Hot and sultry, there is a always a bewitching allure to visiting Miami. Join our insider girl-on-the-go Lara Shriftman as she explores the sights and sounds of the palmy city’s muy caliente culture. 

I love Miami, It is my second home and have I spent time there for the last twenty years where I have seen it grow and develop. I have also seen the natural progression of real estate like seeing I Craig Robins develop Ocean Drive and Rande Gerber open his first bar. Then there is the development of South Beach that moved north when hotelier Ian Schrager built the Delano hotel on 19th Street and I have also been extensively involved with Art Basel for the last twelve years. It is a dynamic city.

Most people who do not live in Miami only see South Beach when visiting, but there is a whole community in numerous and diverse areas that are perfect for exploring. This is an insider’s guide to Miami and there will be some obvious must-do things, yet I love to include tips from locals for an insider experience.


Craig Robins developed Miami’s Design District including all the fashion stores, interior stores and restaurants that are there within an architecturally significant context. He transformed this once-overlooked area of Miami into a destination that is ideal for residents and visitors with some of the best shopping, cultural and culinary experiences here. Hermes, Prada, and Louis Vuitton are some of the stores and Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink, Gavanna, and MC Kitchen are some of the restaurants.


If you are planning on taking a trip to Miami I recommend a stay on South Beach. These are a few of my favorites:

The SLS hotel recently opened its South Beach location created by Sam Nazarian along with Philippe Starck, Chef José Andrés and Lenny Kravitz. The chic boutique auberge has the feel of a luxury hotel.

The W Residences at W South Beach is a choice for a home in Miami. They have 408 rooms with an oceanfront view and it is also a perfect location since the W Hotel contains restaurants, nightlife, boutique shopping, as well as a spa, gym, tennis and basketball courts.

The Raleigh Hotel in South Beach is especially inviting. It is known as one of the “Grand Dames” of the art deco style and is historically iconic but has been modernized.

1 Hotel & Residences South Beach is a new concept of beachfront luxury hotel living set to open in 2014. The new 1 Hotel & Residences South Beach will be among the first of the 1 Hotel branded residential properties and will introduce a healthy lifestyle living concept centered around nature and sustainability. Developed by the LeFrak Organization, 1 Residences will celebrate nature and is being designed and will be operated with a firm eco-conscience to bring to Miami a truly extraordinary property.

The Webster is a 20,000 square foot luxury multi-brand boutique located in the heart of Miami Beach, in a historical Art Deco building designed in 1939 by famed architect Henry Hohauser. The three-level boutique is devoted to fashion (men’s and women’s ready-to-wear and luxury accessories such as shoes, bags, jewelry and watches), photography and entertainment. There’s truly something for everyone here.


One of my favorite places is Mr. Chow at the W that has all the eatery’s classics like the Chicken Sate, Mr. Chow Noodles & Ma Mignon, along with some new dishes created especially for this location. Like all his restaurants, Mr. Chow designed everything including a unique 123-foot gold leaf Swarovski crystal chandelier. Located directly at the beach, it has both indoor and outdoor private rooms as well as a spacious outside dining patio and interior bar and lounge.

Cecconi’s Miami is located at Soho Beach House in the ground floor courtyard originated in Venice and has locations in London and West Hollywood. They serve delectable modern day classic Italian food for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Casa Tua is très chic with outdoor seating on their patio and a dining room situated in a Mediterranean-style villa. It is a great place for Northern Italian cuisine. They also have a 20-seat Chef Table in full view of the kitchen that is perfect for parties.

SugarCane raw bar grill is located in the heart of Miami’s emerging Midtown district, with three distinct kitchens including a robata, hot and raw bar. It is a tapas-style menu, so it is delightful for sharing small plates. They also have tasty cocktails and an extensive rum bar.

Fifi’s Seafood is super low-key, yet insiders flock to here for the freshest locally-caught seafood and are known for their fresh whole fish.

Athen’s Juice Bar has the best fresh pressed juices and smoothies. They have delectable fresh-pressed coconut milk here. The old school place and they have been a Miami institution since 1947 and is a favorite among locals.

Inside Track

Here are a few tips from Miami locals and insiders of their favorites in Miami.

Restaurant: Juvia; Big Pink for big salads

Bar for dancing: Hyde at SLS (especially for fresh air to keep you cool)

Workout: Jog along beach or Flywheel

Stores: Dylan’s Candy Bar; Babalu, Pink Palm

Gift store: Koto

Insider tip:  Dylan’s Candy Bar can do a party for kids ages 1-101

Best souvenir gift from Miami: a fallen coconut since coconut juice has electrolytes and coconut meat has healthy fat, plus the dried shell is great chew toy for a pet dog.

So, if you are like me, you are always on the path to seeing something new and different.  Miami offers all that and more. Plus, the people-watching is ideal and many times, inspiring with its eclectic street style with elements you can apply to your own personal style.


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