The Miami International Airport is often called the gateway to Latin America so expect long lines and delays. The expansive airport has all the uber-high fashion shopping stores, yet it lacks a legitimized Uber or Lyft service. Sure, you can coordinate an off-site pick-up spot with a ride-share driver, but you've got a mojito waiting so put the phone away and hail a cab (yeah, so 2010), which offer a flat rate of $30 to South Beach and $25 to Downtown. Just have some cash on you because the taxis usually don۪'t accept credit cards. There are two go-to hotels we always call our South Beach home, starting with the Shore Club. It doesn't get more Miami than this jet-set landing pad with its Oceanside views and labyrinthine of green gardens. If you're looking for more of a chilled out retreat, The Setai is an intimate, Zen-like resort in the heart of South Beach, with its own private beach and three pools (each set a different temperature). Other great options are The Standard, located away from the South Beach madness in a super-relaxing setting on the Intracoastal and The Raleigh, with an exceptional beachfront location and Art Deco vibe that calls back to the days when The Rat Pack and Old Hollywood frequented these sands.
Since it is always five o clock somewhere, head to the world-famous Ball & Chain for a siesta-style happy hour. The storied lounge in Little Havana has a history as colorful as the guayabera shirts in the crowd. The once mob-owned jazz haven opened in the 1930s and hosted the likes of Billie Holiday, Count Basie and Chet Baker. Recently restored, it has reopened to much fanfare for its authentic Cuban food/drink menu and nightly live jazz. Don۪'t fill up on too much conger fritters and white rum because you've got dinner plans at Prime 112, the definitive modern steakhouse that isn't just all sizzle. Sure, the sexy decor, female-friendly atmosphere and celebrity clientele is nice to look at, but their classic takes on prime beef and comforting sides (creamed corn, truffle macaroni, and cheese) are the real reasons you are here. If you want something a bit more relaxed, the renowned gastropub Tongue and Cheek has what you need. With amazing cocktails, a great beer list, and perhaps the best burger in Miami, they've got you covered.
What better way to kick off a weekend of unforgettable stories than at Story itself. This 27,000 square foot neon-lit megaclub enlists the best DJs from around the world to serve as ringmasters to this circus-like setting. If you're looking to avoid endless beat drops and super deep v-necks, head to the lobby bar inside the W hotel. Sure, it۪s called the Living Room, but you won۪t find a rocker, unless it۪s well, John Mayer with a top model. Kick back in sofa-seating and sip on a cocktail list orchestrated by the legendary Scott Beattie, who uses flavored foams and a blowtorch to create one-of-a-kind cocktails. Whatever adventure you choose for your Friday evening, for late night food, you've got one destination and one destination only, Versailles. This legend has been serving up authentic Cuban food at all hours of the day since 1971. Save your Cubano fix for tomorrow (or double up) and go for the roasted pork or garlic chicken.
After a quick dip at the nearest beach to shake off the cobwebs (those damn Caipirinhas get us every time), get some jet fuel-level Cuban coffee in your system stat. Sure, theirs a Starbucks on every corner, but you're truly missing out on an authentic Miami experience if you skip this. Sidle up to one of the many windows, counters or Cuban bakeries all throughout the city for a cafecito (strong and sweet, like espresso) or a cortadito (a cafecito with a little milk). Suddenly the world seems a little bit more manageable. Now that you۪re thinking a little bit clearer, let۪s focus on breakfast. Slide into a red velvet chair at the Greenstreet Cafe for a stack of red velvet pancakes and mimosas with a side of people-watching, some of whom are definitely stragglers who haven't let go of last night.
Sure, an afternoon of mojitos by the pool is definitely a good call but if you're looking to venture out for another side of Miami, it۪s time to nurture your mind and soul with a trip to Wynwood Walls. What started as a few commissioned murals to add some color to a decaying warehouse district has evolved into a world-famous street art mecca that now includes shops, galleries, and bars/restaurants. The best way to explore the park is during the bi-monthly Art Walk (every second Saturday), but it۪s always free and open to the public. Keep the visual feast going at the Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, which is kind of like Planet Hollywood, but cool. There۪s tapas and a full bar and almost every inch of the indoor/outdoor space is lined with graffiti murals from artists like Shepherd Fairey and Kenny Scharf. If WKB isn۪t your speed and you want to dive in and get a true taste of Miami, it۪s all about the Cubano. Philly has the cheesesteak. New York, it۪s pizza. In Miami, it۪s all about the Cubano sandwich. You've probably had one before but getting one locally is unlike anything you۪ve tasted before. You can find a good one almost on any block, but theirs only one that does it like Enriquta۪s. The longtime institution adds freshly fried croquetas to the usual suspects (sweet ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, pickles, and mustard), all on homemade Cuban bread that's been toasted to give it the perfect amount of crunch. Your mind is about to be blown.
After a nice power nap to recharge your batteries (including your phone), hit another shot of Cuban coffee and put on your Saturday night۪s finest for dinner at Komodo in the booming Brickell neighborhood. Miami۪s hottest restaurant is a three-level, Asian-inspired restaurant features floating bird's nest seating, hanging Peking ducks and three bars. Now, that you've worked up some liquid courage, head over to LIV, located inside the trendy Fontainebleau Hotel. More than just a nightclub, LIV has is a rite of passage for bottle-popping party-goers like Lil Wayne, who has name-dropped it in numerous songs. It۪'s really that good. If you're not down with the club vibes, head back to the Wynwood neighborhood for an eclectic bar scene and attractive hipsters. Shots and good times will flow at Wood Tavern or Bardot, two of our favorites. Wherever you go, just remember to bounce out early (as in 4am) because you۪ve got a couple after after party options in E11EVEN, a 24-hour gentleman۪s club with an emphasis on club, or the famous (err, infamous) King of Diamonds.
If you۪re still alive, first, check to make sure you still have a kidney and then head over to cure that hangover at 27. The historic two-story house has an equally eclectic brunch menu filled with signature dishes from South America, the Caribbean, and the Middle East. Best yet, it۪s adjacent to the Broken Shaker, which was recently named as one of the best bars in the world (we concur). Their forward-thinking cocktail menu uses fresh-pressed ingredients and infusions made from a variety of herbs and spices, picked by the bartenders themselves and it۪s definitely going to get that hair of the dog working. You're practically losing money not ordering their boozy decanter (just $50) of Floridian mimosas, made with passion-fruit and fresh-squeezed local orange juice. Now, that you're feeling like yourself again (or at least like that good-looking guy on your Tinder profile pic), head back to the Shore Club for their Ladies-Drink-For-Free Sunday pool party to turn things up. Yup, it۪s as good as you think it۪s going to be. You can wind down when you're dead or catch that late flight back home (or MAYBE just call in sick and head home Monday, definitely a veteran move). Don۪t worry, we۪ll probably be on that same flight.