South Beach Weekend Getaway

Friday

USA,Florida,Miami Beach,Art Deco hotels on street with palm trees
••• Peter Seaward Photography/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Living in Miami, it's sometimes easy to lose sight of all our beautiful city has to offer. When you need a quick vacation, don't forget that South Beach is close to home. While others need to travel the world over to visit the clear blue waters and unique art deco landscape, we can simply take a weekend to rejuvenate in our own backyard! Here's how to make the most of your weekend South Beach get-away.

The best time for locals to visit is off-season, May through August. You can get great rates at this time, and the streets and restaurants are quieter. Spring break weeks are the worst time for locals to visit, in March and April.

When you arrive on Friday evening, you can either check in at one of the many large grand hotels on the beach or you can see what the smaller eclectic hotels have to offer. One good bet is the Kimpton Surfcomber Hotel Miami (1717 Collins Avenue) which is within walking distance to almost everything. Their amenities include a data port in each room, two thousand feet of private beach and umbrella/towel service. A very different experience can be found at The Pelican. While still within walking distance to all South Beach attractions, it boasts the coolest choices of rooms anywhere. Each of the thirty rooms are decorated in their own style and named appropriately.

If rooms like Flower Power, Big Bamboo, Best Whorehouse or Me Tarzan, You Vain sound appealing, you have to check this hotel out! You also might want to read our reader-selected Top Miami Beach Hotels.

Your best bet for tonight after checking into your hotel is dinner and people-watching on Lincoln Road.

Full of stores, boutiques, art galleries, and museums, seven blocks of this ten-block mall have been closed to auto traffic. The unique atmosphere lends to some interesting people showing up, and you never know who you may see!

Most restaurants offer outdoor seating so you can enjoy the ambience and beautiful weather. Whether you feel like Italian (TiramesU Restaurant, Da Leo Trattoria), Cuban (Yuca Restaurant), New World (Pacific Time), or a blues cafe (Van Dyke Cafe), you can find it here on Lincoln Road! Spend the rest of the evening here so you can be refreshed for a full day tomorrow.

You'll want to wake up early on Saturday to make the most of your day. Most hotels offer continental or full breakfasts, or you can make your way to Ocean Drive to one of the many restaurants open for breakfast. The News Cafe (800 Ocean Drive) is a popular early-morning hangout. Breakfast is served 24 hours a day, making it also a very popular place for late-night munchies! Get a paper, magazine or book from the store and enjoy your meal outside.



If you're interested in art deco, be sure to visit the Miami Design Preservation League's Art Deco Welcome Center early this morning. Art deco tours guided by native historians leave from here at 10:30 am each Saturday morning ($10 fee, free to members of the MDPL). If you'd rather take it at your own pace, self-guided audio tours are also available 7 days a week from 10 am-4 pm ($10 rental fee, free to members of the MDPL).

Of course, you came to South Beach for the white sand beaches and crystal blue waters, so what are you waiting for? Hit the miles of beach and enjoy this little piece of heaven for the day. Most hotels on the water offer umbrella, lounge chairs and towels included as a "resort fee" in the cost of the room, so by all means take advantage of it. Some even offer beverage service to your lounge chair, so lay back, sip a frozen margarita, and enjoy the view.

You can enjoy lunch and dinner at any one of the great restaurants you'll find up and down Ocean Drive.

If you want to dress it up a little, many of Miami's Top 10 Restaurants are right here on South Beach. If you're vacationing during stone crab season (October 15 - May 15), you must visit Joe's Stone Crab (11 Washington Avenue) for one meal. One of the oldest restaurants on South Beach, it has pleased visitors for 91 years and is still going strong.



Saturday night on Ocean Drive is something to see- Will Smith, Madonna, and Gloria Estefan are just a few of the 'regulars' to this part of town. Although spring break can be crazy, most of the year it's more glamorous. With famous clubs like The Clevelander (1020 Ocean Drive), Club Deep (Dance on water! 621 Washington Ave) and Nikki Beach Club (a beachfront dance club, 1 Ocean Drive), there's no shortage of places to hang out. There are bars, clubs and coffee bars for every taste. Viva Miami! Party the night away and sleep in tomorrow...

Most hotels don't check out until noon, so sleep off your high-flying Saturday night as long as you can! If you missed News Cafe (800 Ocean Drive) yesterday morning, make sure you hit it today- remember, breakfast is served 24 hours, so they'll be ready when you are! You can also try for brunch at The Palms Garden Grill (3025 Collins Avenue). With the live blues music, tropical setting and terrific food, you can't go wrong.



It's a quiet time to stroll the beach, so take a trek up to 23rd Street where there's a boardwalk to amble. If you missed the self-guided audio art deco tour yesterday, you can do that today after 10 am. Lincoln Mall Road opens it's street to a farmer's market on Sunday mornings (9 am-6 pm) featuring fresh produce, homemade bread, jam and juice, and fresh flowers. This is where the locals can be found.

On you way out of town, it's worth a short drive up to Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House (17190 Collins Avenue) for lunch. Said to be a favorite hangout of Al Capone's, this diner/deli/bakery has sandwiches and desserts to die for. If it's in season, be prepared for a wait of about 20 minutes; otherwise, walk right up to the counter and enjoy a corned beef on rye and a piece of pie.

As you can see, there is plenty to take up your South Beach weekend. Among some of the other things to do are The Holocaust Memorial (1933 Meridian Avenue), fishing, SCUBA diving, sailing, roller blading- you name it!

Don't take this beautiful vacation spot for granted, make the most of what South Beach has to offer.