Miami Alive: The Districts
Although Miami Alive is no longer online, my love for the 305 and everything Miami hasn’t gone anywhere. Back when the site was up, my two favorite sections were the site’s “Places and Spaces” and “Icons in the City” sections. Sure, the nightlife photos may have brought in the hits and the WMC and Art Basel guides may have gotten us some pretty great accolades, but these two columns gave us a chance to really highlight what is was that made Miami truly special: the people, the food and the neighborhoods.
As the city continues to change, I took a look at this Miami Alive “Places and Spaces” posts from 2013 and see just how much has actually changed in the last 4 years. The post was originally published on the site just as it got started, and its suprising to see just how many of these places are no longer around.
Miami Alive: The Districts
Originally Published: July 1st, 2013
Whether you live in Miami or are just coming through, where you stay will play a big role in how you see the city. Miami can either be wholly unimpressive, or completely astounding; but it all depends on location. Like any other major metropolis, attractions in the magic city are clustered in specific areas, each of which are specialized to a specific kind of crowd.
Do note, however, that this list is in now way inclusive, and part one below focuses on the five most popular areas for visiting tourists: Downtown, The Arts District and the three parts of Miami Beach. In our next installment, we will cover the less popular, but still vibrant areas of Brickell, Little Havana, Central and South Miami, and Kendall.
Downtown is home to Space’s 30,000 square foot dance-floor and its’ 24-hour liquor license, one of the few spots in town where you can still get a drink at 6am, or start drinking at 9am.It’s also home to the hipster friendly, no-holds-barred welcoming acceptance of the white room, where a dress code is optional, drinks are still cheap (for Miami) and you can party under the stars without needing to bust out your black American Express. But then again, you could drop by the world famous strip club Gold Rush, so you may want to pack your limitless plastic – just in case.
Downtown also plays host to a slew of some of Miami finest (and best kept secret) restaurants and small bars such as the Filling Station, a burger joint thats only open till 3pm but makes some of the best and most interesting gourmet burgers that youll ever put in your mouth, and the DRB (the Democratic Republic of Beer) which serves over 2,000 varieties of beer till 5am daily. But downtown is not all fun and games, and tourists should know when heading there, that a few of their favorite clubs from previous conference may not be there. Studio A, for example, has closed doors since playing host to Moby and Princess Superstar, the Pawn shop has also been closed, and old school conference standard I/O has since become the Vagabond.
Downtown Miami is also one of the most unsafe parts of town, so make sure you leave no valuables in plain sight, lock your door, bring lots of change for meters, and be prepared for the walk you will undoubtedly have to make from your car.
Top Downtown Clubs:
- Gold Rush
- Club 50
The Arts District
The Arts District is one of Miami’s newest and hippest main parts of town. The area underwent a huge expansion boom in late 2006 and has since outgrown its former image as being nothing more than a collection of ultra-expensive interior design showrooms. Now, the Arts District, made up of the Design District, the Wynwood Arts district and seems to be slowly crawling up Biscayne Blvd to meet the Upper East Side.
The arts district offers clubbers a chance to spend the night out without worrying about whether or not they’re outfit is good enough to make it past the velvet rope. The laid back attitude of such district clubs as The White Room, with its open roof and decent drink prices or the Electric pickle which has several different rooms of entertainment, there is something for almost anyone who is looking for a less fussy alternative to beach partying. Be sure to check out the controversial new Bardot, which is hidden off S. Miami Ave, whose burlesque dungeon meets video game hang out lair in 1976 décor style has the entire city abuzz since its opening.
Top Arts Districts Clubs:
- The Electric Pickle
- White Room
- The Ice Palace
Central Miami Beach
The definitive Miami experience takes place in Miami Beach. The area that extends from to is home to some of the biggest and baddest clubs in town, the places international stars go to party and perform. Miami beach is the site to the legendary B.E.D. where you can throw your mother’s rules out the window and eat you dinner in bed, as well as Mansion, which was named “Miami’s Hottest Club” by People magazine, and is one of the places where you will most likely make a celebrity spotting during Winter Music Conference.
The Beach also has a reputation for being a bit sleazy though, so be weary of what you’re getting yourself into before accepting anything from anyone, including a ride home, or a ride in your home. Also, be very careful when parking. It seems most of the city planners we masochists who are in cahoots with the cops: There are a lot of residential areas, and the signs are sometimes hard to understand.
Top Clubs in Miami Beach:
North Miami Beach
North Miami Beach is significantly quieter than its southern counterparts, there is no bustle on the streets, no packed pizza shop on every corner. What you do have, is a collection of the biggest and most luxurious of the Miami hotels such as the Fountainbleu, which houses two of the area’s best clubs: Liv, whose textured domed lit up ceiling is impressive to watch, and Blade whose back doors open to the hotel pool, making it one of the largest clubs in the city, complete with swimming pools and cabanas. And Louis, where you can find a dancing little person amidst French inspired décor.
North Miami Beach is where you want to go to feel as if you are part of the ultra elite. Bottle service is a must for a complete experience in this part of town, as clubs get very crowded, but be prepared to shell out the big bucks. These ultra luxe party places have the ultra luxe price tag to match.
Best North Miami Beach Clubs:
While most people assume all of the beach is South Beach, locals see South Beach as the small southern tip of Miami Beach, from about 23rd street to Southpointe. South beach is famous for its candy colored buildings, half naked people and beachfront views. Home to the Port of Miami, South beach is a popular destination for tourists and is often very busy. Be aware though that it is a bit of a walk to make it from South Beach to the rest of the Miami Beach, so if you’re planning on visiting this part of town be sure to plan accordingly.
The clubs on South Beach all have one thing in common: their main goal is make you feel like you’re at the beach. Visit Nikki Beach, where you can sip on cocktails with your feet in the sand or cruise over to Seven to get in some salsa action, either way you will definitely feel tropical on South Beach.
Best South Beach Clubs:
- Nikki Beach
- Seven South Beach
Image by Nichlas Andersen