Who goes to South Beach for peace and quiet? You’re looking for serenity in the land of flash and flesh?
Even the hardest core partying/parade-loving/sun-baking reveler has her limits. And those of us who normally run like the wind in the opposite direction of Touristville but suddenly decide to dip a toe into the fast flowing ice cold in-your-face stream of carnival-worthy humanity, really need to seek restful shelter. Just about 20 minutes in: we’re done.
South Beach is a mecca of world famous nightlife, trendy shops, hotels and restaurants, and glamorous swanky people. As off-the-beaten-path seekers we confess we’ve had a secret, almost embarrassing interest in taking a small peek at this place, ever since we watched Dexter (another embarrassing confession, that we watched it; it was shockingly gory. But, he was killing bad people… How can you not love a vigilante?) who’s apartment overlooked Biscayne Bay.
With no plan in mind for lunch (hint: MAKE A PLAN) we wandered up Ocean Drive where the sidewalk winds through the middle of a long string of cafes, one right after another, shaded with brightly colored awnings that nestled up against each other. Because there are so many to choose from (again: MAKE A PLAN) a number of the hostesses stopped us by sticking a menu in our path and gesturing, Vanna-like, to an empty table. Techno music was pumping out of each location, giving the afternoon a vibrant, celebratory feel. Until it didn’t anymore.
After a just-okay, expensive lunch (hint: NOTHING in South Beach is low priced) served with watered down drinks we scuttled to our hotel like dogs running away from a thunderstorm, packed some wine and sunscreen, and headed to the beach.
As long as you stick to the beach crossovers below 4th St., you won’t run into a crowd. The further south you go the better. See our map at the end of this post.
The lifeguard stands in South Beach are so iconic and pretty much famous that you can’t help but snap away:
300 Alton Rd.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
- VIBE: Their motto is “Relax it’s Monty’s.” Overlooking the Miami Beach Marina and the Biscayne Bay Path, Monty’s is colorful with a nautical feel. A swimming pool separates the bustling tiki bar from the more family-oriented outdoor and indoor dining areas.
- ARRIVE: On foot, by boat or by car. Valet parking is available.
- SIT: Outside by the pool, under the tiki bar, under cover outside closer to the marina, or inside.
- SIP: Happy Hour is Monday through Friday 4- 8 p.m.
- NOSH: Make note the portion sizes here are HUGE. My Asian salad was delicious but larger than my head. Monty’s offers appetizers, sandwiches, salads and entrees you’d expect in a Florida waterfront restaurant, but also more creative items like their Shrimp-cargot, Island Churrasco Steak, and Bahamian Conch Ceviche. Fresh Florida Keys Stone Crab Claws are served in season.
- LISTEN: Live music Thursday through Sunday.
- WE LOVE: The off the beaten path feel and the easy walk from our hotel.
Our Triple B team’s mission is to guide fellow travelers to the unique, locally owned bungalow style motels, mom-and-pops, or B and B’s. While there are – surprisingly! – family friendly options in South Beach, and a few bed and breakfast properties in this quiet south end of South Beach, we chose a boutique hotel for our visit because of its location and creative, contemporary yet mellow design aesthetic with a beach bungalow feel.
400 Ocean Dr.
Miami Beach, FL 33139
- VIBE: Sexy and sophisticated without an iota of snobby. The light airy colors, fabrics and graphics along with the peacefulness of the whole place felt spa-like and indulgent.
- WALK: A perfect distance from the noisy parade, loud music and honking traffic of the popular Ocean Drive area. The beach is a half block away, many tranquil restaurants are within walking distance, and there is a Walgreen’s a block away if you’ve forgotten anything important. A big bonus was the Biscayne Bay Path along the bay side, don’t miss this especially in the sparkly morning sunshine; the views are breathtaking.
- DECOR: Clean and modern with a fun twist of funky. Bright, festive Barbie art adorns the halls and rooms. You can choose a “Blue Room” or a “Sand Room,” though I was told only at check-in. (I called ahead hoping for a Blue Room, and the charming concierge granted my wish when we arrived.)
- SLEEP: This is one of those places where, in the dead of night, you want to hoist your mattress and sheets off your balcony onto the roof of your car and whiz away into the darkness, hoping they won’t notice. A-MAZ-INGLY comfortable mattress, with my very favorite ultimate sheet experience: cool and crisp. I mentioned how in love I was with those sheets to Robert 239 times.
- EXTRAS: 46-inch flat screen t.v., free wi-fi, very well stocked mini bar, placid and inviting roof top pool (the place of many cool photo shoots, check out their Instagram, here) informative, friendly staff, valet parking ($29/day) , their own restaurant, The Local House. A complimentary glass of wine is offered to guests each night at 6 p.m.
- WE LOVE: I can’t think of anything we didn’t love!
The rooftop pool is so photogenic even without pretty people posing:
The above-mentioned not to miss Biscayne Bay Path gently winds along the waterfront with great vistas including exclusive Singer Island, only accessible by boat:
At the very end of this path is South Pointe Park Pier, with more gorgeous views:
I’ll say it one more time: South Beach is not our kind of place. Our hearts were in our throats as we drove there, and navigating through the splashy colorful noisy crowds ruffled my usual go-with-the-flowness. But sometimes you get that little niggling nudge of courage, and after you’ve survived you have to admit it wasn’t that much of an ordeal, you found pleasure in Touristville, and you may even go back someday…
Our attempt at mapography may not be precise or exactly to scale!
South Beach is the south end of Miami Beach on Florida’s Atlantic coast, 8 miles east of Miami and 31 miles south of Fort Lauderdale.