The Sagamore Arty nights

The Sagamore stands behind its tag line as “The Art Hotel.” More than an upscale boutique property, with several well-appointed bungalows as well as the suites, it also serves as a gallery for owners Marty and Cricket Taplin’s diverse art collection.

Roxy Paine’s mushroom installation sprouts from above the check-in desk, while the bar and restaurant passages are filled with Elliott Erwitt’s iconic photographs and Olaf Breuning’s hilarious drawings. A dummy-driven helicopter by Miami’s Robert Chambers surprises first-timers heading out to the pool.

Mac's Club Deuce Neon dream

Welcome to the Deuce. See the horshoe shaped bar to your right? It’s the perfect spot to sit and have a cheap beer. Did you notice all of the neon? This place is rough around the edges but really smooth in a grimy kind of way.

Wanna play pool? The table is open and the jukebox stays classic. Who is that guy in the corner of the bar? He looks like Keith Richards!! But his accent is fake and his nose is too big. Let’s just hang out and kick a few back, maybe chat up some people that remember what the beach used to be like.

Locust Projects A plague upon your gallery

Unsure as to the distinction between a gallery and a project space? In a nutshell: Galleries try and sell what they show, project spaces are in it solely for art. Not-for-profit Locust is of the latter ilk, and is all about power to the people. And free entry.

By their own admission they’re dedicated to (proceed with caution, abstract buzzphrase alert) ‘providing contemporary visual artists’ with ‘the freedom to experiment with new ideas’. Translation: They’re giving young artistic guns the chance to throw some crazier-than-usual shit at the walls and see what sticks. The results, while occasionally bemusing, tend to be pretty exciting.

Past throwers have included LA-based Karl Haendel, who created a cacophony of flitting city structures on the walls with automatically advancing slide projectors, and Jillian Mayer, who set up playpark swings in front of a giant cinematic projection. If you’re game for a visit, try and rock up on an exhibition opening night — the drinks flow, there’s live music, and plenty of peacocking more-cultured-than-thou types to poke fun at.

Sweat Records Growing gains

Sweat used to be the quintessential indie kid: All skinny jeans, battered converse and a one-dimensional stock-list of records with jagged guitar and raspy falsetto vocals. Then they grew up. The exclusivity of their tastes relaxed, their horizons broadened, and their love of music passed beyond the awkward fumbly stage straight into the open and assured tantric orgy stage.

The proof of the transformation, as they say, is in pudding — except in this case when we say pudding we mean inventory. So let’s dive right in. There’s huge sections dedicated to punk, metal, experimental, jazz, hip hop, soul, funk, r&b, and electro, and heaps of niche reissues from all across the globe. They’ve got a used record clerk, too, which is a damn nice touch and means that digging in their ‘second-hand’ section is like panning for gold in King Midas’ house.

Aside from the sonic purchasables (which also includes a decent selection of turntables), this a great place for the uninitiated to come and plug into Miami’s music scene. On any given day they could be hosting a gig in-store, running a club night elsewhere, or out on the promotion trail for a local artist. Spreading the tantric-orgy-music love, if you will.

Mandarin Oriental Island living

For some serious privacy away from the glitz of South Beach, head to Brickell Key, a 44-acre man-made island minutes away from downtown Miami and home to the über-luxurious Mandarin Oriental. An oasis within an oasis, Mandarin Oriental is a celebrity favorite given its exclusivity, giant suites, private beach and all around full-service treatment.

Shell out for the night and sleep like a king. With attendants highly trained in Asian hospitality traditions, the service is attentive, to say the least. Far-Eastern touches abound, but in combination with Miami-chic and ocean-filled vistas, Mandarin Oriental has a rich refinement that only the most detail-oriented management can provide.

The lap of luxury doesn’t end there, though. Their restaurant, Azul, is a bonafide award-winner and new addition La Mar also serves up righteous Peruvian cuisine — devised by celeb chef Gaston Acurio. You can treat yourself to a nightcap or several in the MO Bar + Lounge. As you’d expect the service is 5-star, and so are the cocktails.

Swine Southern Table & Bar Run pig run featured

One bad behemoth of a barnhouse BBQ joint, Swine Southern Table & Bar is Miami’s master of roasting all things porcine. And they take their grillin’ very seriously, kitting out their kitchen with a giant J&R smoker and a crank-raised, wood-burning grill that munches through 140 logs per service. The rustic rotisserie vibe drifts into the dining room with much of the reconstructed barn’s open-brickwork and wooden boarding remaining, and all the logs that haven’t been fed to the grill fires flavoring the decor further—all presided over by the Swine’s bulb-lit unofficial adage, ‘run pig run’. And run it should unless it wants to end up on the menu as blackened BBQ ribs, pork porterhouse or crispy souse terrine, served alongside russet potato wedges that are worth a trip out for alone. There’s an impressive selection of hard-to-find bourbons on the spirit shelves as well—because as the folks at the Swine say, ‘what bacon and whiskey don’t cure, there ain’t no cure for’. Amen.

The Freehand Oxymoronic brilliance featured

Boasting the title of the first high-end hostel (no longer an oxymoron) in the USA, The Freehand isn’t so much raising the bar for hostels as it is taking that bar, training it to be an astronaut and firing it into space – lock, stock and bleedin’ barrel. Located inside the classic Art Deco India Creek hotel building and with interiors designed by Roman & Williams, this premium grade hostel hybrid has got all bases covered: handcrafted interiors, swimming pool, jungle courtyard, bocce courts, bike rental—the list is endless. They’ve even got themselves a perma-pop-up cocktail lounge, The Broken Shaker, which uses fresh ingredients from the on-site garden, and has rapidly earned a rep for being one of the best beverage-suppin’ spots in the city.

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