Best Kept Secret 2021 | Selina Gold Dust Motel | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Photo courtesy of Selina Miami Gold Dust

The Selina Gold Dust is well on its way to becoming a secret to no one, but the retro boutique hotel on Biscayne Boulevard just shy of 79th Street still makes you feel like you've stumbled upon a hidden treasure. Lucky for us, this hotel is not just for travelers. Enjoy a Miami-inspired meal at Matt Kuscher's Café Kush, a sunny day by the pool at one of the motel's many pool parties, or a late night out at Don's 5 Star Dive Bar, Kuscher's new nightspot hidden beneath the main level and filled with "Don"-related Miami nostalgia, from Shula to Aranow to Bailey (AKA "King of Carpets"). You don't want to miss this new Upper Eastside gem.

Photo by Eve Edelheit

Kristen Arnett is the quintessential Florida woman. And as of last year, in a victory for the South Florida literary community, she's officially a Miami woman. The award-winning queer fiction writer and essayist first captured the Sunshine State in its bizarre glory in her debut novel, Mostly Dead Things. Since then, Arnett has garnered a loyal following on Twitter with her witty repartee and clever jokes about everything from ravioli to 7-Eleven. Each of the Orlando native's essays and books, which mainly focus on lesbian life, are like love letters to the Sunshine State, reminding us of all the ways we love and loathe this messy subtropical place. Her second novel, With Teeth, hit shelves in June.

Now that it's been a few years since Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey shut down, historians can look back and say about circuses, "What the hell was that all about?" Circuses were hotbeds of animal cruelty, exploitation of the disabled and the foreign, and who the hell thought it was a good idea to expose children to clowns? With a historian's careful eye, Miami's own Les Standiford takes us on a tour on the origins of the biggest circus of them all in his new book, Battle for the Big Top: P.T. Barnum, James Bailey, John Ringling, and the Death-Defying Saga of the American Circus. Standiford's heavily researched tome brings alive a bygone America filled with eccentric characters like Barnum and Ringling, who monetized a culture in which every child dreamed of running away and joining the circus.

Photo by Jessica Lipscomb

Islandia Journal may be brand-new, but its founder, author and educator (and occasional Miami New Times contributor) Jason Katz, has the old soul of a zine dude. The magazine's stated milieu: myth, folklore, history, ecology, cryptozoology, and the paranormal in the subtropics. The first issue sported an illustration of Everglades griffin on the cover. A a griffin! Miami, in particular, boasts a rich history of wild truths and even wilder folklore. The quarterly zine accepts submissions in the style of prose, nonfiction, fiction, reported pieces, and even poetry. Its inaugural volume one, Islandia published work by 20 local contributors, including a poem by O Miami founder Scott Cunningham and a story about a Scottish soldier named Gregor MacGregor by Nathaniel Sandler, the brains behind Best of Miami 2021 "Best Bookstore" honoree Bookleggers. Look for volume two to drop soon.

Photo by Ian O'Connor

Emmett Moore has been creating magnificent works for more than a decade. The Miami native finds inspiration from ordinary objects around him and often uses those same objects as material for his craft. He's worked with T-shirts, textiles, wood, resin, house keys, metal — there's no limit to what this man might employ to make art. Moore studied furniture design at the Rhode Island School of Design, which explains why his art pieces predominantly resemble furnishings. His most recent solo show, "The Grotto," featured an array of abstract pieces in addition to a fully functional bench, table, and bookcase. All the artworks were constructed out of an expanded polystyrene-based material along with seashells to achieve the look of coral rock. Moore is currently represented by Nina Johnson Gallery.

Photo courtesy of Josh Aronson

Josh Aronson has made a name for himself photographing actors and models, like Jordan Fisher and Karlie Kloss, for glossies such as Teen Vogue and Allure. He also recently shot for a national Kate Spade campaign. In addition to his editorial work, Aronson self-published his first photography book, Tropicana, in 2020. The limited edition sold out in a handful of weeks. Tropicana featured photos of young artists and activists Aronson photographed over the course of a year in different parts of South Florida. From the swampy Everglades to the sands of Miami Beach, he captures the essence of what life in Florida is like for twentysomethings in this era. In early 2021, he showcased prints from his book in an exhibit aptly titled "Tropicana" in a gallery space in the Design District.

Courtesy of the Museum of Contemporary Art

At the intersection of NE 125th Street and NE Eighth Avenue in North Miami sits the charming Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA). Its most striking feature is a vast fountain at the entrance that's often activated to showcase some sort of floating or water-friendly art piece. The plaza space through which visitors pass before heading inside is often dressed with art as well — whether hanging from the palm trees or strung in the air, the MOCA makes use of every cubic inch to display art to the community. Once inside the intimate space, one can always expect to be awed. Recent exhibitions include a sprawling collection from the Mexican artist Raúl de Nieves, complete with a life-size carousel inside the museum proper, and a moving show of works by the late Jamaican artist Michael Richards, who was killed in the World Trade Center attacks 20 years ago this month.

Photo by Andrea Mora

If you've ever wondered what it would be like to float through the clouds, Superblue is the place for you. It seems like Miami is the newest hot spot for immersive art, with traveling experiences popping up nearly every month — many of them zeroing in on Van Gogh, but whaddayagonnado? If you're new to immersive art, think of it as an exhibition that allows visitors to view what's on display from inside it. (It's also the art that looks really cool on your Instagram page.) Thankfully, rather than skip town after one show, Superblue opened its magical doors to the public this spring and stuck around, having chosen Miami as its first location. Visitors can float through the clouds, get lost in a maze of mirrors, or look up at a breathtaking floral installation that hangs from the ceiling. Don't know anything about art? Don't worry! Rather than a traditional museum where you're surrounded by "masterpieces" you're supposed to gaze at in ignorant awe, Superblue invites you to create your own experience.

Photo courtesy of Primary

Located in the up-and-coming neighborhood of Little River, not far from the railroad tracks, is a sleek white building nestled in a residential area. You might pass by and not think much of it. But behind this discreet façade is Primary (stylized Primary.), an art gallery founded in 2007 that features works from local, national, and international artists. Its interior, with exposed concrete paired with fresh white walls and wooden beams overhead, make the space feel like the ideal setting for all sorts of works of art. A recent exhibition, titled "Can't Wait to Meet You," was organized to highlight bright, fun works that would be suitable for children. Why, you ask? Because two of its founders, Books Bischoff and Cristina Gonzalez, just welcomed their first child together.

As South Florida — and the world — attempts to come out of its social hibernation, it's time again for the mating dance of alcohol, tobacco, and bad decisions. Fewer places in South Florida are as accommodating to the ritual as Barceloneta, with its ready supply of out-of-this-world gin and tonics, a United Nations-like array of patrons (many seeming to favor harsh European smokes), and an outdoor seating area that practically begs folks to interact with one another. The food — sensuously plated and meant to be shared — offers another opportunity for mingling, but the drinks are the true stars here (try the Farmer's G&T). The very air in this Sunset Harbour restaurant seems seductive. So shoot your shot, friends: There's no time like the present.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®