Miami is truly one of America’s great cities – lively, vibrant, multi-cultural, and warm. For many years, it’s been a magnet for Europeans, South and Central Americans, people from all over the world. It’s also a magnet for boat owners, as a destination in its own right, as a stopover on the Great Loop, or as a stepping off point for a cruise to the Keys or over to the Bahamas. Now, of course, it’s a magnet for the more than 100,000 people who will attend the two enormous boat shows in town.
The question is, what to do once you get there? First off, even if you’re in Miami just for the boat shows, plan to spend some time in Miami itself or over on Miami Beach. They’re both special. And yes, working or wandering around the shows all day can be tiring, but that’s all the more reason to head somewhere after the shows to relax.
Since I’ve been going to Miami on boats and planes for much longer than I’d like to remember, I’ve developed a few favorite spots of my own. (We also include much broader reviews of things to do in Miami, including waterfront bars, restaurants, cultural events and family-oriented activities, in the links at the bottom of this story.)
My own list, however, starts with the Rusty Pelican, on Rickenbacker Causeway almost next to the Miami International Boat Show there. The food and the bar scene are fun, but the view, looking back over the Miami skyline, is spectacular (see the picture above).
For another waterfront experience, drive a bit south to Coconut Grove and sit outside at Monty’s Raw Bar, a bayside seafood house. Try the stone crabs, conch fritters and Mahi Mahi, plus some tropical drinks, sitting under the tike huts.
If you don’t mind waiting, and probably running into half the people you know from the boat show, head for Joe’s Stone Crabs in South Beach. Joe’s is the iconic Miami restaurant, certainly the iconic stone crab restaurant, and it’s simply fun. The stone crabs are incredible, worth the wait (and expense), and it’s a great destination for lunch or dinner.
Away from the seafood scene, The Forge, up on 41st Street in Miami Beach, is probably the area’s best steakhouse, but maybe that’s because it reminds me of some New York steakhouses. It definitely has a showbiz connection, from Frank Sinatra to Michael Jackson. But it also has New American fare, and it’s a great spot for a quiet, first-rate dinner.
My personal favorite is the News Café on 8th and Ocean Drive in South Beach, a relaxed café and bookstore that’s open 24 hours a day. You can eat at the bar inside or outside in a courtyard and enjoy the food and the scene. For a more upscale scene, head up to the Delano Hotel; it has a to-die-for infinity pool and some expense-account type restaurants, but it also has a great little bar tucked away off the lobby; turn right behind the gauzy white curtains. Read more: