A Miami getaway is tempting any time of year, but in the weeks leading up to the official start of spring, escaping to Florida seems especially enticing. And while the beautiful surf and stellar pool scene of South Beach always beckons, another part of paradise awaits in nearby Coral Gables that’s perfect for a girls’ weekend.
For advice on how to plan an ideal ladies’ getaway to the area, we turned to five in-the-know Miami natives who have been friends for years (we’ve been told that some refer to the group as the “South Miami Mafia”): Michele Benesch, President of Slow Food Miami; Cynthia Demos of Cynthia Demos Communications; Denie Harris of St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School; Kristin Pearce of Kristin Pearce Designs; and Boo Zameck of Just Ask Boo. Here, the who’s who of Miami share an insider’s itinerary for how to unwind in style off the beach.
FRIDAY: Coconut Grove and Cocktails
Check in at the luxurious Biltmore hotel (1200 Anastasia Avenue). Those who arrive earlier in the day can enjoy a spa treatment or relax by the gorgeous pool—the biggest hotel pool in the Southeast—while waiting for the rest of their party.
Once everyone is in town, head to Coconut Grove, a boutique and gallery-lined destination that’s enjoying a resurgence, for some shopping. Be sure to stop into Polished Coconut (3444 Main Highway, Suite 20), which owner Alicia Kossick fills with treasures primarily made by women in developing countries from around the world (think beautiful woven cotton bags, vintage tunics, and handmade glazed bowls).
After you’ve finished browsing, start the evening off with drinks on the sidewalk at Green Street Café (3468 Main Highway), which offers an impressive (and adventurous) cocktail menu. Move on to dinner at chef Michael Beltran’s Ariete (3540 Main Highway), where you can choose from a variety of delicious shareable dishes. End the night with after dinner drinks overlooking Biscayne Bay at Glass and Vine (2820 McFarlane Road).
SATURDAY: Balance, brunch, and Brickell
Start your day off on a healthy note with a yoga class at Green Monkey Coral Gables (1430 South Dixie Highway, Suite 116) followed by a hearty brunch at Whisk Gourmet (7382 Southwest 56th Avenue), a local favorite owned by brother-and-sister duo Brendan and Kristin Connor.
There is no better place for a shopping spree than the historic Miracle Mile in Coral Gables. Highlights include POOL LabShow (376 Miracle Mile), a women’s fashion boutique with an incredibly curated collection of European designer labels, and Plume (218 Andalusia Avenue), a new home accessories boutique that has Miami’s best selection of pillows and lamps. If you need a nibble and/or glass of wine to help you power through, stop at The Café at Books & Books (265 Aragon Avenue), a courtyard bistro and wine bar inside a beloved independently owned bookstore.
For more great boutiques—and some truly inspiring sight-seeing—make your way over to the Design District, Miami’s luxury shopping destination that is worth the trip if only to see the innovative architecture of the neighborhood. While you’ll find a brick and mortar store for practically every designer label, don’t miss two must-visit boutiques, The Bazaar Project (4308 Northeast Second Avenue), a clothing and home accessories store with a global sensibility, and En Avance (53 Northeast 40th Street), which carries gorgeous clothes and beauty products as well as items for the home. If you find yourself in the area at happy hour, go to Michael’s Genuine (140 Northeast 40th Street) for a cocktail and their signature bar snacks of salted radishes or crunchy hominy.
For dinner, head downtown, which locals refer to as “Brickell” (rhymes with pickle), to Big Easy (701 South Miami Avenue) in the new Brickell City Centre. Despite the name, don’t expect New Orleans-inspired cuisine—the restaurant’s moniker is a reference to South African golfer Ernie Els, and the menu reflects his roots. Pay a visit to Sugar (788 Brickell Plaza), the rooftop bar located on the 40th floor of the EAST hotel, to end the night.
SUNDAY: Sightseeing and Champagne
Squeeze in some final sightseeing on Sunday morning at the Wynwood Art District. Grab a quiche from Fireman Derrick’s Bake Shop (2818 North Miami Avenue) or coffee and toast from Zak The Baker (405 Northwest 26th Street) and take a guided tour of the neighborhood, which is home to one of the largest open air street art installations in the world. Finally, before it’s time to leave, sit down with your girlfriends for the perfect Miami sendoff at the famed Biltmore Champagne Brunch.
Photograph by Matt Rice Photography.