Casa Tua - Beautiful Italian restaurant in a Mediterranean-style villa. Sit outside on breezy, cool nights. Insane burrata.
Michael's Genuine - My favorite restaurant in Miami, in the growing Design District. They take farm-to-table seriously and the food is so wonderful. Try and get a seat outside!
Osteria del Teatro - I love what the host said to me as I sat down - "“Have a seat by the window; it’s better to watch the wildlife that way." In the heart of the crazy Art Deco District and Washington Avenue, this is the perfect place to watch it from the inside looking out.
Joe's Stone Crab - Just the best stone crab claws, hash brows with a sweet, caramelized crust and key lime pie. Best!
Khong River House - Great Thai food near the Lincoln Road Mall.
Flywheel Miami - My favorite spin studio in NYC has a branch in Miami - I went three times on my last visit.
Purdy Avenue - Trendy but quiet street/area in South Beach that became my favorite spot to unwind (Flywheel is on Purdy Ave). Very locals-only. Fun shops and great restaurants, like Barceloneta for tapas and Pubbelly for sushi.
Mandarin Oriental Miami - Come for lunch if you don't stay. It's gleaming, sleek and very Miami.
The Setai - Absolute perfection for a Miami hotel. I love the trio of temperature-controlled swimming pools, the fitness center/spa, center courtyard, and bar.
Grove Isle Hotel & Spa - So I wouldn't stay here. I came for a quiet place to work during lunch and it was almost empty. But I ended up chatting with Pitbull, as it's one of his favorite places to escape in the city. Coming from Mr. 305 himself - that's a big endorsement!
PAMM (Pérez Art Museum Miami) - Opened at the end of 2013, this museum has a beautiful setting overlooking Biscayne Bay and adirondack chairs outside to admire the hanging gardens.
Bal Harbour - Conceived as a "dream village," Bal Harbour is super chic, fancy, and a stunning place to get away from the frenetic South Beach pace, especially at the St. Regis. Again, a great place to grab lunch or a cocktail even if you don't stay. Beautiful palm trees and pools full of bright orange koi create a lush jungle feel at the Bal Harbour shops across from the St. Regis.
Ritz-Carlton Key Biscayne - A lot of the locals I met in Miami want to move to Key Biscayne for its quiet beauty yet great location 15 minutes from downtown Miami. The Ritz is a big, beautiful resort on Key Biscayne with lots of kids splashing around. Eat lunch here before heading out to Bill Baggs Cape Florida Park and the historic lighthouse.
The florida keys & KEY WESt
Sunset Key Guest Cottages & Latitudes - This resort is a five-minute ferry ride from Key West but feels a world apart, like you've flown to the Caribbean (and of course, you're not that far from the Caribbean). The pastel-colored cottages are beautiful. If you don't stay, come for lunch or dinner at Latitudes with beach views. Sunset here is gorgeous! I highly recommend staying overnight though - it is so rejuvenating! They deliver picnic baskets of bread, pastries, and yogurt to you in the morning.
Panini Panini - Great casual lunch spot in the heart of Key West's shopping district.
Azur Restaurant - My favorite dinner spot in Old Town. Great ambiance and Mediterranean food.
Ernest Hemingway Home - A must-do in Key West - whether you're a Hemingway fan or not. You'll see the 50-odd six-toed cats (descendants of felines owned by Ernest himself) roaming the property. You can then stroll around Old Town with its quaint homes, roosters crowing, and South Florida heat warming the sidewalks.
My National Geographic article that details my road-trip from Miami to Key West (don't miss the Coral Castle Museum, Alabama Jack's, or the turtle hospital!): Road-Tripping the Florida Keys
I highly recommend renting a bike to get around Key West - parking is a pain (especially at the famous Southernmost Point Market that says 90 Miles to Cuba) and everything is pretty close! Key West can feel pretty hazy and a throwback to another era, which is why I love it. Avoid the college bars on Duval Street and you'll be great!