the gem of an Art Deco hotel has hit nightclub gold again with another high-end installation. Arkadia is sure to be the spot for fashion shows and hot parties.

Arkadia is located inside the Fontainebleau Hilton Hotel, 4441 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL

Maison Martin Margiela: Celebs shop here in Miami

One of the newest upscale, funky boutiques to grace the streets of Miami’s Design District is Maison Martin Margiela, a spot that attracts celebs like Paris Hilton, Kanye West, Jay Z and Lady Gaga. The place is a natural fit for entertainers because it’s filled with uniquely made items that keep them looking fresh and original.

R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe’s got a line of accessories at the boutique and they’ve got a black leather vest made of shoe parts (a favorite of Lady Gaga’s) and an entire line of platform shoes to match these hip fashions. And just like the store is filled with rockin’ fashions, the building itself is eye candy, sporting an industrial look that stands out from the others.

Maison Martin Margiela is located at 3930 NE 2nd Avenue, #101, Miami, FL

Wrestlin’ a gator is an art form to these guys

Alligator wrestling to the Miccosukee Tribe is a tradition that’s handed down from generation to generation. It is an important part of their history and one of the main attractions at the Miccosukee Indian Village.

Tribesmen perform several times throughout the day, putting themselves up against these ferocious animals in a pit. It’s more than just entertainment, they utilize skills that are mastered and perfected after years of practice and training.

It’s best to spend the day at the Village since the trek is far but there is plenty to do. Explore the grounds, shop for arts & crafts, watch the tribeswomen sewing intricate pieces and dine at the on-site restaurant.

Micocosukee Indian Village, Mile Marker 70, U.S. 41 Tamiami Trail, 305-552-8365,



The Forge Restaurant/Winebar: Classic with an upgrade

Originally known strictly as an elegant, upscale steakhouse with an old-world decor, The Forge has gone through a transformation. It now boasts an interior featuring eclectic furniture. One seating area evokes a living room/library feel with antique chairs, a contemporary couch, fireplace, bookshelves and stained glass, set alongside traditional dinner seating. Opulent chandeliers share the spotlight with quirky, lavender contemporary ones and yet another loungey spot features a fireplace with the cushiony rattan inspired couches and chairs that are commonly found poolside at any one of SoBe’s well known hotels.

The menu, by Chef Dewey LoSasso has also been transformed to include their well known classic steaks, chops and seafood but also incorporating short ribs, grilled shrimp waffle and chicken and duck alphabet soup.

432 41st Street at Royal Palm Avenue, Miami Beach, (305) 538- 8533,

Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante: That’s Italian!

The name is kind of long but oh so Italian — Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante on Miami Beach in the quaint area around Purdy Avenue. It’s becoming a hotbed of restaurants over here and no wonder, away a bit from the crowded South Beach scene which makes it a locals scene.

This gorgeous restaurant with pretty wooden tables and chairs, oversized tiles for flooring and an inviting bar that makes a great spot to eat too puts the wine front and center. The Italian wines are proudly displayed and elegantly lit in a bookcase looking case.

And if choosing between antipasti, soup, salad, entree, panini, pasta or any other of their wide selection perhaps the Tasting Menu is the best bet. For $65 there are plenty of seafood or landlubber selections along with a cheeseboard and dessert selection. It’s true Italian fare and because wine is so important here, they’re happy to offer diners a taste before purchasing. Very classy.

Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante is located at 1801 Purdy Ave., Miami Beach, FL 305-531-2228,

Artefacto: Contemporary and classic home furnishings

The quality of the home furnishings created at Artefacto is unmistakable since they’ve been at the top of their game for 35 years. Their designs are a combination of contemporary and classic looks that help give their furniture and accessories lines a unique feel.

An Artefacto-decorated home is one where the homeowner is seeking to create an interior that’s personalized and reflects their personality. Value, functionality, superior design and eco-conscious products are at the forefront of the Artefacto philosophy.

Headboards combine tufted leather and wood and even wrap around the bed a bit; armchairs range from antique-looking to ultra-modern; side tables and coffee tables are available in every shape imaginable and made from a wide range of materials while daybeds, chaise lounges, ottomans and sectionals comprise the seating selection.

Knowing accessories complete the look, they make everything from lampshades and bases to trays, magazine stands and pillows. These perfectly complement their expertly made furniture.

Artefacto has just two locations in Miami-Dade County in Aventura at 19915 Biscayne Blvd. 305-931-9484  and Coral Gables at 4440 Ponce de Leon Blvd., Ste. 1600, 305-774-0004,

Cultural Fridays: Little Havana’s lively monthly festival

Little Havana is always a lively place but on the last Friday of every month it truly comes to life during Cultural Fridays, the monthly arts and culture festival held on historic Southwest Eighth Street, known as “Calle Ocho.”

Photo courtesy of Google Images

Set on the iconic three-lane, one-way stretch of road, the festival takes place  along three blocks filled with art galleries, restaurants and performance stages. There are walking tours of the historic Little Havana homes led by renowned historian Dr. Paul George, tango classes at DAF Studio, an Art Fair at Domino Plaza, salsa dancing at El Pub Restaurant and lots and lots of art for viewing.

Eat at one of the many Cuban, Spanish and Latin American restaurants and dance the night away at one of the few nightclubs along Calle Ocho.

Cultural Fridays is every last Friday of the Month on Eighth Street from between SW 14th and 17th Avenues, 305-643-5500,

Zoo Miami: An adventure in the jungle

Zoo Miami is one of the most unique attractions in Miami and is not your conventional zoo see, there’s no cages here, well, virtually none. Moats separate a majority of the animals from the visitors which makes it a much more natural experience.

Strolling along the pathways, either on foot, on a safari cycle, in the safari tram tour or on the monorail, is an adventure in everything wild. Monkeys climb on tree limbs and branches in King of the Jungle, while the Huon tree kangaroo, koalas and a crocodile monitor lizard hang out in the Australia exhibition.

Flamingos, giraffes, hippos, snakes, rhinos, lions, tigers, lizards, eels, spiders and more, they all live here in this massive 327 acre park. Kids can enjoy more than just the wildlife with the ever-popular Diego Zoo show, with the famous character from Dora the Explorer.

Zoo Miami is located at 12400 SW 152 St., Miami, FL 786-619-3418,

Meat Market: Sink your teeth into it

The name may be a play on words for a pick-up bar but rest assured, Meat Market on Lincoln Road in South Beach couldn’t be further from that. Executive Chef and Co-Owner Sean Brasel along with sommelier Sarah Almand are a pair of pros at their craft.

The menu features signature steaks and reserve cuts as the stars, with a great selection of sauces and butters specially created to accompany them along with classic salads that make great starters.  Pork, chicken and fish entrees and yet another classic, meatloaf make the grade here too.

For an even more unique experience, their monthly wine dinner series is a fantastic way to enjoy a unique culinary evening. The four-course meals include two appetizer courses, an entree course and dessert course. Each one is paired with the perfect wine. Succulent smoke-roasted duck breast with zinfandel and rugged dry-aged prime rib eye with hearty combination reds.

Meat Market is located at 915 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 305-532-0088

Miami Twice: Great shopping for vintage goods

A mainstay of Miami’s shopping scene, especially for those who prefer something different than the mall, Miami Twice is a great place to shop for vintage goods.

Courtesy of Google Images

The store is packed with wares and accessories not easily found, rare gems that can make a wardrobe unique and different. Think great dresses and shoes from the early 1900s to the 1980s. They’ve also got modern designer duds and purses. They’re jewelry, especially brooches and costume pieces, as well as vintage shoes and purses from classic eras are all the rage here.

It’s a fun experience walking into this place and browsing through their merchandise, whether it’s for just looking or actually buying. A stop in Miami is worth a trip here. Hey, they’ve been in business a quarter of a century, they’re definitely doing something right.

Miami Twice is located at 6562 SW 40 St., Miami, FL 305-666-0127

Fifty Ultra Lounge: Viceroy Hotel’s hot spot

One of Downtown Miami’s hottest hotels is surprisingly enough, a fabulous nightclub spot. The Fifty Ultra Lounge at Viceroy Miami is stiff competition for those clubs on the other side of the Causeway (meaning South Beach).

Appropriately named for its location, the view alone is unmatched by any other club because it sits on the building’s rooftop meaning unobstructed water and skyline views as far as the eye can see. The pool, which serves as the centerpiece here, is no slouch either, adding that perfect Miami touch.

FIFTY promises to bring you a “One-of-a-kind rooftop lounge with a fresh new look on Miami’s Nightlife scene.” There’s always something happening on this rooftop with Happy Hour, guest DJ’s, special Ladies’ Night events and Sunday afternoon pool parties. Celebrities are frequently spotted here so keep your eyes peeled.

Viceroy Miami is located at 485 Brickell Avenue, 305-503-4417

Dream: This is no la la land but it’s a dream

Yet another velvet rope nightclub has debuted in South Beach. This one’s called Dream and features all that’s come to be expected from a high energy, open ’til the wee hours hot spot in what’s known as the American Riviera.

Like most of the nightclubs in the area, this one’s on Washington Avenue, the hotbed strip for late night party hounds. Dream’s decadent interior is filled with obligatory disco balls, multi-colored flourescent lighting, comfy tufted leather booths where celebrities and other high-rollers are sure to enjoy bottle service throughout the night.

The nightly themes, like Fantasy Wednesdays, Eyecandy Saturdays and Fubar Fridays seem to have a recurring theme. It’s pure South Beach decadence for sure. It’s what’s to be expected around these parts.

Dream is located at 1532 Washington Ave., 305-674-8018,

Louis Vuitton: Exclusively carried by only a few

There’s something about carrying around that handbag with the LV insignia all over it. The matching keychain, wallet, luggage and other accessories make for an even bigger fashion statement.

The Louis Vuitton name still carries that element of panache and so the company likes to keep it that way. Their stores can only be found in the most exclusive of stores around Miami. Aventura Mall in the northern part of Miami, The Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables, Dadeland Mall in the south end of Miami . The latest announcement is that LV will open a free-standing store in the hip Design District so that’s another one to look forward to. No worries either, these are not typical malls because of course LV would only be sold in very high-end shops which these are.

To find these exclusive spots where LV is sold visit and check the store locator section of the website.

City Hall: No government here, it’s all about the food

City Hall's Steve Haas and Tom Azar. Photo courtesy of Mishael Fernandez.

The name could throw anyone off — City Hall. Government, clerks, parking tickets, etc… but at this City Hall, it’s all about the food. Owner Steve Haas, an icon in the Miami community, especially restaurants and his chef Tom Azar wouldn’t have it any other way.

They’ve created a masterpiece of Art Deco cool here and Haas has experience with that after all, he’s run restaurants on South Beach where that architecture style rules. Azar, a protege of famed celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, has put together a stellar menu of brasserie style favorites. Using a play on words throughout the menu (appetizers are called “Opening Statements” and entrees “Primary Decisions”) the food is serious here.

Seafood and andouille gumbo with steamed rice and butter fried croutons or Latin-inspired seared scallops with jalapeno emulsion, pico de gallo, a black bean and sweet corn salsa and fried plantains make great choices.

City Hall is located at 2004 Biscayne Blvd. 305-764-3130,

Margulies Collection: Wynwood District pioneer’s space shines

The once sleepy Wynwood neighborhood over the last decade has become a force in the growing and world-reknowned Miami arts community and pioneering the transformation is Martin Margulies, well known art collector.

At the giant Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, located of course in the heart of the Wynwood Arts District, the variety of art on display is impressive and obviously his life’s work. Contemporary and vintage photography, sculptures, installations and video pieces. Sculptures by artworld heavyweights Joan Miro, Williem de Kooning and Isamu Noguchi are here for the viewing. Amazing that works by such masters exist in one place together. This is an art lover’s dream and give yourself a few hours because working through the space requires just that.

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse is located at 591 NW 27 St. 305-576-1051

Crumb on Parchment, Bernstein’s latest Design District venture

Design District darling and James-Beard award-winning chef Michelle Bernstein has launched  a new venture in the area and brought her Mom along for the ride. It’s called Crumb on Parchment and is a winner.

Just steps away from her well-known Sra. Martinez, she can shuffle back and forth from one place to the other and not miss a beat. As strange as that may sound it’s true, she is right there in the open area where the sandwiches, soups, sides, everything’s being prepared, alongside her staff working.

Definite must haves are the roasted veggie sandwich with creamy cheese and tasty aioli and the roasted chicken with goat cheese and peaches, each a winner. Tasty couscous or one of their homemade soups like red gazpacho, lentil and chilled cauliflower make great sides. And for dessert, Mom makes a mile-high coconut cake that’s a stunner, moist classic red velvet cupcakes with cream cheese frosting as well as assorted scones and muffins which are perfect for breakfast.

Crumb on Parchment is located at 3930 NE 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 305-572-9444,

Classic Carolina Herrera threads at Village of Merrick Park

The Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables is a classy, upscale, chic and elegant shopping venue (this is no mall) and that’s why classic and iconic fashion designer Carolina Herrera chose the venue for her store.

Evoking the Mediterranean feel that makes the Gables unique, Merrick Park is open-air and features lushly landscaped tropical gardens and fountains throughout and is truly a shopping destination. Having the legendary Herrera choose this as the home for one of her stores is the perfect fit.

The store features both men’s and women’s fashions in what could only be described as the fashion designer’s instantly recognizable clean line and timeless look. Fashionistas who need a jolt of that in their closet will certainly find it here. Her signature CH fragrance for women is also available here.

The Village of Merrick Park is located at 358 San Lorenzo Ave., Coral Gables 305-448-3333

Nosh on unique eats and craft beers at The Local

A new incarnation has arrived in Downtown Coral Gables and it’s called The Local Craft Food & Drink, an idea whose time was overdue in the area. At least that’s what the two young owners thought and so they tapped an experienced and equally young chef and created this place.

The menu is a blend of many components, some of which incorporate well known ingredients from the owners Hispanic backgrounds. For example, their unique take on some classic barfood, instead of chicken wings, they’re serving buffalo-style sweetbreads instead with blue cheese and a unique apple, chayote and celery slaw. Chayote? That’s all Hispanic. Those sound perfect too paired with one of their many craft brews. It’s bar food taken up a notch. They’re even serving charcuterie prepared on premises and as many fresh local South Florida ingredients as possible.

Photos by Sebastian Rusk /

The Local Craft Food & Drink is located at 150 Giralda Ave., Coral Gables 305-648-5687

Oleta River State Park: Explore nature on land or in water

Oleta River State Park makes perfect use of its surroundings in the most unlikeliest of places, near Biscayne Boulevard and on the way to Sunny Isles Beach. It’s Florida’s largest urban park and just for that is worth exploring for adventure seekers and lovers of the outdoors.

The bike paths here are extensive and range from novice trails to more challenging ones that provide an exciting ride for even the most experienced mountain biker. The scenery makes the adventure that much more exhilarating.

Kayaking or canoeing along the river provides incredible views of mangrove forest preserves filled with native South Florida plants and wildlife. Picnics are easy here too with nine pavilions available for rent and grills and picnic tables throughout the park. They’ve also got rustic cabins available for overnight guests. A dip in their manmade beach makes the outdoor experience complete.

Oleta River State Park is located at 3400 NE 163 St., North Miami Beach, FL 305-919-1844

ISA Boutique’s latest shop to join Midtown Miami

The merchandise here, hand-picked by owner Isabel Aguiar (hence the name ISA Boutique) is all Miami chic. The store is bright with the usual funky decor that’s so popular in small unique spots like this. A zebra-print rug, strategically placed clothing and accessories that’s aesthetically pleasing and an overall airy atmosphere that gives customers plenty of room to browse.

And browse they will, what with the awesome swimwear that’s pretty much useable year-round, colorful and custom-made jewelry and the kind of light, feminine clothes by local designer RaMona La Rue who is based in the Design District along with other well known fashions. Aguiar makes sure to provide beauty products too with her own line of products — Body by Isa.

ISA Boutique is located at  3400 N. Miami Ave., Miami, FL 786-558-8027

Grand Central’s Downtown Miami’s newest nightspot

Grand Central is hitting the Downtown Miami scene with a bang, becoming the newest venue in the area to provide live music and a rollicking good time. Providing a place where music lovers can enjoy original bands and performers is first and foremost to the folks running Grand Central.

The line-up is non-stop and features DJ’s playing a blend of hip hop, Latin, and dance tunes. Amber Rose, model and ex girlfriend of hip hop artist Kanye West hosts a party here for her new beau Wiz Khalifa and bands like The Battles and Caramelos de Cianuro join other newcomers on the scene.

It’s a great deal too with minimal cover charges drink specials almost every night.

Grand Central is located at 697 N. Miami Ave., Miami, FL 305-377-2277

Jaguar’s ceviche, and so much more…

Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar and Latam Grill is like a tour through Latin America and the cuisines that make each area unique. It’s what Chef Oscar del Rivero envisioned bringing to diners and he’s delivering.

Front and center is the ceviche spoon bar, a fantastic representation of unique bites representing Peru, where the dish is most popular, and some great variations. The Asian inspired ones have soy and ginger  while many others include cilantro. All of course include the freshest fish and lime which is what makes the dish what it is.

The Latam (short for Latin American) grill features a grilled organic chicken chicken breast stuffed with goat cheese and pico de gallo verde, simple grilled fish entrees and steaks like filet mignon and skirt steak or “churrasco.”

The atmosphere complements the menu perfectly with warm-colored walls, unique bamboo styled lighting and dark wood chairs at the bar.

Jaguar is located at 3067 Grand Ave., Coconut Grove 305-444-0216

This is one Vice that’s worth keeping

One of the newest kids on the South Beach nightclub scene is Vice Lounge located in the quieter side of Lincoln Road, the area that’s closer to the beach and not among the hustle and bustle of the pedestrian mall.

It’s all decadence in this place so best to check inhibitions at the door and the interior reflects this. Red carpeted stairs lead to the second floor, great viewing areas from here for the dance floor, multiple bars and VIP areas with bottle service galore. Singer Jon Secada has hung out here, live performances are the norm and DJ’s love playing here.

As is the norm in spots like this, they regularly  host fashion shows here as well as happy hour parties. It’s a party every night, weeknights never stop any club on the beach and Vice is no exception.

Vice is located at 330 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL 305-532-2667

Peacock Garden Cafe: Garden setting evokes Grove feel

It’s great to see a place like Peacock Garden Cafe open up in Coconut Grove especially nestled in a beautiful garden next to the historic Coconut Grove library on McFarlane Road. The claw-footed tub filled with dirt and used as an herb garden and colorful dangling orchids and potted plants make for a memorable entrance.

They’ve set the mood for what’s to come, an outdoor patio bursting with more foliage that surrounds the old-style furniture and umbrellas galore providing even more shade. Inside’s just as charming with mix and match tables and chairs, oversized windows providing plenty of sunshine and antique white glass chandeliers.

The atmosphere perfectly complements the menu. There’s a daily soup including fresh corn, potato-leek or fennel. A number of fresh salads like pear and bleu cheese or classic Nicoise salad and grilled items featuring roasted chicken, large shrimp or Atlantic salmon which come paired choice of salad or side dish.

The Peacock Garden Cafe is located at 2889 McFarlane Road, Coconut Grove 305-774-3332, Open everday at 11:30 a.m., close at 10 p.m. Sun-Wed and 11:30 p.m. Thurs-Sat

Garcia’s serves freshest seafood with a Miami waterview

Situated along the Miami River on the winding road called NW N River Drive is Garcia’s Seafood Grille and the location is perfect for a place that serves fresh fish they catch from their own fleet of boats.

See Garcia’s is both restaurant and marketplace so diners here know that they can’t get food that’s any fresher than here. Their smoked fish dip, which is complimentary and brought out immediately for folks to snack on is delectable. Probably best though not to load up on this since there are so many incredible options to choose from off the menu.

Try their dolphin (mahi mahi) or grouper, one of the many fish choices they serve up grilled, blackened, sauteed as either a sandwich or meal. Crab cakes make great appetizers and the conch fritters are quite tasty too. Their shrimp dishes and of course stone crabs make for a good choice too. They’re really spot on with their menu here. 

Garcia’s Seafood Grill and Market is located at 398 NW N River Dr. 305-375-0765,

Balance Order Nature: Harmonious home furnishings

Creating a harmonious home interior is the mission of Balance Order Nature and their collection of contemporary home furnishings. Their showroom along historic Coral Way features their clean and soothing lines and accessories.

What’s interesting about the designs here is they’re both contemporary but also with a throwback twist. The lamps especially borrow from the 1950s and 60s and incorporate a current feel to create a completely unique look. Other furnishings include small tufted chairs with modern legs, a modern take on the recliner featuring a flat leather reclining seat and simple, clean-lined simple tables and platform beds. It’s all pure simplicity at its best.

Dolores but you can call me Lolita: Good eats, hip scene

It’s about more than just the food at Dolores but you can call me Lolita in the heart of Miami’s thriving Brickell area. This is a compound that encompasses the restaurant, lounge, private room and even the Japanese favorite Sushi Maki next door. They go for the warm glow of candlelight in the restaurant where the wall border close to the ceiling brims with quirky and inspiring sayings.

Then there’s the menu which is brimming with delicious selections like the appetizer called Maybe, the Best Serrano Ham Croquettes you ever tasted or the Caesar salad was created in Tijuana Parmesan cheese and croutons. Those wacky names doesn’t mean they don’t take food seriously here, entrees include pappardelle with a Kobe beef bolognese or baja fish tacos of tempura fish filets served with a chipotle-guava cabbage slaw.

Eat or party or do both at the restaurant or lounge, the atmosphere’s great at both.

Jazz at MOCA: Tunes under the night sky

Arturo Sandoval trumpet blaring at Jazz at MOCA

It’s a scene to behold in the heart of downtown North Miami on the last Friday of the month when the Museum of Contemporary Art hosts their monthly Jazz at MOCA event. It’s become the place to be and it’s no wonder, they get some stellar jazz musicians to play here.

First off, it’s just a nice event, people bring blankets, set up a nice picnic under the stars with wine and other goodies and settle in to watch performers play and sing their hearts out in their cool bandshell.

They’ve hosted such greats as trumpet great Arturo Sandoval, local favorite Ira Sullivan and jazz vocalist Nicole Henry. Great trios and quintets perform too and they get the crowd clappin’ and foot tappin’. As an added bonus, the museum stays open late so jazz lovers can stroll through and see the exhibitions.

Alchemist Shop: Revolving clothes line in industrial space

Already a mecca for great boutiques that fashionistas flock to, South Beach now gets two more, the Alchemist Shop with two locations on Lincoln Road.

One is a typical stand alone boutique the other is uniquely situated inside a parking garage. Of course, because it’s on South Beach it’s not just any parking garage, this is an industrial monstrosity at the tip of Lincoln Road. Now moviegoers can make a stop at this funky shop and sift through some truly unique fashions.

They’re known to carry high-end items by designers Undercover, Rick Owens and Libertine and of course, items get softer for Spring and as the seasons change so do the fashions in the Alchemist Shop. Jewelry, accessories and even some furniture are available as well.

Both stores share a unique clean, modern look and the view from the garage location is stellar thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows. People watching onto Lincoln Road never looked so good.

Jungle Island: Paradise attraction on Watson Island

Just the car ride to Jungle Island is glorious with cruise ships on one side and mansions on the other and sparkling water all the way around. The attraction uses its surroundings to their advantage.

The tropical landscape lends itself to the Parrot Bowl shows where vultures, cockatoos, swallows and more share center stage. Exhibits around the Island feature several species of monkeys, snakes and birds including penguins, flamingos, American alligators, Burmese pythons, skunks, cobras and chameleons.

They live among a variety of gorgeous plants and flowers that provide the grounds’ beautiful landscape. They also make full use of their waterfront location by incorporating an area called “La Playa” (The Beach) where adults can lounge on a beach chair under an umbrella while the kids frolic in a 17-foot water slide. The view’s unbeatable and it’s a great way to cool off.

Bongo’s Cuban Cafe: Swaying hips and Latin rhythms

Owned by Miami’s own Emilio & Gloria Estefan, the golden couple of Latin music in Miami, sitting bayside behind the American Airlines Arena and boasting an atmosphere that won’t quit, it’s obvious that the energy is high at Bongo’s Cuban Cafe.

This is the place to party al night and in Latin style, where deejays play all types of Caribbean music including salsa, merengue, bachata, reggaeton and regional Mexican music. It’s also a good place to catch Latin artists who attend after parties here. When Miami was host to the MTV Video Music Awards, Latin Grammys and Latin Billboard Music Awards the international artists attended after parties here.

The interior decor, purposely filled with palm trees, bongo shaped tables and multi-faceted colorful lighting in bright Caribbean colors, is set up to evoke a tropical island feel.

Bongo’s Cuban Cafe is located at 601 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 786-777-2100,

CIFO Art Space: Contemporary art in warehouse space

Yes, warehouses are becoming the norm as a venue for showing art but the CIFO (short for Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation) Art Space in Downtown Miami is something extraordinary. The state-of-the-art venue features contemporary art in their galleries while providing a lovely outdoor piazza for special events.

The exterior is just as impressive, a striking building covered in greenery. Inside the galleries they’re showcasing the extensive collection of Ella Fontanals-Cisneros including video, photography, geometric abstraction and contemporary works by such notable artists as Ana Mendieta,  Fiona Tan, Andreas Gursky, Ed Ruscha, Manuel Espinosa and many others.

They use the Piazza for plenty of art-related events and receptions and in December during Art Basel CIFO is hopping with daily tours for major art collectors in town shopping for the latest and greatest to expand their collection.

CIFO Art Space is located at 1018 North Miami Ave., Miami, FL 305-455-3380

Tui Lifestyle: Providing a modern touch

The concept of the Tui Lifestyle furnishings and accessories is to provide clients with a personalized look through their individualized lifestyle collections. Interior designer Tui Pranich and entrepreneur Jason Atkins have joined forces to combine essential furnishings and accessories with artwork and electronics to create a combination that’s unique to each lifestyle.

The power duo were charged with the task of furnishing units in one of Downtown’s swankiest the Marquis condos where they created the myPad model. It’s the perfect example of blending designer leather chairs, their unique Pebbles chandelier and 400-thread-count linens.

Their signature collections have names like Innovative, Innovative Premium and Innovative Signature; Sophisticated; Avenue; Marquis and even Glamorous and Sophisticated. What makes the Tui Lifestyle system unique is that they furnish the entire living space and have specific styles packaged together to make the decision as simple as possible.

The Tui Lifestyle Design Center is located at 3886 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 305-573-5411

Jazid: Icon of live music on South Beach

Surviving in the same location on South Beach is unto itself a testament to longevity and Jazid can proudly boast they’ve done it for 14 years. It’s all about the live music experience at Jazid, something the area is not necessarily known for.

They don’t pigeonhole themselves into one genre here either, anything goes. The list of live performers screams diversity. Feneiva plays on Tuesdays, performing in both English and Spanish and blending salsa, reggae and acoustic. Afro Kumbe on Wednesdays is made up of members of Miami’s favorite Latin fusion band Locos por Juana who are lighting up the festival and nightlife scene all over Miami. On Fridays Kulcha Shok Muzik frees up the stage for reggae bands, a different one each week.

They don’t skimp on the drink specials here either, kamikazes one night and aguardiente, the drink of choice in many Latin American countries, another.

Jazid is located at 1342 Washington Ave., Miami Beach. 305-673-9372.

Lou’s Beer Garden: Hideaway hangout

Knowing the hidden spots when visiting a city is always a fun adventure, it feels less touristy that way and makes you feel like an insider.

Lou’s Beer Garden in Miami Beach fits that description perfectly after all, it’s  not even visible from the street since it’s in the courtyard of a small hotel on Harding Avenue. Sure, it’s described as a Gastropub but it’s so much more than this. It’s an experience and definitely falls into an outdoor, poolside, lounge category, if there is such a thing.

It’s what makes Lou’s unique. They bill themselves as a throwback to the Miami Beach of another era and serve up craft beers, both bottled and on tap, as well as wines. Brewskies though, are the main attraction here. The decor features a sit-down bar with cool red lighting as well as patio seating surrounding the pool.

Lou’s Beer Garden is located at 7337 Harding Ave., Miami Beach, FL 305-704-7879. Web site:

HistoryMiami CityTour: A lesson on the Magic City

Miami may be a young city but there’s still a rich history to be learned and that’s what the HistoryMiami CityTour provides for out-of-towners who want to learn about the place called “The Magic City.”

Tours are done by boat, coach, bike or on foot and feature some of the city’s most historic and iconic spots. Dr. Paul George, a professor at Miami leads tours of The City of Miami Cemetery, where Julia Tuttle, one of Miami’s most legendary pioneers, is buried as well as historic Little Havana homes , among several others. While long-time Miami resident Frank W. Schena leads the eco-history tours of  The Redland Farm, Cape Florida Lighthouse and Miami Beach Boardwalk.

The boat tours go to Elliot Key and Boca Chita while another goes to Stiltsville where seven homes are built on stilts in the middle of Biscayne Bay. This one’s a sight to behold.

Departure spot depends on which tour. HistoryMiami is located at 101 W. Flagler St. and it’s best to call or visit their site to find the departure location.

The DRB: Small place, lots of brews

With a non-descript look and a cool red sign The Democratic Republic of Beer, or as it’s better known and as its namesake sign states, DRB, is a small, intimate bar with a huge menu of brewskies and it’s the perfect haunt for insomniacs with a closing time of 5 a.m.

Sure, there’s a food menu here but serious beer aficionados aren’t coming here for the eats, it’s all about sampling a cold one, or a few perhaps after all, there are 500 beers here from more than 60 nations. Belgium, England, Germany and the U.S. lead the pack with huge selections (there are more than three dozen in each category). They do monthly beer tours here, focusing on a specific country and so far have included Russia, Ethiopia, Costa Rica and Thailand.

The Democratic Republic of Beer is located at 255 NE 14 St., Miami, FL

Scarpetta: Italian eats at the Fontainebleau


Chef Scott Conant’s empire of restaurants is ever-present in the legendary art deco Fontainebleau Hilton Hotel and his restaurant Scarpetta. His eats aren’t cheap but the taste is amazing and the ambiance unbeatable.

Housed in the star of Miami Beach’s Art Deco hotels, it’s done up elegantly in a creamy white motif and boasts incredible views, a cool bar also done in white with silver circles to add interest. But definitely the star here is the food.

Chef Conant’s belief in simple, delicious Italian food comes through in his menu. His pastas,  like the location, are legendary. Classic preparation with minimal ingredients make them delectable, like the black tagliatelle topped with lobster which is a thing of beauty. Pastas are plated elegantly in a lovely tight circle. They’ve also got a fresh made stromboli that puts anything found at a local pizza joint to shame. These are just some of the stars on the menu.

Scarpetta is located in the Fontainebleau Hilton, 4401 Collins Ave., Miami Beach

Baltus: Upscale store’s way to jazz up home

The Miami Design District is home to many upscale specialty home furnishing stores and Baltus, with a corner location in the main artery of the area has the market cornered when it comes to must have items.

The hand crafting of their contemporary high-end furniture and attention to materials, size and shape make the pieces a unique addition for any home. Clean lines and meticulous construction are key here and although a majority of the designs are square and sharp edged, there are a few of them inspired by other eras like the Picasso chair with French style legs, back and seat. Elegant screens are also available for rooms where privacy is needed and the variety of shelves, bookcases and tables are perfect storage units.

Baltus is located at 3925 North Miami Ave., Miami, FL

Electric Pickle: Wynwood’s underground party

Event though it’s upstairs in it’s home building, the Electric Pickle/Bolero Room is the underground party everyone wants to be at in the Wynwood area.

Wednesday to Saturday nights, the party’s on here. DJ’s A-Train, Mr. Brown and Sire Esq. are joined by special guests on Wednesday nights as they play a mix of hip-hop, funk, soul, classics and reggae. Stop Drop ‘N Roll Thursdays DJ Gran Torino and guests play rockabilly, swing, twang, blues and dance jazz. There’s no cover this night and drink are half price.

For Disco Machine Fridays it’s deep house soul, heavy funk boogie and classic dance floor faves and also featuring live acts and DJ’s and on Saturdays live acts, international DJ’s and half-priced drinks are part of Get Some Saturdays.

Electric Pickle is located at 2826 N. Miami Ave., Miami, FL


Pubbelly: Simply stated, it’s hog heaven

The gastropub has come to Miami, Miami Beach that is, in Pubbelly located around the quieter end of South Beach around 20th Street. Smart move, the space has the perfect non-Art Deco-looking Chelsea New York reminiscent look and feel. It fits perfectly with what the trio of young hip owners are going for.

High ceilings, brick walls, rustic but city like, it’s the antithesis of bubblegum, neon, pastel South Beach and the unique menu is the perfect complement. Asian-inspired Gastropub’s the concept here, an unusual blend for sure but one that works.

Try the spaghetti and meatballs with lemongrass, sommen noodles, tomato and peanuts best described as tangy with a surprising addicting flavor. The McBelly with porkbelly, kimchee, barbecue, pickles and shaved onions is a must as is the pubbelly ramen with porkbelly, lemongrass broth and a poached egg. Menu’s divided into small plates (the first two mentioned here) and larger ones like the ramen, as well as veggies, raw/marinated/cured options and sides. Brews, sakes and wines are great here too with a huge selection.

Pubbelly is located at 1418 20 St., Miami Beach, FL

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Gigi Restaurant: Small bites, big flavor

The latest incarnation in the ever-growing restaurant scene in the Design District is Gigi Bistro. Intimate and hip, it’s obvious they’re going for their own vibe here. Stool seating here outnumbers actual tables and that’s fine. Reaching for shared bites while sitting next to each other is easier than an outstretched arm across a table.

And that’s what they want here, lots of sharing. The small portions, I hate to call them tapas the term’s so overused these days, make for a great experience of sampling different dishes. It’s obvious Chef Jeff McInnis is always thinking up new menu items judging by the small two-sided menu that’s handed out upon arrival (and one side’s all drinks). He makes delicious Asian-inspired buns filled with either beef brisket or with shiitake mushrooms topped with sticky, icky sauce (yes, that’s what it’s called) and sesame. And the super refreshing homestead avocado and tomato salad with citrus, hearts of palm and crunchy rice is a true original.

Gigi is located at 3470 North Miami Ave., Miami, FL

Julian Chang: Couture with a Miami flair

In a non-descript building along Biscayne Boulevard in Miami’s MiMo District or Upper East Side is the Julian Chang boutique/showroom. A native Peruvian who studied at Miami International University of Art & Design, the designer was a force to be reckoned with while still attending school.

His couture pieces quickly became the favorite of Miami’s elite crowd who turned to Chang for original designs during the height of party season which is pretty much year-round in Miami. He certainly does not pigeonhole himself to one style, cranking out eveningwear, contemporary women’s and ready-to-wear collections. He’s received honors from Women’s Wear Daily, Vogue en Espanol and MIFW.

Julian Chang is located at 6665 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL


Monty’s in the Grove: Waterfront nightlife party

The make-up of Coconut Grove has changed over the years going from hippie, granola, birkenstock in the 60s and 70s to an area to cruise in your car and party the night away from the 80s into the present although the scene has quieted down a bit. One place though that’s stood the test of time and is still a great place to party is Monty’s in the Grove.

This waterfront party spot is always a great place to stop in for cocktails, maybe a nibble and definitely some dancing. The deejays here are always playing the latest hits and live bands play here regularly too. The bayview from the giant open-air tiki hut here is unbeatable, it’s Miami all the way. And the boats and yachts that call the dockside home are just as enticing.

Monty’s in the Grove is located at 2550 S. Bayshore Drive, Coconut Grove

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Sunset Lounge at the Mondrian: Easy, breezy and chic

No matter how crowded South Beach gets, there’s always a cool poolside lounge to hang at that makes being in Miami well…tres cool. The Sunset Lounge at the Mondrian South Beach is one of those places. It’s elegant with the classy touches that people visiting Miami Beach have come to expect.

As always too, it’s a multiple-space experience here so everyone can find a great spot of their own. For an outdoor experience there’s plush red velvet seating with matching red and white designed carpet and a killer view of Biscayne Bay with Downtown Miami’s skyline as a back drop. Inside is the Lobby Bar and Lounge, a feast for the eyes in a different sense with a black winding spiral staircase and silent bell light fixtures designed by Marcel Wanders. The specialty cocktails, made with exotic and local ingredients as well as the live Latin and Spanish guitar players complete the experience.

The Mondrian South Beach is located at 1100 West Avenue, Miami Beach, FL


Art Center/South Florida: Watch artists at work

What makes the Art Center/South Florida so unique is that aside from being such a great place to view local art it’s actually a working studio where artists rent space and create their work. Besides making it the perfect excuse to stroll up and down Lincoln Road on Miami Beach, not that any excuses should be needed for doing that, it’s a great way to experience the craft of creating art first-hand.

Big names in the South Florida art community, like Carlos Betancourt, Robert Chambers, David Rohn, Michele Oka Doner and others, have displayed their work here and the exhibitions include public art commissions, performance and video art, multi-media works as well as more traditional paintings and drawings.

Art Center/South Florida is located at924 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, FL


Area Stage: Edgy, provocative theater

Husband and wife team John Rodaz and Maria Banda-Rodaz have made the success of Area Stage their labor of love and the laboring continues. Long considered the place to see edgy, provocative live theater, the Rodaz team haven’t lost their thirst for bringing theater lovers what they want, an experience that leaves them wanting more.

Just look at their titles “Confessions of  a Jewish Shiksa Dancing on Hitler’s Grave” about the daughter of Jewish Holocaust survivors who’s raised Catholic and the trouble that ensues when she reveals her true identity. And like this, there are plenty others being presented here. The Rodaz’ refuse to stop pushing the envelope to bring the best they can to their audience.

Area Stage is located at 1560 South Dixie Highway, Coral Gables, FL


Christian Louboutin: Clickety clack in high fashion heels

Seems like the Miami Design District is on everyone’s radar with many high-end boutiques to furniture/accessory stores opening in the area, many of which attract celebrities, designers and fashionistas.

Now lovers of bag and shoe designer Christian Louboutin rejoice with the opening of a boutique in the heart of the area. The clickety clack of women wearing the signature shoes with the rich, red colored soles will be heard far and wide. The boutique itself is a fascinating structure with lovely, fuzzy plants and flowers growing from the top facade.

Inside, everything including flats, pumps, evening shoes, wedges, platforms and boots are available as well as a collection of day and evening bags. For day the bags are slightly larger while clutches make up a majority of the evening bag choices. And he actually does make sneakers for both men and women too.

Christian Louboutin Miami is located at 155 NE 40 Street, Miami, FL


Wall Lounge: W South Beach’s IT place


It doesn’t get any swankier than a W Hotel and with the crowds this place is attracting, especially on South Beach, a nightclub is pretty much a given so the Wall Lounge is where it’s at in this place.

Decked out to look like something out of the 1960s, with funky psychedelic lights, retro leather couches around intimate round tables, perfect for groups wanting bottle service and circular blacklight inspired images projected throughout complete the space.

DJ Irie plays the tunes here along with his other contemporaries like the legendary Paul Oakenfold who is known to make appearances here as well.

The Wall Lounge is located inside the W South Beach at 2201 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL


Rokbar: Rockin’ attitude the Tommy Lee way

A departure from the usual high energy dance clubs of South Beach, rocker Tommy Lee’s, drummer for Motley Crue, Rokbar is the ultimate hangout place for the hard rock crowd. 

Something’s going on here every night. Insomniac Thursdays; Dirty, Sexy Rock & Roll Fridays, Fresh 2 Death and DJ Tommy Ryk Saturdays and house music every Tuesday. Celebrities like actor Ryan Gosling and bands touring through Miami are regulars at Rokbar where Crue pics adorn the walls behind the bar which features rocked lighting of black leather suspended by metal chains.

Rokbar is located at 1905 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL


Mad Cat Theatre Company: Alternative to the traditional

Keeping theatre contemporary, fresh and original might as well be Mad Cat Theatre Company’s motto, it’s what they’ve been doing around Miami for the past decade.

Although a majority of their performances are one-time only there are a couple that have become part of their repertoire. There’s the hilarious “Shepherd’s Pie” filled with limericks and Irish humor and the hit play “Broadsword” which plays on the classic theme of the classic rock band break-up and the problems that ensue.

Made up a group of talented Carbonell-award-winning actors, this wacky and intelligent troupe seeks to provoke, entice and challenge their audiences with original plays that touch on a variety of subjects folks can relate to. At times gut-busting and always memorable, it’s always worth making time for a Mad Cat show.

The company performs at the Adrienne Arsht Center at 1300 Biscayne Blvd. in Downtown Miami.

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Finnegan’s on the River: Downtown Miami hot spot

Downtown Miami’s got a river running through it and bars are now lining the area making it a place to see and be seen with a killer view to boot. Finnegan’s on the River packs them in on any given night after all, it’s great for a mid-week happy hour, Friday night end-of-the-week outing and Saturday night hot spot.

In typical Miami fashion, Sunday is a huge day at Finnegan’s when boaters are invited to park and join in on the pool party. The drink specials alone (c’mon, $3 and $5 cocktails are unheard of around here) are incentive enough to party at Finnegan’s.

Happy Hour is Monday to Friday from 4 to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays it’s the perfect spot to watch a late afternoon college game and stay to party the night away.

Finnegan’s on the River is located at 401 SW 3 Avenue, Miami, FL


DASH Miami: Reality celebs Kardashians’ boutique on South Beach

They’re stars on E the Entertainment Channel with two reality shows, the focus of one being the sisters Khloe and Kourtney Kardashian’s boutique DASH Miami located on South Beach’s gritty and happening Washington Avenue.

It’s a non-descript storefront that’s easily missed with a simple DASH sign but step inside and their style, which is a blend of fun and funky, comes right through. The K sisters love to showcase their favorite fashions in the stores from simple to simply embellished t’s, cool dresses, tanks and plenty of accessories of course. They’ve also got swimwear, a line they recently debuted at Miami Fashion Week.

DASH Miami is located at 815 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL


Tigertail Productions: Culture of every kind

Veteran cultural group Tigertail Productions, headed up by legendary director Mary Luft, is presenting another season jam-packed with musical and theatrical performances as well as spoken word events.

They’ve been presenting passionate programs in performing and visual arts since 1979 and each year is better than the next. They’re known for pushing the envelope and bringing recognition to lesser-known artists who they feel deserve their time on stage.

Gracing this season’s calendar are Dutch jazz artists the Benjamin Herman Quartet, a variety of spoken word or “WordSpeak” events and workshops, blues legends Henry Gray & the Cats and jazz guitarist Bill Frisell. The Jess Curtis Gravity Dance troupe, featuring dancers from France, Germany, Italy, England and the United States, is an interdisciplinary mixed ability performance. And Japanese couple Eiko & Koma present their provocative performance piece “Raven.”

Tigertail’s performances are held on Miami Beach, in Coral Gables and throughout Miami. Visit their web site for exact locations.

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Cameo Theatre: Marquee’s bright lights beckon good time

The iconic Cameo Nightclub  in the heart of South Beach on gritty Washington Avenue stands out among all other clubs on this famous strip. The old-style neon movie marquee can be seen from blocks away, alerting clubgoers that inside awaits an awesome night.

Once known as the Cameo Theatre, hence the marquee, there’s something going on every night. A combination of live performances and first-rate DJs including Max Vangeli, Saeed Younan and Chocolate Puma take turns on the stage and behind the booth to excite the huge crowds that gather to dance the night away to their pulsating rhythms. Cameo is also one of the spots to catch the latest masters during the yearly Winter Music Conference.

And it wouldn’t be a club on South Beach without some specialty weeknight parties like Stars and Stilettos on Tuesdays.

Cameo is located at 1445 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, FL


Globe Cafe & Bar: Stellar jazz in downtown Gables

Coral Gables may be known for its restaurants, monthly Gallery Walk and upscale Mediterranean inspired architecture but it’s got a great nightlife too. For a quieter experience than South Beach or the Design District try the subdued, elegant Globe Cafe & Bar.

Great jazz artists hit the stage on Saturday nights, in this quaint spot to perform some top-rate, traditional and fusion Latin jazz. Legendary trumpet player Ira Sullivan has graced the stage as have trombonist John Fedchock, vocalist Valeria Proano, guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg and saxophonist Gary Campbell. And these are just a few of the rotating talents that make a night at the Globe Cafe a great night out for jazz lovers.

 The Globe Cafe & Bar is located at 377 Alhambra Circle, Coral Gables, FL


SkyBar: It’s a multi-sensory experience at South Beach’s Shore Club

One thing is for sure, visit a trendy hotel on South Beach and it’s very likely that they’ll use every inch of their space to provide multiple experiences for clubgoers and guests. The Shore Club is no exception where they utilize their interior and exterior space to the max, providing a nightclub experience among the palm trees as well as under the hot club lights.

The Redroom Garden surrounding the pool area is set up as an outdoor living room with Asian-style furniture and landscaped gardens filled with colorful perennials, bouganvilleas and passion flowers. It’s a true tropical oasis.

In keeping with the red theme, the interior Redroom is awash in the fiery color from the red lacquered teak floor, red walls that glow with intimate lighting and luxurious red bar stools. The comfy couches are filled with red-patterned cushions. No wonder local and national celebrities love to stop in and party here. Of course, a party on South Beach wouldn’t be complete without a DJ, they play here pretty much every night, Sunday afternoons there’s always a pool party.

SkyBar at the Shore Club is located at 1901 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL


Zoo Miami: Walk among the cageless wild

Walking among cageless wild animals (no fear, they’re separated from visitors by a very wide moat) is what makes Zoo Miami, formerly known as Miami Metrozoo, such a unique experience. There’s nothing like walking along and seeing lions, tigers, giraffes, monkeys and other wildlife staring right back and roaming free without a cage in sight.

The place is huge, 327 developed acres and more than 2,000 animals representing over 500 species. One mode of transportation that’s popular with visitors are the safari cycles for pedaling around. There’s also the Monorail which has four stops throughout the zoo and Safari Tram Tours.

The zoo is split into several areas, including Asia, Wings of Asia Family Aviary, Africa, The Americas and Australia along with the Children’s Zoo with a petting yard and Butterfly Garden and Dr. Wilde’s World with 7,200 square feet of interactive exhibits.

For real “hands-on” experiences, there are giraffe feedings and camel rides.

Zoo Miami is located at 12400 SW 152 Street, Miami, FL


Sugarcane Raw Bar & Grill: Small bites, big flavor

The concept at Sugarcane Raw Bar & Grill is to entice diners with a combination of flavors in a wide variety of small plates, known around Europe (particularly Spain) as “tapas.” They have robata, hot and raw bar kitchens.

Their eclectic menu is contstantly changing so it’s a unique and different experience everytime. Some of their most ambitious items include bacon wrapped dates with linguica and manchego, thin-crust flatbread with cured tuna, tobiko and sour cream and Kobe beef sliders with tonkatsu and quail egg. Their hand picked market greens with with crumbled goat cheese and cherry bing vinaigrette is a great starter, free range bulled barbecue chicken on brioche bread served with zucchini pickles and pommes frites (very fancy and tasty fries) is a great entree sandwich and the homemade el ray chocolate chip ice cream sandwich is a tasty dessert.

Inside, the place is colorful, industrial and edgy with a West Indies flair through their paddle fans, watercolor stained walls, a tall green hedge surrounding the outdoor patio and a killer bar with colorfully displayed wine bottles and alcohol.

Sugarcane Raw Bar & Grill is located at 3250 NE 1 Avenue, Miami, FL


Roche Bobois: French sophistication, ooo la la

The French are known for their design sense so a bit of European influence around the home is never a bad thing and it’s easy to find at the legendary Roche Bobois. These folks have been designing pieces inspired by the Bauhaus movement as well as French designers since 1950.

A group of European and American designers collaborate to create the four collections that feature contemporary, provincial, Les Voyages and their highest end the Collection Particuliere. Each features lines of sofas, armchairs, chairs, dining tables, coffee tables, children’s furniture, desks and much more. Enough to furnish every room in the house.

The quality and craftsmanship of the pieces can’t be beat, it’s part of the company’s stellar reputation. Their store is worth visiting simply to see outstanding furnishings and accessories unequaled by many.

Roche Bobois is located at 450 Biltmore Way, Coral Gables, FL

Roche Bobois 2

Miami Science Museum & Planetarium: A world of hands-on exploration

Hands-on, interactive permanent as well as traveling exhibitions are what Miami Science Museum is all about. Add in the interpretive presentations, Wildlife Center and Planetarium laser shows and it’s a full day affair!

Visiting this attraction means learning about all things scientific, whether it’s wind, electricity, the human body, dinosaurs, sharks, energy this place gets people moving since most all displays are interactive. Head outside to the Wildlife Center and see their amazing collection of turtles, snakes, birds of prey and other critters. It’s also a rehabilitation center for sick and injured birds so it’s an educational lesson as well.

And in the Planetarium, daytime shows focus on the telescope and on identifying the stars and planets. In the evening, laser shows take over, they’ve been a hit here for years and keep going strong. Watch laser lights move and groove while listening to the sounds of the Beatles, Led Zeppelin and Bob Marley. On the first Friday of the month they open up the rooftop observatory for star viewing.

The Miami Science Museum & Planetarium is located at 3280 S. Miami Avenue, Miami, FL


Purdy Lounge: Surprisingly low-key on South Beach

A lounge is the last thing anyone going to party the weekend away on South Beach would put on their list of “must visit” hot spots, except when it comes to Purdy Lounge. This is a definite add-on.

Located a bit off the beaten path and marching to the beat of its own drummer, the mood at Purdy is the opposite of a high-energy, thumping nightclub. Here it’s all about board games, pool tables, lava lamps and best of all, reasonable drink prices. For patrons who still want a bit of that high-end SoBe atmosphere, they do have bottle service and a VIP area but for sure the “lounge” part of Purdy is where it’s at. Five deejays spin favorites that keep people singing along and dancing, it’s all about crowd pleasers here.

Reggae lovers should visit on Monday nights to hear live performances by Jean P. Jam, Thursdays ladies drink free 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. and in true SoBe style, there’s a party on Sunday nights too called Chocolate Sundays with drink specials and house deejays rotating each week.

Purdy Lounge is located at 1811 Purdy Avenue, Miami Beach, FL

Purdy nightclub

Ramona La Rue: Floaty, bohemian designs for all

Using the softest silk fabrics and original designs from her mother’s collection as well as her own artistic vision, self-professed Bohemian stylist Arianne La Rue creates comfortable, airy, stylish fashions to suit any style and body type.

There’s nothing constricting about the dresses, tops and pants in this line, everything is flowy and soft and tailor made to be worn loose or gathered, over leggings or flowy pants, the possibilities are endless. And the hand painted designs on the fabric, created by Arianne and also taken from her mother’s original designs, are watercolor inspired.

Celebrities are known for loving Ra Mona La Rue creations with tops and jumpsuits spotted on singer Katy Perry and actress Hayden Panetierre star of the television show “Heroes.”

Ra Mona La Rue is located at 3400  North Miami Avenue, Miami, FL.

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Paragon Theater: Movie-going taken to new heights

concessionBlue Interior low res

The Paragon Theater located in Coconut Grove’s CocoWalk outdoor mall and it takes the movie-going experience to another level. It’s more than just typical candy, popcorn, soda and hot dogs, the concession offerings as well as the theater itself are much more upscale.

The 13-screen theater features high definition digital projection in 3-D, a 1,500 seat all reserved VIP stadium seating and coming soon a bowling alley. Paragon takes dinner and a movie to another level, offering moviegoers expanded food offerings, like wraps, pizza and chicken fingers and more. In the “Back Lot” private screening rooms they show sporting events, concerts and classic films. It’s all here. Of course, because it’s located in CocoWalk there’s plenty of shopping to do as well.

Paragon Theater is located in CocoWalk at 3015 Grand Avenue, Coconut Grove


Freedom Tower: Historic building houses provocative exhibitions

The Freedom Tower is Miami’s Ellis Island, a historic building that symbolizes the city’s melting pot of immigrants. The national historic landmark has seen many ups and downs and was on the verge of disappearing when it was donated to Miami Dade College. It has now become a space for provocative art exhibitions, most recently Instruments of Torture.

The connection began last Fall with the unveiling of the world map mural located in the Freedom Tower’s Mezzanine floor. Other major art exhibitions featured here included the works of masters Goya, Dali, DaVinci as well as presentations by authors and other dignitaries.

There’s always an interesting cultural artistic or literary presentation happening at the Tower and with a central location in Downtown Miami it’s easy to make a day of it visiting here.

The Freedom Tower is located at 600 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL


Inkanta Design Store: A place for lovers of modern design

For a unique gift, for a friend or for yourself, skip Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma across the street and pop into Inkanta Design Store, where their goal is “to satisfy lovers of modern design so they can enjoy beautiful objects at work, at home and in everyday life.” And that goal has been met. This minimalist, clean, crisp all-white store gets its pop of color from the modern object on display for sale.

A perfect fit for Miami Beach’s Lincoln Road, the store’s inviting interior features a slew of modern silver key chains with all types of colorful ensembles, a wall displaying modern clocks in every style, shape and color, funky wristwatches, and glassware for cocktails ranging from a high ball to a martini to a nice aged scotch, all done in gradient shades of pink, green and blue. The collection includes accessories as well as objects for home and office designed mainly by Europeans hailing from France, Denmark, Italy, England, Holland and Germany with a few American designers thrown into the mix.

Inkanta Design Store is located at 1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach


Lesley Abravanel – the nightlife columnist shares her faves about the Magic City


Lesley Abravanel knows her way around Miami and then some…comes with the territory. What does she do? What doesn’t she do. She’s the Miami Herald’s long running gossip/nightlife columnist/blogger (with column titles like Velvet Underground and Scene in the Tropics), editor of the food/drink blog Miami Eater, Miami listings editor for Black Book and author of guidebooks Frommer’s Florida and Frommer’s South Florida.

It’s no wonder Lesley is the perfect person to provide insider tips and faves about the city she knows so well.

What do you love about your city in the summer/fall?

What I truly love about summer and fall is as soon as summer is over, regardless of the temperature, natives tend to whip out the Uggs, the thigh high boots and the ski caps. It could be 100 degrees with a heat index of 120, but if it’s October, it’s boots and hats all the way.

What are some of your favorite neighborhoods?   For eating?  Museums?  Nightspots?


The obvious answer to this would be Midtown Miami, the Design District and Wynwood for various reasons—food, culture, hipsters, nightlife. But I’ll give another shout out to the always evolving areas of Brickell and Sunset Harbour/Purdy, where on any given day, week, or month, a new restaurant or watering hole seems to emerge from nowhere. I’m also keen on developing downtown Miami.div>

What is your favorite place to shop in the city?

Why, Target at Midtown, of course.

What inspires you about your city?

The absolute inanity of it. And the insanity too. And the efforts of a sophisticated, educated group of many trying to change the aforementioned. That inspires me most.

Do you have an insider tip for tourists visiting your city for the first time?

Miami is not all about South Beach. Rent a car and explore.

Are you a regular somewhere?  Local hangout?


They seem to know my name at The Room and Clarke’s. (Both are on Miami Beach)

Do you have a secret spot in the city (to unwind, get away, people watch, read a book, escape)?

My balcony

What are you favorite restaurants/museums/parks/ shopping places/bars/etc?

Restaurants: Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, Joey’s, Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill (all in the Design District), Jimmy’s East Side Diner (on 72 Street and Biscayne Blvd. in the MiMo District)
Bars: The Room, Clarke’s, Fox’s Sherron Inn (South Miami), Ted’s, Deuce, Raleigh Bar (rest are on Miami Beach)

Shopping: Marky’s (a gourmet food store)
Parks: South Pointe Park (Miami Beach)


The Maya Hatcha: Colorful accessories and clothes at Grove boutique

Maya jewelry

Celebrating four decades in the same Coconut Grove location, The Maya Hatcha is an institution in the area and it’s thanks to their unique clothing items, jewelry and other accessories.

This is the place to shop for cool, comfortable clothing and shoes, all made from natural materials, there’s lots of cool cotton and gauze in this place. Their “Kurta” an Indian shirt made of 100% cotton or silk is a great seller and comes in a variety of colors and sizes. Their flowing dresses can be dressed up for an evening out but also make a great beach or poolside cover up. Colorful accessories like handbags, hats and their exotic jewelry are the perfect complement to a new outfit.

They’ve also get both delicate and bold printed bedspreads and tapestries to add a touch of Maya to the home.

The Maya Hatcha is located at 3058 Grand Avenue, Coconut Grove, FL

The Maya Hatchacats-cu

No pretense at The Bar

Established in 1946 and a staple of the Coral Gables community, hangin’ out at The Bar (once known as the Hofbrau Haus) is almost a rite of passage for folks who like to party in “The City Beautiful.” But don’t be fooled by the fancy surroundings because this place is no pretense and all good times. The brews are cold, the grub is great and there’s a jukebox that won’t quit, it’s legendary.

There’s something going on nightly here and they know how to start the week off right with 2 for 1 specials on Mondays. Karaoke’s on Tuesday, DJ’s Boe and Icue take over Wednesday through Friday and Saturday there’s live music.

And if all that’s not enough, they keep patrons happy by offering a “Hangover Brunch” on Saturdays and Sundays, after all they want to keep everyone coming back for more so what better way than to feed ’em.

Renaissance era’s alive at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

The gem and jewel of Miami, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, is a tribute to the grandeur of Italian Renaissance art and architecture and although the structure looks as though it were built in that era, it was actually constructed by American industrialist  James Deering who lived in the home from 1916 when it was finished, to 1925.

The grand structure which sits on Biscayne Bay, became a National Historic Landmark. The main house with its 34 rooms adorned with 15th through 19th century antique furnishings and art objects are the perfect complement to the lushly landscaped gardens. Overall, Vizcaya is the perfect way to take a trip to Italy while still enjoying all that Miami has to offer.

Things are bloomin’ at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Nestled in the heart of Miami’s gorgeous and historic Old Cutler Road, in the middle of a neighborhood, is the crown jewel of Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Established in 1938, this colorful and exotic attraction features an extraordinary collection of rare tropical plants including palms, cycads, and flowering trees and shrubs, vines and fruit trees, which are part of  the Garden’s mission to preserve the biodiversity of tropical environments.

Art collections are also part of the landscape at Fairchild with sculptures by world-renowned blown glass artist Dale Chihuly sharing space with the foliage and adding another dimension of beauty to the surroundings. Yearly events like the International Chocolate Festival and their most famous the Fairchild Ramble held every November for more than 65 years. Ramble is where plant lovers go to get the best deals and best finds for their garden.

Any time of year, a stop at Fairchild is a must, simply to take in this natural beauty and appreciate the conservation efforts of this wonderland.

SET Up for a Thursday Weekend Kick-Start

So the weekend comes, Friday and Saturday are party nights, except on unconventional South Beach, where they play by their own rules and kick the weekend off on Thursdays. That’s when things get hopping at SETPicture 18 on Lincoln Road, a high-energy nightclub where DJ’s take their booth on Thursday nights for “Contagious Behavior” and keep the party going through Sunday night.

Fridays are hosted by legendary Beach club promoters Eric Millon and Michael Capponi and with South Beach being a mecca for fashion, don’t be surprised when events pairing the hottest tunes with the latest fashions trends, like Christian Louboutin, are a given.

Waxy O’Connors: Limericks and ales are genuine here

The dark and heavy wood bar that commands Waxy O’Connor’s and is its centerpiece was placed at the heart of the bar and eatery to remind patrons they’re in an Irish pub and the 7,000-square-foot unit is authentic, it was built entirely in Ireland and shipped over to the United States.

The 20 brews and ales on tap and plenty more by the bottle are another dead giveaway that this is a place for drinking, eating, hanging with friends and especially catching just about any sporting event. They’ve got seventeen 50″ flat screen televisions so everyone can be watching their favorite sport or team at any given time.

Offering live music is another plus here. When the deejay’s not mixing up tunes, there’s someone playing it live at Waxy’s. The amazing view of Miami’s Downtown skyline and historic Miami River make for great waterfront drinking and gazing.

Waxy O’Connor’s is located at 690 SW 1st Court, Miami, FL

Red Bar: At center of Downtown’s red hot nightlife

Miami’s Brickell Avenue area was once known as a residential area with not much nightlife but things have certainly changed. The thriving nightspots have been popping up everywhere over the last few years and Red Bar is one that attracts plenty of attention for its eye-grabbing wall art, local beautiful people and great mingling and dancing.

Located in the heart of the district, this place has everything a great night out on the town requires. Dance the night away to the sounds of either a live band or a smokin’ hot deejay, different ones are featured each month. They’ve also got Ladies Night where ladies get to drink for free every Wednesday from 8-12. And to add a little culture to the mix, there’s also a gallery with new artworks featured monthly, along with a meet the artist opening reception with drinks and hors d’oeuvres.

Red Bar is located at 52 SW 10 Street, Miami, FLRed bar 2

EQ3: Home lover’s haven boasts original style

Home furnishings with an original flair is what EQ3 is all about. That, and offering a concept to help people create a cozy and comfortable environment. They’ve got their CORE program where pieces are made for mixing and matching with an urban feel and made of red oak veneer and available in earth and onyx finishes.

In the bedroom their Sleep by Natura collection is meant to provide a perfect night’s sleep with mattresses and pillows in a range of comfort levels and made of several natural materials.

Rounding out their collection are a wide array of chairs, sofas, ottomans, lamps, mirrors, office furniture, dining and entertainment pieces as well as accessories.

EQ3 is located at 3466 North Miami Avenue, Miami, FL


Calamari Restaurant: Where Italian Mediterranean’s alive

aMoMqUZNir3Pd6aby-v9yy-calamari-soho-restaurant-640x480Arrive at Calamari Restaurant in Coconut Grove and prepare to be tantalized by Italian dishes bursting with rich yet delicate flavors by Chef Alex Lopez, a technique he has spent years perfecting and continues evolving. With his training mostly in Italian kitchens around Miami, with some Asian and Cuban, his menu is a fusion of this trio.

The spacious restaurant is located on the quieter side of Coconut Grove, further down Main Highway. Lopez’ menu is a combination of original creations alongside classic Italian dishes. The molded tuna tartare topped with layers of fresh avocado and homemade crème fraiche, dollops of red and black caviar over chive and truffle oil and soy sauce is a must try. Grouper aqua pazza on a delicate tomato sauce surrounded by clams and mussels and chicken paillard are also great entree choices and coconut flan or panacotta with mixed berry sauce are awesome desserts.

Calamari Restaurant is located at 3540 Main Highway, Coconut Grove

Mandolin Aegean Bistro: Charming with authentic fare

mandolin1It’s charm right off the bat at Mandolin Aegean Bistro, especially given that the restaurant is inside a historic 1940s house and is awash in white with traditional Mediterranean blue trim throughout. Quietly nestled between the hip Design District and Buena Vista neighborhoods, entering this place and then tasting their delicious offerings, diners are immediately transported to the Greek isles.

The food here is fresh, authentic and prepared with loving care. The Greek sampler is a great starter. Served up in a fancy trio of small containers it features tzatziki, smoked eggplant puree and tarama (a salmon puree). Gyros, pulled lamb and a lamb cheeseburger are part of the sandwich choices and for entrees there’s the village pasta of greek noodles with ground beef and bechamel sauce or a seafood stew with shrimp, mussels and calamari. Orzo pilaf, Aegean olives and wild greens round out some tasty sides.

Mandolin offers an experience to heighten the senses of tasting, seeing and  smelling to a whole other level.

Mandolin Aegean Bistro is located at 4312 NE 2 Avenue, Miami, FL

Fresh market, delectable menu at Perricone’s

The marketplace at perricones is just as enticing as the menu and the venue. Housed in a renovated New England barn, this charmer has been ranked tops by the likes of Zagat, Fodor’s and Forbes Magazine and it’s because of their fresh take on the best in Italian cuisine.

Although it’s located in the busy, bustling Brickell area near Downtown Miami, the garden seating and cozy interior make it unique from the other flashy competitors in the area. Worth trying are their delectable fresh sandwiches, especially their chicken salad, it’s homemade and out of this world. The selection of gourmet cheeses and fine wines are the perfect compliment.

In the restaurant, their oozy baked brie en croute is a cheese lover’s delight and the goat cheese salad is fresh and tasty. Pastas dominate the menu with classics like penne pomodoro, spinach-stuffed ravioli in a pink sauce and eggplant parmigiana. Rack of lamb, skirt steak and salmon join those on the menu and are spectacular choices as well. Atmosphere and great food, what else could a diner ask for?

Perricone’s Marketplace & Cafe is located at 15 SE 10 Street, Miami, FL

Circle Art at Home: Posh furnishings and accessories

The furnishings and accessories available at Miami Beach’s Circle Art at Home are lovingly created by designer Jesse Brody with quality, style and affordability in mind. Although most of the styles are contemporary, there are also touches of African art and Oriental rugs.

There are two store locations on South Beach. The Lincoln Road store is where most of the public goes to check out their unique mirrors, modern lighting, sofas and ottomans, rugs and other accessories. Over on Lenox Avenue is where custom pieces can be ordered and there’s a bit less inventory. However, the massive expanse of Oriental rugs available at the Lenox location are a don’t miss.

One common factor between the two stores though, design and decorating enthusiasts will certainly walk out with an original piece that will add flair and style to any room in the house.

Circle Art at Home is located at 714 Lincoln Road and 1560 Lenox Avenue, Miami Beach

Miami Beach Botanical Garden: Zen among the buzz of South Beach

Buzzing, bustling and busy Washington and Collins Avenues, Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road, some of South Beach’s busiest streets, are just a stone’s throw away from the Miami Beach Botanical Garden and that’s hard to imagine with the the zen that overcomes anyone who visits this place.

Located across from the always busy Miami Beach Convention Center, the Garden is a place to come and get away from it all. The folks who run this place describe themselves perfectly as “Urban Greenspace in the heart of South Beach.” During the annual Art Basel mega month of December the place is abuzz, hosting events and year-round, they’re known for their own innovative revolving exhibitions held in the gardens.

The shows are far from traditional though, actually pushing the envelope of outdoor installations with unique contemporary pieces like the Giants in the City show which features 22 inflatable pieces fabricated from nylon. There are also regularly scheduled classes and lectures held here.

Miami Beach Botanical Garden is located at 2000 Convention Center DriveBotanical Garden

Five-Star Dining at Mandarin’s Azul Restaurant

Preparing a delectable menu that fuses Asian, Mediterranean and even some New Picture 65England influences, Chef Clay Conley makes dining at Azul in the five-star Mandarin Oriental an unforgettable experience. The bayviews alone from the restaurant could be considered inspiration enough, but the dishes are certainly prepared with a loving touch and passion for food that Conley’s been honing for years now.

Perfecting his culinary skills at famed chef Todd English’s restaurant, the food here is innovative, creative and of the highest quality, with many ingredients flown in fresh daily from around the globe. The variety is immense with offerings, like Nantucket Bay Scallops, Moroccan-inspired Lamb, Peruvian Style Ceviche and a catchy appetizer simply called A Study in Tuna that’s Asian-inspired.

In keeping with the classiness of the place, Azul is one of the few Miami restaurants offering diners a finishing cheese course in a variety of sizes.

Boutique Betsy Hotel’s a Classic and Eco-Friendly Charmer

Sitting on the breezy porch of the Betsy Hotel on Miami Beach’s most famous stretch of road- Ocean Drive-this hotel is a standout structure with a colonial non-Art Deco look and an environmentally conscious green program throughout the property, something they’re proud to flaunt.

It was added to the National Register of Historic Picture 19Places in 1970 and this beauty deserves the recognition. While its traditional look is intact, it still has its South Beach touches. An inviting secluded courtyard pool beckons with an enclosed pool deck and plenty of amenities or there’s the rooftop retreat deck for unbeatable ocean views. Plantation style shutters, black walnut hardwood floors, walk-in showers, comfy custom built poster beds, and sunny colors make the suites and classic rooms an inviting place to relax and take in the views; staring at the swaying palm trees across the street and seeing endless ocean views is why they call this place paradise.

And when it’s time to eat, BLT Steak is where it’s at, with delectable items prepared by award-winning Chef Laurent Tourondel, whose skills have been praised by both Bon Appetit and Food and Wine Magazines.

Bistro One LR does American to Perfection

Swanky Bistro One LR at the Ritz Carlton on South Beach is doing contemporary American fare right and the food’s as beautiful as the oceanfront setting. Chef Bernardo Espinel brings his flair and passion to the creative dishes on the menu making for a delectable dining experiencePicture 57.

Chef Espinel’s been perfecting his culinary skills, working at several restaurants around Miami and New York, whose reputation and success earned him the present chef de cuisine status. It’s obvious he’s someone who loves to keep evolving in the kitchen as the menu is chock full of unique dishes, like Lamb Chop and Merguez Meatballs with Pear, Cardamom and Pearl Onions; Pan Seared King Crab with Green Papaya, Chilies and Lime; and Wild Scottish Salmon with Tomato Chutney, Basmati Rice and Brown Mustard. They even go the extra mile at Bistro One, suggesting wine pairings with each dish.

Insider’s Tip: On Sundays, make sure to wash away that wild Miami weekend of partying with Bistro One’s brunch, that includes a flowing champagne and Bloody Mary Bar.

Sea creatures soar and delight at Seaquarium

Dolphins share the spotlight with a veteran killer whale soaring through the air and delighting audiences at their retro home on Biscayne Bay, the Miami Seaquarium. The golden dome that shades audiences where these creatures perform along with funny sea lions, is visible from the Rickenbacker Causeway that leads to Key Biscayne. It’s been a fixture in Miami’s landscape for more than three decades.

There are eight different animal shows to see here. Walking through the lushly landscaped park, it’s easy to spot pink flamingos and birds, along with ponds and tanks filled with turtles, moray eels, alligators, manatees and the meanest of them all, sharks. Dolphin interaction programs are great for getting up close and personal with these intelligent animals. A day at this attraction is a must on the list of any Miami visitor.

The Miami Seaquarium is located at 4400 Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscaynemiami_seaquarium_medium

Award-Winning Shows at GableStage

Picture 59With 148 Carbonell Award nominations and 43 wins, it’s no wonder audiences flock to see GablesStage plays, which are presented in the historic Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables.

Perfecting their theatrical craft for more than three decades, the players at GableStage, led for the last nine seasons by Producing Artistic Director Joseph Adler, whose legendary and provocative productions have been making headlines in Miami since his arrival at the theater, is something no one at this venue takes lightly. Speed the Plow and  A Lesson Before Dying are some of the award-winners and this season’s comedy Speech and Debate and the drama Fifty Words could very well garner more accolades.

Any Season’s a Good Season at The Four Seasons

Four Seasons poolThe name Four Seasons immediately conjures up images of a luxurious hotel filled with beautiful, well-to-do people, and the five-star Brickell Avenue Four Seasons does not disappoint. If anything, it exceeds those expectations with a fabulous location in the heart of everything that is pulsating in Miami, but offers the best of quiet serenity, too, making it the perfect place to stay for relaxing AND living it up.

Of course, in a subtropical climate like sunny South Florida, the pools (yes, there are two) are one of the main attractions. They are surrounded by gorgeous private cabanas for stylish and comfortable relaxation, and the hotel’s spa offers treatments in those cabanas as well as in-room service.

The guestrooms are luxuriously designed and feature city and bayviews, so the balconies are the perfect spot to begin or end the day. If splurging is an option, take it to the top and stay in the Presidential Suite, complete with dining and living rooms, impressive bayviews, a large soaking tub and oversized separate shower in the master bedrooms, and comfy lounging chairs throughout.

If you find the urge to get out of the hotel (although we don’t blame you if you don’t!), it’s easy to hit up one of Brickell’s many nearby hotspots for some dancing and cocktails to top off the night.

Florida Grand Opera’s Classics Hit a High Note

The vigor and passion in the voices of Florida Picture 64Grand Opera performers is exactly what’s needed when presenting the classics this group puts on. For 69 years, this premier organization has been wowing audiences with works from Pavarotti, Placido Domingo and Beverly Sills, opera greats who have all performed with the company.

The Florida Grand Opera’s latest incarnation of Bizet’s Carmen garnered rave reviews and a packed house night after night. The company also presents other well known productions, like Barber of Seville, Pagliacci and La Traviata. By far, this is the place in Miami to catch a night of electrifying live opera; the combination of powerful singing, gorgeous sets and theater make for a great night out.

Staging a Stellar Line-Up at Actors’ Playhouse

Picture 18Housed in Coral Gables’ historic Miracle Theatre, the Actors’ Playhouse is one of Miami’s premier spots to catch stellar stage productions for both adults and children. Impeccably restored, but still maintaining the look of another era with a neon marquee announcing the latest productions and a grand glass box office, the showcased plays are just as spectacular.

The Actors’ Playhouse continues to rack up the prestigious Carbonell awards- 57 and counting- and every season expect several classics alongside original plays by local playwrights. Catch a performance here and come away with a memorable evening.

Macaluso’s: Homemade Italian Away From Home

Macaluso’s is reminiscent of a traditional Italian restaurant in Little Italy where the meatballs taste like they’re straight from Grandma’s kitchen. But there’s no red and white checkered tablecloths here, instead there are photographs of celebrity regulars like Gloria Estefan and Roger Federer, along with white linens and upscale decor all the way.Picture 10

Chef Michael Vito D’Andrea is as famous in Miami as his award-winning meatballs.  Chef D’Andrea is known for his no-nonsense, no substitutions attitude and the meatballs are known for their incredible taste, of course, especially with the homemade pasta. Mascaluso’s has plenty of other Italian faves, like sausage and peppers and meatball pizza, but the menu here is verbal only; it’s one way they keep the place feeling like home.

If you’re looking to take home some of the delicious meal, you’re in luck. Next to the restaurant is the market, Macaluso’s & Co., where lunch is served and the homemade meatballs and sausages are for sale.

Breathtaking Bay Views at Mandarin Oriental Miami

Using the available waterfront in Miami is always a plus and the Mandarin Oriental is one spot where ocean views are put to perfect use. Built alongside Biscayne Bay and with rooms, suites, dining and amenities (it’s got the city’s only five-star spa) Picture 10to make other hotels envious, this place has it all…and more.

Filled with floor to ceiling windows along the lobby floor, the bay views are unbeatable and breathtaking. They’re visible from just about any vantage point. Head upstairs to the room floors and find luxurious suites that feature fully furnished living rooms with hardwood floors, area rugs and a city view visible through sliding glass doors that lead to a sprawling balcony. The spa suite has a spa tub that towers over the hardwood floors, and is perfectly named the Spa Serenity Room.

For great grub, grab a bite indoors or out at the casual Cafe Sambal or something fancier at the signature Azul Restaurant. For a bit of relaxation, swing on a hammock by the resort’s private beach and nearby Brickell offers all the nightlife necessary with bars and nightclubs everywhere.

Diverse Drama & Dance at Deco Colony Theater

Whether it’s laughing the night away at a comic’s jokePicture 4s or watching dancers soar and leap across the stage, Colony Theater is the place to catch a wealth of diverse entertainment. The calendar is packed with something for everyone with groups like Miami Lyric Opera, Miami Contemporary Dance Company and New World School of the Arts Music Department presenting world-class performances. The venue has also become a hot bed for controversial plays and shows by Latin American artists, making headlines in the past year with attention-grabbing presentations.

Watching a show here is like stepping back in time. The marquee and Colony Theater lettering are in Art Deco style and the look continues inside throughout the foyer with a multi-patterned terrazo floor, vintage chandeliers and a grand stage framed in Deco-inspired moldings. The theater may be inspired by the roaring 20s, but what’s showing inside is fresh, new and in the moment.

Buena Vista Bistro’s Revolving Menu

Don’t expect to be handed a paper menu when you enter this place, they’re non-existent. No printed wine list either, because everything available at Buena Vista Bistro changes daily. That’s why this place fits in perfectly with the bohemian Buena Vista neighborhood that neighbors the heart of the Miami Design District.Bistro food

Small, intimate, dark and moody, the restaurant’s interior suits the French-inspired cuisine. There are no menus, but there is a big chalkboard and mirror, so when something’s out, the eraser comes out and it’s off the board. What graces that infamous board? Goodies like the Endive and Blue Cheese Appetizer, and  Jumbo Scallops, Escargot a la Provencale, Ratatouille and Grouper in Beurre Blanc for entrees. Desserts are always a surprise, along with the daily delectable concoctions that are devised here.

At night, Buena Vista Bistro comes alive, being voted the Best Late Night Dining by the Miami New Times. So whether taking a little delicious detour from the Miami Design District or enjoying a reasonably priced French meal after most restaurants have been emptied, Buena Vista is that perfect French bistro.

Intimate Space, Big Talent at New Theatre

Explosive and provocative theatre with a twist is Picture 14what’s being presented at the intimate space that is the New Theatre, and it’s been happening here that way for 23 years. The quality of plays continues to get stronger as the playwrights and artistic and managing directors constantly collaborate to bring award-winning theater to South Florida.

Lovers of live theatre will recognize New Theatre playwright Nilo Cruz, who wrote the Broadway hit Anna in the Tropics, as one of the many writers churning out hits here. There are many surprises here, regularly offering seasons that feature classics like Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew alongside an original work by local favorite Michael McKeever, who has been exciting audiences with his original plays for years.

In other words, there’s something for every taste here, and that’s always been the theatre’s forte.

Island Rhythms Pulsate from Hoy Como Ayer

Once this place gets going, and since it’s Miami hoy como ayerthat means LATE, the island rhythms and heavy percussion that emanate from this tiny place in the heart of Calle Ocho in Little Havana are intoxicating. Hoy Como Ayer is a trip to the Cuban Havana of old with a blend of sounds from the present day hot Latin acts that have made a name for themselves in the Magic City.

Hoy Como Ayer (which means “Today Like Yesterday”) is consistently ranked by most local publications as the best place to catch Latin performers, because the best play here. Cuban-born singer Albita performs here regularly, the Latin-funk-fusion band DJ Le Spam, and the All Stars (they’re local faves and always pack the house), along with Luis Bofil and David Bisbal all grace the stage. It’s one giant jamfest here from Wednesday to Sunday and the drinks are, of course, the best, from refreshing Mojitos to the rum and cokes, better known in Miami as “Cuba Libre.”

Miami Art Museum Draws In Art Lovers

Picture 7Innovative and thought-provoking art is what the Miami Art Museum strives to present to art lovers. With contemporary greats, like photographer Chuck Close, icon Robert Rauschenberg, and artists Wilfredo Lam and Jose Bedia featured, there’s no doubt the envelope is being pushed to the max.

The rule of admiring works of art from afar does not apply here, the installations, paintings, and sculptures beg for the viewer to become engrossed in the work, examine it and in essence become affected by it.

Besides the permanent collection and traveling exhibits that are presented, the MAM offers the monthly happy hour, Jam at MAM, featuring varying jazz performers, nibbles, and cocktails, as well as regular lectures to coincide with the show schedule.

This Martini’s Not Dirty, it’s Blue!

A little tamer than say South Beach and the Design District, but making a name for itself regardless, is the new party spot: Brickell Avenue. When the lawyers, blue martiniaccountants and bankers put their briefcases away and leave what’s known as Miami’s Financial District the area comes alive, and leading the nightlife pack is Blue Martini.

Blue Martini is a cool place to see and be seen after the 9-5, whether it’s for happy hour or late-night. Located inside Mary Brickell Village, it’s easy to start or end the night at Martini thanks to the surrounding restaurants and shops. It’s a seven-day affair when it comes to specials here, with a daily happy hour 4-8 p.m. featuring 1/2 off drinks, live jazz Tuesdays, Latin live entertainment on Thursdays and Three Olives Ladies Night on Wednesdays. Check it out to find out what that means!

Delano is an Icon of Deco South Beach

Others may come and go, but the Delano is the hotel that set the tone for what has become hip and happening in the South Beach scene. That pool, ohhh that pool, sets the standard for the rest of what represents “livin’ it up” in Miami. Sitting beachfront and a stone’s throw away from Lincoln Road and its thriving nightlife, Delano is simply where it’s at.

Picture 11Inside, the place is decorated by room so that each area provides a different experience. White is by far the predominant color with guest rooms awash in the crisp, clean hue, from the luxurious penthouse to the more subdued, but still uber cool, rooms and suites. A rooftop spa offers a 360 degree view of nothing but turquoise ocean as far as the eye can see.

And of course, stay for some great nightlife and dining. After all, there’s the classic Blue Door, the hotel’s original and award-winning restaurant, along with Plat Bleu, and for cocktails and people watching (ahem, celeb spotting), there’s the elegant Rose Bar.

Fratelli Lyon Takes Fresh to Another Level

Stroll along the heart of Miami’s Design District and discover a place where the decor is modern and the food is prepared with a heart. At Fratelli Lyon, the dishes are not only great tasting but made in the freshest way possible, with ingredients like grass-fed beef, sustainable seafood and organically grown produce. Even the water filtration system is special here, producing triple filtered still and sparkling waters that are used in the homemade sodas, beverages and bottled waters.

Picture 20Now that the standard’s been set, don’t think for one minute it’s all boring food here. The menus – both lunch and dinner – are full of Italian favorites. The extensive list of antipastos is impressive all on its own with three categories: cheese, meats, or greens and fish. Even the wide range of pastas have two categories: handmade fresh or artisanal imported dry. The wine list is beyond extensive with something for any taste and price range.

Pizzas, paninis, salads, house specials, and specialty Italian coffees round out the menu and for lunch there’s an irresistible $24 fixed price that includes a choice of an appetizer, entree, and dessert or house wine.

French Riviera Glamour at Award-Winning Palme d’Or

Picture 10Mention the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables to anyone in the greater Miami area and the words classic, elegant, sophisticated and swanky will undoubtedly be repeated. So it’s fitting that the French restaurant Palme d’Or would be the hotel’s signature eatery. Featuring a menu brimming with French nouvelle creations by chef Philippe Ruiz, the cuisine is #1 with Zagat (it swept the Top Food, Decor and Service honors in the 2010 guide) and the Miami Herald critics have twice ranked it “exceptional.”

Stated clearly on the menu is the chef’s recommendation of at least three to four courses. Suggested options include sauteed Maine scallop, grilled duck foie gras, wild mushroom cassolette, seven-hour braised beef effilochee, and for dessert, a new twist on the strawberry shortcake.

Palme D’Or also has a wide selection of vegetarian dishes, an enviable wine list and a theater menu available only from 6-7 pm for those catching a show in the area. And how fitting since that’s what the entire Biltmore experience recalls, the glamorous Cannes Film Festival, where this restaurant deserves its own Palme d’Or for best restaurant experience.

Fillmore at Jackie Gleason Theater is South Beach’s Gem

The gem of South Beach performance spaces, the Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater, has had several name changes, but the quality of performers and the elegant, commanding presence of the space is everlasting. The grandiose theater is treasured by locals and the many performers who grace its stage.

So beloved is the Fillmore,Picture 11 it recently underwent a massive renovation to restore it to its original beauty, and added some modern touches that brought it into the 21st century. The exterior is all Art Deco, with geometric lines and blue pastel coloring. The interior, though, is a cross between 1920’s elegance and a modern club scene, like the ornate grand crystal chandeliers that are hued with purple lighting.

Any artist would want to grace such a majestic stage, and they do, from all genres and eras. Where else does legendary singer Stephen Stills of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young,  indie rockers Arctic Monkeys, and comedian Chelsea Handler of the “Chelsea Lately” late night talk show appear in the same venue? It all comes together at the Fillmore Miami Beach.

Spice Up the Abode with Sleek Beau Living

For most people, sprucing up their home’s interior and exterior is a welcome change, and with the sleek furnishings offered at Beau Living, it almost becomes an art form.Picture 5 The large showroom located on Miami’s up and coming Biscayne Boulevard, houses a massive amount of furnishings- sofas to pillows to artwork- for every room in the home.

The mission of the Sebaaly family, owners of the store, is to work directly with the manufacturers to provide the latest styles their customers are seeking out. The featured designs are streamlined and clean and run the gamut to include funky yet functional chaise lounge chairs, chairs and ottomans, as well as  sofas and sectionals with unconventional designs. For the exterior, the cool daybeds, seating sets, and sofas are reminiscent of what’s found around a hip, cool lounging area surrounding a South Beach hotel pool. They also sell artwork and accessories for the home.

See The Next Big Thing at Miami’s Improv & Dinner Theater

With the hottest comics around, including Steve Martin, Jim Carrey, Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres and Robin Williams, getting their start at the Improv Comedy Club, chances are today’s comics at Miami’s Improv are the next big thing.

Housed inside the classic open-air shopper’s paradise, Mayfair Shoppes, the Improv packs them Picture 13in on a weekly basis with stellar line-ups featuring the best in the funny business. For example, joker Gabriel Iglesias has appeared on Comedy Central’s Premium Blend as well as the Tonight Show with Jay Leno, while LA-based Darren Carter is a favorite on the comedy club circuit for combining comedy, sketch and impersonations into his act. To see up and coming comedians, the Improv Comedy Jam, held several times a month, is a great show to catch.

Also considered a dinner theatre, the grub here is good too, with an impressive menu of appetizers, entrees and drink specials to please any palate. Overall, it’s a great place to unwind at the end of a busy workday and laugh hard and eat hearty.

Exclusive Mynt Lounge an Icon on the Scene

Inching ever closer to an epic status is Mynt Lounge; around for seven years (with no itch in sight!), it’s still going strong. Located juPicture 7st close enough to the heart of South Beach, the place is abuzz with supermodels, celebrities and the local beautiful people. A perfect complement to such crowds, where Cameron Diaz, Jamie Foxx, Jennifer Lopez, Paris Hilton and Mickey Rourke (to name a few) have all partied, is a tough velvet rope rule whose policy has made it one of the hottest- and hardest- clubs to get into.

Once inside, live performances and stellar DJ’s are a nightly occurrence; and more often than not there’s a VIP event held at this exclusive nightclub. No matter who you are, everyone who gets past the velvet rope is treated like a star at this staple in SoBe.

A New Concept in Styling at Concepto Salon

Picture 19Mother and daughter duo Justina & Gina greet clients with a smile as they walk in the door of Concepto Hair and Body along Coral Gables’ chic Miracle Mile.The friendly, down to earth service is an added bonus to its innovative, sophisticated services.

Mom Justina honed her skills in New York City and brought her big city salon smarts to open Concepto, and daughter Gina joined and followed in her footsteps. Along with an impressive list of color and styling options as well as treatments and relaxers, one of the most innovative services they offer is eyebrow threading. It is an eyebrow shaping technique where cotton thread is used to remove hair from the root, creating a clean, natural arch; it’s ideal for people allergic to waxing and can also be incorporated in other areas where hair removal is needed. For those who are going to the salon to keep their hair, Concept specializes in straightening services, perfect for the humid Miami climate.

This unique treatment combined with the homey atmosphere makes Concepto stand out in high end Coral Gables.

Ooh La La, Le Provencal C’est Magnifique!

Picture 7The classics of French cuisine and wine are expertly represented at the beacon that is Le Provencal restaurant in Coral Gables. For years, the place was nestled in a corner of Miracle Mile, and now finds itself a new home in the center of the ritzy street. The menu though, prepared by Chef Christian Antoniotti, hasn’t changed a bit. It’s still chock full of traditional French fare including bouillabaisse du Provencal- a fish, mussels, sea scallops and shrimp stew; duck leg confit with chestnuts; endive salad with walnuts and roquefort cheese. Pair the meal with a wine from their impressive selection (the list includes reds, whites, and sparklings) from the USA and around the world. The look and feel, from the food and wine to the simple decor, is all French bistro done at its finest.

Cutting Edge Art at Iconic Dorsch Gallery

Picture 24Brook Dorsch moved his namesake Dorsch Gallery to the Wynwood Arts District 10 years ago, before there was an arts district. But just like how he’s got an eye for cutting edge art, this pioneer’s got an eye for location. The (very) recently renovated Dorsch Gallery has gone from newbie to icon status.

Close to two decades in the biz and Dorsch is still presenting thought-provoking art exhibitions, and in these warehouse digs he’s expanded to presenting concerts, film festivals and a host of cultural events. Expect the unexpected with installations featuring four stand-up concrete slabs, sculptures that seem to protrude from the ground, and geometric paintings that boggle the mind and trick the eye. He’s always got a stellar line-up of shows that are great to catch at the beginning or the end of a cultural outing to the Wynwood area.

Speakeasy Jazz Upstairs at Van Dyke Cafe

Picture 10Lincoln Road has evolved into an eclectic mix of well known chain stores, smaller boutiques and stand-alone restaurants,  but the one place that has stood the test of time on this pedestrian strip of road is the Van Dyke Cafe, where the jazz is always playing.

The place is reminiscent of a speakeasy jazz club with soft lighting, intimate seating and stellar performances of Latin jazz, AfroCuban, soloists and jazz quartets. Local legend Maryel Epps still performs at Van Dyke and has been for more than a decade! And joining her are local faves Palo! and Conjunto Progreso.

Catch a vibe from another era at this classic spot, a perfect way to either start or end an evening on South Beach.

Kettal Brings Sophistication Outdoors

Picture 17Think uniquely original, zen-like and chic, and it’s the perfect description for Kettal’s outdoor furnishings. An award-winning trio of design geniuses, with chops from London, Milan and New York, create the outdoor masterpieces.

The gorgeous, sleek, cabana-like outdoor settings that are the stuff of spa and luxury hotel pools can be had at home with this place’s selection. Think an outdoor sofa seating complete with curtains, elegant tables, and plush cushions and throw pillows. Outdoor rugs, accessories, planters and umbrellas complete the many styles they offer. A backyard oasis is easy to have with these clean and elegant pieces. Spend time indoors? Never again.

Chow Down in Style at Mr. Chow

Picture 7No matter where a Mr. Chow restaurant opens, it instantly becomes a spot where everyone must go, especially celebrities. In Miami – in South Beach’s swanky W Hotel no less- Mr. Chow is brimming with elegance and style.

The Asian food here has to be called cuisine, because of offerings like fresh steamed sea bass filet and fresh lobster noodles – lobster tails sauteed in ginger sauce served on a bed of  handmade noodles. The flair and creativity with which the dishes are prepared is unequaled and so stands the reputation of this hot bed of Beijing-inspired yummy. Don’t come looking for honey chicken, General Tsao’s or special fried rice here, it’s non-existent.

Only Headlines at The News

The News is fresPicture 8h off the press; it’s an all-encompassing nightlife experience in the bohemian and laid-back Upper East Side. Cousin to the famous News Cafe on 8th and Ocean Drive, where famed fashion designer Gianni Versace read his Italian papers and sipped his espressos every morning, The News takes The Cafe’s vibe to another level. It features an outdoor patio with cool seating, a video screen showcasing old-time classic movies, and an indoor bar with great lighting and fabulous decor. The deejays keep the party going with an eclectic mix of hits to suit any News lounger’s taste, and regular special events like installations and fire performers keep things very interesting.

Art Deco Meets Italian Design at Marni

MarniIn the heart of the Design District is the splashy Art Deco meets Space Age boutique, Marni. The Italian fashion label has a cult following that love the Marni philosophy: designed pieces that intermingle effortlessly with any of the other collections so fashionistas can hold onto favorite items for more than one season.

The Miami store is designed specifically for the crowd it serves: chic, modern and with Art Deco touches. The signature fashions feature tribal influences as well as geometric patterns, long and flowy skirts, short and loose dresses, and chunky belts. Marni also has an enviable collection of oversized glasses, jewelry, handbags, and sandals to platform heels.

No Boundaries in Miami Light Project’s Contemporary World

Picture 20There are no boundaries or limits when it comes to exploring the contemporary performance world, at least not for the Miami Light Project, who has spent the last two decades perfecting their craft and becoming Miami’s premier contemporary art forum. Searching for the most innovative form of expression in live performance, MLP is a place to discover groundbreaking local and global artists in music, dance and theatre.

The Miami Light Project taps into the beat of the city by offering hip hop acts and world music groups. The annual Here & Now Festival is a great place to see up and coming fresh acts, but don’t sweat it, there are special events year-round. Performances are at venues around the city, but mainly on South Beach and Downtown Miami.

The Viceroy Hotel’s Bold Biscayne Bay Statement

The importance of making a statement is evident at first glance of the Viceroy Miami. Bold statement pieces, like massive, Dali-esque face sculptures, greet both arriving guests and people driving along posh Brickell Avenue. The Viceroy is a unique boutique hotel situated in the heart of the Biscayne Bay- and takes full advantage of its prime location with fabulous amenities.

Picture 23There’s rooftop partying and dining on the 50th floor’s aptly named Club 50, which wraps around the hotel’s pool and where deejays play the hottest tracks during happy hour and for the night owls. The 28,000-square-foot spa bathes guests in relaxation and luxury with a floating library, reflecting pond, hot and cold plunge pools and floor to ceiling windows showcasing dramatic bay views as far as the eye can see.

The Viceroy Hotel is as unique, luxurious and bold as its decorative pieces.

Killer Kobe & Clientele at Beach’s Prime 112

Housed inside a former hotel and looking more like a Key West-inspired structure than anything resembling Art Deco, the hotspot foPrime 112 #2r dining south of Fifth Street on South Beach is Prime 112. Walk through the doors of this quaint yet brightly colored restaurant — seriously, it’s a cheery yellow wooden structure with white trim — and the sense of “this is the place to see and be seen” is immediately evident. Celebrities and all-star athletes love to celebrate here, seeing as the food and ambiance are amazing.

Known for the killer steaks — filet mignon, Kobe, strip, porterhouse, rib eye — they’ve got them all and then some. The seafood selections, including local swordfish, crab crusted grouper, wild salmon and Chilean sea bass, are perfect for seafood connoisseurs. And the ridiculous amount of of potato-inspired sides and other traditional fare makes ordering here that much more entertaining. Obviously, reservations are strongly recommended.

Antique and Innovation at Design District’s Hibiscus Island Home

The Miami Design District’s Hibiscus Island Home is a dream come true for anyone who wants to create a haven of elegance and warmth with a sense of purpose in their home. See, the store has gone green and will only be using recycled wood in the new furniture collection that features more than 90 pieces as well as only soy-based foam in all their custom pieces.

HIH has long been a center for innoPicture 8vation as the store is a unique fusion of all things home: fabrics, furniture, and accessories under one roof. It is also has a blend of antique, vintage, and collectible furniture and accessories mixed into the store’s own Hibiscus Island Home, Island 29, and Treasured Thread collections.

HIH is filled with antique-inspired pieces from the 1920s to the present in a variety of dark and light wood finishes from dining chairs and tables, coffee tables and end tables to desks, cabinets and mirrors. Luxurious fabrics cover the throw pillows and can also be sold by the yard for the crafty.

The Bass Museum: Art Inside and Out

The Bass Museum of Art has an expansive and impressive collection of art – and the building the works are housed in isn’t too shabby either. Placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1978, the one time Miami Beach Public Library isPicture 13 now the centerpiece for today’s historic district.

Expanded a few years back, the original building and the new wing are home to a massively impressive 500 piece permanent collection that includes paintings, sculptures, works on paper, decorative objects and textiles by greats like Rubens and Boticcelli to modern art.

The Bass also has cool, fun events like Hot Nights & Cool Jazz at the Bass, complete with buckets of beer, to scavenger hunts on Family Fun Days. The traveling exhibitions feature modern art, video and photography and are definitely worth a special visit as well.

Party the Night Away in B.E.D.

What a concept: go out to go to bed. At this Miami hotspot, people head out for a night of dancing and clubbing on South Beach to a place called B.E.D. where yes, there are plenty of them. Luxurious surroundings create a fabulous mood prime fPicture 4or plunging into a cocktail or two and some sexy people-watching. The acronym stands for beverage.entertainment.dining because the place has all three: premier food, killer cocktails and nightly entertainment.

There’s a theme here every night; and in true South Beach fashion, there’s no waiting until Thursday or Friday, things kick off on Monday with the exclusive Secret Society party. Celebs like music producers Timbaland and Scott Storch, Miami’s own singer Pitbull and athletes galore have been known to gather and party into the wee hours here. For something more subdued, but truly elegant, the Sunday House Brunch or Breakfast in B.E.D., as it’s called ,features DJs Sonny Daze and La Trice and yummy brunchtime eats.

The Grub at Joe’s is ALWAYS in Season

Even though Joe’s Stone Crab’s famous stone crab claws are only iPicture 6n season for part of the year, this landmark spot has a menu to rival any place in town… and then some. Greats like baseball legend Joe DiMaggio, aviator Amelia Earhart and the Duke and Duchess of Windsor have all dined at Joe’s and Miami’s social elite still flock to the spot to get their fix of the freshest stone crab claws and a veritable smorgasbord of delectable sides like coleslaw, creamed spinach and hash brown potatoes.

Although they’re known for their seafood, the roasted chicken at Joe’s is unbeatable. By all means save room for dessert, the key lime pie is beyond incredible and is a perfect ending to the meal. The wait at Joe’s is long since reservations aren’t taken, but you’re in luck, because there’s always Joe’s Take Away.

Twirls, Tutus and Tights at the Miami City Ballet

Dancing couple 2Master ballet choreographer George Balanchine had a protege once, his name was Edward Villella and he is now the artistic director of the Miami City Ballet. Even though Villella has made a name on his own, with an induction into the Dancer’s Hall of Fame in 2004, it’s no wonder a major chunk of the troupe’s repertoire — which numbers 88 ballets — are Balanchine-choreographed pieces.

The troupe’s international blend of dancers have performed with the Paris Opera Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, The National Ballet of China and the San Francisco Ballet, to name a few. This season, on top of the Balanchine pieces, there are nine world premieres in the mix. Check them out this season as they leap, twirl and float across the stage at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Downtown Miami.

History Lessons at Historical Museum of Southern Florida

Who says you can’t have a history lesson while vacationing in another city? Well that’s exactly what the Historical Museum of Southern Florida in Downtown Miami provides as one of the largest private, regional historical museums in the countryPicture 11. Housed in a fortress-like structure, the museum is home to an impressive collection of objects, prints and photographs that depict the influence that Native Americans as well as Caribbean residents had in forming and shaping South Florida.

The history of the founding individuals as well as the history of the aviation, maritime and tourism industries in South Florida will leave you with a sense of knowledge of how the southernmost area of the Sunshine State came to fruition.

Tobacco Road’s Act is a Century Strong

Nearly a century Tobacco Road has been open, in the same location, making it a Miami institution for live music. It first opened its doors during the prohibition Tobacco Road interiordays and obviously things have changed a bit since then with the addition of legalized alcohol and some of the best live music in Miami.

They’ve been playin’ the blues at this place for years now, featuring an undisputed line-up of local musicians as well as established blues and rock acts that grace two tiny indoor stages (ground floor and second floor) and out on the patio. There’s always a reason for a party at Tobacco Road, whether it’s a blues festival or to celebrate yet another birthday- whether it be Gloria Estefan’s or another notch toward the century marker!

Discover Classics and Newbies at MOCA North Miami

After more than a decade of showcasing the icons of contemporary art as well as displaying exhibitions by up and comers, the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami’s yearly exhibition schedMoca Exterior 1ule continues to feature innovative shows. The museum’s permanent collection is a representation of installations like “Paradise Lights” by Jack Pierson, a neon sculpture that adorns MOCA’s exterior walls and is a piece to admire at the Museum’s many special events.

Among the other collection pieces are mixed media works, oil on canvas, digital media and photographs by contemporary artists Nan Jume Paik, Jose Bedia and Enoc Perez. Programming is a major focus here too, with the museum open late on Wednesdays for MOCA by Moonlight and plenty of art classes and lectures on the weekends.

Sunny Fashions, Cool Interior at Debbie Katz

Stroll down Lincoln Road – heading toward the mainland and away from the beach – and you’ll reach the ultra chic Debbie Katz boutique. The place’s crisDebbie Katz boutiquep white interior is the perfect backdrop for Katz’s colorful collection, which features a variety of patterns and designs.

Her hand dyed pieces are made from the finest cotton gauze, but hers is not the typical one size fits all sheer-looking material most of us know as typical gauze. Her pieces vary in thickness so shoppers can achieve either a solid no-sheer look or a wispier completely sheer outfit.

The place is worth checking out for clothing, accessories, sandals and handbags, all coordinating to please any fashionista.

Puttin’ on the Ritz at Key Biscayne Hotel

Across the Rickenbacker Causeway bridge, flanked by a breathtaking view of Biscayne Bay, lies the posh island of Key Biscayne. There’s no better way to enjoy this land of luxury than at the Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne. Picture 7

This island is a virtual playground for the rich and famous with its luxury residences, world-famous tennis stars everywhere (a little thing called the Sony Ericsson Open is held there), and PGA golfers playing the premier course Links at Key Biscayne.

When all that activity is done, relaxing for a stay at the Ritz-Carlton isn’t a bad place to lay your head down. This hotel is a best of the best with one of the Top 10 beaches, best restaurants, and best spas in North America.

The resort’s ambiance is modeled after an island paradise, making it a difficult decision whether to enjoy the view from a swanky room or drift off to the ocean breezes on the beach or by the pool.

Innovative Sounds from the New World Symphony

The string section is lulling, the horns are blowing and the ultimate in guest artists are doing what they do best to the baton of world-class conductor Michael Tilson Thomas. This exciting scenario takes place every timNWS Fellowse the New World Symphony takes the stage at Lincoln Road’s Lincoln Theatre, a beacon of culture on South Beach.

Tilson Thomas and his posse provide a twist on traditional classical music by performing lesser known pieces as well as original compositions. These pioneering musicians have garnered a respected reputation by constantly evolving their repertoire over the last two decades making each performance a mind blowing, exciting, and unforgettable experience.

Pure Serenity at Historic Barnacle

Nestled in the quaint community of Coconut Grove is a jewel oBarnacle housef a park that takes visitors back to another era- and has one of the best bay views in the city. Wind down tree-lined Main Highway and come upon the Barnacle Historic State Park, once the home of pioneering Miamian Ralph Middleton Munroe, to catch a glimpse of life in Miami in the late 1800s.

The place has grounds that rival a scene from the Great Gatsby and the house is just as grand with a bird’s eye view of the bay from the home’s balcony, an open rotunda attic with wrap-around carved railings, skylights and intricate furnishings in every room. The boathouse, where Commodore Munroe built his vessels, and shaded pathways throughout the property add to the tranquil setting.

The Barnacle is more than simply a house to admire, they also house many activities that can make this landmark part of your weekly routine. Every week there is a yoga class that allows you to get the serenity and tranquility of the locale while also burning some serious calories. Throughout the year there are also many special concerts that take place on the grounds.

Enjoy the old and the new, but always a beautiful setting, at The Barnacle.

Genuinely Tasty Eats at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

Whether the hunger strikes at lunch or dinner, sitting down for a meal at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in the Design District is a trip to culinary heaven. The crowds that flock there are proof positive of this and also a good sign that reservations areCrispy Sweet & Spicy Glazed Pork Belly with Kimchi & crushed peanuts_2 a must.

Chef Michael Schwartz quickly made a name for himself at the three-year old spot with simple bistro fare like steamed mussels with roasted tomato harissa broth, sticky black rice and garlic chips, and crispy sweet and spicy pork belly with kimchi and crushed peanuts. He prides himself on using the freshest organic ingredients available so his creations are top-notch in taste.

The indoor table seating is in an ecclectic, cool interior and there’s a welcoming bar where diners can watch their delectable eats being prepared. Being in Miami, of course there’s outdoor seating. The place is not to be missed and its a hot bed for celebs as well as notable locals.

Melt Away Stress at Swanky Camelot Salon & Spa

There’s nothing like ending a tough 40-hour work week (and let’s face it, they’re more like 60-hour work weeks) than with a nice trip to the salon or spa. A great place to get it all in one is at the swanky and elegant Camelot Salon & Spa in Coral Gables.

This salon has been getting it right for more than 17 years and it’s no wonder, the place is pure serenity. Single roPicture 4ses in crystal vases are displayed ever so elegantly in individually lit white display shelves, haircutting stations are outfitted with cherry wood mirrors and shelving is set up to create an element of privacy and one-on-one attention.

The spa area is an oasis of mellow blues and beiges and a high back wicker couch with comfortable off-white cushions. Manis and pedis are given on leather chairs and high back leather benches. Orchids, flowers and candles throughout Camelot complete the relaxing experience. Now it’s time to breathe in and say, Aaaaahhh.

Vagabond’s Rivaling South Beach Hotspots

The party never ends at high-energy nightclub Vagabond in what used to be sVagabond1leepy Downtown Miami. Now it’s an area rivaling South Beach in late night dancing. Lines usually wrap around the place with clubbers waiting to enter and take in an atmosphere that changes nightly.

At Vagabond, there’s something for all types of music lovers. The indie band Surfer Blood may take the stage one night and the next it’s a group of hip hop performers. Things get artsy during Stone Groove night with jazz, blues, soul and spoken word taking over the space. This spot that’s housed in Downtown’s up and coming Park West region (there are galleries popping up around the area as well), is a feast for the eyes both inside its doors and out, with the towering high rises playing backdrop.

Momentum Dance: One of Miami’s Best Troupes

The hypnotic moves of Miami’s stellar dance troupe Momentum Dance Company, who have been gPicture 26racing stages around the city for more than two decades, makes for a mesmerizing experience. A show by Momentum always holds some kind of surprise with their ingenious creativity. The repertoire of numbers conceived by artistic director Delma Iles are so popular that dance fans have come to expect them, like “Sand Dance,” a solo effort by Iles that incorporates a single spotlight and sand into the performance.

Performing all over the city, this contemporary group is known for inventive and innovative moves and haunting performances that captivate the audience and leave them wanting more. Make a point of catching Momentum while in Miami or risk missing an unforgettable experience. Check out their website to find out when the next performance is taking place.

Light Show & Cristal at Liv Nightclub

Head a little north of South Beach to one of the most unexpected places – the historic Fontainebleau Hotel – to party the night away at Liv NigPicture 8htclub, a hotspot catering to celebrities and locals alike. For example, chances of spotting actress Gabrielle Union, who loves to play in Miami, hanging out with her friend, Miami Heat basketball player Dwayne Wade, are very likely.

After all, the place is 30,000 square feet of pure party atmosphere with three full service bars, VIP areas where the Cristal champagne usually flows to world-renowned DJs playing dance tunes as well as hip hop and house music. The all-night light show, main dance floor, and second floor balcony viewing area are the perfect recipe for an unforgettable weekend.

Wang & Webb Among Many at En Avance

Picture 8Former supermodel Veronica Webb’s accessories can be found at En Avance, alongside rockin’ boots by Vera Wang, the fashion designer who has come a long way from just wedding dresses.

The boutique, nestled in the artsy Miami Design District, is a perfect fit for the area where fashionistas come searching for clothes and accessories that stand out from the department store masses. The funky clutch bags are ideal for a night out on the town in the District. Paired with Vera’s boots worn with designer bootcut or flare jeans, flats and skinnies, or platforms and a dress, the clutches are a must. And if the significant other comes along on the shopping trip there’s a comfy seating area and plenty of reading material to keep them entertained. Or heck, they can take off and find something to nibble on or drink in that part of town.

Michy’s Does James Beard Winning Experimentation

Having fun and experimenting with the menu is what it’s all about at Michy’s, the swanky, hip restaurant created by James Beard Foundation-winning chef Michelle Bernstein.Picture 7 Named after her childhood nickname, Michy’s is a reflection of her Cuban and Jewish heritage.

This cozy spot is the perfect match for a menu filled with original creations that beckons hints of her Cuban background with an added twist and flair from other countries. At this place, sharing is encouraged with dishes served as half or full sized. So go ahead, reach across the table, and take a piece of the crispy serrano ham and blue cheese croquettes served with a tangy, sweet fig marmalade; the crisp pork belly nectarine salad, soy ginger vinaigrette and spicy pickled radishes; or steak frites churrasco, house made fries with bearnaise and au povre dipping sauces.

Wash it all down with a suave Miami-inspired champagne mojito. Ahhh, now that’s  refreshing!

Awash in Miami Flair Trina Turk Opens in Bal Harbour

Awash in a tropical feel befitting Miami, Trina Turk’s latest ventuPicture 9re, a boutique at Bal Harbour Shops, is a shopping splurge. Her designs have been spotted on celebs galore including Eva Longoria-Parker, Natalie Portman, Gwen Stefani, and Kate Moss to name but a few. So chances are, a celeb-spotting is possible at the high-end store.

The store’s white exterior, aqua lettering, bright white interior, and luscious green draped fabric perfectly complement the array of spring-like fashions that include swimwear (hey, it’s Miami where hitting the beach is a year-round occurrence), dresses, tops, and pants. Oversized jewel-encrusted bracelets – Trina Turk is set to launch her own jewelry line soon – scarves and handbags are the perfect accessories to her line, while her throw pillows and area rugs can add brightness to any room in the house.

Wolfsonian Museum Boasts a Provocative Collection

It’s housed in a grand Art Deco building in the heart of South Beach, but what’s inside the Wolfsonian Museum is a design MIAwolfsoniancollection that’s unlike the Miami architecture, spanning from the late 1800s to the mid-1940s and featuring European and American pieces.

The multi-level structure is a vast wonderland of art, furnishings, objects, and memorabilia to suit any art lovers’ taste. Collector Micky Wolfson has amassed a thinking man’s collection focusing on the thought-provoking era of Decorative and Propaganda Arts. The Museum’s exhibitions and programs are an extension of the permanent collection’s theme and explore the important role of design during the industrial age through social, political, and technological topics.

The Setai: The Anti-South Beach

Stepping away from the Art Deco theme and chaos that is SoPicture 9uth Beach is The Setai, a hotel created to soothe the mind, body, and soul of all who enter and arguably the best hotel in Miami- by miles. A zen-like atmosphere is evident the moment one touches the Asian-inspired front door handles and enters the hotel oasis to a chorus of soothing sounds echoing from the sound system.

Hard-working models, celebs, and professional athletes are among the regulars that come to enjoy the scenic Setai.

Through the floor-to-ceiling windows in the lobby is a serene open-air courtyard with a centerpiece fountain surrounded by intricately placed palm trees, backless, cushioned benches, and a large wooden bar in the rear.

The theme continues in the guestrooms where a minimalist approach, using jade and other Asian-inspired decorative pieces, contributes to an overall soothing experience.

The Setai proves a trip to Miami can be as relaxing as Thailand.

Hearst’s Miami Castle: The Spanish Monastery

Tucked along a winding, tree-lined street in North Miami Beach is a beMIAmonasteryautiful sanctuary called the Spanish Monastery, a building from the 1100s that’s the perfect spot for escaping the rat race by entering into a bygone era. The structure was dismantled in Spain where it was created, and transported to North Miami Beach in a whopping 11,000 crates after newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst purchased the property.

The Spanish influence still rings through with the luscious and impeccably manicured gardens, European-inspired statues, and open-air courtyards and hallways among the stone structure. Grand gated entrances lead to various brick pathways that feature stone benches that are ideal for reading, painting, or just enjoying the fresh air amongst the breathtaking landscape.

It’s the perfect place to relax and enjoy the Miami sun with some European flair.

Performances & Celebs Mansion in Miami

Get lost inside Mansion – one of Miami’s biggest and poshest clubs. This redone Art Deco theater with huge sweeping staircases, chandeliers and Venetian mirrors makes this place super glam. You’ll have to dress to impress at Mansion just to live up to the decor. Four dance floors play loud dance music. The best DJs from around the world spin here. But do expect to stand in line. Anybody who is anybody tries to get in here.

Art Deco Historic District

Picture 20Awash in pastel and mostly under cloudless blue skies, the Art Deco Historic District is a feast for the eyes for both its architecture and the beautiful people that spend time there. Lovingly restored in the 1980s by the Miami Design Preservation League, the District is where it’s at. Celebrities flock here and Ocean Drive has long been considered the American version of the French Riviera. Stroll along famed Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road Mall, funky Washington Avenue and chic Collins Avenue to take in historic buildings that were all the rage in the roaring 1920s and have stood the test of time. Architect Morris Lapidus put the area on the map with his unique designs, check out the legacy he created.

Rubell Family Collection

Picture 182Come see one of the best collections of contemporary art in the world. The Rubell Family Collection was one of the initial galleries to move into the hip and happening Wynwood District in 1993 and calls a  a former Drug Enforcement Agency warehouse home. The 45,000 square foot space showcases work by contemporary giants including Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, Cindy Sherman, Julian Schanbel and Jeff Koons. It’s obvious that Don and Mera Rubell, who started the collection shortly after they were married in 1964, know a little something about art collecting and shared a passion for it from the start. They’ve passed that on to their children Jason and Jennifer who are now collectors themselves and run the place for their parents.