Where’s the Fun in Miami?

There's more to Miami than bikinis and booty. In the final installment of a series profiling the Magic City, The Root explores the 3-0-5 you won't see in a typical rap video.

Getty Images
Getty Images

You can blame Will Smith, LMFAO, Rick Ross or Uncle Luke for the prevailing stereotypes of Miami — the music they’ve made has branded the city as party central, where the bartender never stops pouring and the booties never stop shaking. It’s known as the Magic City, and locals laugh as they call it a sunny place for shady people.

But most tourists get it twisted. They’ll go to South Beach and stay on Ocean Drive, get sloshed at Wet Willies, eat at Jerry’s Famous Deli, then go back home and brag to all their friends that they’ve been to Miami. Take it from us — you haven’t truly been there unless you venture away from the beach and onto the mainland. There’s so much more to see in the 3-0-5 than palm trees and barely there bikinis.

The city isn’t exactly known for its stellar public transportation system, so rent a car if you can. This trip can afford you the opportunity to rent a convertible and cruise around the city like a celebrity. Trust us — when you experience some of the neighborhood gems we’re about to share with you, you’ll definitely have stories to tell and bragging to do when you get back.

South Beach

Of course you’ve gotta spend some time on South Beach, just so you can say you were there — but that doesn’t mean you have to get stuck at the same old tourist traps. If your sole vacation goal is to follow in the footsteps of ballers like Dwyane Wade and LeBron James, then you should hit up LIV at the Fontainebleau, which always promises visions of scantily clad females and VIP bottle service.

Nikki Beach delivers that quintessential Miami Beach experience, complete with model types lounging on beds, and bottle service on the beach. For a taste of gritty history and cocktails served straight, no chaser, you gotta hit up Miami Beach’s oldest bar, Mac’s Club Deuce. Every so often you can catch the bar’s owner, 90-year-old Mac, supervising from the sidelines as his customers get sloshed.

First-time visitors love the scene on Ocean Drive near Wet Willie’s, where it can seem as if there’s an ongoing a competition for Most Aggressive Pickup Line or Most Scandalous Bikini. Locals tend to avoid this particular stretch, but a stroll down Ocean Drive can offer interesting people-watching and sightseeing.

Take a photo outside the Versace mansion (now known as Casa Casuarina, a pricey hotel and restaurant). If you’re looking for shopping, stroll along Lincoln Road. The pedestrian-only street offers wonderful alfresco dining during weekdays, but on Sundays the weekly farmers market brings out local artisans. On Sunday afternoons, Lincoln Road is all about gorgeous people walking their tiny dogs, and the kind of epic brunch that effortlessly bleeds into dinner.