The Sagamore This mainstay along bustling Collins Avenue is referred to as the "art hotel," thanks to its sculpture- and picture-lined lobby extending the length of the building. There’s also a gallery as well as original artwork in every guest room and, from the original 1948 design, touches like the restored marble and red-mahogany front desk. The lawn stretching from the back terrace to the beach is a favorite at cocktail hour.
1671 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-535-8088, sagamorehotel.com. Suites: $295–$4,000.
The Setai Art deco yields to Asian minimalism at this Zen-like South Beach temple of cool. Originally built in the late 1930s as the Dempsey Vanderbilt Hotel, the Setai fully opened a year ago with the building’s interior transformed. The grand lobby announces the studied aesthetic: A veritable palace of teak, bronze, Shanghai brick and artwork from the Far East, it leads you into a courtyard designed around a tranquil pond.
2001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-520-6000, setai.com. Suites: $900–$6,000.
Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club The stucco facades, arched promenades and terra-cotta roofs suggest the Mediterranean, but this resort actually lies in the exclusive South Florida enclave of Aventura. Most appealing of all is its Ocean Club, which features a fine restaurant with Atlantic views. The resort is nearing completion of a $100 million renovation.
19999 West Country Club Drive, Aventura; 305-932-6200, fairmont.com. Rooms: $189–$899. Suites: $469–$4,900.
Where to Eat
Blue Sea (Sushi) Strategically located in an alcove above the main lobby of the Delano Hotel—another of South Beach’s beachfront art deco destinations on Collins Avenue—this is a great place to partake of the young-and-trendy ethos, even if you are staying elsewhere. The long communal table encourages socializing, the atmosphere is casual, and the food—sushi, caviar and other seafood entrées—is light and reasonably priced.
1685 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-674-6400. $$
Cantina Beach (Coastal Mexican) The restaurant’s open-air, thatched-roof dining area makes it a hit with kids. But mom and dad will have plenty to interest them as well, including offerings from the Mexican-trained "tequilier." Cantina Beach’s cuisine consists of Cabo San Lucas–inspired food, such as fish tacos, lobster quesadillas and ceviche. Convenient to downtown Miami, the restaurant fronts the beach at the Ritz-Carlton in Key Biscayne.
455 Grand Bay Drive, Key Biscayne; 305-365-4500. $$$
Casa Tua (Italian) A secluded villa on a residential street sequestered from the throbbing South Beach scene, Casa Tua serves "progressive" Italian cuisine in a choice of settings. There is outdoor and indoor seating, including a twenty-seat communal chef’s table especially amenable to solo diners.
1700 James Avenue, Miami Beach; 305-673-1010. $$$$
Chispa (Latin fusion) The name means "spark," and Chispa draws its inspiration from several Hispanic sources, especially Spain and Cuba. The large dining room is contemporary but comfortable, and the menu offers something for everyone. Standards such as empanadas are reliable, but more adventurous options, like cava fondue with crisp root vegetables or seared octopus, are the way to go. Located in what seems a sedate neighborhood of Coral Gables, the long friendly bar draws a lively happy-hour crowd.
225 Altara Avenue, Coral Gables; 305-648-2600. $$$