Everything you need to plan a South Florida vacation this winter

tthere’s so much to love about South Florida, starting with the fact that a vacation here can be as sophisticated on or off the beach — or as toes in the sand and no fuss — as you like. (We’ll take both.)

From the Palm Beaches and Fort Lauderdale in the south to Miami and the Florida Keys, here’s your guide to what’s new, notable, or worth going to South Florida this winter.

New Notable Hotels in Miami, Palm Beach and Beyond

The hotel boom in South Florida has seen little sign of cessation, especially in Miami.

In 2021, Life House Hotels opened a Little Havana outpost in a beautiful barrio revival home, complete with a lavish rooftop cocktail bar with a cascade of tropical Caribbean plants.

Ocean Drive took on another historic Art Deco address when the Balfour Hotel opened its doors in the summer. And other notable Miami Beach openings in 2021 include Pharrell Williams and David Grutman’s Goodtime Hotel on Washington Avenue, which hosts weekend DJ parties in the sprawling pool lounge.

We’ve been particularly fond of Esmé Miami Beach lately along Española Way in South Beach. The former youth hostel has been redesigned ($40 million later) as a boutique hotel built around a curated village-like setting that includes a tapas bar, Andalusia-inspired gin bar, and other atmospheric nooks.

Beyond Miami, the White Elephant Palm Beach opened in Fall 2020 in a 1924 building right between Lake Worth and the beach with just 32 immaculate rooms, all with private outdoor spaces to bask in the winter sun.

In Key West, Margaritaville Beach House will open in late 2021 across the street from Smathers Beach, if you’re looking for a pied-à-terre in paradise that’s comfortably removed from hectic Duval Street and close to a swimming beach. Meanwhile, Kimpton is nearly taking over Old Town Key West with five hotels within a mile of each other — and each with its own distinct vibe. The cheery, tropical Lighthouse Hotel is across the street from the historic Hemingway Home and Museum, while Ella’s Cottages offers all charm and private verandah guest houses.

The restaurant reservations to make now

Celebrated outposts from the Northeast often make an even bolder splash when they migrate to South Florida, and 2021 saw several big openings in that direction.

Italian-American show-stealer Carbone debuted his Miami restaurant along Collins Avenue in Miami Beach in early 2021, serving spicy rigatoni vodka and veal that is as salivating here as it is in Greenwich Village, complete with a matching celebrity spotting scene. .

New York’s French bistro Le Bilboquet opened in February 2021 in an ivy-clad courtyard off Worth Avenue in Palm Beach. It has quickly become the most popular ticket in a city full of them. While regulars swear by the bouillabaisse and lobster curry, we promise the people watching these parts are equally memorable.

In keeping with its straight-up New York theme, Michelin-starred Korean Steakhouse, Cote, opened in 2021 in Miami’s Design District, featuring more creative cocktail offerings, a steak omakase menu, and Butcher’s Feast (four pieces of scoop dry aged beef with Korean accompaniments) to scenic points south.

Read before you go

Pinch me by Carl Hiaasen

Buy now: bookshop.org, amazon.com

No one captures the rambunctious, ridiculous world of South Florida quite like novelist and journalist Carl Hiaasen. His fiction work from 2020, Pinch meis set in Palm Beach and will have you laughing out loud at the cast of endemic and invasive Florida flora and fauna (and local characters that sound so lifelike).

Coming in 2022

It’s no surprise that major luxury hotels are looking to South Florida for openings in 2022. The Four Seasons Hotel and Residences Fort Lauderdale, slated to open early this year, will spare no luxury on the beach it calls the South Florida Riviera; it will open about a mile north of the shops and boutiques of Las Olas Boulevard.

On Singer Island in the Palm Beaches, the immersive oceanfront wellness resort, Amrit Ocean Resort & Residences, should open by summer, with 153 hotel rooms and 185 condos.

Florida will get its first Yotel, a tech-advanced brand popular with millennials, when Yotel Miami opens in March 2022 in the heart of downtown Miami, overlooking Biscayne Bay from its rooftop pool.

CitizenM Miami World Center will bring 252 affordable luxury and app-driven bedrooms to Brickell when it also debuts downtown later this year.

For music removed from the clubbing scene, mark your calendar for an intimate beachside jazz and funk festival with serious international appeal. During the early 2020 event, the GroundUP Music Festival attracted fans from more than 54 countries. The February festival, capped at 2,000 visitors per day, features live music, oceanfront lectures, and songwriting workshops at Miami Beach’s historic North Beach Band Shell.

>>Next: Florida’s Best Beaches

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