Ocean Drive, the Ultimate Guide

When you are in Miami, it is a party all night long, going on from club to club as time passes by you don’t even realize it’s almost breaking dawn. Most, will not notice, unless you are fortunate enough to be at the momentous Art Deco District during sunrise, you will see a grand sight where you feel like all seems fresh again. People may go on about how beautiful the sunset is in Key West, but Ocean Drive Miami Beach takes the win for the most beautiful sunset sight in the book as you would be able to see the pale-colored hotels illuminated in the sun. The view during the sunrise is so stunning, you definitely won’t want to miss it. Tourists who know about this would usually book their hotel rooms on a high floor, overlooking the east. Having breakfast while gazing at the sunrise would be something you definitely need to experience when you are at Ocean Drive. Don’t fret if you did not get to book rooms facing the east, as some hotels at Ocean Drive have rooftop floors, some with pools with a wondrous bird’s eye view especially for you to watch the sunrise from above.

Miami Beach's Ocean Drive is always bustling with activity, as seen in this snapshot featuring two friends taking in the sun and scenery.
Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive is always bustling with activity, as seen in this snapshot featuring two friends taking in the sun and scenery.

The History of Ocean Drive

Back then, Ocean Drive Miami was a street that had a dire reputation for minor street crimes, as well as an underdeveloped area for low-rent housing. The upbringing of the area was abandoned during the 1970s till the early 80s when it slowly came back to life when a few valiant restaurant proprietors saw the potential and started up cafes. Soon enough Ocean Drive started to get attention and the entire area was uplifted again.

A Lambo in Miami Beach is similar to an institution!
A Lambo in Miami Beach is similar to an institution!

The News Cafe was opened up by one of the early entrepreneurs, Mark Soyka in 1988 at the 8th and Ocean was predicted to be doomed by everyone. It was just not logical for an expensive dinner to make it at a place that was not crowded, but the News Cafe definitely proved them wrong as soon after, they were the source of life and buzz at Ocean Drive.

The News Cafe offers daily international newspapers to accompany guests with comfort food. The celebrity era began at Ocean Drive when the Cardozo Hotel at 13th and Ocean Drive gained a very popular Gloria Estefan. Having someone so widely known in the scene definitely brought more attention, and soon everybody wanted in. Ocean Drive which once was filled with low-cost structures with exhausted stores was replaced by boutique hotels, shopping districts, and bars.

Celebrities and important figures started to flock to Ocean Drive, attracting even more attention and bringing the city back to life.

Plan Your Visit

If you are a tourist and you have Miami in mind, most probably chances are you don’t know where to start or where to go. If you are really blank on where to go, Ocean Drive would be a good place to start your hotel search. Keep in mind though that Miami and Miami Beach are two different places, and Ocean Drive is located in Miami Beach, which would be much more convenient and a better holiday spot for you. From the MIA airport, Ocean Drive has a $32 flat fee for taxi rides.

There are a lot of hotels along Ocean Drive Miami, and you may choose your form of accommodation from simple and convenient to lavish and luxurious. It depends on the nature of your visit, whether you are on a budget, or you are on a backpacking adventure, or even visiting for business, The hotels along the strip would definitely fulfill any kind of budget or taste.

We wrote an article on where you can have a topless sunbath in Miami Beach.
Where you can have a topless sunbath in Miami?

If you don’t want to go to hotels, there are also some good choices for the condo that could be reserved.

If it is a family holiday, opt for an improved suite with good space for your family members that comes with a kitchen. Party people should get a room overlooking the Clevelander Pool Bar as they operate all the way till 5 in the morning, and lovebirds should consider a room with a king-size bed that comes with an enjoyable hot tub to enhance your romance experience.

Keep in mind that from the 12th to the 15th streets, along with the SoFi District (South of Fifth) are less lively after-hours and more inclined to quiet and silent nights. The upper reaches of Ocean Drive are known to be quieter at night, and hotels in this zone have a great, direct view of the beach as they are not blocked by anything else since the 5th to 14th Streets don’t have hotels or high-rise buildings.

Hotels in Ocean Drive?

If you plan to visit Ocean Drive for leisure vacationing with family, both Hilton Bentley and Marriott hotels are two good options for you. On the quiet end of the “SoFi District”, lies the wonderful South Beach Marriott hotel. One of the features that make Marriott the perfect hotel is the fact that there is a Starbucks outlet in the lower lobby. The hotel itself has a lot of features made fun for you, and even your family. They have a notable huge bedroom fit for 8 family members which comes along with 32-inch flat-panel television with free access to high-speed internet.

The beach located south of the hotel is usually flocked by fans of surfing, “footvolley” (a modern Brazilian sport that fuses soccer with volleyball), and volleyball. If the beach is too crowded, you could settle for the hotel’s astonishing pool area. Just as cool as the name is, The Hilton Grand Vacations Club offers fun and a good time for both you and your family.

Ocean Drive in Miami Beach is simply a party beach!
Ocean Drive in Miami Beach is simply a party beach!

The rooftop Jacuzzi is definitely something you have to experience, especially during sunrise and sunset when the view is astonishing. Hilton proffers one and two-bedroom suites which are roomy and comfortable. It should be enough for 2 to 4 members, or you could push it to 6 or more, as long as some of you don’t mind crashing on the pull-out couch.

If you are an avid clubber or party animal, then the Lower Ocean Drive is the perfect destination for you, as there lie the destinations of hip clubs such as the Nikki Beach Club which opens even during the day to the Opium Garden or Privè which booms at night. Not far away is Prime 112, one of the most popular restaurants on Ocean Drive which offers favorites such as its truffle mac and cheese or giant lobsters.

If you’re lucky you are even able to spot celebrities eating there!

For a serious dining experience, head over to Fifty which offers plenty of mouth-watering lunch and dinner options under the Nuevo-Latino cuisine. Just as a heads up, be sure to leave some space for dessert if you dine at Fifty as they offer one of the delicious sugary sweet desserts in town.

Boutique Hotels in Ocean Drive Miami

If you want to go for a different approach to the usual hotel accommodation, you should definitely choose to book one of the glamorous boutique hotels on Ocean Drive for your vacation. Some of these low-rise building keeps to the original, classic floor plan, but have been renovated with modern amenities for you to experience a comfortable stay with that classic feel. The rooms might be smaller compared to the big hotels, but it would definitely be a good choice if you are looking for something intimate, and different from the general hotel feel. You are in the middle of the most sparkling street in the city! If you prefer to rent an apartment click here.

One of the most popular boutique hotels is the Hotel Victor, which opened under the flagship of the familiar and big Hyatt Corporation. The Hyatt brand itself is already trusted, which could easily pull in visitors, but don’t be fooled by that because it’s not just the name, but the experience itself is commendable. The staff is very dutiful and amiable, the rooms are well-cared for the spa is efficient and well-arranged and the atmosphere is very hip but homely.

What to do in Ocean Drive Miami? Relax, have a fun, meet people!
What to do in Ocean Drive Miami? Relax, have fun, and meet people!

The in-house restaurant, called the Vix Restaurant offers wonderful food choices that would definitely get you salivating, and the experience of dining there definitely gives Hotel Victor added stars to be one of the favorites. And you definitely do not want to miss the enormous jellyfish tank set up directly in the middle of the restaurant.

Slightly North lies The Tides Hotel which provides guests with a more calm and quiet atmosphere, with bigger rooms, which even come with bizarrely spacious bathrooms. If you enjoy live music while indulging in fresh seafood and French cuisine, the Les Deux Fontaines bistro nearby would be satisfying for you.

One of the oldest cafes around which toasts to the Art Deco and long-gone era, Art Deco should definitely be on your visiting list to enjoy your lunch or even sundown dinners at the Art Moderne patio.

For guests in the hunt for some peace and harmony with an instilment of an Art Deco atmosphere, the romantic Betsy Hotel in Ocean Drive would definitely be the answer. Not only will you get the convenience of being in the middle of everything that’s anything, but they offer amazing rooms facing the ocean. The swimming pool might be undersized, but it is out of the scorching sun, plus, the hotel grants complimentary towels and beach chairs for those who want to tan. You definitely need to experience the beautiful sea and city view during the day and the remarkable star-gazing scene at night at The Betsy floor sun deck.

Another favorite spot nearby The Betsy is the recently operating restaurant Quinn’s, which offers good seafood. Two blocks south lie 918 Ocean Drive, another well-known boutique accommodation that was converted into an all-suite condominium, where you could only book online or by getting hold of private owners.

You might also want to consider the Bentley Hotel as they offer a perfect and amazing sunset view on their rooftop pool deck. Not just the comfortable rooms – not incredible decor – you are going to get, but guests are also treated with a free pass to the Bentley Beach Club which offers a complete gym, a huge pool, spa tubs that come in cold or hot, and one of the most popular, sexy club, Nikki Beach.

Suite Hotels on Ocean Drive

If you want to go all out with your vacation experience in South Beach, perhaps the luxurious suite hotels are the best choice for you. The Z Ocean Hotel (located at one block in Collins Avenue) is an 80-suite luxury condo-hotel that offers guests extra huge balconies, roof gardens that are accessible through private penthouses, the unique glass-bottom pool and the heavenly top-notch in-room spa services to pamper yourself. The hotel also is complete with its valet that has an advanced security system, so you don’t have to worry about your ride when you reside at the Z Ocean.

Enjoy the pool parties in Miami Beach!
Enjoy the pool parties in Miami Beach!

Ocean Drive host one of the most alluring hotels, the Villa Casa Casuarina, a former Versace mansion, the property opens up like a scene from One Thousand and One Nights. The layout is reminiscent of a Moroccan riad: 10 suites set around an interior courtyard with a fountain, carved wood doors, and intricate tiling. Mesmerizing!

If you have a pet you would carry along on your vacations, you could look to the Casa Grande Suite Hotel. Not only are the rooms spacious, but you will also gain access to a kitchen equipped with full-sized steel appliances, tropical Indonesian decorations, and a majestic granite countertop which allows you to prepare your own lavish meal any time of the day. This hotel is not incredible, but we suggest it if you need it or love to cook.

Not only that this suite hotel serve comfort, but it is also convenient as it is placed right in the heart of the local nightlife where your South Beach vacation experience would be complete with the sexy dancing Latin girls to drinking up mojitos to a happening environment at the Mango’s Tropical Cafe nearby.

Other dining options include the Pelican Cafe – which is also a design Hotel, the News Cafe has still going strong ever since the life of Ocean Drive Started, and the Cuban Cuisine and themed outlet at Lario’s. Need something to help with the heat, get yourself the popular ice-blended drinks from Fat Tuesdays or Wet Willies.

If you are looking for fun with friends, book the Crescent Resort in Ocean Drive which features the popular Jacuzzi suites, which is also conveniently located in a central position to easily access great shopping malls and pedestrian malls, such as the Lincoln Road. If you are looking for a more calm, quiet, and peaceful environment from a suite hotel, go over to Betsy Ross Hotel at the upper reaches of Ocean Drive, and if you don’t mind skipping Starbucks for breakfast across the street, you will be treated with complimentary breakfast on the hotel. Front Porch Cafe is the place to head to if you would like to have quality alfresco brunch with the likes of tasty banana pancakes and other wholesome food at an affordable and valuable price no matter the time and day. Even in South Beach you could enjoy the lively environment of an Irish Bar at Finnegan’s Way where you will be entertained by live music, with a cool sports-styled bar, and get drinks two for one around 4 to 7 pm.

One of the most interesting suite hotels located on the lively 10th Street is definitely The Congress Hotel  (former the Strand), and it is so lively to the point that some guests find it very hard to catch forty winks, that they would buy earplugs just to be able to catch a few hours of sleep. Congress offers you the convenience of being on the liveliest street of Ocean Drive, but with soundproof rooms to help you catch that sleep you truly need after a long day of fun. The rooftop pool deck is definitely the place to be if you want to have a great view overlooking Ocean Drive, or even watch fireworks on New Year’s Eve and the Fourth of July.

If you like to party, there’s a place where the party never stops, and that is the Clevelander Pool Bar which offers suites at the Clevelander Hotel in Miami Beach. This well-known attraction offers a huge 5 poolside bars, flat-panel Television sets almost everywhere, live musical entertainment, happy hours and two-for-ones, and the ever-popular Saturday bikini contests.

It’s always a party at the Clevelander Hotel!

Fun & Funky Hotels

If what you like is more towards the classy and sophisticated kind unlike partying and bikinis, the Miami Design Preservation League has an administrative office right across the street from the Clevelander Hotel at the Art Deco Welcome Center. There are various public programs free and open to all that would educate and explore the influences of the classic designs in Miami such as from the Deco era.

Be in shape with a trend bikini is a must in Miami Beach.
Being in shape with a trendy bikini is a must in Miami Beach.

They also carry out architecture seminars and walking tours along the historic district you would be able to join from Wednesdays through Sundays and each walk lasts up to 90 minutes.

The MDPL is serious with their arts, every January, they will hold an Art Deco Weekend which closes traffic at Ocean Drive for a full-blown three-day block party full of fun where guests will be served with food, musical entertainment, and dances along with display and sales of crafts and antique cars. Due to this, you are advised to plan your visit accordingly as travel would be tougher. Traffic is also closed every Memorial Day Weekend, the 4th of July, and New Year’s Eve, and navigation would be a lot harder and certain areas would be clogged by heavy traffic.

1) If art, design, and architecture are your thing, the Pelican Hotel is definitely the place to visit as its design is extremely unique and should be experienced, brewing from the creative minds of the folks at Diesel Jeans. The hotel experience at Pelican Hotel is very quirky, as each room tries to create a vintage feel to themes such as Deco, Retro, Jungle, Tarzan, Cowboy, Brothel, Whorehouse, and many other motifs.

The staff there are very friendly and personable too.

2) Sophisticated guests who are on a budget could always opt to stay at the little Century Hotel where everything is simple, quiet, and friendly. The rooms might not be lavish, so this is the place to stay for those who want to enjoy and explore the city rather than stay in their hotel rooms. The rooms are affordable and should be the choice of visitors who want to experience the classic South Beach experience. Whatever your style is, however, you want to experience your vacation whether it could be luxurious to the part life, or simple and quiet to the dining and art experience, everything is there for you on Ocean Drive, and you are at power to customize your vacation experience however you want to.

The Past of Ocean Drive!

As the development of the South Beach area in Ocean Drive was rampant, some preservationist groups saved a lot of historical buildings just to give you the opportunity to experience what were once historical landmarks during the Art Deco era of the 80s and beyond. And by holding onto these historical sides of the past, definitely helps to build Ocean Drive, and Miami Beach to be what it is today.

If you want to check hotel prices for your next vacation in Ocean Drive Miami, click here.

Miami, Here We Come!

Our unbiased rating

Showing off 10
Charm 10
Hotels 9
Restaurants 8
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Nightlife 10
Scene 10
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