Sunny beaches? Check. Designer shopping? Check. Upscale dining, rich culture and energetic nightlife? Check, check and check. Whether you’re in town for a girls’ getaway, a romantic couple’s escape or a few days of adventure before or after a cruise, South Beach has a well-deserved reputation for fun.
So much fun, in fact, that it can be a good idea to pencil in some down time. And while I’d understand if your preferred means of relaxation is lounging on the beach, I recently discovered a few other South Beach spots that provide a welcome change of pace. Here are three great ways to venture off the beaten path:
South Pointe Park
A good friend who hails from Miami recommended I stop by this low-key, 17-acre park on the southernmost tip of South Beach. So I trekked from the touristy part of Ocean Drive down to this popular local hangout. You can also rent a bike to make the 1.5-mile journey.
Regardless of how you get there, it’s well worth the effort. South Pointe is part park, part beach, with leafy green spaces and sandy white coastline in equal measure. I particularly liked the pier, where I strolled above sparkling teal waters and watched the massive cruise ships move in and out of the bay.
A La Folie Café
Nestled in a cozy space on Espaniola Way, this small French bistro all but transported me to Paris. After stepping inside, I was captivated by its charm — from the bohemian-style décor to the friendly gray cat who serves as an unofficial mascot. It’s the kind of place where you can sit, relax and stay a while, nursing an iced coffee or nibbling on a crepe.
As for the food, I really enjoyed the savory ratatouille crepe with eggplant, zucchini, peppers and onions. While the veggies were delicious, I couldn’t get enough of the crepe itself – so light and airy yet flavorful. For dessert, I chose the Bretonne crepe featuring apples and a caramel liquor sauce in a thicker crepe tinged with just the right amount of sweetness.
ArtCenter South Florida
From the outside, this building blends right in on Lincoln Avenue between Jefferson and Michigan. Inside, though, you’ll find all manner of quirky and imaginative masterpieces. That’s because the center is home to 18 artist studios and other educational and collaborative spaces. Best of all, admission to the center is free!
When I stopped by, only one studio was open, but I didn’t want to distract the artist. Instead, I just wandered around, looking at artwork hanging in the hallways, exploring the exhibition gallery on the second floor, and peering into studio windows at fascinating works in progress. It felt like stepping inside one creative brain after another, in the best possible way.
Where to Stay: