There?s something about the sun and sand that dampens the critical naysaying of the superego. Miami is all about pleasure. But it?s not all hairless circuit queens sporting reflective sunglasses.
Lounging in South Beach is done mostly poolside. For some reason, South Beachers eschew the beach (is it because it?s sandy?), but a beautiful wooden walkway runs the length of the area. To prep for your coming debauchery, go for a run along the water to the newly renovated South Pointe Park at the southern tip of the Beach. Chase the run up with challah French toast at the Front Porch Caf? at the Penguin Hotel (PenguinHotel.com).
Miami gets a bad rap for its lack of culture, but the Bass Museum of Art (BassMuseum.org), in the heart of Miami Beach, has rooms and rooms of it. One of the few Botticellis in this country, a massive altarpiece titled Coronation of the Virgin With Saints, hangs in the Taplin gallery on the first floor.
Gather around the Lucite piano -- it used to belong to Elton John -- in the Florida Room at the Delano Hotel (Delano-Hotel.com), where mixologist John Lermayer pours clever cocktails, like the Nirvana, made of fresh strawberries and arugula muddled with Velvet Falernum and C?roc.
Grab a caf? cubano at the Caf? Bustelo boutique in the Hotel Gansevoort (GansevoortSouth.com) and walk south on Collins. Speckled on the horizon off the shore is Stiltsville, a clutch of houses on stilts from Prohibition days. Though time and hurricanes have decimated the community, a few still remain. Call 305-443-2266 for tours.
Speedo-walk through the gay stretch of South Beach -- demarcated by rainbow flags -- at 12th and Ocean, then head back to the Standard Hotel (StandardHotels.com/Miami), Andr? Balazs?s beautiful redo of a former lido for old Jews. Now attractive hipsters relax in the sculpture garden where bubbelehs used to play bridge. Spend the afternoon poolside, cocktail in hand -- it?s by far the best scene in Miami Beach.
Begin the night at Ola at the Sanctuary Hotel, a Nuevo Latino restaurant by James Beard Foundation Award?winning chef Douglas Rodriguez that?s heavy on sabor but not too sceney. After dinner, head to Twist (TwistSobe.com), the South Beach perennial. The club may not be new, but it?s always fun and packed with go-go boys as solicitous as the patrons, many of whom look like they stepped out of a 2(x)ist ad -- indeed, they might?ve.