Updated: Sep 5, 2022
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South Beach, Miami is a place you visit when you don't want to remember the weekend. It's a party town with the best clubs, shops, beaches, and restaurants in Miami. The nightlife is incredible, and the sand and sun makes the day just as fun. On a personal note, my husband and I visited in December and the water was still warm enough to swim. South Beach is the land of endless possibilities, so hopefully this list helps you narrow down your options.
Ocean Drive is the major party strip of South Beach. It provides views of Art Deco buildings often seen in movies, the beautiful beach across the street, and about a dozen Lamborghinis having a supposed motor-revving contest. Along the street is the Colony Hotel, which was built in 1939 and featured on TV shows such as "Dexter." The buildings illuminate with bright colors when the sun goes down - and indicator that the party is about to start.
The Former Versace Mansion
What used to be the Versace Mansion is now a hotel called the Villa Casa Casuarina. From 1992 until his assassination in 1997, Gianni Versace called this place his home. Those who wish for a peek inside can stay in the hotel or book a reservation at Gianni's Restaurant. You can also see the mansion from the outside when you walk down Ocean Drive.
It was barely noon when we noticed every diner along Ocean Drive sipping on these huge margaritas. You could find one at nearly any restaurant, so we chose one that was celebrating happy hour. Two margaritas cost $35 each and contained seven shots. After the meal, the waiter brought us two more shots as a "thank you." Whew.
The Palace Bar is an LGBTQ spot that brings the vibes day and night. Since 1988, it's hosted numerous drag queens and performers, and it was the first restaurant to spring up on Ocean Drive. Today, it's so popular that you should likely make reservations to secure a table. The bar's slogan is appropriately, "Every Queen Needs a Palace."
World Erotic Art Museum
Yes, that is a giant statue of a penis. It's also one of the most popular attractions at the World Erotic Art Museum. Opened in 2005, it's the only museum of its kind in the United States. It was founded by the notable collector Naomi Wilzig, who gathered more than 4,000 pieces of art for display in the exhibits. These pieces include drawings, painting, photos, and even a library of sex-themed books.
Although the neighborhood itself is called South Beach, you can't forget about the actual south beach. To keep in theme with the rest of the area, the lifeguard stands have an Art Deco design. The ocean itself is a pretty blue, and the beach is covered in white sand. In the Lummus Park area, you might even find yourself playing volleyball with other tourists.
Miami is the best place to enjoy an authentic Cuban sandwich other than Cuba itself. This sandwich is typically comprised of Cuban bread, pork, ham, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard, and to get the full experience, you don't want to change a single thing. The bread itself is what makes it special, as it's hard to obtain outside of Cuba.
Mango's Tropical Café
Mango's Tropical Café is a popular nightclub that puts on a variety of shows. Some acts include salsa dancers, illusionists, burlesque performers, belly dancers, and Latin musicians, all paired with an extensive drink menu and amazing food. On par with South Beach, the bar doesn't shut down until 5 a.m.
Affordability is hard to find in South Beach, but the Riviera Hotel is less than a mile from Ocean Drive and does it pretty well. The Marriott Vacation Club Pulse is steps from the action and features live entertainment at night. For luxury travelers, the Ritz-Carlton is a trusted brand with a pool and spa.
South Beach, Miami can be described as fast-paced, luxurious, expensive, and all around fun. Music and parties continue into the wee hours of the morning and day drinking is never frowned upon. It's definitely a great place to visit for an adult vacation or celebration.