London lifestyle & travels with kids and babies
Back to Miami for the third time December 2021-January 2022 and the city we fell in love years ago, is going strong : economic freedom, fantastic restaurant options and lifestyle, tones of sunshine and light, so many beach and pool options is difficult to exhaust in 1 month; art galleries, clubs and some more art deco. Mid beach versus South beach Miami can be a very tricky question, so we list in here pros and cons from our recent week at Fontainebleau mid beach and 10 days by South Beach. A barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean & Biscayne Bay, Miami beach is 3 miles offshore east of downtown: a mile wide and 9 miles long, a glorious cluster of outings and culture, from the hub of parties in South beach, to less crowds and more glam by Mid beach. Miami with kids is also absolutely feasible and delightful, both Mid beach and Sobe; read in here our top picks for families.
Mid Beach is a captivating combination of everything there is to love about Greater Miami: this diverse hood between 24th and 60th streets has swanky hotels, stylish restaurants and lounges, its own arts district, a glorous swathe of sand that beckons and a pictoresque boardwalk perfect for sunrise or sunset walks or cycling.
We stayed for a week at Fontainebleau and the kids cried as we left : a bastion of mid-century glamour feature Morris Lapidus architecture, picture-perfect poolscapes and restaurants.
One of the favourite restaurants on this trip is right here at Fontainebleu: Hakkasan, the stateside sibling of the Michelin-star London venue brings the haute-Chinese-food to South Florida: pan Asian flair to authentic Cantonese recipes, one exquisite menu in one of the sexiest restaurants on Miami Beach.
For breakfast options by Fontainebleu we alternated at Vida, Chez Bon Bon and Soho House Miami. The kids favourites were at Fontainebleu; mine at Soho House : Cecconi’s truffled eggs were fluffy and fab; the avocado benedict one of the best we had in Miami; the fruit plate fresh and generous.
A week by Fontainebleu Miami with kids flies by, from the endless poolscapes and miles of pristine beach: our kids and their friends splashed around for hours, us and our friends sipped cocktails and caught up by comfy lounge chairs. The poolside menu is decent, there are also private cabanas with butler service and mini fridges, making it super easy for families to have a base spot for the day.
For younger kids there are many shallow pools and the family pool with slides, perfect for hours of playtime. The oceanside bistro La Cote is lovely to fave families lunches an enjoy the views from the first floor; the party scene can get wild mid day onwards but we all loved the music and dancing crowds and fully embraced them.
And if waves and sand are more your speed, the ocean and beach are just steps away – be ready for adventures including blue jelly fish that can sting a bit.
We also read raving reviews on FB Kids’ Camps, however on our stay mid December 2021, the full-days, half-day or by the hour options were not available – no Adventure Guides or art organised activties given the pandemic. Will have to return to write about those!
Another highlight of this section of Miami Beach is the Faena District, a corridor of arts and culture that stretches from 32nd to 36th streets and is anchored by the namesake Faena Hotel Miami Beach. Glamorous cinematic style, Faena feels like a destination in itself, with over-the-top gilded skeleton of a wooly mammoth encased in a climate-controlled glass box that sits steps from the beach.
Sunrises on Mid Beach are spectacular and thanks to jetlag, we caught a few, kids included! The boardwalk is fantastic at this time and popular with joggers, fitness addicts, Europeans and Middle Easterners trying to find a new bodyclock and sunrise and life lovers. The boardwalk is also great for walks late afternoons and most of them we found ourselves wandering to South Beach.
Between al fresco serenity spots like Setai’s beachfront Ocean Grill, to lively Lincoln road and its rooftops, to vibrant Espanola, Miami dining options are plentiful and amazing.
Ocean Grill at Setai is a wonderful spot for a sunset glass of champagne, best truffled thinnest crusty pizza and melanzana parmigiana. Mercato della Pescheria delighted the kids and parents, seafood, pizza and tiramisu! Juvia felt authentic and popular with the locals, one great moon and gorgeous views from its rooftop over Miami beach.
The sushi winning options have been Pubbelly for kids menus and a great delivery section for the New Years Eve. For adults, our preferred spot was Intimo by Juan Chipoco, a glitzy Nikkei spot in the South of Fifth neighborhood, Japanese-Peruvian reimagined sushi dishes like the poppable sushi bombs topped with truffles and tiny quail eggs that burst when you bite; glazed miso cod with zesty quinoa an decadent Peruvian classics. They have saddly forgotten a couple of our dishes on our Sunday brunch but with live electric violins and beer flowing, we have enjoyed ourselves still. For more mixology, Japanese flavours with a Mediterranean twist, check ou Mila, another glorious rooftop by Lincoln road, vibrant and glam later in the night.
Best sunset spots we reckon for drinks Mondrian : we also spent the New Years Eve in here cheering and dancing the night away. For sunset and food as well Smith and Wollensky makes a wonderful spot for late lunch say 4pm and enjoying the sunset by the southernmost point of South Beach, overlooking Government Cut: the channel that the cruise ships use to enter and exit the Port of Miami. At such a close distance, they are quite a sight: passengers lining the upper decks as they begin their cruises, waving at each others.
Lido bayside grills at Standard Beach makes also a great sunset spot for dinner and drinks: by day, is colorful and chic and the waterfront makes it a great place to kick back, sip cocktails, and watch bay-side boats and poolside hotties go by. In the evening, lights braided into the surrounding trees illuminate the terrace, whilst the kids can run around in the greenery and try the hammocks.
Our favourite South Beach institutions? Since 2010 we swear by Nikki Beach for cocktails, great DJs, vibes and beach. For dinners, we had to go back to Prime 112, perhaps less impressive than it was to us 12 years ago, but still going strong and making a gorgeous night out.
Art, art and more art: we loved the galleries by Lincoln road and Coconut Grove; the art deco at Fontainebleu and around, Miami oozes art and and charm.
The kids fell in love with Romero Britto and wore its colouring books religiously to all restaurants and outings.
For best South beach pied a terre, we swear by the beautiful flats of Flamingo Point or next door at Monad. Waterfront luxury flats in a green condominium with 2 pools and everything from your morning coffee to pizza and Cuban casual food, to minimarket and Bebito’s Café.
For more cool hoods and restaurants, check out Corral Gables and Coconut Grove or Sunny Isles: located on a barrier island in northeast Miami-Dade County, filled with skyscrapers, glam malls and more glorious beaches (article coming shortly).
We are so longing for the sunshine, blue skies and balmy temperatures – Miami counting down to coming back!