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Hilton Bentley is a classy hotel situated in the quieter area of South Beach the locals call South Point. Right on Ocean Drive, it boasts a lovely lobby area, with a perfumed air that reminds one of a Tahitian breeze. The lobby welcomes you into the quiet yet exhilarating atmosphere that envelopes you in the feeling that you are on vacation. I personally loved this hotel, and highly recommend it. However, if you have a sensitivity to perfume, I would avoid it, as it has quite a bit constantly circulating in the air. It also boasts a crystal clear pool, and has suites overlooking the grandeur of the Atlantic Ocean, with miles of sandy beaches to stroll. The room was a bit smaller than expected, but had many luxuries that one would expect for such a high class hotel. There was also a kitchenette in the room. It also is reasonably priced for the level of luxury provided. The restaurant also provided a delicious meal influenced by tropical style cuisine with an American grille flair.
Let the kids shop for ripped up t-shirts and sneakers. Real men shop at Varvatos on Lincoln Road, an upscale clothing store featuring designs from iconic designer John Varvatos. Edgy but classic, the well-tailored suits and casual wear will make you feel cool in any situation, whether it's a nightclub or an important business meeting. If you want to look good, this is the place to shop.
I know it's such a first world problem, but there are too many choices at Big Pink. The menu is kind of ridiculous, but that's what makes Big Pink perfect for meeting up with large groups of friends. Everything you can imagine is on the menu, so everybody will be happy. It's also a great place to soak in the local scene and dip out of the madness of South Beach for a minute. Their strong suit is finger foods, salads, and pizzas to share.
This upscale Mexican restaurant will make you think differently of tacos. This place has soup that will make you cry, hand-crafted guacamole that will give you hope in life, and margaritas that taste like the nectar of the gods. It's pricey but well worth it. If you're on a budget, try out their 5 dollar tapas and margaritas during happy hour. It's on touristy Lincoln Road, but if you're in the mood for good Mexican and margaritas, this is the place in Miami Beach.
Gramps is a great place to look cool while drinking away your woes, and with two happy hours, it can fit any income bracket. Munch on free chicken wings, drink bubbly, and listen to local indie and dance music. The bartenders are also very nice and will gladly whip up a fancy cocktail or a crack open a beer if you're on a budget. The place is trendy and full of beautiful people trying not to look beautiful--that's so hipster--but anyone can fit in with the low-key vibe.
It doesn't matter whether you're sporty or intellectual. At Lucky Strike Lanes it's all about good times and making a fool of yourself. Whether it's gutter balls or strikes, it's a good excuse for drinking with friends and munching on greasy bar food. Even if you're bad at bowling, you'll still have fun trying, plus it's something different than all the other bars off Lincoln Road. It's one of the few places where you can blend in and not feel like a tourist.
The Standard has the relaxed and low-key vibe you would expect at a hostel but with amenities and grounds that reflect a more serene and maintained atmosphere. The lobby area and patio feel like an upscale new age retreat, with furniture made out of driftwood, a large pool on the bay, and a fire pit surrounded by lounge chairs. There were even a few old hippies outside on laptops. The Standard seems fit for the older, more relaxed crowd, the kind of people who like organic food and want a respite from the typical chain hotel. The rooms also reflect that, with earthy tones and simple but comfortable furnishings. They also have a restaurant and lounge, which is a nice convenience since it is a little out of the way from the South Beach action.
Kill Your Idol is kitschy and slightly dirty, and on Wednesdays ladies drink free, which can really change the course of an evening. A few sore heads have surely been a result of this place, so maybe a more fitting name would be Kill Your Dreams? In any case, if this is the place where dreams go to die, it's pretty fun when it gets rowdy later in the night. The crowd is mixed so you'll see a wide variety of riffraff. Just don't forget to leave your dreams at the door.
Deco bikes are cheap and a great way to see Miami Beach. With stations all along South Beach, Mid Beach, and North Beach, you can take bike trips to most places in the area for 4 or 5 dollars. The beach walk is a good place to start and you can take it all the way to South Point to watch the sunset and the cruise ships setting out. The only problem is the herds of cattle that will likely get in your way, and they don't move when you ring your bell. Also, sometimes the docks don't work very well or all the bikes are taken. Most of the time, though, it's pretty easy and convenient.
The Wynwood design district is a breath of fresh air, especially after experiencing the over-priced, over-the-top South Beach packed with tourists. At Wood Tavern you'll get to see the laid-back local scene, plus the drinks are cheap and they have free tacos on Tuesday that are actually decent. Any broke hipster can scrape up enough money to go to Wood, so a lot of artist types and lost souls end up here, which gives it an eclectic vibe. Just about anybody can fit in here, but I recommend not getting too dolled up because the place is pretty low-key.
Even if you're too cool for tourist spots, Lincoln Road is a great place to people watch and check out the local scene. Also, I can't stop myself from getting candy at Dylan's Candy Bar, especially their disgustingly good sour candy selection. They also have every sweet thing imaginable that can be dyed and emulsified to rot your teeth and make you get love handles. But after sweating in the Miami heat, you deserve a little treat. Plus, what other place in town can you get a rainbow-colored cocktail?
The lobby in this hotel is beautiful, with marble floors and columns, and ornate decoration. Back in its heyday, this used to be one of the most exclusive and expensive hotels in the area. Seeing the rooms, you can tell right away that it's past its glory days. The rooms are clean but they smell old and the ocean view is nice but it would be so much better with a balcony. There are convenient amenities, however, like a lounge, pool, salon, and restaurant. Even though the place has seen better days, the staff is friendly and the grounds are well-maintained. This hotel has so much potential but it's just not quite there yet.
If you're looking for a budget family vacation on the beach, Days Inn is adequate and since it's a chain hotel, there aren't any surprises. Families will feel at home with the boisterous kid-friendly atmosphere, although the rooms aren't as nice as other hotels in the area. There also isn't an iphone doc, which can be inconvenient for some. The pool and tiki bar provide a nice hideaway and hangout if you need a break from the well-grooved tourist track of South Beach. And the beach is right there at your footsteps, so for the price, you can't beat it.
Although the check in felt a little longer than necessary, the staff was very friendly and helpful at the front desk. The lobby had a grand, regal feel to it but the furniture was a little dated and could definitely use an update. So, needless to say, I was surprised to see rooms that were simply beautiful, down to every little detail. They were clean, comfortable and immaculate, and the oceanfront view from the balcony is definitely worth the extra money. The hotel is a little far from South Beach, but the place is huge and has a lot of onsite amenities. You could easily find your relaxation groove at the several lounges, restaurant, and pool. They even have a gift shop. RIU is like its own little city.
You'll be surprised this place was built in the 60s because it looks like an ancient temple made of equally ancient coral. Inside you'll find an ongoing exhibition of Egyptian mummies and artifacts in one of the rarest and most unique collections in the country. Also, the Bass features well-curated contemporary artists such as Eve Sussman, who currently features a video instillation of the Roman legend, The Rape of the Sabine Women. Check out their Beats after Sunset, which is an evening of free drinks and a DJ (8$ admission), because it wouldn't be an event in Miami without one.
As long as you go during the week when it's not super crowded, you can enjoy the food in the outdoor patio overlooking the Wynwood Walls, which features street art by famous artists like Shepard Fairey and Ron English. Inside, enjoy people-watching the cute hipsters at the bar and the Jazz quartet in the dining area. It's a good starting point before you meander through all the galleries in the design district.