Best Weekend Getaway 2020 | Compass Anna Maria Sound | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Photo by Laine Doss

Less than four hours northwest of Miami, there's a piece of Florida that seems untouched by time. If you want a weekend away from high-rise condos and shopping at Target, head to Anna Maria Island. There, you'll find miles of untouched beaches, tiny restaurants serving fresh fish dip and cheap beer, and incredible sunsets, often accompanied by some dude in a floral shirt playing guitar. Check in to the Compass Hotel ($116 and up per night). It's a brand-spanking-new venture from the Margaritaville people — think of it as Jimmy Buffett-lite. The rooms are "coastal-chic," decorated in neutral shades with views of Anna Maria Sound. After your drive, you'll want to unwind, so hit the Floridays bar for a beer from one of the many breweries in nearby Clearwater and some of the best fish dip you'll ever have. Now you're ready to explore. Call the Monkey Bus, a free shuttle that takes you anywhere on the island (leaving a tip is customary, so bring some cash), and stop at the Rod & Reel Pier, where a buck gets you a beer. Try your hand at fishing or just watch the water. A short walk from the pier is Bean Point, a secluded stretch of beach where you're likely to see more sandpipers than people. Grab a seat at one of the restaurants on the Gulf side to watch the sun set. The next morning, check out the West Coast surf shop, founded in 1964. Soak up some vitamin "sea" at Holmes Beach or grab an ice cream at Two Scoops. The Island, which consists of three small towns — Holmes Beach, Anna Maria, and Bradenton Beach, isn't overrun with chains. Instead, you'll find yourself chatting with the bar owner. In these COVID-19 times, what better way to decompress and social-distance than by finding a stretch of beach that isn't overrun with people, cracking open a local brew, and listening to the sound of the waves?

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Sometimes you just want to pretend to be a tourist on Miami Beach. The ocean, the sand, the neon lights, the food, the dancing — all of it can be yours at the Miami Beach Edition on Collins Avenue, the quintessential South Beach hotel. Inside you'll find an all-white-and-gold (but sophisticated) color scheme, and decor that easily blends over-the-top elegance with Miami tropical vibes. The Edition has all you need for a full day of staycation indulgence. Start with a facial and massage at the spa, then have lunch at Jean-Georges' Market; afterward, take a dip in the pool or enjoy access to a private slice of Miami Beach. Later, change for dinner at the Matador Room, then change again for drinks and dancing at Basement. Back in your room, sink into luxuriously soft linens and dream about your next getaway. Hotel rates vary by season, but an average night runs about $350.

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By now, you've settled comfortably into the daily drill: Wake up, put on the coffee, sit in front of the computer, and attempt to look like the peppy, engaged employee you've always been. But maybe you've discovered that the photo you can use in place of a video feed looks much, much better than your real face (complete with bloodshot eyes from binge-watching Netflix). Fortunately for you, there are a few people who haven't caught on yet — so instead of pretending to be engaged in the latest quarterly report, you can check out the living situations of your co-workers. Is Bob from accounting actually reading Gravity's Rainbow, or is he just trying to impress the boss? When was the last time Angie dusted? And why has Samantha painted all of her nails a different color? Just be sure to text any catty remarks directly to co-workers rather than using the could-accidentally-go-to-everyone messaging function. Not that we know anything about that.

With bar closures and restaurant limitations in place, planning the perfect first date can be tricky. The ideal venue must be spacious enough to ensure social distancing, properly sanitized and, of course, boast a killer cocktail menu to rein in those first-date jitters. At Casa Florida, you'll find all that and more. The airy patio space transports you to an evening in Key West, replete with lush foliage, bright-pink flamingo accents, and cozy seating for taking in an evening sunset with tropical libations. Spice things up with a specialty Canoe Club cocktail — crafted with Ilegal mezcal, crème de mûre, lime, and serrano and ginger syrup — alongside some broiled Florida oysters for a magical evening that will undoubtedly make a great first impression. Happy hour runs from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday through Sunday.

U.S. National Park Service

It's tough to know where to take the kids for entertainment these days. Plenty of indoor places have reopened, but maybe you're wary of taking your kids back to their favorite fun spot, regardless of mask policies and bottles of hand sanitizer in every corner. Pack up the car with plenty of snacks, water and sunscreen, and take a drive to Shark Valley in Everglades National Park. Jump on a limited-capacity tram tour ($27 for adults and $14 for kids) or go for a bike ride, if you're feeling brave enough to endure the heat. Bring your own bikes or rent them for $20 apiece. Peeping alligators, anhingas, turtles, herons, and egrets along the way never gets old, no matter your age. (Note: Though the park is open, at press time its visitor centers remained closed; best to call for current status.)

The no-frills spa nestled beneath the Castle Beach Club condominium in Miami Beach channels your grandmother force-feeding you honey and garlic at the first sign of a sniffle — and Babushka would definitely approve of this rainy-day excursion. But the traditional bathhouse, which boasts sixteen treatment rooms, proves an ideal hideaway for relaxing and rejuvenating whatever the weather. The labyrinth of treatment rooms seems never-ending, and steams and aromas pour out of every door, tempting intrigued visitors. The adventurous (or masochistic) will want to try the infamous "platza" treatment, a circulation enhancer that involves a branch of oak leaves and a practitioner with a firm center of gravity. The often-overlooked high point of the spa? The food. Shvitzing, plunging, and exfoliating can work up quite an appetite, and the spa's café beckons with a menu of authentic home-style Russian delights, including cheese blintzes, pierogi, borscht, and homemade rye bread. Make no mistake: These hearty bites are an integral part of the healing process.

Photo by Jessica Gibbs

A fun, safe, uncrowded, and socially distanced activity is what we all need after months spent cooped up indoors talking to our pets. So when the prospect of some fun in the sun comes up, a trip down south to Homestead's Fruit & Spice Park feels almost necessary. The South Dade gem boasts 37 acres of subtropical bliss, with a global selection of more than 500 exotic fruits, nuts, herbs, spices, vegetables, plants, trees, and scenic paths, plus one very special perk: Not only can you bring in a picnic, but you're free to enjoy edible fruits that have fallen from the park's trees. (Don't even think about picking them, however.) Note: Because of the pandemic, tram tours are currently suspended, and the on-site Mango Café is open for takeout only.

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Bayfront Park may not be the most low-key of places, but hear us out. The free lounge chairs overlooking Biscayne Bay at this iconic Miami attraction provide the perfect spot to spark a blunt. As the buenas vibras take over, watch the boats drift lazily by and the cars zip past on the MacArthur Causeway bridge (adorned with purple lights at night for extra stoner appeal). Feeling more of an adrenaline buzz? Hop on one of the many pay-by-the-hour scooters in the area — Lyft, Jump, Bird, and others are all available — and whiz around in your kushy haze. If you start to go too deep and it's bringing you down, get back up—way, way up—at the new Skyviews MIAMI Observation Wheel. This Ferris wheel in the back of Bayside Marketplace has been in the works since at least October 2019, and it now provides one of the best views in all of Miami. Light up that wood one more time at the very top as you stare out at the city's skyline and revel in 305 pride.

Whether you're an essential worker on your feet all day or a remote employee crouched over your laptop in your new home office/kids' playroom, one thing is probably true: You're feeling stiff and achy in the new normal. Finding a way to stretch it out and maybe discover a little zen along the way has never been more important. Ahana Yoga, a small studio tucked away in the Design District, has perfectly pivoted to meet the moment. Yogis of any experience level can sign up for unlimited online classes for just $20 a month or sweat it out in person at socially distant outdoor classes, which are offered for a $25 drop-in rate (with discounted multi-pack options). And each Thursday at 7 p.m., Ahana offers a free outdoor class so you can stretch your body without stretching your budget.

Photo by Chris Malone

Whether you're traversing the William Powell Bridge on two feet or two wheels, any Miamian who exercises knows the difficulty of conquering the Rickenbacker Causeway. Beginning at the southern end of Brickell and connecting the mainland with Virginia Key and Key Biscayne, the five-and-a-half-mile stretch of the Rickenbacker is probably the most challenging running route in the county — but also the one that offers the most reward. The view from the top of the William Powell Bridge (AKA "the tallest hill in Miami") offers sweeping views of the downtown skyline and of the deep-blue waters of Biscayne Bay. You just have to get up there first.

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Best Of Miami®