Miami with the FT

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The perfect day starts at sunrise on Miami Beach walking with Betsy and Rosa, the CEOs (Canine Executive Officers) of our hotel, The Betsy. (Dogs are technically not allowed on the beach, but the lifeguards start work at 9am and turn a blind eye before then.) Seeing the dogs run free, set against the backdrop of the Miami Beach sky — it doesn’t get better than that. An ideal start to the day.

Coming off the beach, I’ll walk to our hotel’s café for a takeaway coffee and “Puppalattes” for Betsy and Rosa. We’ll hang out with The Beatles (thanks to the new exhibition of photographs of The Beatles in India) and take in the gentle mix of indie and ’60s rock on the café’s morning playlist.

Goldwasser with her dogs Betsy and Rosa at her hotel, The Betsy
Goldwasser with her dogs Betsy and Rosa at her hotel, The Betsy
The hotel’s café is hosting a display of photographs of The Beatles in India
The hotel’s café is hosting a display of photographs of The Beatles in India © Josh Aronson (2)

Just a few minutes away is the buzzing cobblestone street of Española Way, Miami’s miniature version of Barcelona’s Las Ramblas. Coffee in hand, I’ll make my way to breakfast at A La Folie — a little French place at the quieter end of Española Way that will make you believe (almost) that you’re in Paris — for eggs cocotte or one of their delicious salty crêpes.

Bohemian right down to the peach-coloured paint, and pedestrian-only since 2017, Española Way was the first commercial development on Miami Beach in the 1920s, originally built to serve as an artists’ colony. The street is particularly lively at night, filled with string lights, baritone Italian servers at Hosteria Romana belting out birthday wishes, bubbling hookah pipes, and competing Italian, Mexican, Spanish and French café music. It’s a quintessential Miami Beach experience.

Pedestrian-only Española Way was originally built as an artists’ colony
Pedestrian-only Española Way was originally built as an artists’ colony © Shutterstock
Lincoln Road Antique & Collectible Market is one of Goldwasser’s favourite haunts on Sundays
Lincoln Road Antique & Collectible Market is one of Goldwasser’s favourite haunts on Sundays © Jeffrey Isaac Greenberg/Alamy

If it’s Sunday, the Lincoln Road Antique & Collectible Market (open weekly during peak season) is full of funky vintage jewellery and handbags at great prices, plus artisanal cheese and spices. A pop-up concert of the Miami Beach Classical Music Festival might add a beautiful aria to the mix, in the bright midday sunshine.

For lunch, I’ll head south of Fifth Street (“SoFi”, as locals call it) to Abba, with its bougainvillea-filled outdoor seating and divine Israeli menu. The classic fattoush, the Israeli kale “Caesar” with pistachios and green tahini, and the falafel and lamb kofta pitas are all must-tries. Nearby, Milos is another sure bet for delicious Mediterranean food (and with a surprisingly reasonable lunch menu). Or I’ll head to Planta, a stylish vegan restaurant offering a variety of tapas-style dishes and sushi so good you’ll believe they’re the real deal.

Falafel pita at Abbale Telavivian Kitchen (aka Abba)
Falafel pita at Abbale Telavivian Kitchen (aka Abba)
Milos is another safe bet for great Mediterranean food
Milos is another safe bet for great Mediterranean food © Designed by Jeffrey Beers International. Photo: Paul Warchol.

After lunch, I’d walk over to 21st and Collins to The Bass museum, one of Miami Beach’s first and finest examples of Art Deco construction, built in the 1930s. It includes important works ranging from the Renaissance to modern day and holds one of the most expansive collections of Austrian paintings in the United States. Also nearby, The Wolfsonian focuses on “the persuasive power of art and design”, with 180,000 pieces from 1885 to 1945 in a variety of media, from furniture and industrial-design objects, rare books and paintings, to works in glass, ceramics, metal, and textiles. When I see a piece of art that speaks to me, it’s like hearing a great song — it pulls at my heartstrings. The city’s arts scene is thriving, and it gives Miami Beach an electric energy that makes it a thrilling place to live.

The Bass art museum is one of Miami’s finest examples of Art Deco
The Bass art museum is one of Miami’s finest examples of Art Deco
‘The Willfulness of Objects’ is a selection of artworks from The Bass’s vast collection
‘The Willfulness of Objects’ is a selection of artworks from The Bass’s vast collection © Courtesy of The Bass. Photographs: Zachary Balber (2)

Right next to The Bass, at 2200 Liberty Avenue, is the Miami City Ballet. It’s a special pleasure to catch a viewing of a live class of Lourdes Lopez’s dance company through the street-level glass studios.

No perfect day in Miami Beach is complete without an evening concert — perhaps a Wallcast-projected New World Symphony concert in the park outside the Symphony’s Frank Gehry-designed home. The brainchild of Michael Tilson Thomas, former conductor of the San Francisco and London Symphony Orchestras, the New World Symphony is “America’s Orchestral Academy” — and with Michael’s global reputation, guest performers could be Itzhak Perlman, Emanuel Ax or John Williams.

Concerts by the New World Symphony can be enjoyed outside the Miami orchestra’s home . . . 
Concerts by the New World Symphony can be enjoyed outside the Miami orchestra’s home . . .  © Rui Dias Aidos
 . . . which was designed by Frank Gehry
 . . . which was designed by Frank Gehry © Emilio Collavino

Otherwise I might catch a Miami New Drama play at The Colony Theatre, just a few blocks west, or head to The North Beach Bandshell just north of 72nd Street on Collins Avenue to experience the Nu Deco Ensemble, an innovative hybrid orchestra that collaborates with artists from music, dance and mixed media.

Dinner in Miami means having some of the world’s great restaurants and most innovative culinary thinkers at your fingertips: OLA just up Collins, José Andrés at The Bazaar, Jean-Georges Vongerichten at The Edition, Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth’s Stiltsville Fish Bar in Sunset Harbor, Marcus Samuelsson’s new Red Rooster only a short drive away in Overtown — the list goes on.

Miami Beach’s many outstanding dining offerings include Stiltsville Fish Bar . . . 
Miami Beach’s many outstanding dining offerings include Stiltsville Fish Bar . . . 
. . . and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s outpost at The Edition hotel
. . . and Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s outpost at The Edition hotel © Francesco Tonelli

The day ends with a nightcap and dessert on Ocean Drive, Miami Beach’s iconic one-of-a-kind Art Deco strip. It was recently closed to vehicles and is now open to pedestrian traffic only. Buzzing with back-to-back restaurants, it’s particularly magical at night, making it one of the greatest people-watching spots in the world. The Betsy hosts live jazz seven nights a week, and sitting on the terrace listening to a solo by that night’s musician, watching the world go by on Ocean Drive, is pure bliss: the perfect end to the perfect day.

Lesley Goldwasser is a managing partner of GreensLedge Capital Markets and co-owner of The Betsy South Beach

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