Yes, theres the sugar-sand beach, the hot clubs and the beautiful people. But what good would a visit to South Beach be without a day (or two) of shopping? The beach, after all, is the winter home to many a model, fashion designer and rock star. Which means the shopping is really, really good. From the chain mainstays to tiny, unique boutiques, theres a store for everyone on Miami Beach. If clothes arent your thing, there are plenty of art galleries, jewelry stores and pet boutiques to peruse.
Heres a list of four main shopping areas and some of the more interesting spots.
Collins Avenue/Washington Avenue: These two streets (within a block of each other) make up Miami Beachs designer district, with all of the big names (Armani, Nicole Miller, Diesel) within a few block walking distance. Start at Collins and Fifth Avenues and walk north, toward 10th Street. Peek down the side streets and you will find smaller, one-of-a-kind boutiques. Ritchie Swimwear (160 8th St., Miami Beach, (305) 538-0201) is a perfect place to buy a new suit; his designs are used in Sports Illustrated spreads often.
Another quintessentially Miami boutique is A. Dominguez (760 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, (305) 531-5900), a Spanish designer that features interesting cuts and sumptuous fabrics for men and women.
Lincoln Road: This seven-block stretch is closed to traffic and open to sheer attitude. This pedestrian mall is part catwalk, part outdoor café and part shopping Mecca. Wear your most fabulous clothing and strut down Lincoln Road, pausing for a $5 espresso (can be found on every corner). The usual suspects can be found here, such as BeBe (1029 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, (305)673-0742).
There are some unique boutiques, as well. Consider Brownes & Co., an upscale spa/body and bath products store (841 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, (305)538-7544. Or, bring home a treat for your furry friend: Dog Bar (723 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, 305-532-5654). There, you can get a Miami Dog Bowl (made in Italy) for $16.99, a Bling Spike Collar for $88 or, for the feline lovers, a $250 Kitty Condo.
Espanola Way: If youre tired of the South Beach attitude, head to this tiny pedestrian mall off Washington Avenue near 14th Street.
The architecture is reminiscent of a Spanish village, with peach stucco and red barrel tile roofs. On the corner is the Clay Hotel, a youth hostel whose exterior was shown liberally in the 1980s TV series Miami Vice. On Sundays, the street turns into something of a farmers market, with folks selling everything from freshly cut flowers to handmade dresses in stalls. Art lovers should stop by Marcel Gallery (420 Espanola Way, Miami Beach, (305)672-5305. www.marcelart.com). The owner, Pierre Marcel, has been a fixture in South Beach since 1986.
He paints ethereal apples, hearts and scenes from the Florida Everglades, and prints and reproductions are actually affordable. And if youre having a bad hair day, make an appointment at Contesta Rock Hair (417 Espanola Way, Miami Beach, (305)672-5434). This is the only U.S. location of the salon; the rest are in Italy. The Miami Beach salon is run by a man named Fabio. Enough said.
If you can peel yourself away from the main shopping areas on the Beach, head north to Bal Harbour (this is still on the island of Miami Beach, just a separate city) and visit the Shops of Bal Harbour.
This is where the truly discriminating (and rich) of Miami shop. (9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour). For example, the locals shop at the Versace boutique here. You can recognize the tourists -- they take photos of themselves in front of the Ocean Drive mansion where he was killed.