The Three Faces of Miami Beach
Miami Beach is known as a buzzworthy tourist destination, but each of the sandy city’s three main districts provides its own unique flair.
Miami Beach, well-known for its miles of white sand, isn’t a monolith. The city’s beach cuts through various areas, stretching 35 miles from the southern tips’ South Beach (SoBe) to North Beach (NoBe) in—you guessed it—Miami Beach’s north. New restaurants, condominiums, and hotels have blossomed in North Beach, Mid-Beach, and South Beach’s SoFi (South of Fifth) communities in the last few years, boosting the regions. Each neighborhood’s distinct flavor has been enhanced in recent years by new restaurants and hotels that make the regions even more appealing to locals and to vacationers.
North Beach, Mid-Beach, and all districts are great places to plant your lounge chair and shade umbrella.
Distinct from inland North Miami Beach, NoBe stretches along the coast from 63rd Street to 87th Street and reaches west to Normandy Isles’ Biscayne Bay. In NoBe, several blocks still retain the original Miami Modern (MiMo) structures built in the fifties. Many of these are two-story garden apartments whose facades are adorned with cheese holes (rows of circles), futuristic fins, and railings. The buildings tend to have interior courtyards and open stairways.
Many of NoBe’s residents came from Uruguay, Peru, Cuba, and other Latin and South American countries. As a result, you can sample Chilean chicken empanadas at Moises Bakery, tortilla depapa (a five-egg pie with potatoes) at Manolo, and Cuban fare such as chicken stuffed with plantains at Sazón. Lou’s Beer Garden, a gastropub that takes over the pool patio at New Hotel on certain evenings, serves 12 craft beers and 20+ bottled brews.
Upscale hotels and condos have sprouted in the last few years. The Carillon originally opened as a Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa. That accounts for the 70,000-square foot spa. The property remains open even though the hotel, which offers rooms and rentals with kitchens, is undergoing a renovation.
The new heart of Mid-Beach, an area from around 29th to 62nd streets, is the Faena District. Created by Argentine developer Alan Faena and his partner Len Blavatnik, the Faena District, a mix of hotels, condos, and an art complex, stretches along Collins Avenue from 32nd to 35th streets and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean and the Indian Creek Canal.
A condo at Faena House sold for a record $60 million. The uber-luxury Faena Hotel, which opened in December 2015, features multimillion-dollar art; several restaurants, including Pao by Paul Qui, serving modern Asian cuisine, and Los Fuegos by Francis Mallman, an Argentine-style grill; plus Faena Theater, a stage for various shows and concerts. The Faena Forum, a 50,000-square-foot arts center, is slated to open in the fall, as is the Faena Bazaar, a shopping area with some changing vendors.
SoFi, South Beach
South Beach (SoBe) is known for its Art Deco buildings, trendy clubs, and crowds. Book a room in South Beach’s South of Fifth (SoFi) neighborhood and you get easy access to the pulsating scene along Collins and Washington and the livelier parts of Ocean Drive, but you return to the relative quiet of a residential neighborhood of luxury condominiums that also has parks and good restaurants.
South Pointe Park features panoramic ocean views, a dog park, interactive water sprays, and a 450-foot pier where you can fish or wave to the passing cruise ships. Along with Joe’s Stone Crab, which started in the area in 1913 as a lunch counter, you can dine at such popular SoFi restaurants as Red, the Steakhouse; Izzy’s Oyster Bar; and Cibo Wine Bar.
The Marriott Stanton South Beach fronts the ocean, something of a rarity for hotels in SoFi. The property features two pools and a sun deck with chaise lounges. Four new restaurants are slated to launch this year and next. A Mexican eatery debuts in November, and a Japanese restaurant with a “secret” (small) sushi bar opens in January 2017.