A Perfect Day in Miami

Let those who know tell you how to spend it

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Wilfredo Lee—AP

The seafront at Miami Beach, home to Art Basel

Arriving on private jets and armed with personal art advisers, the global culture crowd will soon descend upon Miami Beach for the annual Art Basel show (miamibeach.artbasel.com), which takes place from Dec. 6 to 9 in the heart of South Beach. Now in its 11th year, Art Basel is the most influential art event in all of the Americas, luring a global audience of art lovers, along with models, moguls and celebrities. While many of Art Basel’s choicest events are invite-only affairs, most of Miami Beach’s most desirable destinations, from temples of haute cuisine to temples of high culture, are open to all. We asked four Miami-mad regulars for their own personal black books.

Michael Tilson Thomas, artistic director, New World Symphony
I rise just before dawn for a walk around the Sunset Islands or to a local park like South Pointe overlooking the Atlantic. Back home, I read the newspapers and eat breakfast sitting on my dock looking over musical scores. I then head for the New World Center, the recently completed, Frank Gehry–designed home of the New World Symphony (nws.edu). So much is happening there that once I get in the building it’s hard to get out. But I take my breaks out on our roof garden or head out to the many little restaurants in the surrounding Lincoln Road district. I especially like the modern Cuban cuisine at Yuca (yuca.com), the unique Latin-Asian fusion dishes at Sushi Samba (sushisamba.com) and our ever reliable Italian family restaurant, Rosinella (rosinella.net).

On days I go home early, I try and stop at some of the small markets where sport fishermen sell their fresh catches. If I have the chance, I’ll also pop into the rapidly growing Wynwood area, or the Design District, where Miami’s gallery scene is thriving. I particularly like the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse (margulieswarehouse.com). Finally, if I’m not cooking fish for dinner, I’ll eat at Michael’s Genuine (michaelsgenuine.com), where the indoor-outdoor setup is also great for weekend brunch.

(LIST: 10 Things to Do in Miami)

Nadja Swarovski, board member, Swarovski Crystal
Whenever I’m in town, I stay at the Soho Beach House (sohobeachhouse.com). I start every day with a speed walk on the hotel’s private beach—a rarity in Miami—and then get my hair done at the Cowshed Spa. Before I head out, I have breakfast at Cecconi’s, imported from Venice, by way of London.

I usually head straight to the De la Cruz Collection (delacruzcollection.org) in the Design District, which houses an impeccable collection of contemporary art. From there I’ll swing over to the Bass Museum of Art (bassmuseum.org), which presents historical works and makes for a great counterpoint to the more ultra­modern pieces on display in the Design District.

Next, it’s a dose of retail therapy and a much needed coffee at the Webster (thewebstermiami.com), which has three floors of fashion and accessories from well-known luxury brands and edgy, up-and-coming designers. The rooftop restaurant has fabulous views of the ocean and is a perfect spot for a late afternoon rest.

Then it’s back to Soho House for another walk along the beach before heading out for the evening. My favorite place for dinner is the garden at Casa Tua (casatualifestyle.com) in South Beach, which is tucked away in an early 1920s Mediterranean villa. The restaurant is run by a stylish husband-and-wife team from Italy and the interiors are filled with charming familial touches. The northern Italian cuisine is exquisite, especially the truffle risotto.

Marianne Goebl, director, Design Miami
I like to start my day with breakfast at the French bakery Buena Vista Deli (buenavistadeli.com), which offers what I consider to be Miami’s best selection of pastries. From there I’ll take a stroll through the Design District, popping into some of the great high-end-fashion boutiques before heading for lunch at Mandolin (mandolinmiami.com). It’s a low-key, neighborhood restaurant serving great Turkish and Greek food and very popular with families on weekends.

To see one of the best examples of contemporary architecture in Miami, I’d drive over to the 1111 Lincoln Road complex (1111lincolnroad.com), which has a stunning car park­—yes, car park—designed by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron. The structure stands as a true homage to the car and offers a beautiful view over Miami Beach.

(MORE: Art Basel Miami: How the City on the Beach Became an International Cultural Hotspot)

Next, I’ll pay a visit to the Wolfsonian (wolfsonian.org), which is an extraordinary design museum right in the heart of South Beach. I love its eclectic collection of decorative artifacts and propaganda materials from 1885 to 1945.

I end the day at the W South Beach hotel (starwoodhotels.com), which has managed to retain its great buzz three years after its debut. I’ll do dinner at the Dutch, which offers a truly American remix of Caribbean, Latin and Asian flavors, and I’ll end the evening with drinks amid the lavish landscaping of Grove, the W’s indoor-outdoor lounge.

Lenny Kravitz, musician and president, Kravitz Design
Miami is a place I return to often and love to call home. When I’m in town I try to take advantage of the beautiful weather and begin my day with a seafront run on South Beach. If I go early enough, the beaches are nearly empty and really peaceful. After my run I hit JugoFresh (jugofresh.com) for one of their organic, cold-pressed juice blends.

In the early part of the day, I like to check out the Wynwood district. Many of the buildings have been painted by graffiti artists, and there’s always something new to see. If I have time, I’ll check out the Rubell Family Collection (rfc.museum), which is one of the world’s premier modern-art collections. I also go to Clive’s (clivescafe.com), a local Caribbean restaurant I’ve been visiting for years. They have great curries, stews and jerk dishes.

In the evening, I’ll go to the New World Symphony. During concerts, they project the performance on an exterior wall of the building, so you can sit on the lawn and enjoy. It’s a great opportunity for the community to experience classical music, and this season they’ll present works by everyone from Mahler to Rachmaninoff. Before the concert I’ll stop at the SLS South Beach hotel (slshotels.com) for a preshow cocktail at the Bazaar. They have this nitrogen caipirinha that is delicious—and since Kravitz Design created the hotel’s bungalow and presidential suite, I always feel at home.

Dinner is at my favorite restaurant, Zuma (zumarestaurant.com), where I can easily eat three times a week. Or, if I’m craving something more casual, I’ll head over to Pubbelly (pubbelly.com) on South Beach’s cooler, quieter western side. The young owners have also opened the hip tapas joint Barceloneta (barcelonetarestaurant.com) nearby.

Miami is a late-night city, so after dinner I’ll hit a club or two. I like to go upstairs at Casa Tua, which most folks think of as a dining spot, but they have a lot of percussion instruments, and you can play along with the DJ. It’s always packed.