Spotlight :: Miami

trip styler guide to miami[trip style = sun + beach + foodie + urban]

I had high hopes for Miami. Mr. Trip Styler and I spent a handful of sun-sational days in South Beach about five years ago, and everything worked out postcard-perfectly. Plus, we're MASSIVE fans of deco-era design and hotels---areas Miami has the market cornered---so my early-October trip was poised to turn out beachy-keen. Until it got off to a slow start.

Trip Styler Tip :: I tagged all my South Beach photos with #TSMiami on Instagram if you'd like an inside look.

Without getting into the nitty-gritty---the TS glass is always half-full---we encountered polar opposite service standards, both lacking and lovely. Once we realized this was a theme, we quickly toughened up, switched our sentiments, and in doing so, rediscovered the very reason we fell in love with Florida's most famous, 15-mile stretch of sand.

Note: while it pains me, there are a few hotels and restaurants---cool design, sketchy service---I've left out of the below list of recommendations. Trip Styled spots must measure up!

MIA's Gems james royal palms miami Stay: The James Royal Palm, renovated to the tune of 42 million in 2012, The James turned the 1939-built Royal Palm into one of the most design-forward, deco-meets-mod hotels on SoBe.

khong river house miami Happy Hour: Khong River House has a happening happy hour {4-7pm mon-fri} where spicy cocktails aren't just cheapie renditions of better drinks, but stay-for-a-while bevvies. Order The Killer B; it has kick!

ice box cafe miami purdy st Eat: Ice Box Cafe is one of Miami's authorities on desserts, but I visited for an organic breakfast because the all-day fare measures up, too. Plus, dessert can be ordered after any meal, including breakfast.

la sandwicherie sobe Eat: La Sandwicherie; a fast-paced and health-conscious outdoor sandwich and juice shop lined with bar stools---ahhhh, below misters---in a quasi-alley, off-the-beach locale.

yardbird southern miami Eat: Yardbird Southern Table and Bar. Voted one of the 50 best restaurants in America by Bon Appetit Magazine in 2012, this ode to down home cookin' is worth a meal {or two} for the cheddar waffles alone.

south shore rum bar james hotel sobe Sip: South Shore {rum bar} at The James Royal Palm. Rum doesn't rev my engine, but the bartender at South Shore made me a rum believer. I ordered the Hispanola {highly recommended}, which took over five minutes to craft with its three fresh-squeezed limes, egg white, tiki bitters and mint.

panther coffee MIA purdy st Java: Panther Coffee is bathed in concrete, shipping containers and really good coffee. To me, the space is one of the coolest in MIA. Also, while you're here, check out the boutiques along Purdy Avenue.

nespresso boutique bar SoBe Java: Nespresso's Bar is a sleek gallery devoted to au courant coffees---think cortado with a dollop of vanilla bean gelato.

lee & marie's cakery sobe Snack: Lee & Marie's Cakery's is at the foot of South Pointe Beach in case you want to refuel your sun-parched lips with a homemade lemonade, scone or cake. Also, this cake shop has a cool little secret; it supports and employs adults with autism.

deco bike miami

deco bike sobe Do: Deco Bike's stations are spread all over SoBe. Rent a bike from $4 per half hour, and explore {while burning calories!} along the beach path. Alternatively, many of the roads have bike paths if you want to use the Deco bike-share system as your taxi.

south miami beach Do: Beach it like you mean it on one of the USA's most famed ribbons of sand. I like the beach at the Southern end of SoBe: South Pointe.

[photos by @tripstyler, except for The James Royal Palms, via The James]