Known as the “Manhattan of the South” by some, Brickell is one of the fastest growing areas in Miami – and it’s for good reason. The heart of the city’s financial district, Brickell has recently undergone a renaissance, with new cultural destinations, spiraling skyscrapers, high-end hotels and top restaurants popping up almost every day.
And on top of all that excitement, the neighborhood is ideally located just a 15-minute drive from Miami International Airport and provides easy access to South Beach and up-and-coming popular spots like Wynwood and Design District.
Here are the best ways to discover the best of Brickell like a local.
Where to stay
Nowhere is Brickell’s resurgence more notable than on the hotel and dining fronts (more on the latter in a minute). Just look at the list of the latest newcomers: complementing its South Beach counterpart, SLS Brickell debuted in November 2016 with restaurants helmed by James Beard Award-winning chefs José Andrés and Michael Schwartz.
Of course, you can never go wrong with a weekend retreat at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Mandarin Oriental, Miami, which is tucked on the exclusive Brickell Key enclave that virtually guarantees top-shelf privacy, world-class dining and spot-on service.
For discerning business travelers wanting resort amenities, the Four-Star Four Seasons Hotel Miami reigns supreme.
Then, there’s W Miami (at the former Viceroy Hotel), a property permitting you to relax by the two-acre WET deck and 300-foot-long glistening infinity pool.
The stunning EAST, Miami is Hong Kong-based Swire Hotels’ U.S. debut, offering 352 guest rooms and suites that range from 300 to 1,800 square feet.
And, if quaint boutique hotels are more for you, it would be smart to book a room at The Langford, a Beaux-Arts stunner erected in the 1920s that once served as the home for Miami National Bank.
Where to eat
It used to be that diners were hard-pressed to find a good place to eat downtown. But with new and notable dining spots popping up, these days you’re hard-pressed just to snag a reservation. Local foodies will always recommend Five-Star dazzlers Azul and NAOE, or even Kimpton EPIC Hotel’s Zuma.
Let’s not forget happy hour: The Langford’s rooftop bar Pawn Broker pours classic cocktails alongside skyline views, whereas at EAST, Miami’s Sugar you can sip on exotic libations while lounging on daybeds surrounded by a lush, Balinese-style garden.
Where to play
After four years in the making, the newly opened Brickell City Centre has finally arrived. The $1 billion, mixed-use shopping mecca stretches across three city blocks in the heart of Brickell, literally transforming the area. The three-level, open-air shopping mecca brings 500,000 square feet of high-end shopping, dining, entertainment and overnight accommodations (EAST, Miami).
Anchored by a 107,000-square-foot Saks Fifth Avenue, the retail hub will also feature new luxury shops like Armani Collezioni, Chopard and Kiton.
Cinemex also debuted its first U.S. CMX theater, bringing an elevated dine-in, movie-watching experience to guests.
The center will also soon debut Miami’s first Italian food hall.
But even with all of those enticing options, the star of the show is arguably the Climate Ribbon, a $30-million, 100,000-square-foot canopy of steel, glass and fabric that’s designed to provide a steady breeze and offer shade to shoppers.
For a cultural fix, why not spend a day at the museum? Even if you’re not into modern art, Perez Art Museum Miami is a stunning architectural design with outdoor vertical gardens you simply have to see. And if those potential Instagram opportunities weren’t enough, the neighboring Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science will open its doors on May 8.
After all the sightseeing, dining and shopping, catch a breath of fresh air at Brickell Key Park, a mile-long stretch lined with palms on the water, perfect for a sunset stroll you’ll use to relive the highlights from your time exploring the area.