Ocean Drive in Miami Beach
The Clevelander Hotel's outdoor bar on Ocean Drive
When sunrise hits the Art Deco historic district, those lucky
enough to remain awake after a night of club hopping experience a moment
when everything seems new again on Ocean Drive. Sunsets may be better in
Key West, but Miami Beach owns the dawn with pastel colored hotels that
sparkle in the sun.
Savvy tourists make certain their reservations specify
a high floor facing east if a sunrise breakfast in bed
is on the agenda. Some
Ocean Drive hotels offer roof
top pool decks with a bird's eye view of the
sunrise and surf below.
After years of neglect during the 1970s and early
80s, Ocean Drive came roaring back on the scene when a
few brave restaurateurs opened cafes and patiently waited for
the buzz to energize an area that had gained a reputation for low rent
housing and petty street crime.
The newly re-opened
Breakwater Hotel on Ocean Drive
One of the first entrepreneurs, Mark Soyka, opened the
at 8th and Ocean in 1988 offering comfort
food and international newspapers 24 hours a day.
While most folks thought an upscale diner on a street
with little traffic would quickly fail, the News Cafe
and a few others can take credit for creating the energy that would
soon power all of the neon that quickly followed.
Gloria Estefan soon invested in the Cardozo Hotel at
13th and Ocean Drive, bringing a touch of celebrity to the emerging
scene. Restaurants and bars, boutique hotels and shopping districts
gradually replaced shuttered storefronts, and while naysayers enjoy
telling travel publications that Miami was over, season after season
brought new life to the city as celebrities flocked to Ocean Drive to
pout for the paparazzi.
Sidewalk cafe on Ocean Drive
Planning Your Visit
Some visitors, especially those coming from overseas, aren't really sure what
area is best to start their hotel search. Keep in mind that Ocean Drive is
located in Miami Beach, not Miami, so a hotel in Miami Beach will be far more
convenient. Ocean Drive is a $32 flat-fee taxi ride from the MIA airport. The
restored hotels along Ocean Drive offer a range of accommodations from absolute
luxury to simple convenience. Miami Beach has accommodations for everyone from
humble backpackers to international jet-setters and the hotels along the strip suit
every level of taste and budget. It's also possible to reserve a privately owned condo if your party needs room to groove.
For families on a budget, consider a converted suite
with kitchen facilities roomy enough for the entire brood. For travelers
seeking romance, book a room with a king sized bed and a delightful
jacuzzi tub included. And for determined Spring Breakers, the rooms
facing the Clevelander Pool Bar are thumping 'til 5am.
The upper reaches of Ocean Drive, from 12th through
15th Streets and the "SoFi District" (South of Fifth) are less active
after hours and tend to be quieter at night. There are no hotels built
directly on the sand from 5th to 14th Streets, so hotels in this zone
face a public park and offer a direct view of the beach across Ocean
10th Street Beach
Ocean Drive Hotels
Visitors using their frequent flyer/travel points have two corporate options.
Both Marriott and Hilton have hotels on Ocean Drive perfect for leisurely
Hilton Grand Vacations Club offers one and two bedroom
suites large enough for 6 people - so long as some of those people might not
mind sleeping on a pull out couch. If your family spent the year watching you
and your suitcase head out the door, the Hilton makes it possible to bring the
whole gang along for some rest and relaxation on the rooftop jacuzzi sun deck.
South Beach Marriott sits at the quiet "SoFi" end
of the busy strip and features a Starbucks in the lower lobby. For some
visitors, access to Starbucks makes the Marriott an ideal hotel. The
rest of the property exceeds expectations with a wonderful pool area, 8
family sized one-bedroom suites with 32-inch flat panel televisions and
high-speed internet access. Local surfers, volleyball players and
followers of "futevole," the Brazilian fusion soccer-volleyball game,
favor the beaches south of the Marriott.
Lower Ocean Drive is a hot destination for club hoppers who
flock to Nikki Beach Club by day and Opium Garden/ Privé by night. Visiting
celebrities dine on giant lobsters and decadent truffle mac n' cheese at Prime
112, the hottest restaurant on Ocean Drive.
Nearby and definitely delicious, Fifty offers diners nuevo-Latino lunch and dinner options including
plantain wrapped crab cakes and tres leches Boston Cream Pie. While the
menu features so many bold choices, be certain to leave room for the
most deliciously original desserts in town. For a rollicking good time,
spend one night at
Clarke's Irish Pub. Eat the shepherd's pie and celebrate
South Beach in style.
Imperial, Clevelander and Colony
hotels on Ocean Drive
If you spend most of your business travel time in corporate hotel rooms, you
might opt for a boutique hotel for your South Beach vacation. The low-rise
buildings on central Ocean Drive have been renovated and retrofitted with modern
conveniences without disturbing the original floor plans. In some cases, the
rooms remain smaller and the scale of the property more intimate. Some South
Beach visitors want a clean, simply appointed room with a sense of independent
travel. To escape the confines of a more generic hotel experience, Ocean Drive
offers lots of boutique hotel choices.
Top of the line is the
Hotel Victor which recently opened under the stewardship of the Hyatt
Corporation. While many travelers are familiar with the Hyatt brand, most are
quick to report that there is little similarity to a traditional Hyatt hotel at
the Victor. The hotel staff are personable and attentive, the rooms and in-house
spa slick and well appointed, and the atmosphere often set to the beat of a
One block to the north,
The Tides Hotel provides a more sedate atmosphere, larger rooms and unusually
spacious bathrooms. The nearby French bistro Les Deux Fontaines offers diners an upscale retreat featuring deliciously
fresh seafood and live music nightly. Cafe Cardozo has served as the unofficial headquarters for all things Art Deco since
the district began. Toast to Miami's bygone era as you enjoy lunch or a
sundown cocktail on the classic Art Moderne patio.
For visitors seeking a little tranquility in an Art
Deco setting, an ocean front room at the Park Central offers simple luxury in a location that's central to everything. While
the swimming pool is small and well shaded, the hotel provides free
towels and beach chairs to sun worshippers on the shoreline. The 6th
floor sun deck has great city and sea views by day and extremely
romantic star gazing by night. The newly reopened restaurant Quinn's is
a lovely spot for seafood and people watching right on Ocean Drive.
The rooftop pool deck at the
Hilton Bentley South Beach Hotel provides spectacular views, and an added
benefit for guests of the Bentley is complimentary access to the
Bentley Beach Club including use of the gym, pool, hot and cold spa tubs and access to the very sexy
Reserving a suite on Ocean Drive can make South Beach feel like a home away from
home. Travelers seeking something more luxurious should set their sights upon
the newest addition to the Ocean Drive skyline, the
Z Ocean Hotel.
This 80-suite luxury condominium hotel features extra large balconies,
private penthouses with access to the roof garden, 5-star in-room spa
service, and a glass bottom pool. And in case you're concerned about the
security of your brand new Bentley, the hotel employs private valets who will
spend the night coddling your car inside a secured parking facility. Now that's
Just south of the Z Ocean hotel, the suites at the
Suite Hotel are grand indeed. While some renovated Ocean Drive hotels suffer
from a dearth of
space, the Casa Grande enjoys repeat visits
from guests who need a little extra room to stretch
out during their stay. Currently updating their
facilities, the hotel offers both private and public
bookings of their 34 spacious suites including a
number of pet-friendly options.
Having the luxury of
a fully appointed kitchen with full sized
steel appliances, granite countertops and tropical Indonesian décor makes it
possible to prepare a lavish breakfast or happy hour on your own during
Most importantly, the 8th Street location places guests squarely
in the heart of the local nightlife.
No visit to Ocean Drive would be complete without a
night of sexy Latin dancing girls and icy mojitos at
Mango's Tropical Cafe.
Best bets for
dining near by include a casual brunch at the
Cafe, 24-hour people watching at the
Cafe and Cuban style comfort food at
For frozen drinks that help quell
the midday heat, try Fat Tuesdays or a
topside seat overlooking the scene at
Time-share members book the
Crescent Resort season after season to enjoy the romantic jacuzzi suites, the concierge service and the easy
access to great shopping on the pedestrian mall,
Lincoln Road. The quiet upper reaches of Ocean Drive
are a little more relaxed and increasingly popular
with return visitors. The Betsy Ross
just been renovated and offers guests who aren't
tempted to wander across the street to Starbucks a
complimentary breakfast every morning.
For an alfresco
brunch overlooking Lummus Park, try the hearty banana
pancakes at the Front Porch Cafe, a spot
offering wholesome food at a good value all day long.
In the afternoon, the live music at Finnegan's Way
lures beach goers to happy hour at this
Irish style sports bar. While the food is standard pub
fare, the atmosphere is always lively and the drinks
two for one from 4-7pm.
Strand Ocean Drive is an all-suite
hotel in the very center of the action. Some visitors
find the 10th Street area too lively late at night
while others bring along earplugs to help them catch a
few hours sleep between parties. To experience the
best of both worlds, 58 soundproofed luxury suites
ranging in size from 475-950 sq. ft. offer every
modern convenience, plus a rooftop pool deck
overlooking Ocean Drive. On New Year's
Eve and the 4th of July, the Strand rooftop is by far the
best seat in town for fireworks displays over the
Closer to the ground, the heart of the district
beats until 5 a.m. pool side at the Clevelander Pool
Bar. The Clevelander Hotel will soon
renovate their guest rooms but the party at the pool
bar continues until the last Spring Breaker calls it
quits. This landmark legend features five poolside
bars, flat panel TVs inside and out, live musical
performances, two for one happy hours, and Saturday
bikini contests. There is always a party on Ocean
Drive just as long as you're sipping a frozen rum
runner served up by the friendly bartenders at the
Fun & Funky
If your interests are somewhat more sophisticated than tequila
shots and string bikinis, the
Preservation League has it's administrative offices at
the Art Deco Welcome Center just across the street from the Clevelander hotel.
The MDPL offers
free public programs to explore the influences of 20th
century design in Miami
Beach including Deco era movies, architecture
seminars and walking tours of the historic district.
Wednesdays through Sundays, join members of the MDPL
staff for a 90-minute walk around the hotels,
restaurants and commercial structures that make up the
Art Deco Historic District.
Each year in January, the MDPL
hosts Art Deco Weekend and closes Ocean Drive to
traffic for a 3 day block party with food, fun,
antique cars and craft sales. Visitors enjoy live musical
performances, dancing in the streets, lectures about
Art Deco, a classic car parade and much more. Hotel
guests are advised that it's a little tougher to
navigate into and out of the area during special
events, so try to be patient during festival weekends.
Memorial Day Weekend, the 4th of July, and New Year's
Eve also bring street closures and heavy traffic to
Design plays an integral part of the guest experience
at the funky
Pelican Hotel, which is owned
by the high concept creative minds at
Diesel Jeans. If you're looking for a quirky theme
hotel experience, log onto the hotel website and
search through photos of rooms decked out in vintage
finds to create Retro, Deco, Tarzan, Cowboy and
Whorehouse motifs. While everything about the Pelican
is "tongue in chic," the service staff is friendly,
the Pelican Cafe serves a great mojito and the beach
chairs are free to hotel guests.
Sophisticated travelers looking for a unique hotel
experience in a minimalist style stay at the
Century Hotel, where the rooms are simple,
the bathrooms spare and the vibe quiet and friendly.
This small property caters to budget-minded guests who
focus on exploring the city rather than lavishly
appointed hotel rooms. The selection and price range
of accommodations available on Ocean Drive make this
an ideal destination for visitors seeking a classic
South Beach experience. Options from luxurious to
simple, from quiet to raucous, from central to remote
make it possible to customize the kind of vacation you
choose to experience at this seaside destination. In
the end, it's all about location.
provides a rare opportunity to glimpse a landmark Art Deco area saved by preservationists
who ultimately saved South Beach from destruction. Historic Preservation in the
1980s provided the backdrop for an emerging trend in fashion photography which
re-introduced the raw beauty of Miami Beach to the world. Sometimes holding onto the past makes
the future possible.
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