Cait Bazemore’s City Guide to Miami, Presented by Watchonista
If, like me, you grew up in Atlanta, Georgia, you know that our neighboring state to the south, Florida, quickly becomes your second home. But for those of you who are unaware, Florida, which is just a five-hour drive over the state line from Atlanta, allows you to leave behind the typical trappings of the southeast for some other world that is full of sun, sand, and saltwater that’s far better than the landlocked city.
A few hours further, you’ll reach South Florida, where you’ll find true paradise, leaving you wondering if you’ve landed in the Caribbean without ever crossing an ocean. So, as you can imagine, spending my formative years adjacent to said paradise resulted in countless summer vacations and spring breaks in the Sunshine State.
Now that Georgia’s best-kept secret is out, you can forget a six-hour flight to Southern California when you need a dose of Vitamin D because Miami is quickly becoming the new “bi-coastal” destination for city dwellers along the East Coast, all without the three-hour time difference.
Businesses are also taking note, making the “Magic City” the hot spot for store openings, conferences, and, of course, a little fun along the way. Thus, it comes as no surprise that Miami is this year’s location of choice for LVMH Watch Week.
So, while you’re in town enjoying the event, if you need to take a step back and enjoy all Miami has to offer, I am here to be your guide.
Take a Stroll through the Design District (and Browse Some Killer Watches)
South Beach was fun during my spring break days, but real Miami veterans know the mainland is the place to be. I suggest you start your Miami adventure by making your way north via a walk through the globally renowned street art museum Wynwood Walls. Then, head north to the city’s famed Design District, where you can to up your wrist game just in time for LVMH watch week.
You can easily hit up the Hublot, Bulgari, and TAG Heuer boutiques because they are all within a short ten-minute walk of each other. Plus, just outside of Bulgari’s Miami outpost, you can continue your art crawl and marvel at the iconic Fly’s Eye Dome designed by Buckminster Fuller – it’s the perfect photo op to make all your friends jealous.
Cool Off with a Cocktail or Indulge in a Unique DJ Experience
Whether you’re only looking for a sharp cocktail or planning to hit the clubs until dawn, its vibrant nightlife is another huge part of Miami’s allure. For cocktail fans, I suggest popping over the bridge and taking in the gorgeous views of Biscayne Bay as you make your way to South Beach for authentic rum cocktails at Swizzle Rum Bar & Drinkery.
With an extensive menu and old-school speakeasy vibes, this classic rum bar is proudly open until 3:00am most nights and 4:00am on the weekends. Whether you decide to start or end you night here, I recommend the Florida Rum Experience, a flight of four local spirits.
If you’re looking for an alternative to your standard cocktail bar, I suggest you skip the lines at the clubs and check out Dante’s HiFi. Don’t get me wrong, the dancefloor was the place to be back in my aforementioned spring break days, but now that I’m firmly in my thirties, I’m looking for something a bit different but equally cool.
Enter Dante’s, a Japanese listening-bar-style outpost whose walls are lined with a beautifully curated vinyl collection spun by expert DJs. Top off your listening experience with a drink from their stellar cocktail menu full of Japanese spirits, from whiskies to plum wine and yuzu liqueur.
A Must-Have for Miami: The Perfect Pair of Shades
After filling your watch roll with all the timepieces that you want to show off at LVMH watch week, the second most essential accessory to pack for your Miami trip is a stylish pair of sunglasses. Or you can treat yourself to a fresh new set of shades at TwelveSixtyNine. This highly curated eyewear boutique skirts big box brands and offers an exceptional selection of independent luxury labels.
You Can’t Leave the 305 without Eating a Proper Cuban Sandwich
Even if you didn’t gloss over this entry’s title, it bears repeating: You absolutely CANNOT leave Miami without eating a proper Cuban sandwich. Of course, when it comes to where to get a classic Miami Cuban, there are hundreds of options. However, after trying a few dozen of them, which range from the good to the bad to the great, my endorsement goes behind Enriqueta’s.
So, whether you get one of their perfectly executed Cuban sandwiches to eat on the go from the pickup window or eat inside at one of their tables, complete the meal with an authentic Cuban coffee. If you do, you’re sure to leave satisfied and sufficiently fueled for LVMH Watch Week.
Over 5,000 Cigars and Over 400 Whiskies – Need I Say More?
At the end of a long day in the balmy Miami heat, there is nothing better than a cigar and nightcap. Luckily, in Little Havana, you’ll find a slew of cigar bars to choose from, but my pick is the Empire Social Lounge.
Tucked away on the second floor, you’ll find locals and serious cigar connoisseurs cozied up with their favorite stogie and classic cocktail from the outpost’s impeccable drink menu. If you travel to Miami frequently, this cigar and whiskey lounge also has a membership option that gives you access to an exclusive members-only section.
My Best Kept Miami Secret: The Best Sushi in Town
Okay, I’ve saved the best for last! Every time I plan a trip to Miami, my first order of business is to book a reservation at Hiyakawa. Very much under the radar of most tourists, this sushi spot offers a fine-dining experience with truly outstanding service in a warm and inviting atmosphere that’s a work of art itself, thanks to designer Bea Pernia.
Hiyakawa offers the option of Omakase ($250 per person) or traditional table service. But be warned: Omakase is only offered in two seatings each night, and spots fill up fast, so I highly recommend booking that in advance. If you miss out, no worries; the table service is an equally delicious option.
While about half of the menu covers your standard sushi staples, the other half is seasonal and rotates regularly. And while it could probably go without saying, I still strongly suggest ordering from the seasonal half of the menu. Here, you’ll find some rare and unique fish, all flown in from Tokyo’s famed Toyosu Fish Market each morning and served up each evening to the lucky guests who score a table at this intimate space.