What to Do, See and Eat in Miami, According to the Experts at Nobu Hotel Miami Beach

From Little Havana to the Deering Estate, an insider’s guide to Miami’s best

August 4, 2023 6:30 am
Pool overlooking scenic water
Here's everything you should do, see and eat in Miami.
Nobu Hotel Miami Beach

Alejandro Rivera is the man at Nobu Hotel Miami Beach with all the best recs: He’s the VIP guest experience manager, which means he’s the go-to guy for guests with queries at the luxurious “Japanese Beach House” that sits right on Collins Avenue. With 20 years of experience in both Miami and beyond, Rivera is a font of knowledge when it comes to the best of the city, so we asked him to give us the inside scoop on how to make the most of a visit to the 305.

Where can I get a great cup of coffee near the Nobu Hotel Miami Beach and go for a good walk?

Alejandro Rivera: I’d recommend taking a nice 15-minute stroll past the yachts docked on the Intracoastal Waterway to La Provence Boulangerie for a nice cup of coffee paired with some authentic French baked goods.

How about a restaurant where only locals go?

A local favorite for decades — since 1993 — is Cafe Prima Pasta, a wonderful Italian restaurant with an amazing happy hour and a homey atmosphere. My absolute favorite items on the menu are the Crab Raviolotti or the Branzino alla Caccia, baked with fennel and a lemon wine sauce.

What is your favorite thing on the Nobu menu at the hotel and why?

My favorite dish on the Nobu Miami menu has to be the famous black cod with miso. This light fish dish combines a silky white fish with a flavorful miso marinade for a magical balance. This is arguably the dish that put chef Nobu Matsuhisa and his Nobu restaurant on the map, with almost every high-end Japanese restaurant now having some variation of this dish on their menu.

Where should I go for a big night out on the town?

Conveniently located right next to our hotel — three minutes’ walking distance — is Miami Beach’s most famous club, LIV. Created by Miami hospitality mogul David Grutman, this club is filled with superstar performances every weekend, premium bottle service and all-around amazing vibes.

Best budget eats in town?

While Miami is often touted as the city of excess, even in swanky Miami Beach a restaurant like Puerta Sagua still stands (since 1962). This is where you can have an authentic Cuban meal paired with high quality and service for around $15 — it is truly unbeatable.

Where can I go for the best dessert?

A recently opened Italian-inspired seafood restaurant, Nettuno Oysters & Seafood, takes the cake — or rather, take the Passion Fruit Mousse, an airy, unique and delicious creation by chef Diego that is sure to leave you wanting another.

Best place for a sunset cocktail?

Watching the sunset overlooking Biscayne Bay is a quintessential part of any Miami experience, and what better way to enhance this than with a masterfully crafted cocktail from Crazy About You at The Mark on Brickell? The outside terrace provides a place to enjoy Hot-100 music with magical views and even more magical cocktails; Wednesday night ladies night is a must.

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Best neighborhood to take a long stroll if I want to get acquainted with a more “authentic” side of the city?

Many parts of Miami, like Brickell or the Miami Design District, will make you feel like you are in New York or Beverly Hills — however, a part of Miami that is undeniably Miami is Little Havana.

Miami is all about the water that surrounds it; how do we get out and enjoy the water when the weather is good?

It really depends on what you are looking for. If you want some high-adrenaline action, look no further than booking a jet ski rental; however, if you want to enjoy gorgeous views of Miami and Biscayne Bay in a fun watersports experience, I recommend parasailing. Alternatively, you could charter a yacht and truly enjoy Miami the way it is supposed to be enjoyed: partying on a yacht.

What is the best time of day to get to the beach in Miami?

You can be on the beach all day long, from sunrise to sunset, but the best time I’d recommend arriving is after 4 p.m., due to the drop-off in UV rays that happens around this time. Many tourists, and even locals, end up with severe sunburn, and the easiest way to avoid this is with plenty of sunscreen and by postponing the beach until after a nice Miami brunch.

Say I’m in Miami with my family, and the kids don’t want another day at the beach. Where do we go and why?

I would recommend visiting the Miami Children’s Museum, Miami Seaquarium or the Patricia and Philip Frost Museum of Science (also known as Frost Science). All of these kid-friendly places are interactive, which will keep your children engaged and informed, helping you and the kids learn something new about science, marine life and biology.

Which Miami parks should be on our “don’t miss” list?

Bayfront Park is the Central Park of Miami, a large, expansive park with dining and shopping options centrally located next to downtown Miami. It’s definitely a great place to take a walk and enjoy. You could also rent a city bike and bike around the oceanfront park, enjoying views of massive yachts and the bay on one side while you have downtown Miami’s skyline on the other.

What architectural landmarks are there to see in Miami?

There are plenty of architectural sights in Miami, ranging from the vintage Art Deco-style buildings present throughout South Beach to the futuristic modern design of the Design District. My recommendation for the absolute best architectural landmark to visit is Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, located in Coral Gables — the Mediterranean villa, museum and cafe are truly worth the visit.

Which Miami museums are your favorites and why?

My favorite museum is Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM), located in downtown Miami-Dade, which presents international art of the 20th and 21st centuries. Inside the art museum is also an equally artistic waterfront restaurant, Verde.

What are some quirky, perhaps less-visited sights to see in Miami?

A quirky historical site that is less visited than any of the others has to be the Deering Estate. The Deering Estate was the home of Charles Deering, a famous local preservationist and art collector. It’s now a museum and park filled with historical buildings, mangrove forests, tropical vibes and beautiful trees. Visitors can rent canoe tours and go on butterfly walks, guided museum tours and walking tours through its natural landscape. Definitely a hidden gem inside Miami!

What food does your city do better than anywhere else?

One thing that is unmatched anywhere is the fresh seafood. Whether it be snapper caught just offshore or Key West pink shrimp, you can taste the difference in the freshness of something caught locally.

What’s the best thing that you can only do in Miami?

One thing that is exclusive to Miami is Everglades National Park, an ecological wonder with some of the most diverse ecosystems in the whole world. It is the only place where you can see crocodiles and alligators living in one ecosystem, and it is also home to animals such as the West Indian manatee, wood stork and Florida panther. The best way to take in this park is through one of the many guided airboat tours, which take you deep into the heart of this environment and let you see some of its famous inhabitants.

I’m looking for a low-key brunch. Where to?

A low-key brunch spot only 12 minutes by car from the Nobu Hotel Miami Beach is Orange Blossom, which offers a New American-style brunch that is renowned for its healthy options and fresh organic ingredients.

What’s the best way to get around town?

The most flexible way to get around town without having to worry about Miami’s occasionally chaotic parking situations is through rideshare apps like Uber and Lyft. However, if you want more flexibility and freedom, I recommend renting with our concierge desk a convertible car like a Ford Mustang or Jeep Wrangler to let you take in the ocean breeze while cruising Miami’s best streets and causeways.

What’s the one thing everyone forgets to pack? Or the one thing everyone should remember to pack when visiting?

The best thing to bring to Miami is head protection and a high SPF sunscreen. Oh, and don’t forget your favorite pair of shades!

Finally, what’s the best book to read about the area before I come?There are a lot of books that are worth reading that illustrate some of Miami’s fascinating history and follow the evolution from a borderline-lawless, narco-funded city and refugee capital to the illustrious multicultural city that it has grown into today. Examples include The Year of Dangerous Days: Riots, Refugees and Cocaine in Miami 1980 by Nicholas Griffin and Miami by Joan Didion.


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