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I lived in South Florida for years and spent a lot of time in Miami.  My favorite time of year was August and September when all the tourists were gone, the ocean was warm and the afternoon rains would come.  I recently spent a week in Miami Beach catching up on those old feelings and seeing what’s new.

STAY

You don’t have to be a member to stay at Soho Beach House and I highly recommend it as a retreat away from the craziness of South Beach a bit further down the road.  Two fab pools, yummy food that can be served pool or beach side, and large beautiful rooms.  Love a room that comes set up with a complete bar for entertaining and a shower the size of a small New York apartment.

The James and SLS hotels are newer on Collins Ave and are in the center of it all.  Try The Raleigh or the Delano for South Beach old school style.  I would often see Madonna here in the eighties hosting dinner at the long table in the Delano lobby or swimming in that famous Raleigh pool.

EAT

Tablecloths and fancy china aren’t of much interest to me these days as I prefer to keep it simple, delicious and always with a local flavor.  Erela is a black bean connoisseur and gives a thumb’s up rating system for the best of the beach.

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Puerto Sagua got two thumbs up for their black beans and rice and I love the very local crowd and diner feel of the place.  Another winner is Havana 1957.  On the bustling corner of Washington and Lincoln Road, this always busy Cuban eatery has indoor and outdoor relaxed seating and great garlic sautéed shrimp.

If it’s Italian you are craving, head to Cecconi’s at Soho Beach House where you can dine al fresco in a garden on the beach.  If you have that convertible rental and want to venture across the causeway, absolutely try Mandolin in Miami’s oh-so-hot design district.  My eagle eyes spotted this hip outdoor restaurant with delicious Greek eats while driving to another restaurant and we promptly made a U-turn.  Good call.

DO

I’m not interested in doing much more than sitting seaside with several great books lined up on my iPad and the occasional dip in the water.  I could easily park myself on a chaise under an umbrella from dawn till dusk with the occasional early morning beach walk (before it gets too hot).  If it’s a weekend trip to escape a brutal New York winter, then I’m not even renting a car and I’m using Miami Beach’s bike share program (Deco Bike) to get around.

SHOP

Savor eternal summer with our Stephanie Johnson Miami Collection in Orange, Hot Pink and Lemon Yellow.  A nod to the neon lights of South Beach:   these transparent cases, while basic, are anything but boring!

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