South Beach, Miami is the land of party lore. For decades, it’s been the hottest spot in Florida (and arguably the whole American south). A haven where the beautiful, the rich, and the famous are easily spotted out at the club, on the strip, and lounging on the beach. What we don’t see as often are the everyday people who live in and around the area, whose culture is just as — if not more — rich and colorful as those running the party scene. While the latter is definitely a draw for tourists, the former is what will keep visitors eager to come back for more.
On a recent trip to Miami, I was fortunate enough to experience just how much genuine culture there is in Miami when the sun is shining. I was there for the re-opening of the Gates Hotel in South Beach — a just-renovated property perfectly situated to showcase Miami’s rich Cuban culture and arts and music scenes, while also giving travelers the ideal “Miami party weekend” experience they’re probably expecting.
For me, the party came first. Walking straight to the pool deck after arriving at the hotel, I found straight up music video vibes — complete with club lighting, cabanas, and an unmatched view of downtown Miami. The in-house restaurant, Agaveros Cantina, offers light bites and assorted tacos and salads at the pool bar. For the hotel’s opening party, the tapas kept coming and the drinks kept flowing as women covered in body paint and other hotel guests mingled and took photos for the #UnlockSouthBeach Instagram hashtag. It was a very visceral reminder that showing the best of Miami may not be all about the party scene, but it does include it.
The Gates was popping and so I partied, of course. “When in Rome,” after all. But before too long, I wandered down to my ten-zillion thread count bed. In order to discover South Beach the daytime, I’d have to actually wake up when the sun was shining.