24 Hours in Miami, Florida

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As the art world descends on Magic City for Art Basel Miami Beach, Departures plans the perfect day of sun, fun, and culture.

This week, the world’s creatives, dealers, galleries, global tastemakers, and scenesters will arrive on the sunny shores of Miami en masse for Art Basel Miami Beach. From December 6-9, those seeking to buy, sell, network, or just be part of the general melee will be holed up at the Miami Beach Convention Center, scouting new works by some of the world’s brightest art stars, or perusing satellite fairs like Scope, Pulse, NADA and a range of other upstarts all vying for attention.

While star-studded events and marquee installations steal the show, don’t forget that there’s a whole city filled with world-class food, shopping, culture, and relaxing, golden beaches just outside the main festivities. With the global art crowd thinning out after the 9th, visitors can easily take advantage of the real Miami art scene, from the colorful street art and artisan breweries of Wynwood to the sleek architecture and luxury shopping of the Miami Design District, to Little Haiti’s up-and-coming gallery scene. Just 2-3 hours from NYC, “305” also makes for the perfect long weekend or a quick getaway, year round.

Here, Departures plans the perfect day in this jewel of a city.


Courtesy Faena Miami Beach

9:00 a.m.: Book a room by the ocean so you can wake up to waves and a quick morning swim. If you’re planning a romantic weekend, or simply want something chic and understated, stay at the Delano. Traveling with family and friends? The Surfcomber has a tropicalia-themed pool area offering palms and light bites at The High Tide Bar, and in the morning serves a luxurious breakfast at The Social Club. For sheer grandiosity, book the Faena Hotel Miami Beach, designed by film director Baz Luhrmann and his costume designer wife. The hotel is built inside a large complex that encompasses a full six blocks along Collins Avenue and contains both residential towers and a Rem Koolhaas-design cultural center called the Faena Forum.  

10:00 a.m.: Rent a bike and cycle jaunt down to South Pointe Park at the southernmost point of Miami’s South of Fifth district to get a sense of true Miami style. Ride past Art Deco buildings, impressive sculptures, and 360 ocean views, while taking in a true Miami slice-of-life.


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11:00 a.m.: Grab a Lyft or Uber and head to Wynwood, a former industrial hub that today contains the city’s trendiest galleries, bars and restaurants, and one-of-a-kind boutique shops. Scope out the larger-than-life graffiti murals of Wynwood Walls before the afternoon’s throngs, stopping at the bold black and white stripes of The Wynwood Building and the technicolor geometry of Maya Hayuk. Consider spending the day in the area and grabbing an early afternoon indie flick at O Cinema Wynwood, the city’s most beloved art-house theater.

11:30 a.m.: Turn yourself into a work of art with a visit to the artisan nail salon, Vanity Projects. Founded by curator Rita de Alencar Pinto in 2008, the salon, which offers one-of-a-kind, outrageous designs, began as a pop-up art project involving local visual artists, allies, and aficionados, before quickly gaining popularity at art fairs and fashion events. Be sure to book an appointment with their artist in residency and follow on Instagram for year-round nail art ideas. Afterward, take your emerging works of nail art to the National YoungArts Foundation, which highlights some of the most accomplished young artists in the world from a range of mediums.

12:30 p.m.: Get a taste of the posher side of the city with a visit to the Miami Design District, known for its upscale design stores, galleries, luxury fashion houses like Dior and Rick Owens, and public art, including a geodesic dome designed by inventor Buckminster Fuller.


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1:00 p.m.: Head to Downtown Miami to visit the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), one of the city’s most exciting arts institutions. If you’re starting to feel a little peckish, stop by the Museum’s Herzog & de Meuron-designed restaurant, Verde, for lunch. Afterward, take a walk in the surrounded hanging gardens created by French botanist Patrick Blanc, or grab a coffee to-go and stroll down to Museum Park for a bit of greenery and ocean views.

2:00 p.m.:  No trip to Miami is complete without a visit to Little Havana and a walk down the Calle Ocho strip. Home to the lifeblood of the city, duck into shops selling guava pastries and flan ice cream, smell fresh tobacco as it’s rolled into plump cigars, or stop by the Ball & Chain to hear jazz and salsa bands, as well as local indie acts. Before you leave, grab one more cup of coffee at Abuela’s Cuban Kitchen or the legendary Versailles.


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3:00 p.m.: You’re in the heat of the afternoon, so now is the perfect time to wander through one of the city’s many lush gardens and parks. Swing by the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, a historic estate with overflowing with verdant gardens and sculptures, all in the shade of the turn-of-the-century mansion turned museum. If exotic plant life is what you’re looking for, stop by the Fairchild Tropic Garden or The Kampong, National Tropical Botanical Garden.

4:00 p.m.: If it’s late afternoon and you’re not somewhere near a pool, you’re not in Miami. Taking a dip in the Mediterranean-inspired caves of the Venetian Pool at Coral Gables, a legendary structure carved out of coral rock formations and filled daily with fresh spring water.

5:00 p.m.: Make like a local and head for a post-swim, pre-sunset drink at the nautical-chic River Yacht Club, one of the Bay of Biscay’s most popular yachting clubs.


Courtesy SLS Hotels

7:00 p.m: Grab an early dinner at the Philippe Starck-design Bazaar Mar by José Andrés at SLS Brickell Downtown. Sit among the hand-painted, blue-and-white tiles, white sofas, and alabaster tables to fully enjoy a fresh seafood menu crafted by chef José Andrés.

Chef José Andrés is a partner of the American Express® Global Dining Collection, a benefit for Platinum Card® Members offering access to reservations around the world, exclusive culinary events and special experiences at celebrated restaurants. To learn more, visit americanexpress.com/globaldiningcollection.


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8:30 p.m.: Go for an after-dinner stroll along 1111 Lincoln Road, an open-air structure that features bold concrete columns outlining luxe retail spaces and hip outdoor eateries. Once you reach the end, stop in at New World Symphony, an impressive Frank Gehry-designed concert hall. In the winter, the outdoor picnic space hosts live screenings and performances. If you’re in the mood for something on a grande-scale, check out the schedule at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts to see visiting acts and arena-worthy performances.

10:00 p.m.: Grab a decadent nightcap at Villa Casa Casuarina, aka the Versace Mansion, which today is also a hotel, gallery and restaurant.

11:00 p.m.: End the evening with one last walk along the South Beach boardwalk.

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