Strolling along palm-tree lined Ocean Drive, against a backdrop of pastel-coloured Art Deco buildings, I feel like I’m part of a postcard. This is South Beach, a celebrity playground of restaurants, bars, salsa clubs and Miami vices; home to luxury lifestyles, reality-TV tattoo shops and the world famous diet. Dubbed America’s Riviera and the Latin Hollywood, Miami draws a wide range of tourist types, from snowbirds to university students and sun-worshippers to trendsetters.
For those looking to party, South Beach is the place to be, with what seems like an endless supply of bars to choose from.
If you want to party like a rock star but feel overwhelmed by all the possible options, here are a few places to start:
Gansevoort South Hotel:
The Gansevoort South, a hip hotel on Collins Ave., is a favourite among Miami’s beautiful people. Walk past the lobby’s 50-foot-long shark tank and take the elevator to Plunge, a poolside lounge overlooking the ocean, the city and a tree-fringed infinity pool. From there, check out Louis, a vampish Versailles-themed VIP lounge; for details, visit www.gansevoortsouth.com.
Sky Bar at Shore Club
Enjoy the perfect weather at Redroom garden, a chill landscaped patio of tropical plants and eclectic Moroccan-themed design. Sauntering around this communal space, you can wander from Rumbar, which serves up 75 different kinds of rum, into Redroom, where you can dance the night away to hip hop and Top 40; www.shoreclub.com
W South Beach Hotel
When in doubt, you can’t go wrong with W. With slick architecture, high design and a pulse on what’s cool, the new W South Beach Hotel (set to open June 16) is a sure bet.
The Wall nightclub, an ultra lounge open as late as 4 a.m. Fridays to Mondays, boasts specialty drinks and gold-and-black decor; www.starwoodhotels.com.
Sip cocktails at Casa Casaurina, the infamous residence of the late Italian fashion designer Gianni Versace. In this historic-house-turned-celebrity- compound, Versace hosted stars such as Madonna and Elton John until his untimely death in July of 1997, when he was murdered on the steps of this beach-front villa. Once a private members only club, this 1930s landmark now welcomes tourists for dinner, cocktails and tours (offered daily from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. at $65 US per person; www.casacasuarina.com.
With a tight door policy and a long list of celebrity guests, Mynt is at the top of many trendsetters’ lists. It’s not easy to get into, but once beyond the velvet rope, partiers will find A-list fashionistas dancing to the beat of international DJs and breathing in the club’s aromatherapy-scented air. This is a place where you must dress to impress; www.myntlounge.com.
If you don’t want to battle lineups or doormen, SoBeVIPs, a nightlife company aimed at taking the hassle out of South Beach partying, can hook you up with club access. They offer limo transportation, VIP bottle service and party passes (a package that includes cover charge, a drink and line-up free entry before 12:30 a.m.); www.sobevips.com.
– Julia Dimon is co-host of Word Travels, airing on OLN; www.juliadimon.com.