Hi guys! So today I wanted to recap my birthday trip to Miami and really just share where we stayed, where we ate, where I would not recommend going (more on that in a minute lol). We were just there for 48 hours hence the “mini” travel guide but hopefully this is helpful for anyone else planning a weekend getaway!
Where We Stayed
We ended up staying at EAST Miami (hotel) which is in the center of Brickell City Center. So not in South Beach (you’ll need to cross the bridge in order to get to the beach/that area) but it’s only a 20 minute drive. But the hotel is in walking distance to a lot of restaurants, coffee shops, and the hotel itself is incredibly nice! When I was looking at hotels, the price points in Miami tend to be high and I was really surprised with EAST Miami’s rates given the rooms and it’s location. Not only that, the hotel has an indoor/outdoor restaurant that has a really cool vibe, and a rooftop bar that was amazing as well (more on those places shortly). We didn’t go to the pool but I did see it in person and it was really nice. So overall, I would 100% recommend staying there. We had a Bay King room – the room itself was great (very updated) and felt very spacious along with a great view!
Where We Ate + What We Did
So I’m going to group these together because when you’re only there for 48 hours, most of your activities consist of going to restaurants LOL. I’ll first share restaurants we went to and then share more about our little incident regarding our pool cabana day (because I would not want anyone else to waste their $$ on this place!!) Ps. Definitely make reservations at any of these spots because you likely won’t be able to book anything the week before and definitely not the day of.
Crema Gourmet Espresso Bar After we landed and checked in, we had a couple hours to kill before our lunch reservation so we found this coffee shop/cafe that was in walking distance to the hotel – just so we could get something small to hold us over! They had a cute outdoor patio and honestly the yogurt and granola I got was really good haha. So if you’re just looking for a spot to grab a quick coffee or breakfast item we liked this place!
Nikki Beach IMO, the best way to describe Nikki Beach is an outdoor restaurant/beach club that backs up to South Beach (you can directly access the beach by walking through the restaurant). You can see the vibe/set up in the photos below. We went here for lunch and just wore “regular clothes” but you can also just do a swimsuit with a coverup – either works! But honestly the food was really good. I don’t know what I was expecting, but since it’s more of a “trendier” spot I didn’t know if the food would match the hype (if that makes sense) but the food was actually delicious (we got sweet potato fries and two sushi rolls). Our drinks were also great – Stephen got the mojito and I got a spicy cucumber margarita. I think this spot was probably my favorite of the trip!
Uchi After Nikki Beach on Friday, we went to Uchi for happy hour. We were waiting for our friends to get in town later on for dinner, so we just wanted to go somewhere for happy hour in the meantime. We just tried a few things off their happy hour menu but everything was so good – like, all of their sushi rolls and nigiri tasted incredibly fresh and had amazing flavor. We tried the bincho nigiri, hamachi roll (ordered this twice), and their chicken yakitori (ordered this twice as well). The vibe inside is also really cool, and they have a bar area as well. Would definitely recommend this spot!
Quinto La Huella After Uchi, we went back to our hotel and had dinner here. We originally made reservations here because our friends (also staying at the hotel) were getting in later, and we just wanted dinner to be somewhere convenient. Like I said above though, I was pleasantly surprised with this restaurant and the rooftop bar – both had a really great vibe. Overall I thought our dinner here was really good and drinks for example, were definitely more reasonably priced than other spots in Miami. Like, you hear stories about people going to Miami and paying like $30+ for one drink. Dinner on Saturday night (for my birthday) was definitely my favorite, but overall the food was good, drinks reasonable, and outdoor vibe was really cool!
Lido (Bayside Grill) Saturday morning for brunch we went to Lido which is in the Standard Hotel. Definitely recommend this spot for breakfast (they serve it daily). It’s right on the water and has very cute vibes/is IG “worthy” haha. If you go here, definitely order some of their toasts. They have all different assortments and these were sooo good and looked gorgeous as well (like I said, it’s an aesthetically pleasing spot lol). We got the AB&J and the Burrata. YUM!
Sugar – Rooftop Bar This was the rooftop bar at the hotel where we were staying and this was such a cool spot – vibe was amazing, views were beautiful, and the appetizers were ordered to snack on were delicious. We got here at 4pm right when it opened and grabbed a table. Well, we soon realized that all the tables were reserved lol but luckily we were there early enough that we were still able to grab another spot that had some barstools. Even if you aren’t staying at the hotel, I would definitely recommend coming here, but make a reservation if you want a table and/or have a larger group and want an area for y’all to hangout in. We just wore swimsuits with coverups, but most people were just in actual clothes, and I think people definitely get more dressed up if going there at night.
Novikov We went here for dinner on Saturday (for my “official” birthday dinner) and the food was SO good! One of my girlfriend’s recommended it and it definitely didn’t disappoint. Like most (nicer) restaurants in Miami it was expensive and boujee so definitely a special occasion spot (IMO), but it was totally worth it for my birthday! We got 5-6 appetizers/smaller plates for the table (definitely get the spicy prawn money bags) and then the snapper as the main entree. We also had great service which you always hope for lol but especially when you’re paying that much for a meal!
SLS South Beach Okay last and definitely least is the SLS South Beach *sigh* If I have a bad experience somewhere, I’m usually not one to sh*t on a brand/place/etc. because you don’t know if maybe the server was just having a bad day, or if it’s just that one employee, etc. However, do not waste your money booking a pool cabana (or anything) at this hotel. I originally made reservations for a pool cabana which was just under $900. They had a few options that were slightly less expensive, but they also had cabanas up to $1500. I know $900 is a lot but I figured it’s Miami (everything is $$) and it was my birthday so why not splurge. Guys, the photos online of what their pool and cabanas look like are NOTHING like they look in person. Like, we literally thought we were at the wrong hotel because the cabana they showed us as ours was totally different than the photos online (it wasn’t even the same pool)!! The “cabana” for us was like this covered area with these old benches with towels laid over them..I mean, even the pool chairs were ratty and stained. I honestly wouldn’t have even stayed there if it was free much less $900. Even one of the employees was like yeah, it is not worth your money, it’s super dirty. LIKE WHAT?! And then tried to just convince us (me and my friend with us that weekend) that for $100 each she would let us into the other pool and we could just have business men pay for our drinks. Like, one I’m here with my husband and two, I CAN PAY FOR MYSELF THANKS. Anyway, long story short, we left (never even sat down in the cabana or anything) and SLS is refusing to give me my money back so I’m filing a complaint with my credit card company. Again, I’m sharing this because I would never want any of y’all to give your money to this place when it is literally false advertising with what their pool (cabanas) are depicted as vs. what you get in person. We were legit catfished and it was an IG vs. reality moment.
Aside from that little hiccup lol, it was great weekend and really enjoyed everywhere else we went! If you are planning a trip to Miami, just be prepared for it to be expensive. I know cities like NYC are also expensive, but I feel like in comparison, NYC has more options/variety, so you can find places that are more reasonable. I feel like in Miami, it is pretty expensive across the board. But yeah, for a 48 hour birthday weekend it was great!! Hope this blog helps if you’re planning a trip 🙂