CSL’s destination guide to Miami and The Florida Keys – where to eat, where to stay, what to do.
WHEN TO GO
Year-round sunshine makes South Florida the go to destination for Canadians. Summer temperatures can range between 20- 30°C while winter temperatures are more moderate (low 20°C ).
Daily flights are available from most major Canadian cities to Miami International Airport.
As one of the world’s most popular vacation spots, Miami offers plenty to do see and eat throughout the year and is divided into distinct districts such as South Beach, downtown, Little Havana, Miami Beach and the historic hideaways of Coral Gables and Coconut Grove.
Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue, Lincoln Road and Ocean Drive Walk along these famed streets to gawk at the Art deco architecture, neon signs and colourful edifices, dine at Miami’s best restaurants, shop at the numerous multi level stores or hit the clubs until morning light.
Nicknamed SoBe by residents, the ultra chic beach was the first area of Miami Beach to be developed. Beaches are usually packed with tourists and residents soaking in the rays.
Coconut Grove and Coral Gables
These historic and picturesque neighbourhoods of Miami are distinguished by the Mediterranean style and lush vegetation including banyan, oak archways, palms and tropical flowers.
Characterized by robust street life, restaurants, music and other cultural activities, this area of Miami (including famous Calle Ocho) is home to many Latin-American and Cuban residents.
Crossing Biscayne Bay between Miami on the mainland and Miami Beach, the causeway offers stunning views of the city, especially at sunset.
Fruit and spice park
37-acre public facility, owned and operated by the Miami-Dade County Park and Recreation. The Park showcases 150 varieties of mango, 75 varieties of bananas, 70 bamboo varieties, and numerous other exotic edibles. 24801 S.W. 187th Avenue Homestead, FL; $8.00 per adult, $2.00 per child 6- 11, and children under 6 are free.
Pérez Art Museum Miami
Miami’s newest modern art museum featuring exhibitions from artists from around the world. Admission $16, Adult, $12, Youth.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Created as James Deering’s winter home in the early 1900’s, today it is a National Historic Landmark and accredited museum with lavish gardens that harkens to Europe. Admission $18, Adult, $6, Children 6-12;
The Ritz Carlton South Beach
Luxury hotel with 375 rooms and suites, steps from Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road. The 16,000 square foot Ritz Carlton spa offers unique treatments including the signature rhythm massage. Visit The DiLido Beach Club, the only oceanfront restaurant and lounge in South Beach. 1 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, Florida 33139 U.S.A.
Mandarin Oriental Miami
Offering a taste of Asian luxury at Brickell Key, the 295 spacious room, 31 suite hotel offers balcony views of the Miami skyline and Biscayne Bay. Indulge in a spa treatment at the 15,000 square foot spa, and eat at one of four dining options including award winning La Mar serving bright and flavoursome Peruvian cuisine. 500 Brickell Key Drive, Miami, FL.
Executive Chef John Iatrellis and his team create ultra fresh seafood dishes, and offer a complete raw bar with a rotating oyster selection, and a world-class sushi program. 1601 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL.
Meat Market Miami
A more glamorous take on the traditional steakhouse, Executive chef Sean Brasel offers fine cuts of meat, fresh seafood and amazing produce with a focus on seasonal cooking. 915 Lincoln Rd. Miami Beach, FL.
The Restaurant at The Setai
Executive Chef Mathias Gervais offers a Mediterranean (Spain, Italy, the South of France and Provence) menu. 2001 Collins Ave Miami Beach, FL.
THE FLORIDA KEYS AND KEY WEST
Located closer to Cuba than to Miami, The Florida keys comprise five major islets (Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Big Pine Key and Key West) and have been home to legends such as Ernest Hemingway, Tennessee Williams, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Frost and Jimmy Buffett.
Located at Lower Matecumbe Key, it offers one of the best shallow warm swimming areas in the Keys with covered picnic tables, boardwalk and bathroom facilities.
National Key Deer Refuge on Big Pine Key
Explore the refuge, a large expanse of mostly undeveloped pinelands where you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the diminutive (and docile) Key deer that inhabit the island.
Bahia Honda State Park
Located west of Marathon, close to the west end of the Seven Mile Bridge. Take pictures at the beautiful old Bahia Honda Bridge.
Visit the concrete buoy marking the Southernmost Point in the continental United States, ‘only 90 miles from Cuba’. Avoid the crowds and go early.
John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park Glass Bottom Boat Tour
Take a glassbottom boat tour on the Spirit of Pennekamp 65-foot catamaran to the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Glass bottom Boat Tours, $24 per adult 2½ Hour Tour; 102601 Overseas Hwy, Key Largo, FL, (305) 451-6300.
The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum
Visit the home of the legendary author for a guided tour, and plenty of artifacts from Hemingways’ time spent in Key West. Admission: Adults, $13, children, $6. 907 Whitehead St, Key West, FL.
Audubon House and Tropical Gardens
Though the artist John Audubon never lived in the Geiger Mansion, visit his famous birds of America gallery on the top floor and don’t miss the lush tropical gardens. Admission: Adults, E12, Children, $5. 205 Whitehead Street Key West, FL.
Key West Aquarium
Located in Key West’s famous Mallory Square, the popular attraction features alligators, jellyfish, sharks and a touch tank. Tours and animal feeding are also available. Admission: Adults, $15.04, children, $8.59. 1 Whitehead St.,Key West, FL.
Old Town Trolley Tours of Key West
Hop on and off this 13 stop tour, or stay aboard with engaging tour guide pointing out more than 100 sites of interest. Admission: Adults, $30.45, Children, Free. 1 Whitehead Street Key West, FL.
The Beach Café at Morada Bay
Located at mile market 81.6, the Mediterranean style bistro set on the beach offers casual dining amidst a palm-lined beach, walking paths through a thatched pagoda. 81600 Overseas Highway, Islamorada, FL.
A family owned and operated business for over 16 years, the Phelan family also own the Island Crab Company ensuring ultra fresh seafood. Authentic seafood shack atmosphere with delicious food for the seafood lover. 712 Duval Street, Key West, FL.
Located at Pier House Resort, with views overlooking the Gulf of Mexico enjoy casual fare. 1 Duval Street, Key West, FL.
Sunset Key Guest Cottages, A Westin Resort
Private island with ferry access to mainland Key West. One to four bedroom cottages available each with equipped kitchen, living and dining areas, Flatscreen cable television, complimentary Wi-Fi access and veranda. The Spa at Sunset Key offers a comprehensive menu of services. Dine or have cocktails at Latitudes Restaurant, Bistro 245, Flippers Pool Bar, Sunset Deck and Sunset Pier. 245 Front Street, Key West, FL. Curious to know CSL’s take on Sunset Key Guest Cottages, A Westin Resort?
Little Palm Island Resort & Spa
Located on Little Torch Key, private bungalows are spread throughout the property. The dining room serves fresh seafood overlooking the ocean, led by Executive Chef Roly Cruz-Taura. Spaterra spa offers treatments onsite and the resort offers a variety of water activities.
28500 Overseas Hwy, Little Torch Key, FL.
Santa Maria Suites
Forbes Hamilton managed luxury hotel, close to Duval Street. 35 one-bedroom and two-bedroom suites with fully equipped kitchen, living area, laundry room with washer and dryer and three 42-inch flat screen TVs. Daily happy hour with wine, complimentary smoothies,
bottled water, popsicles and fresh fruit served poolside. Visit Ambrosia restaurant for sushi. 1401 Simonton St, Key West, FL;
Southernmost on the Beach
124 newly renovated rooms. Shores bar, and hammocks and private pier offers views of the Atlantic Ocean. Named one of the top ten hotels in the USA for Romance. 508 South St, Key West, FL.
This article originally appeared in the Winter 2014/15 issue of City Style and Living Magazine.