Miami received its nickname, The Magic City, from an overnight boom in the 1920s. Nearly a hundred years later, it’s still a fast town. The beaches, the clubs, the velvet ropes, and the Lambos—that’s all here if you want it.
But like that misunderstood girl from high school who’s doing cool stuff on Instagram now, Miami has other sides to her, too. The city makes a surprisingly good place to honeymoon (you might even see Pitbull). Miami and the surrounding beaches are packed with luxurious places to stay and play, as well as spots where the tempo is more island time than all-hours.
Whether you’re stopping by on your way to the Caribbean or South America, or planning a Miami honeymoon all the way, the 305 will greet you and your bride with (suntanned) open arms and a strong cafecito.
The Pros & Cons of Miami
They call it “The Season” for a reason: early December through to spring break has the best weather Miami can muster—the kind that feels more like San Diego than the tropics. Think warm sunny days in the 70s (maybe 80s), low humidity, and cool breezes in the evening. Naturally, everyone from the northeast, Midwest, and Canada wants a piece of this during winter, so the beaches and hot spots are crowded and the prices higher.
If you like to sweat, however (and we mean sweat buckets), summer will provide better deals. Just be aware that hurricane season is June 1–November 30, so travel insurance for trips during that period is a good idea if you want to stay married. (Note, too, that low pressure systems don’t care about meteorologists’ calendars, and storms could develop outside those dates as well.)
Your best bet for hitting the sweet spot between the tourist crush and swampy weather is to visit Miami in April or May after spring break, or between Thanksgiving and the December holidays. (Just watch out for Art Basel week in early December: the city is jammed with stupidly rich art collectors and prices around town skyrocket.) So plan accordingly.
Major airlines and sites like Expedia and Travelocity regularly offer flight and hotel packages to Miami, although they may not be the most luxurious options so choose carefully. High-end hotels often have romance packages that work well for honeymoons; these typically include a swanky room with a champagne welcome, a fancy meal or spa credit, and the all-important late check-out. A call to the hotel of your choice will also help lay the groundwork for VIP treatment once you arrive.
Where to Stay in Miami
This is easy: get thee to South Beach. Right? Well, yes. Miami Beach is probably where you’ll want to stay, for maximum pool and beach time and easy access to restaurants and nightlife.
But you’ll want to explore other neighborhoods in the Magic City, too. Like young and artsy Wynwood, glitzy shopping hub The Design District, restaurant-dotted Brickell, and the leafy old-school streets of Coral Gables.
There are also other beachfront ‘hoods to hit when you want a change of pace; spots like Surfside, Bal Harbour and Sunny Isles, Coconut Grove and Key Biscayne.
If you’re outdoorsy types looking to kayak or paddleboard (make sure to pack for that), you’ll want to check out Virginia Key and Oleta State Park in North Miami.
The good news: it’s not hard to find sexy hotels in the 305. Poolside cabanas, luxurious spas, fancy restaurants, it’s all here; you’ll just need to find the right hotel to match your mood. (Or do a bit of hotel-hopping to experience the different scenes.)
In South Beach, most of the hotels are more suitable for a bachelor party than a honeymoon—especially day-drinking pool-party spots like Delano and SLS. For a quieter HQ with a more exclusive feel, try The Setai, which has oceanfront suites with balconies overlooking the beach; The Betsy, a classy, artsy hotel with a preppy Caribbean feel on Ocean Drive, or The Villa Casa Casuarina—aka the Versace Mansion, where you can stay in Gianni’s room, or his sister Donatella’s; both with custom-made double King beds.
For a dose of South Beach cool a few steps away from the crowds, head to Mid-Beach (north of 23rd Street). The still fairly new Miami Beach EDITION feels like an airy, minimalist clubhouse (and there is indeed a club, BASEMENT, with an ice-skating rink downstairs). Designed by hotel design guru Ian Schrager, it has that effortless cool vibe down pat. To really impress your bride, book a two-story bungalow with plunge pool, sauna, double shower and massive soaking tub.
Further north along the coastline are two excellent options with high-touch service and high-end amenities: The St. Regis Bal Harbour and The Four Seasons Hotel at The Surf Club where you can stay in a Cabana Studio, a nod to the property’s history when earlier incarnations of the cabanas were frequented by Harvey Firestone and Winston Churchill.
Fisher Island, a short ferry ride from South Beach, is best known as a wealthy residential enclave but if you’re looking for privacy, The Fisher Island Club has serene and stylish 1920s cottages with private courtyards and Jacuzzis.
Consider yourself more barefoot chic types? The Standard Spa Miami Beach is nestled in a tropical garden on Biscayne Bay, and has a laidback pool and outdoor restaurant scene, and rooms with soaking tubs on a private terrace.
Best Miami Attractions and Activities
On The Beach
No surprise here; the beach is the main attraction, and staying at an oceanfront hotel gives you access to cushy beach loungers or day beds with cocktail service. Many hotels can also arrange for water-based activities like kite-surfing and jet skiing.
On A Boat
A day on a boat, whether you want to fish, snorkel or simply catch some rays, is one of the most baller ways to do Miami. And, naturally, there’s an app for that: download the YachtLife app to book the boat of your dreams for a half or full-day charter.
Group boat tours to check out celebrity homes, the Key Biscayne sandbar or Stiltsville’s wooden homes perched above the water are also available through local tour companies. Hotel concierges can help you find the best one to book.
On The Land
For land-based activities, Miami’s having a major art moment, with museums and galleries to check out year-round, not just during the flashy Miami Art Week in December. The Perez Art Museum (PAMM) is the big daddy of the bunch, and has a beautiful bay-front terrace for brunch beneath a hanging garden.
The Institute of Contemporary Art in the Design District is the newest; it opened in December 2017 and is known for more challenging modern exhibitions and installations. Even South Beach has two small, well-regarded museums—The Wolfsonian and The Bass.
Wynwood, meanwhile, is famous for its street art murals and galleries—but has become heavily trafficked with crowds looking for that perfect Instagram shot. When it all gets a bit too much, you can duck into one of the neighborhood’s many excellent bars and restaurants for a reprieve.
At The Stores
If you need to pick up a honeymoon gift or new threads for a special night on the town, Miami has all the shopping you need, from malls to quirky boutiques and high-end emporiums that pair luxury labels with good cafes and restaurants, like Brickell City Centre (downtown), Miami Design District and Bal Harbour Shops.
At The Spa
The best way to wow your new wife, however, may be to book a couple’s massage at one of Miami’s excellent spas. (If you’re honeymooning during June and July, Miami Spa Month deals start at a reasonable $99 + tax and gratuity per treatment.) The best include The Spa at the Mandarin Oriental, Miami, Acqualina Spa by ESPA, Carillon Miami wellness resort and the spas at the Standard and The Surf Club.
Best Miami Restaurants & Bars
The food scene in Miami is ever-changing, but it’s easy to find restaurants with enough wow factor for a honeymoon.
This is a town that loves a boozy brunch and one of the buzziest is at Yardbird Southern Table & Bar, where Southern dishes like fried chicken and waffles pair nicely with old-fashioneds and a strong selection of bourbons.
A fresh new brunch option with more of a Floridian and Latin American menu is Amara at Paraiso, the latest waterfront spot from Miami chef Michael Schwartz.
For lunch with a breezy Mediterranean feel, head to the up-and-coming Miami River area close to downtown. There, Kiki on the River serves delicious Greek food that pairs perfectly with a bottle of rosé (all day!) and Miami’s balmy climate. (Bonus: the Insta-ready décor will make your bride coo.)
At dinnertime, you’re spoiled for choice; Miami has more than its fair share of steakhouses and glossy French and Italian restaurants, including many names that you might recognize from New York and Chicago.
Two impressive choices for a romantic dinner are Le Sirenuse, which serves Italian cuisine from the Amalfi Coast in The Surf Club’s gorgeous building that dates to 1930; and Alter, an intimate jewel box of a restaurant in Wynwood with superb seasonal dishes from award-winning chef Brad Kilgore.
Back in Miami Beach, 27 Restaurant is a top pick for its down-home, ramshackle cottage-like setting and reliably excellent dishes full of Florida-fresh ingredients.
Next door you’ll find its sister bar, Broken Shaker, a cool outdoor lounge beloved by hipsters and locals but laid back enough not to be douchey. Cooling off with one of their craft cocktails in what feels like your best friend’s backyard is a fantastic way to start (or end) an evening.
Downtown, Sugar at EAST Miami has a sleek city feel, with panoramic views over the city and the bay.
One of the best bars for a leisurely afternoon with your beloved, however, is at the back of Smith & Wollensky steakhouse. The outdoor bar here overlooks Government Cut, the stretch of water connecting the port to the ocean, giving you a front row view to cruise ships, yachts and jet skis zooming by and dramatic sunsets over the city skyline. It’s the perfect place to raise a glass to the Magic City and the best couple in the world. (That would be you.)