Lifeguard stand in South Beach, Miami

City Guide / Miami

Miami Neighborhood Guide: South Beach

By Angela Caraway-Carlton | Sep 7, 2021

If you’re planning on moving to Miami, you’re likely trying to figure out the best neighborhoods in Miami, and which one would be the right fit for you. Coveted by vacationers around the world, South Beach is a dream destination to live for most. It’s a place where every day can be a beach day, and there’s energy pulsing through the streets at all times of the day and night. 

Stretching along the Atlantic Ocean from South Pointe Park, the island’s tip, to 23rd Street, and running along Dade Boulevard to the Biscayne Bay side of the island, South Beach is small and easy to get around, whether it’s by foot, bike, scooter or even a kayak or paddleboard. 

You can be as glamorous as you desire, dining at high-end restaurants or partying at hot beach clubs. Or, keep it low-key by chilling in the sun until dusk, when you’ll meet friends at a casual bar or nearby cultural attraction.

Thinking about moving to South Beach? Here’s our guide to the best restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores, outdoor attractions, gyms, nightlife, and transportation in the neighborhood.

Best restaurants in the area

The culinary scene on South Beach has grown up over the past decade. The area is now home to restaurants helmed by superstar chefs, two food halls, fancy hotels with lauded hot spots, and staples that offer solid food at decent prices. 

For those in the know, Macchialina, a rustic Italian gem on Alton Road, is on the regular rotation thanks to their decadent pasta specials and exquisite wines. When it comes to pizza, the (admittedly pricey) brick-oven pies at Lucali are worth the extra cash. And newcomer Osteria Morini inside the Kimpton Palomar South Beach is the place for spot-on homemade pasta dishes, cured meats, cheeses, and exotic spreads.

For fresh seafood, don’t miss Stiltsville Fish Bar in Sunset Harbor, where you should share the Tackle Box packed with raw oysters, red shrimp cocktail, lobster salad, and more. Or, try upscale Lure, tucked away in the Loews Hotel Miami Beach, for creative fish dishes, sushi, and the best burger in town. You should also eat at the iconic Joe’s Stone Crab at least once, especially when it’s stone crab season October through May. 

If you’re a self-proclaimed foodie and want to splurge, one of Miami’s best chefs, Jeremy Ford (a winner on Bravo’s “Top Chef”) leads Stubborn Seed, a veggie-forward restaurant where the tasting menu is the way to go. 

Azabu Miami Beach, a Michelin-star concept, is for sushi lovers who crave an incredible omakase experience, while Pubbelly Sushi is a go-to spot for locals to grab creative sushi rolls with a Latin spin. 

If you like to sample and share a variety of foods, there are two food halls on South Beach: Time Out Market Miami and Lincoln Eatery.

Where to get groceries

When it’s time to fill the fridge, you’ll find mainstream grocery chains such as Whole Foods on Alton Road, Fresh Market and Trader Joe’s on West Avenue, and several Publix Super Markets within close proximity of each other. 

Locals also enjoy stocking up on fresh fruits and veggies, bread, and even freshly cut flowers at the Lincoln Road Farmers’ Market, which pops up every Sunday. 

Where to get coffee

Drinking coffee is a favored pastime in South Beach, and there is no shortage of places to gain a caffeine jolt. 

Stop by Bebito’s for a classic Cuban coffee (aka rocket-fuel), such as a café con leche or cortadito, which is a double shot of espresso, if you really need a pick-me-up. They also serve an all-day breakfast, which can be a lifesaver after a late night out on the town. 

Craft coffee lovers flock to the always-bustling Panther Coffee location in trendy Sunset Harbour, where they focus on small-batch roasting. On hot days, we recommend sipping on an affogato at Shepherd Artisan Coffee

Search out longtime hidden gem A La Folie Cafe, a French cafe nestled on Espanola Way, where you can indulge in coffee and crepes while feeling like you’ve escaped to Paris. 

Outdoor attractions

The obvious draw of South Beach is its soft, white sand and clear blue water, and residents usually unfurl a towel on the sands of the quieter South-of-Fifth area. Nearby South Pointe Park is a waterfront park located at the tip of South Beach and features a splash pad for the kids, plenty of green spaces for picnicking or lazing under palm trees, a walkable pier that extends over the ocean, and even a small dog park.

A major part of life in South Beach is enjoying the calm ocean or sparkling Biscayne Bay. Family-owned South Beach Kayak is where locals rent paddleboards and kayaks if they don’t have their own, and you can’t miss their sunset paddles. 

While it has evolved over the years into a mecca for major retailers, iconic Lincoln Road Mall is a pedestrian-only mall that’s great for shopping, relaxing at an al fresco cafe, and people-watching.  

Local gyms and workout spots

Staying in beach-ready shape is almost a requirement for living on South Beach, and there are numerous fitness centers, both small and large, for hard-hitting workouts. 

Locals can join mega-fitness chain clubs like Crunch and Equinox South Beach. There are also trendy boutique spots like  Barry’s Bootcamp Miami Beach, Anatomy Fitness (where you might spot a celebrity like J-Lo working out), South Beach Boxing, and SobeKick.

Those who like to stretch, flow, and get “bendy” can take a variety of yoga classes at GreenMonkey Yoga

If you like the word “free,” hit up beachfront Lummus Park on Ocean Drive, where you can sharpen (and show off) your muscles at the outdoor gym, or strike off on the walking/jogging trail that winds around South Beach.  

Nightlife

South Beach is Miami’s epicenter of nightlife, and it’s always pulsing with activity. If you like to dress to impress and party all night, head to LIV Miami, a massive club located in the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel that boasts some of the hottest DJs, exclusive seating and bottle service, and plenty of room to dance. 

One of the OGs of South Beach is Nikki Beach, a luxury beach club where you can day-drink on their sandy beach dotted with boho-chic daybeds and dance until after the sun sets. Newcomer Strawberry Moon (which is backed by Pharrell Williams) is another popular day-to-night spot where you can expect an over-the-top experience.

Locals favor laidback bar Sweet Liberty for their fun vibes, expertly crafted drinks, and comfort food, and a night at Twist is always a good idea for heart-pounding music and (sweaty) dancing. 

Other things to do and see

There’s more substance to South Beach than just the beaches and party-all-night clubs. Residents can also immerse themselves in the city’s rich culture. If you’re new to town, take a deep-dive into South Beach’s Art Deco history with a walking tour with the Miami Design Preservation League, which highlights the area’s history and landmarks. 

Spend an evening at the New World Symphony, home to a renowned full-time orchestral academy, where they often hold free Wallcast Concerts. The live, classical music concerts are projected on their building’s wall in SoundScape Park, and locals go all out with grand picnics and setups to watch the show under the stars.

Wander The Bass, a small-but-mighty contemporary art institution that showcases international exhibits and playful public art on its sprawling green spaces. Further south, there’s the Wolfsonian Museum, which houses a unique collection of 200,000 objects from 1850 to 1950, mostly from the U.S. and Europe.

Public transportation, parking, and driving information

While most residents need a car to get around the city of Miami, they rarely need to move their cars when at home or on the beach, since they can simply walk, bike, or jump on a scooter to get around the neighborhood. 

Another easy way to zip around the beach is to hop on the free South Beach Trolley, which runs seven days a week, or hail down Swoop, electric golf carts that offer free rides to nearby shops, restaurants, and bars. 

Most people living on South Beach invest in a bike, but you can also rent one with CitiBike Miami, which has stations sprinkled throughout the area. 

Finding street parking or even an open spot in a parking lot can be a challenge, especially in high season. Residents who can prove they live on South Beach should apply for a residential parking permit that offers discounted parking. 

Pro tip: When you see an open spot, snag it. Most locals have the ParkMobile app on their phone, so it’s easy to pay and park. It’s much easier to find parking in large garages near your desired destination. 

Land in a great apartment in South Beach

If you like the idea of moving to South Beach, Landing offers fully furnished apartments with flexible lease terms, concierge services, seamless transfers, and all the amenities you need. Browse our available apartments in South Beach, or contact us to learn more about how a Landing membership works.

Still looking for the right Miami neighborhood for you? Browse our other Miami neighborhood guides.

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About the author

Angela Caraway-Carlton