Vagabond Hotel
George Martinez

Now that Mad Men is over, we'd like to propose that Don Draper is, in fact, alive and well and has relocated to Miami. In fact, the retired bachelor has probably taken up residence at the Vagabond Hotel, where Draper would, no doubt admire the clean MiMo decor and mermaid inside the pool. If that's not enough to entice Draper to become the hotel's ad-man-in-residence, the Vagabond's hotel bar would surely do the trick. The alfresco poolside bar is a Shangri-la unto itself. Don could admire the pristine chrome bar and bright-green AstroTurf, a marriage of Miami and Palm Springs. Ever the whiskey man, Don would savor a bourbon punch made with Rittenhouse rye, while his lady friend du jour sips a Vagabond collins, the hotel's take on the classic tall cocktail. And since that SC&P cash buyout can't last forever, a frugal Don can take advantage of the bar's happy hour on weeknights from 4 to 7 p.m., when beers are $4, wine is $5, and cocktails are $6. Welcome home, Don.

Readers' choice: The Broken Shaker

As its masked wrestler mascot often growlingly explains: "Tuff Gnarl is a community of writers uncovering pop culture's hidden gems, bub!" Founded in 2013 by former Livid Records label boss Chuck Livid and artist-writer Tony Kapel (who has since amicably vacated his office at Tuff headquarters), this blog, edited by South Florida freelancer Jesse Scheckner, covers music, art, videogames, comics, and, yes, professional wrestling, as well as tons of other Gnarly topics. But the hidden gems among its hidden gems are the Tuff team's album lists, band interviews, and concert reviews, which take on not only the occasional body-slamming of famous folks like Kiss and Danzig but also the critiquing and cataloguing of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach bands. And though Livid and crew have an obvious affinity for punk rock, they tackle rap, Top 40, chiptune, indie folk, and other stuff too. These journalistic luchadores even occasionally grapple with the truth and beauty of opera. That's called sophistication, bub.

tuffgnarl.com

Churchill's Pub
Alexander Oliva

Through 12 years of the International Noise Conference, we've seen stuffed animals decapitated onstage, people sloshing around in puddles of their own body fluids, cross-dressers wearing strap-ons... oh, and maybe one or two instances of people playing something you could potentially call a "song." Organized by local-music-scene legend Rat Bastard, INC has stretched into a five-day fest held every February at Churchill's Pub that brings noise performers from all over the world. With a few rules in place (no laptops, no mixing board, and no incessant droning), literally hundreds of performers throughout the week take to the stage for ten- to 15-minute sets to make noise in just about any way they can. Sometimes that involves things like drums and guitars; other times, it involves people just screaming into a mic. It's a cavalcade of challenging aural textures, primal energy, and true freaks.

internationalnoiseconference.com

Yambo Restaurant
Photo by billwisserphoto.com

Yambo is the most famous Nicaraguan fritanga in Miami, rightly as renowned for its knickknack-jumbled decor as the carne asada, gallo pinto, and maduros. Oddly, this SW First Street landmark is also one of the few remaining Dade County spots with a jukebox that doesn't look like a giant, dumb iPod. Amid the burro masks, "Chancho con Yuca" signs, and chicken statues, there is a vintage coin-operated CD machine loaded with mariachi music, Juan Gabriel, reggaeton records, Yo Quiero Bachata compilations, and Nica folk tunes. Pop four quarters into the slot. Punch the buttons. And sing along. This is what they call una fiesta in Managua. Especially when you've got a mouthful of queso and a cold Toña in your hand.

Little Hoolie's Sports Bar & Grill

Wanna make your heavy-metal fantasies come true? Every week, Miami's premier purveyor of karaoke nights, Kara-O-King, headbangs into Kendall sports bar Little Hoolie's with "members of South Florida's most brutal rock bands" for an evening of amateur AC/DC, Metallica, and Ozzy covers. Go be the 400-pound behemoth of a man who belts out a growlingly perfect note-for-note take of "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" after guzzling a dozen Foster's Lager fat cans and slamming four shots of Jameson. Or maybe you're more the sort of metalhead who wears spike heels, leather pants, and a Satan skull choker, sips Jäger like soda, smokes clove cigarettes, and likes to show off a scorching version of "Master of Puppets" that once made James Hetfield himself shed tears of fear. We've even seen a funny guy with long hair and purple-lensed round sunglasses mumble his way through the opening verse of "Crazy Train" before ripping into the chorus like a clone of the Prince of Darkness. But hey, even if you can't sing, you can scream.

Readers' choice: Sing Sing Karaoke

Churchill's Pub
Alexander Oliva

For the past 13 years, Theatre de Underground has been a weekly creative free-for-all where Miami's aspiring singer-songwriters, punk rockers, and noise freaks have gathered to strum, scream, and literally crap their pants in hopes of booking a paying gig at the legendary Churchill's Pub. Of course, the talent has never been exclusively musical. As the self-described "most open-minded (and longest-running) open-mike night in town," Theatre de Underground has steadfastly preserved its backyard patio stage's reputation as a lawless, judgment-free zone upon which any humanoid with a performative talent can endeavor to earn fame, fortune, or unshakable shame. Over the past decade and counting, there have been, the evening's overseers say, thousands and thousands of "poets, storytellers, musicians, bands, comedians, magicians, jugglers, and a few things that cannot be categorized." This is the quintessential Miami open-mike night. And it isn't always good. But it's always what the average Churchill's drunk would describe as "fucking entertaining."

Museo Del Disco
Photo by Jessica Gibbs

Tucked away amid an array of warehouses in southwest Miami is your latest wax addiction. Museo del Disco has hooked up music junkies with a wide selection of CDs, DVDs, cassettes, and more since 2001, but the institution's foray into vinyl began just a couple of years ago. As interest in the once-obsolete format continues to surge, so too does Museo's burgeoning collection, with new rows of classic wax appearing every month. All artists are lumped together alphabetically, although there's a classic blues and jazz section that stands alone for music fans with a classic edge. Sift through the LPs to find vintage concert recordings like Miami Pop Festival or new hit makers from Fun to Ariel Pink. The price is right considering all the records they carry are brand new. And if you need any guidance in how to stuff your vinyl crate, musically obsessed owner Hinsul Lazo is sure to come by and show you around before you even have to ask.

HistoryMiami
Courtesy of HistoryMiami

Amid yet another futuristic-looking development boom, filled with towering cranes and shiny skyscrapers, it's easy to forget the Magic City has a rich past. Thankfully, a few minutes spent wandering through HistoryMiami cures that misconception in a hurry. Stashed away in an expansive building in downtown Miami are scores of archives, artifacts, and photographs from every era of South Florida's development, including more than a million images from the late 1800s to today. HistoryMiami grew even bigger this year thanks to the neighboring Miami Art Museum's move to a glittering new building on Biscayne Bay. The extra space allowed HistoryMiami to usher in several memorable exhibitions, including "Some Like It Hot," which concentrated on the evolution of the burgeoning street art community in Miami, and "Concrete Paradise," which featured audio clips, images, and historic plans concerning Miami Marine Stadium, an iconic architectural gem shuttered after Hurricane Andrew.

Readers' choice: Pérez Art Museum Miami

Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami
Iwan Baan

Last year's public feud between the City of North Miami and the board of its Museum of Contemporary Art got ugly. But at least it had a happy ending: the addition of the Institute of Contemporary Art to Miami's ever-evolving art scene. Founded by former MOCA board members and staff, the ICA opened with a bang during Art Basel 2014, showcasing the politically charged works of New York artist Andra Ursuta alongside an immersive installation, Sanatorium, for which Mexican artist Pedro Reyes trained local volunteers to offer free "therapy" to museum visitors. Participants engaged in everything from theater warm-up exercises to hypnosis, creating one of the most unforgettable events to take place during Miami Art Week last year. The ICA also showed off its commitment to Miami by opening its exhibitions to area schoolchildren before the general public. And all of this went down at the Moore Building in the Design District, an area that in recent years has been better known for designer shopping than boundary-pushing art. Oh, and did we mention admission is free?

Even in a town where pop-up galleries burst onto the scene and disappear with fruit-fly-like speed, Guccivuitton is a new kid on the block. Headed by local artists Loriel Beltran, Domingo Castillo, and Aramis Gutierrez, the cheekily named outpost opened its doors in 2013 in Little Haiti. The gallery hit it big with its very first show, "Art404 — IRL (In Real Life)." Since then, Guccivuitton has hosted a variety of smart and interesting exhibitions, including the 2014 group show "Luxury Face," which elegantly skewered consumer culture. That exhibition caught the attention of the New York Times and Vice's i-D. And most recently, the gallery hosted what was likely the most interesting of the Purvis Young shows that have flooded the city in the past year. Perhaps it's also worth mentioning that the gallery has managed this success without the hype of Wynwood's graffiti-covered walls. Guccivuitton recently expanded its reach to Miami's museums. The collective's collaboration with the Institute of Contemporary Art is on view at that museum until September 25. The gallery's hours are Saturday from noon to 5 and by appointment.

Readers' choice: Locust Projects

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