Islamorada, the Perfect Miami Day Trip
Just an hour-and-a-half drive from Miami, Islamorada, a “village of islands” in the Florida Keys, is known for its pristine beaches, water sports and fishing, and for being a little less of a tourist draw than some of the other popular Keys destinations. Just a one-and-a-half-hour drive from Miami, it’s the perfect location for a quick getaway from the city.
For a culture fix, head to the emerging Morada Way Arts and Cultural District, featuring such studios as Morada Way Clay, a draw for ceramics and pottery enthusiasts, and tour the many artisans, galleries, dining and shopping options along the way. The center also conducts art walks every third Thursday evening of the month. Outside of the district, the Rain Barrel Artisan Village—marked by a 30-foot-tall, artist-created lobster out front, and clay, sculpture, jewelry and other artisans inside—is also worth a visit.
Experience the charm of Cauley Square
Cauley Square is filled with tiny shops and restaurants that keep up the old-time feel of this historic railroad village that was established in 1903. Restaurants include the Village Chalet and the Tea Room, and the shops store all sorts of handmade goods, Haitian and African artwork, fresh flowers, gemstones and crystals, and stained glass items. Cauley Square is also often used for weddings and bridal showers, as the village has its very own charm and beauty that gives it almost a “magical” aura.
Go for a Swim at the Venetian Pool
To discover a beautiful place to swim that is not Miami Beach, head to this lagoon in the heart of Coral Gables. Dating back to 1924, the Venetian Pool boasts caves and waterfalls that look like they’re out of a fairy tale. The best part is that the lagoon is actually filled with with spring water from an underground aquifer, filled and drained daily in the spring and summer. The Mediterranean architecture at this popular summertime spot is not only gorgeous, but incredibly unique.
Take a Trip to Stiltsville
Miami is known for its beautiful beaches, but for an unusual trip on the water, book a seat on a boat tour to Stiltsville, a group of wood stilt houses. The three-hour cruise begins at Bayside Marketplace and travels to Stiltsville, the Cape Florida Lighthouse, and Key Biscayne. Sunsets out here are beautiful, and coupled with a gorgeous ocean breeze, the whole tour seems surreal and dreamlike.
See the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
The Vizcaya Museum is a historic villa – first built in the 1910s – that once belonged to James Deering and served as his winter home. The main house features beautiful rooms that guests can walk through and décor that will amaze, including fresco ceilings from Tuscany and France, marble flooring, and stained-glass doors. There is also an enchanting garden that you can walk through and enjoy, and the museum creates a stunning photogenic backdrop. It also holds special events, including the “Gardens by Moonlight” event, a guided tour of the gardens, with wine and small bites served afterward.
Cheeca Lodge & Spa
If you like Islamorada so much you’re tempted to stay the night, you have several options. Stretching back to the old-line the Cheeca Lodge & Spa is set on 27 beachfront acres with a dedicated pier and plenty of spots to soak in a sunset view. The new Islamorada Resort Company comprises the Postcard Inn Beach Resort at Holiday Isle, La Siesta Resort, Pelican Cove Resort, and the Amara Cay resort. Amara Cay, on the high end, has Oltremare restaurant for dinner and a Mercedes car shuttle service. Perched along the Florida Key’s stunning Overseas Highway, the Green Turtle Inn has been a beacon for locals and travelers for nearly 70 years. We offer refreshing spirits, inspiring local cuisine and good company after a glorious day on Islamorada’s pristine coastal waters. Our private porch is ideal for small group gatherings and our favorite table by the wine wall is ideal for a quiet dinner for two.
Fisher Island Club
Distinctive hotel set around the historic Vanderbilt Mansion on a private 216-acre residential island in Biscayne Bay, accessible only by auto ferry or yacht, minutes from Miami Beach.
Acqualina Resort and Spa on the Beach
Lavish 98-room Mediterranean-style resort within a 51-story tower on four and a half acres fronted by 400 feet of white sand.
Faena Hotel Miami Beach
Flamboyant oceanfront Mid-Beach hotel in the Faena Art District.
The Betsy – South Beach
Stately colonial-style hotel in a comparatively tranquil South Beach location.
The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort
Glittering 216-room resort in three all-glass oceanfront towers, just across the street from famed Bal Harbour Shops.
Green Turtle Inn Islamorada
As seen on the Food Network show Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. Perched along the Florida Key’s stunning Overseas Highway, the Green Turtle Inn has been a beacon for locals and travelers for nearly 70 years. We offer refreshing spirits, inspiring local cuisine and good company after a glorious day on Islamorada’s pristine coastal waters. Our private porch is ideal for small group gatherings and our favorite table by the wine wall is ideal for a quiet dinner for two.
Michael’s Genuine Food and Drink
Michael Schwartz’s airy, modern bistro is a Design District favorite. Schwartz cites Alice Waters as an inspiration, and his creative menu emphasizes unpretentious, locally sourced dishes at reasonable prices. It changes frequently, but look for selections such as house-made duck confit with orange marmalade, frisée and spiced pumpkin seeds; stracciatella with heirloom tomatoes, basil and extra-virgin olive oil; and slow-roasted and grilled Harris Ranch beef short rib with roasted cipollini onions, romesco sauce and hazelnuts.
This restaurant on Biscayne Bay is the Southern sister of esteemed Il Mulino in New York. Look for classic appetizers such as clams casino and arugula salad. The terrific pastas include a fine spaghetti alla carbonara and fettuccine alla Bolognese. The array of main courses features dishes such as veal saltimbocca, chicken scarpariello and roasted branzino. Service is excellent. Closed Sunday.
Mandolin Aegean Bistro
For a city beside the sea, Miami has surprisingly few good seafood restaurants. The menu at Mandolin draws on the cuisines of Turkey and Greece. In this pleasant, light-washed space, look for mezzes such as the Greek sampler of tzatziki, eggplant purée and taramasalata, or marinated grilled octopus. The simply delicious mains might include fresh whole fish grilled with olive oil, lemon and oregano; a classic moussaka; or grilled lamb chops with an orzo pilaf.
If you’re looking for a place with an outstanding view and an even more impressive lunch menu, then Juvia is the place for you. Situated on the roof of a parking garage, it features the most breathtaking view of Miami (both during the day and at night when the stars are out, and the city is lit up). Food-wise, it offers guests delicious dishes like fresh ceviche, Chilean sea bass, king crab eggs benedict, and, of course, bottomless bellinis. If you’re looking for a romantic spot for dinner, Juvia is equally impressive at night, complete with a full bar. Make sure to wear your best attire for this spot.