Design district: Hermès and Vuitton.

With sun, sea and nightlife there are plenty of opportunities in Miami for recreation and fun, but in December, from Art Basel to the New Year, the opportunities to celebrate multiply indefinitely. The important contemporary art fair, which begins on December 1 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, sees the involvement of 260 international galleries and over 2,000 artists.

But a real attraction are the open sections, the thousands of special events and secondary  fairs: from the public display of private collections to Design Miami, to the works of public art at Collins Park to the  video art which invades the city with projections at SoundScape Park, on the great wall of the New World Center designed by Frank Gehry

Really Art Basel Miami has caused people to rediscover new areas, seedy and dangerous for years, such as Winwood and Design District, Miami’s Soho, which now attracts also big fashion houses such as Marni and Maison Martin Margiela, and is just waiting for the expected short time arrival of Louis Vuitton and Hermes.

But the most popular area is still South Beach. Because of the climate which is mild even in winter and allows you to sunbathe, take a walk on the sand or on the pleasant wooden boardwalk along the beach. No bath, however, because the sea is far too cold (which explains the high number of heated pools, which are the primary service of hotels and condominiums).

The two most touristy roads are the Ocean Drive, with its pastel-colored Art Deco buildings and the many restaurants and bars that follow each other, and the Lincoln Road pedestrian area, for shopping and dinner. Ocean Drive is fun, but the dishes on display and the waiters chasing passers-by with the menu in hand are not attractive. An exception is the historic News Cafe – loved from the unforgettable Italian designer Gianni Versace – , open 24 hours per day, with brunch on a sunny courtyard.

Even in Lincoln Road, where you can find classic brands such as Gap and Juicy Couture, you have to dodge the insistent invitations of the hostesses of the restaurants. In addition to the Apple Store, among the original boutiques there is Koto: eclectic design pieces, vintage bicycles, beauty and lingerie of the Swiss brand Hanro. To be signalled as well  at  1108, Anthropologie: clothing, perfumes, household items, gift items (tel. 001.305.69.50.775).

Nearby, at Collins Avenue, Barneys Coop is the most youthful of the luxurious department stores, where you can do good business if you are looking for jeans, casual wear and accessories last cry. Another mecca for fashion victims is The Webster boutiques on three floors in an art deco building on Collins Avenue, with brands such as Givenchy, Balmain and Alexander Wang, plus a cocktail bar and an art gallery.

For those looking for Abercrombie & Fitch sweatshirts with cut prices, the right place is the Aventura Mall, the largest shopping center in Florida, with over 300 shops, about forty-five minute drive from South Beach. The  mall in Bal Harbour is closer and more pleasant, with outdoor swimming pools,  tropical plants and colorful fish, coffee and the loved restaurant and pizza place Carpaccio.

The night life is always changing: in recent years, the new design hotels house exclusive clubs and the best restaurants in Miami. Zuma; for example, a top restaurant with various international locations such as London, Istanbul and Hong Kong, is the Epic Hotel located in Brickell, Downtown Miami.

Overlooking the Miami River from the windows and the terrace, with high ceilings and interior jap style, it has an open kitchen, a sushi bar, a Robata grill (with charcoal barbecue), a station for the tempura and a bar with sixty variants of Sake. Among the highlights, in addition to sashimi, there are grilled skewers of spicy beef, the hot pot of rice, mushrooms and vegetables and Japanese miso soup with lobster.

For a grande bouffe of lobsters and crabs, it keeps growing the reputation of places such as the hardy  Joe’s Stone Crab on Washington Avenue, opened in 1913 (tel. 001,305. 67.30.365), where you could spend about $ 50 (€ 37) or the Garcia’s Seafood Grille & Fish on River Drive, informal, downtown on the river, with fish on the lower floor, and specialties made with tuna, shrimp, lobster, swordfish. Michael’s Genuine is instead the most beloved restaurant of the Design District.

The award-winning chef and owner Michael Schwartz hosts its guests in a relaxed environment with few frills, like his cuisine: baked in the oven, chicken, fish and meat maintain a rustic flavor. Do not miss the grilled red snapper with fennel.

Going back to Miami Beach, Casa Tua, in a beautiful Mediterranean style villa divided into many dining rooms with a romantic garden, has long been a favorite in the city. The idea of the restaurant is to receive the guests as if they went to a friend’s  home, the menu includes all personal versions of classic Italian dishes.

For a quick and convenient meal, you may prefer the kiosk Sandwicherie, a sandwich shop that serves stuffed baguettes and croissants, like the classic caprese salad and Caesar Salad, cheese and sliced meats plates, and excellent shakes and centrifuges.

Protagonists of the nightlife, the Miami hotels organize at New Year’s Eve the wildest parties in the country with top guests. Last year, for example, Lady Gaga performed at Fontainebleau, and the number one rapper of the moment, Drake took the stage in the Wall Lounge in the W South Beach.

Sure, the tickets are not exactly cheap: from about $ 350 per person up to 25,000 for a cabana at the Fontainebleau, but they promise a memorable start of the year.

Another Mecca of the nightlife is the Gansevoort, with its large rooftop: At New Year’s Eve people dance under the stars with the best DJs in the company of celebrities (the cost is about $ 350 per person and 150 after midnight).

The same hotel also houses two other frequented premises, the STK steakhouse and the  Louis nightclub. The hotel – with spa and a private beach with cabanas – is at a stone’s throw from the Convention Center, perfect for those who want to feel in the middle of parties and events that revolve around Art Basel.

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