Best Staycation 2023 | Nautilus Sonesta Miami Beach | Best Restaurants, Bars, Clubs, Music and Stores in Miami | Miami New Times
Nautilus photo

A white sand vista, expansive pool landscape, onsite culinary options, and impeccable vibes are ingredients for an ideal staycation in Miami. Nautilus Sonesta Miami Beach offers all of this. The Miami Beach modern-meets-unpretentious spot has 250 rooms, and when you're not lounging in yours, you're probably at the art deco-inspired lobby bar admiring its towering, 25-foot curtains. The pool is nearly 1,900 square feet of saltwater euphoria and (fun fact) features an underwater sound system to groove to during breath-holding competitions. Whether you're sneaking in a nap in one of the 14 cabanas or getting lit during Miami Music Week, you'll find that Nautilus' strength is its range. Don't forget to appreciate the little design details, from the handwritten notes guests leave on a bulletin board to your in-room bar made of vintage chests.

Photo courtesy of Rubell Museum

Want to convince your snooty northern relatives that Miami has a decent art scene during the 11 months that don't begin with D? Take them here. The Rubell family's decades-long habit of collecting contemporary art created a storage problem that forced them to expand their private collection into the sleek public museum that opened in 2019. You can't go wrong with two Yayoi Kusama Infinity Mirror Rooms and famous works by Basquiat, Keth Haring, and emerging artists like Miami's Reginald O'Neal. But be sure to stop by the massive gallery featuring the colorful paintings by Alexandre Diop — your guests will be too busy picking their jaws off the floor to speak.

Where can you return to an era of picture-perfect gardens, manicured grounds, and 16th-century French Mediterranean architecture? Are you envisioning Vizcaya? Coral Gables, perhaps? Well, you're off by a long shot because we're talking about Hialeah, bro. Somewhat inexplicably, Hialeah Park has stood the test of time for more than 90 years, including the notorious wrecking ball that was the Hurricane of 1926. Existing for nearly a century might not seem like much, but it's eons in a region where developers rival hurricanes in their destructive power. The park's legendary racetrack hasn't seen a horse in years — the betting action is now confined to a casino and simulcast parlor — and the park's longtime owners, the Brunetti family, recently unveiled a plan to turn a portion of the grounds into a housing development and charter school. The future of this 220-acre jewel is uncertain but it has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1979, and it remains an Audubon Society-designated sanctuary for the American flamingo — it's one of the only places where you can see Miami's unofficial pink mascot, for now, anyway.

With more than 500 varieties of fruit, vegetables, spices, and herbs, Fruit & Spice Park can't help but outshine the produce section of any local grocery store. The modest $10 admission fee for adults ($3 for kids ages 6 to 11; tykes under 5 get in for free) grants access to the lush, 37-acre grounds scattered with native and exotic fruits, including ornamental pineapples, sapodilla, Ceylon gooseberries, breadfruit, pink guava, and canistel. There are complimentary guided tours at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m daily (weather permitting) but it's worth shelling out a little more for the 3 p.m. specialty tasting tour — you won't be sorry.

Is it possible to put a price on nostalgia and the fond, twinkly holiday memories of our collective Miami youth? Well, after 40 years of business, Santa's Enchanted Forest has certainly tried with a $43 admission ticket for adults, a $28 express pass to skip the long weekend lines, and preferred VIP parking spots for as much as $35 per vehicle. No matter. We love it all the same. We'd fork over another $43 if it meant we could move the seasonal amusement park from its recently relocated home in a small notch between Doral and Medley back to its rightful home in Tropical Park. We're not sure whether it's the Spanish versions of classic Christmas tunes blasting over the speakers, the dulce de leche churros, or all the subtropical depictions of Santa on Jet Skis, but take one lap around the park, and we guarantee your heart will have grown three sizes. You'll feel like a kid again and be glad you paid for the privilege.

It has been said that "anyone can be an artist." That's probably hyperbole, but that shouldn't stop you from at least trying to express any untapped creativity. That's the idea behind Raw Figs, a free figure-drawing class that pops up in various indoor and outdoor establishments around Miami, including at the Pérez Art Museum Miami, the Understory in Little Haiti, and Planta vegan restaurant in South Beach. The pop-up was created by local artist, model, and flight attendant Vida Sofia, who wanted to create a space for like-minded people to gather and create. Whether you're an experienced artist, a first-time painter, or a prospective model, the classes are free of judgment and show off not only Miami's unique cityscapes but a contingent of locals who come together for the simple sake of making art.

This is not your mother's mattress store. Hästens is the Hermès of mattress stores. Located in the Miami Design District, this Swedish brand handcrafts each mattress with cotton, wool, flax, and curled horsehair strands that create a built-in ventilation system to keep you cool while you sleep. It's beloved by stars like Drake, who owns Hästens' top-end model, the Grand Vividus, which, at $400,000, costs as much as a modest bayfront condo. You, on the other hand, might be able to trade in your Honda Civic for the entry-level Hästens, which goes for roughly $20,000 in king-size.

Whether taken in via walk, bike ride, or short drive, the 5,280 feet spanning from the Barnacle Historic State Park on Main Highway to Monty's on Bayshore Drive somehow manages to exude Old Florida charm in the 21st Century. The starting point is home to the Barnacle — literally the oldest house in Miami-Dade County still in its original location. Head northeast on Main Highway; the rickety brick sidewalk, though a tripping hazard, is charming. Some of Miami's most beloved local businesses operate along this stretch, including outposts of Panther Coffee, Books & Books, and Harry's Pizzeria. When you turn right again on McFarlane Road toward Peacock Park, you'll catch sailboats bobbing on the horizon on Biscayne Bay. Curve left onto Bayshore Drive past — or, if on bike or foot, through — Kenneth M. Myers Bayside Park until you arrive dockside at Monty's, where a frozen rum-based cocktail awaits.

Beware the MacArthur Causeway. It's disguised as a six-lane highway that connects downtown Miami and South Beach across Biscayne Bay. But drive it enough times and you'll know it can warp time and space to its will, transforming a simple three-mile trip along the shimmering blue-green bay into an hour of white-knuckling the wheel. When it was completed in 1920, a handful of lanes was probably all that was needed to efficiently accommodate folks looking to shuttle across the bay. Now it's a sea of brake lights. Avoid at all costs. Detour to the Venetian Causeway or Julia Tuttle.

South Florida Photograph Collection / HistoryMiami Museum

The Miami Circle offers more than a gorgeous public waterfront but a prehistoric one that some researchers date back to the Tequesta tribe 1,800 to 2,000 years ago. The 38-foot circle, formed by 24 holes in the oolite limestone, was uncovered in 1999 and recognized as a national historic landmark a decade later. In a city that was founded less than 130 years ago, it's hard to believe people have been gathering on that spit of land where the Miami River meets Biscayne Bay for so much longer. While there are ample spots to take in the blue-green waters of the bay or the enormity of the Brickell and downtown skyscrapers, there's no better fodder to fuel hours-long pondering than to stare into the Circle's captivating circumference.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®