A New York winter (even a mild one) turns one's skin to an ashen hue that is death-like. The solution is to head south. Miami has long been an escape for those of us trapped in the doldrums of the Northeast. I try to get there every year, and I’ve mastered the long weekend.

I like to stretch my weekends whenever I can to include the whole of Friday, and I stay in Miami Beach because I want to see the ocean as often as possible. Here are my recommendations, along with a few tips:

  • When to arrive: If you can, arrive on Thursday night to make it a 3-day weekend. 
  • How to get from the airport: Grab an Uber or Lyft from the airport – there is not a lot of good public transportation. Expect to pay around a $50 fare to get to South Beach. Do better, MIA!
  • Getting around town: Miami Beach has free trolleys that will shuttle you pretty much wherever you want to go, with an app that provides live tracking info. There’s also Citi Bike
  • Where to stay: There are so many hotels in South Beach, from the budget-friendly Freehand Miami to the less-budget-friendly Ritz Carlton South Beach. These days I stay at a friend's apartment, which is basically an AirBnB with my bffs as hosts.
  • What to pack: Take your casual beach clothes and something a bit more snazzy if you plan to go out for dinner. Don't forget a hat, bathing suit, good walking shoes and SPF.
Two people walk by a pink and yellow art deco-style lifeguard hut on a sandy beach
Miami's beach and boardwalk are quiet first thing in the morning © mariakray / Shutterstock


Morning: Wake up early and make your way to the boardwalk for a morning stroll. Stop for coffee along the way. Crema – either on Collins or on Washington near 16th – is a terrific local coffee choice. Grab yourself an iced coffee and croissant to go.

The boardwalk is 7 miles from South Pointe all the way north to Surfside. Between 7 and 8am, I like to walk some of it, often stopping to take photos of the colorful, retro lifeguard stands. It's quiet and calm at this time, and sometimes I'll take off my shoes and get my feet wet walking along the shoreline. Top tip: set a timer if you have other responsibilities today – such as work – it's easy to lose track of time.

How to spend the day: Working from Miami is the jam. I like the Betsy Hotel’s Panther Coffee shop, which is at the rear of the hotel and has its own entrance. The Betsy’s whole vibe is literary and artsy, with vintage photographs on the walls. As a writer/editor, it really gets my creative juices flowing. I’ll pop over to La Sandwicherie for lunch and eat that on the grass at Lummus Park a block away.

Dinner: Dinner at Joe’s Stone Crab is an initiation for first timers. Operating since 1913, it has been a Miami dining institution for over a century, and still draws throngs to tie on a bib and suck on succulent crab meat. It tops many best lists for a very good reason: freshness – Joe's catches its own crabs! I also recommend Mandolin, a bistro that specializes in Aegean cuisine, with influences from the Greek Islands and the Turkish coast. 

After dark: I’m an early bird and Miami is a late-night party town. I don’t do the latter, so feel free to open a new window to see Thrillist’s excellent guide to Miami’s club scene (but please come back!).

A small boy wearing water wings jumps into a hotel pool that's surrounded by sun loungers
Buy a day pass and spend Saturday at one of Miami's top hotel pools © aureag / Getty Images


Morning: Wake up and walk to Pura Vida, a healthy(ish) local chain where you can get breakfast sandwiches and other treats that cater to vegetarians and vegans all day long – I love the avocado toast.

How to spend the day: Saturday is pool day and you have plenty of choices. Most pools have DJs and private cabanas for rent, but there are smaller, more mellow places to relax too. I like the chilled-out vibes of Carillion Wellness Resort. Whatever you’re after, your secret weapon to access a hotel pool is Resort Pass. It sells day passes at various price points to several South Beach hotel pools, as well as beach and spa passes, so you don’t need to stay the night to enjoy the day.

I like to stroll the boardwalk again because in contrast to Friday morning's tranquility, it is a scene on a Saturday with people walking, biking, running and rollerblading. The parade of distinct humanity you’ll encounter is truly one of South Beach’s best sights, along with its architecture of course (more on that later.)

Dinner: Saturday night, begs for dinner at Tropazon on Española Way. It does close-your-eyes-and-you’re-in-Spain tapas, and its gin selection is miraculous. I love a snacky dinner that gives the table a chance to taste everything, and I love gin even more.

After dark: Head to Medium Cool for a nightcap and live jazz – the perfect way to wind down a Miami Saturday.

People wander among market stalls along a palm-lined street on a sunny day
Spend Sunday wandering the antique market at Lincoln Rd © baileyc1 / Shutterstock


Morning: Go to the Lincoln Road Antique and Collectible Market in the morning. It is so fun to browse for anything from table lamps to caftans to vintage band t-shirts. Graze for your breakfast at the onsite farmers market. 

How to spend the day: Grab a quick, casual lunch and a glass of wine at A Folie Cafe, a small French bistro on a less touristy block of Española Way, before heading out on an Art Deco Walking Tour.

I like to save the best for last and this tour is the ultimate way to see all of the architectural icons in South Beach. An expert guide will share historical tidbits about the influences of old Hollywood and the mob, as well as more contextual information about art deco design itself. 

Then you’ll have to head back to the airport. But Miami has so much to see and do and I’ve only scratched the surface. Check out all our Miami and Florida coverage, especially if you’re planning a longer trip. Adios South Beach!

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