Each week, Miami dating expert Nikki Novo gives us advice on finding love in this hopeless place. Today: Ten only-in-Miami ways to impress your first date.
Are you a one-date wonder? Maybe it's bad luck, or maybe there's a lack of enthusiastic planning. We're not blaming you for your misfortune (not entirely, at least), but if good ol' dinner-and-a-movie isn't working, it's time to add some Miami spice to the mix.
From Homestead to Miami Beach and everywhere in between, lots of local spots and happenings are perfect for a first date, and we've rounded them up for you here. Sure, you'll find a few tried-and-true restaurants in this group, but you'll also discover an artful bike tour, a gourmet culinary class, and a booty-poppin' hangout.
Browse our list of ideas, choose one, and watch the magic happen. The sparks are on us.
10. Peacock Garden Café
2889 McFarlane Rd., Coconut Grove. Call 305-774-3332 or visit peacockspot.com.
Located in the heart of Coconut Grove, this charming restaurant is a breath of fresh air in Miami's crowded culinary scene. You can enjoy that fresh air by sitting outside surrounded by orchids and native plants on the garden patio, or if outdoors isn't your thing, take a seat in the Anthropologie-esque dining room. Choosing Peacock Garden for a first date says you're not trying too hard to impress, but rather you're the type to enjoy the moment -- and you're not afraid to stop and smell the roses. Order any of the specials and the white wine sangria.
9. The Biltmore's Culinary Academy
1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables. Call 305-913-3131 or visit biltmorehotel.com/bca.
For those of you looking for an excuse to touch your date, here's the ideal activity. The Biltmore's Culinary Academy is a fun way to get your hands dirty and interact, especially if you're the shy type. The regular schedule is filled with cooking classes for all levels, including courses on everything from baking and shellfish to seasonal and vegetarian cooking. It's a romantic comedy in the making.
8. Romeo's Café
2257 Coral Way, Miami. Call 305-859-2228 or visit romeoscafe.com.
If the name didn't tip you off, be assured that his Shenandoah staple has all the ingredients for a romantic dinner. Romeo's has seating for only 58 guests and no menu, guaranteeing an intimate evening sprinkled with dim lighting, personal attention from the staff, and a no-stress ordering process. Chat with the server about your food likes and dislikes, and the chef will whip up a five-course meal to your liking. The cherry on top? Your in-the-know skills are sure to score you some bonus points from your date.
7. Ice Skating at the Scott Rakow Youth Center
2700 Sheridan Ave., Miami Beach. Call 305-673-7767 or visit web.miamibeachfl.gov/parksandrecreation.
If you can't manage to hold your date's hand 30 minutes into this outing, please make sure to message us privately for a one-on-one consultation. Planning an afternoon at the Scott Rakow Youth Center's ice-skating rink is your chance to do over that bad high school date, sans the acne and braces. Get your heart rates going by skating to Top 40 hits, be goofy, and enjoy some laughs when you ungracefully hit the ice.
6. Schnebly Redland's Winery
30205 SW 217th Ave., Homestead. Call 305-242-1662 or visit schneblywinery.com.
OK, it's not a typical winery, but it's the best we have. Take a windows-down drive to the Redland and stop at this plantation gem where fruity vino and beer are always flowing. For $7, you can enjoy a 40-minute tour of the estate while learning about the local family and the winemaking process. Schnebly tastings are also available for less than $10. You might need a driver on the way home -- or a hotel reservation nearby. We're just saying.
5. WD 555
555 Jefferson Ave., Miami Beach. Call 305-672-6161 or visit wd555usa.com.
For a wine experience that's a little closer to home, there's WD 555. Tucked away behind Wine Depot is this unpretentious patio serving bistro favorites, vino, and fresh Miami Beach air. Lined with palm trees and modernly decorated, the terrace is perfect for sharing a bottle (of any kind), grazing on tapas, and enjoying conversation.
4. LDV Hospitality's Rec Room
1690 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Call 786-975-2590 or visit galehotel.com/nightlife/.
If you must take her to oh-so-predictable Prime One Twelve, at least treat her to an after-dinner drink at the Beach's latest funky hangout, Rec Room. Located in the basement of the Gale South Beach, the lounge has a '70s vibe that creates a cool environment that is still approachable. Past midnight, the music is spinning for a good time.
3. Lagniappe House
3425 NE Second Ave., Miami. Call 305-576-0108 or visit lagniappehouse.com.
Dinner. Drinks. Just hang out. Can't decide? This New Orleans-style live music venue/bistro can solve your problems. David Tunnel (the guy behind Dogma) took over a home in Wynood and converted it into Lagniappe House, the kind of vintage-cool party venue you wish you could pull off at your pad. On the menu, there's French wine, specialty brews, and even steak. Plus, every night features some variety of live blues, jazz, and bluegrass. You can definitely pull off a threesome of activities here.
2. Wallcast Concert at New World Symphony
500 17th St., Miami Beach. Call 305-673-3330 or visit nws.edu/wallcasts.
For those of us on a budget, there's the New World Symphony's Wallcast. Bring a blanket, a picnic basket with wine, and a pair of jeans that don't show too much when you sit. On select weekends, the NWS projects live concerts happening inside the building on its 7,000-square-foot outdoor projection wall. The best part: It's free.
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1. Warby Parker x Standard Miami Beach Art Circuit
40 Island Ave., Miami Beach. Call 305-673-1717 or visit standardhotels.com/spa-miami-beach.
Would you like a planned art tour with your bike rental? Of course you do. Rent a retro-blue Warby Parker bike from the Standard and you'll be handed a color-coordinated map detailing an excursion through Miami Beach's best art in public places stops. The self-guided tour takes you to destinations like the Fillmore Lawn, City Hall's Fourth Floor, and South Pointe Park. The guide even lists the names of the art pieces and their artists -- so you can come off looking fancy and worldly.