Having grown up in South Beach, I can truly appreciate the total transformation it has experienced for nearly three decades. Now “South of Fifth” has really flourished into a happening spot. A little quieter than the main hub of action, it’s an exclusive affluent neighborhood that has many new chic places to discover.
I stayed at the recently-opened Julia, an adult-exclusive property which was built from the foundation of the third oldest hotel in Miami Beach. The Julia, owned by the charming brothers Jesper and Gustaf Arnoldsson, is named after and inspired in design by the iconic founder of Miami, Julia Tuttle.
The hotel has kept its traditional Art Deco façade, and the inside has been totally modernized with signature accents, crafted by renowned architect and interior designer Stephen Busto. The lobby has antique touches, including the original Cuban tile ﬂooring. The hotel also features unique artwork from local and international artists. There are portraits throughout alluding to a suggested storyline of Julia’s life, partially obscure and erased, leaving the storyline up to individual interpretation.
There are five signature two-story Ibis rooms that have a swarm of paper-cut butterﬂy installations by renowned Japanese paper artist, Yumiko Mizutani, dangling from the twenty-foot tall ceilings.
The property offers a number of complimentary amenities for guests: French-inspired continental breakfast with fresh croissants, Brioche, Pain au Chocolate, yogurt, fruit, juices, coffee and tea; reserved beach chairs on South Beach; Wine & cheese happy hour from 5 pm to 7 pm nightly and Custom beach tote for guest use.
DINING ON SOUTH OF FIFTH
I was wowed by Cibo Wine Bar, located at 200 South Pointe Dr., actually, the biggest Italian restaurant in all of South Beach featuring 12,000 sq ft space. CIBO, which means food in Italian, brings authentic southern Italian cooking, including hand-tossed pasta to the South of Fifth. Lots of must try’s here, as the food is outstanding. Two for sure are the wild mushroom pizza with white truffle oil and their baked eggplant. Their Veal Milanese is definitely family style and a stand out. And even more impressive is their 3,500 bottles of wine in a soaring two-story award-winning glass-encased wine room equipped w/ harnessed wine angel to retrieve your favorite bottle. Great concept!
The Lobster Bar Sea Grill, located at 404 Washington Ave. is the newest concept from the national award-winning Buckhead Life Restaurant Group, headed by Executive Chef Arturo Paz. A Must try is “Signature” Nova Scotia Lobster Tail lightly-fried and comes with drawn butter and a lemon Greek honey-mustard aioli. This is a lobster lover’s dream as it is actually over 1 pound and the taste is unrivaled!
A perfect spot for breakfast is The Big Pink, a family-style diner that offers just about every form of comfort food you can imagine, from waffles and pizza to the famous Big Pink TV Dinner located on 157 Collins Ave. Must try’s for breakfast, Corn Beef Hash Benny and the Chicken with Waffle Benny. Oh and there’s a Breakfast Pizza too, imagine. Hearty portions you can share for sure.
Some daily outing ideas can include a fabulous day basking on South Beach, people watching or for a more active day, upscale shopping at Brickell City Centre or even a day the Frost Museum…
What would a chic getaway be without shopping? Just an uber ride away is Brickell City Centre which offers four levels of luxury shopping, premium and world-class dining and entertainment are interconnected over three blocks and anchored by a 107,000 square foot Saks Fifth Avenue and luxury VIP Cinema Experience.
Great high end shopping and a then you can go off to lunch at The Big Easy Winebar & Grill, a lovely dining destination that was inspired by the lifestyle and spirit of South Africa’s most recognized export, Golf-icon Ernie Els (whose nickname is “Big Easy”, based on his easygoing personality and effortless golf swing. Some standouts: The ‘Big Easy’ Burger – grafton cheddar, heirloom tomatoes, onion jam braai “bbq sauce”, with hand-cut fries; Angry Duck Curry – duck breast, red madras curry, basmati rice; Mini Cauliflower Samosas (V) – roasted cauliflower, green chutney; Fried Green Tomatoes – tomato chutney, pork belly, chevre and their Durban Bunny Chow – slow roasted lamb shank served in an artisan bread bowl.
PHILLIP AND PATRICIA FROST MUSEUM OF SCIENCE
A nice day trip while visiting South Beach is to head over to the newly remodeled Frost Museum. There are marvelous 360 views of the city.
The cutting-edge 250-seat Frost Planetarium takes you on a visual educational journey. Though it might seem like you’re really traveling through space it’s the result of a 16-million-color 8K visual system using six 3D-capable projectors and surround sound.
There are beautiful aquariums and exhibitions, as well as a delightful new restaurant called Verde.
AN EVENING OUT FOR ART & FOOD LOVERS
Wyndwood Food & Art Tour is a new curation of art, cuisine, and culture in Wynwood and is a short ride away from South Beach. It’s hard to keep up with Wynwood as it keeps flourishing and there are a lot of new places to see. The tour offers the opportunity to dine your way through local restaurants while strolling through the trendy open-air street art collections.
At the end, you get to sample some sweets from the famous Zack the Baker.