This article is part of a guide to Miami from FT Globetrotter
Miami Beach is one of the most culturally exciting cities in America. Collectors, professionals and tourists alike visit the city for its annual Art Week — spearheaded, of course, by Art Basel: Miami Beach — and also for its world-class private collections, museums, and cultural initiatives that bring the best of contemporary art to the city year round.
I often start the day off with a stroll on the Miami Beach Boardwalk, a scenic beachfront pathway that stretches seven miles along the coast. As I pass by the locals on their morning jogs and leisurely bike rides, I always keep an eye out in the distance for kite surfers performing entertaining flips on the ocean. A brisk walk in this active environment while watching the sun rise sets an energising tone for the rest of the day. To boost the energy even further, I frequently stop by Habitat, a restaurant inside 1 Hotel South Beach with early-morning hours, for breakfast — the sweet and savoury options are equally delicious.
After a pit-stop, I will often go for a morning wander in the art district, where there is a lot of public art to explore. Located one block west of the boardwalk at 21st Street is Collins Park (which surrounds The Bass Museum of Art, Miami Beach’s contemporary art museum). In Collins Park, we have installed Art Outside, a collection of outdoor public works by international artists such as Sylvie Fleury, Arturo Herrera, Jim Hodges, Susan Philipsz and Lawrence Weiner. Ugo Rondinone’s iconic “Miami Mountain” towers overhead, and passers-by are constantly stopping for a quick selfie with the sculpture.
Next up is No Vacancy, the city’s Art in Public Places pop-up that spotlights local artists across Miami Beach hotels. At The Betsy, Sri Prabha’s “Cosmic Occupancy” poses intriguing reflective questions about humanity’s place in the universe through a series of video projections onto and around an orb. The projections depict elements of our environment that are older than humanity itself. Forests stretching back millennia, volcanic caves and fossils all contribute to an otherworldly art experience that is also available to view in part online.
Over the road from Collins Park, I try to peek in on ballet dancers rehearsing their next performance at the Miami City Ballet. By now I am hungry, so I usually stop in at Layla in the Kayak hotel, a hidden gem in the Collins Park neighbourhood right across the street. This upscale restaurant specialises in Mediterranean-inspired food and offers a breezy, atmospheric rooftop spot to sit back, relax and recharge with good food and a refreshing drink in hand. The spicy eggplant toast and grilled chicken kebabs are particular favourites.
Alternatively, I will head to The Setai hotel’s Ocean Grill for its ocean views. Alfresco, but sheltered, it is a perfect place for cocktails and conversations with fellow art lovers — and the ceviche of the day is not to be missed.
Locals always know the best spot for a cafecito, and on Miami Beach my favourite spot is the Ocean Deli bodega. Grab a colada and pastelito (pastry) at this small and unassuming neighbourhood staple for an authentic Latin ventanita (takeaway) experience.
Now for a spot of people-watching on Lincoln Road, with its great outdoor mix of shopping and restaurants. I always check out the Antique & Collectible Market for hidden gems and a dose of nostalgia. Just north of Lincoln Road, SoundScape Park is next to the New World Symphony’s concert hall, designed by Frank Gehry. The architecture comes alive at night during Art Week when digital art is projected onto the building.
Finally, I try to take a bit of time for pampering at the end of a long day on my feet with a foot massage at the Away Spa at the W South Beach hotel. (In Miami, always be sure to wear comfortable shoes, and apply lots of sunscreen.) When the sun goes down, I will head back out one last time for a few laughs and conversation. In the evenings, Hotel Greystone, a block away from Collins Park, is a great spot to gather and toast another art-filled day.
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