Sunny days, wild nights and a proximity to the Caribbean have long made Miami one of the world’s preeminent party towns. Now, new money–much of it tied to tech–and a laissez-faire attitude have made it one of the most dynamic destinations in America. From a restaurant landscape dominated by young, collaborative chefs and restaurateurs to popping nightlife and contemporary art scenes, we share why the Magic City is only getting hotter.
A Miami welcome
I've always thought myself extremely lucky to have been born and raised in Miami, and also lucky to have left: It is in the leaving that I learned to see my hometown's influences on me and on the ways I experience the rest of the world. For one thing, Miami made me a writer, a fan of em dashes—that most Miami of punctuation marks in its attempt to cram a sentence inside another sentence, like the strip of guava peeping out from the city's famed pastelitos—and a lover of percussive prose. Growing up in Miami also taught me to have very strong opinions about the quality of tropical fruits, about beaches and the acceptable temperature of ocean water (slightly below warm bath, please), and the number of accessories deemed appropriate to wear pretty much anywhere (answer: There is no limit). Thanks to Miami, I've never met a heel too high, a teal too bright, or a traffic scenario too terrifying.
Miami for me somehow never changes—there's the neighborhood bakery with its ventanita, where my family has ordered café con leche on Sunday mornings for decades—and yet every time I've come home since moving away, parts of the city look completely different. There's more newness to see than I have time to explore. I never visit the same Miami twice. That is, unless I go to the actual Miami Twice, a vintage-clothing store on busy Bird Road in South Miami where I bought my prom dress back in the day. That street is also home to Bird Bowl, a gem of a bowling alley, and Playthings, a lingerie-and-sex-toy shop that took over where the laser-tag joint Ultrazone used to be. Both establishments—the latter in its laser-tag incarnation—defined my teen years, as my friends and I gutter-balled and pew-pew-pew-ed our weekends away before we were old enough to be admitted into the city's storied nightclubs.
Friends I've brought home have described Miami back to me as loud, but as someone born and raised in the county of Dade, I'll echo the rapper Trick Daddy, a fellow Miami native, in arguing that everywhere else is a notch or five too silent. This is a natural conclusion to draw when you've grown up with the ruckus of passing cars blasting stereos so loud the music rattled the windows of your childhood bedroom, the sound easing you into sleep every night: Miami's own bass-bumped lullaby.
I used to attribute my preference for loudness in every aspect of my life to growing up Cuban. Admittedly, my version of Miami is a predominantly Cuban American creation. But my husband, who is also Cuban, grew up in New Hampshire, and his fondness for gray sweatshirts and quiet mornings (as opposed to my morning alarm set to blast a revolving soundtrack of Miami darlings Otto Von Schirach, Afrobeta, and yes, old-school Gloria Estefan) has revealed my preferences for what they are: relics of a Miami upbringing.