Miami-bound for a fling before the ring? Here’s what’s new in the ‘Vegas of the East’
Hiring strippers? Definitely over. Traveling for a bachelor or bachelorette party? That’s a thing. Bride tribes and groom crews — often spread around the country because of school and work — are eschewing a night-on-the-town for a weekend out of town.
One city that’s feeling the love: Miami. Thanks to competitive airfares, hotel rates that average $188 for two nights, and a happy marriage of beaches-and-nightlife, Miami is becoming a hot spot for the fling before the ring. It’s number three behind Vegas and Nashville, according to a survey by the bachelorette party website Stag & Hen (www.shopstagandhen.com.) Plus, the average annual temperature is a delightful 76 degrees. “It’s a fun, vibrant spot with great nightlife, food, and hotel pools,” says Beverly native Charlotte Ames, who celebrated her bachelorette blast in Miami. “It’s great for relaxing and going out.”
Here’s a look at what’s new and fun, especially for bachelors and bachelorettes, in this sultry city. Bring your attitude — and a tiara, if that’s how your crew rolls.
Cool new (and new-ish) digs
One of the things we love about Miami: There are a bazillion places to stay at a variety of price points. Now there’s a new budget-friendly option: Generator, known for hostels in European cities like Dublin, Barcelona, Amsterdam, and Copenhagen, opened its first US outpost here in September. Set in a former 1940s South Beach condo gone stylish, the 150-room Generator has a pool bar with sun loungers and a buzzy lobby bar/eatery, the Jim & Neesie. Plus, it’s a two-minute walk from the beach. Choice of digs includes private rooms, shared rooms, suites, and female-only dorms with en-suite bathrooms. (Bachelorettes always end up hanging out in the same room anyway, no)? Free Wi-Fi and breakfast, too. Private rooms start at $95. Four-bunk rooms, from $60 per bed. www.generatorhostels.com
The Marriott Stanton South Beach isn’t new, but it recently revealed the results of a $22 million facelift (top that, “Real Housewives of Miami”!) The property added a new spa, fitness and training center, and a Japanese restaurant, Azabu, joing Lolo’s Surf Cantina, which opened in 2017. The 224-room luxe-casual resort is one of the few on Ocean Drive with direct beach access, and sits next to a park. Room rates from $264. www.stantonsobe.com
What’s new to do
Miami doesn’t lack much, but it was without a chocolate factory — until now. Any bachelorette party worth its salt(ed caramel) has a dessert element. Exquisito Chocolates, the city’s first bean-to-bar chocolate factory, opened this past summer in Little Havana. The open concept allows guests to see several steps of chocolate production in the 1,200-square-foot space. Sampling is a must: Exquisito Chocolates has won awards for its Hennessey and Café con Leche truffles and its chocolate bars. www.exquisitochocolates.com
Want to get out on the water in Biscayne Bay (“where the Cuban gentlemen sleep all day” — Steely Dan, “Doctor Wu”)? Plan a 90-minute cruise with Star Island Boat Tours (www.miamitourcompany.com; $28 per person includes one drink) on the bi-level motor yacht, and you’ll glide past celebrity homes on Star Island and the Miami Skyline. Another fun way to go is by bicycle built for . . . 15. Aboard Cycle Party (www.cycleparty.com; from $29 per person), guests pedal around Wynwood with a “party pilot” and up to 15 pals. Options include bar crawls, a brewery tour, and a non-drinking Instagram-themed tour.
Any takers for a spa treatment? Yeah, we thought so! Overlooking the Atlantic (complete with a fabulous infinity-edge pool), the Carillon Miami Wellness Resort (www.carillonhotel.com) offers a 70,000-square-foot spa, and a lengthy menu of luxurious, of-the-moment treatments, including a kombucha facial.
If your crew would rather eat their way around Miami than get buffed and polished, the top-rated Miami Culinary Tours (www.miamiculinarytours.com) offers a deep dive into the Latin food scene with the Little Havana Food & Cultural Tour (five stops, $56 per person). They also offer culinary tours of other neighborhoods, but Little Havana is coolest.
Speaking of Little Havana, its cigars-and-salsa vibe is a siren song for the bachelor party crowd. Absorb Cuban culture on Little Havana’s main drag, Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) and get fueled up on Latin comfort food. Grab a cafecito (Cuban coffee, a good antihangover potion) and stroll past Domino Park to the Little Havana Cigar Factory (www.littlehavanacigarstore.com). You don’t have to smoke to appreciate the artistry of the folks who hand-roll cigars. Or add a little pizazz to your wardrobe — and bring out your Inner Ricky Ricardo — with a classic, custom-made guayabera (traditional linen shirt), created by a local tailor.
New places to wine and dine
Singer Pharrell Williams is one of the partners at Swan and Bar Bevy, launched in November in Miami’s Design District. This ultra-hip space includes a rooftop lounge and whimsical outdoor garden, along with a global menu from executive chef Jean Imbert.
Food halls are still trending — four have sprung up in Miami in the past two years. Tucked behind a bodega and a record store, 1-800-Lucky, in Wynwood, is the liveliest scene. There’s indoor-outdoor seating, seven pan-Asian restaurants, and two bars — plus, it’s open until 2 a.m. so you can make it a late-night bahn-mi/matcha ice cream party.
Meanwhile, over in the Generator Miami’s lobby, the Jim & Neesie is winning raves for its short but well-edited menu of American comfort food and fancy snacks. Settle into the living room of a fictitious couple and dig into burgers, ceviche, oysters, and crispy octopus by chef Daniel Roy. Most cocktails are mixed at the table, adding to the homey vibe. Food-cocktail pairings are designed by Generator’s award-winning mixologist, Gui Jaroschy.
Party on, Magic City
Put on your party pants, grab an Uber, and toast your bride or groom at one of Miami’s glam clubs. Current hot spots include Wall, STORY, and Baoli, according to those in the know. LIV, at the Fountainbleu Hotel, is known for its surprise DJs like Justin Bieber. Feeling super-energetic (or Red Bull-fueled)? Head to the Basement at the Miami Beach Edition, where you can ice skate in an indoor rink and bowl under blacklights — not to mention dance until dawn. For a more low-key lounge experience, try Broken Shaker, Employees Only, and Sweet Liberty.
In Little Havana, try out your samba and paso doble moves (thanks, “Dancing With the Stars”) at one of several nightclubs that host Latin entertainers and dancing. One of the classics: Ball & Chain.
Poolside party zones include Hyde Beach (the indoor-outdoor bar was designed by Phillipe Starck), the Delano South Beach, and the National Hotel, home of the longest infinity pool in South Florida, dontcha know.
Not secrets, but worth mentioning
If shopping is on your radar, you already know about the boutiques and galleries of Lincoln Road. What you might not know: They host free yoga sessions at 10 a.m. Sundays #onLincoln, in case you’re up.
And it’s practically the law for Miami visitors to post eye-popping images of Wynwood Walls on social media. This open-air park encompasses more than 40 stunning murals created by artists from around the world. Look for Wynwood Doors, wherein the art has transformed 176 feet of storefront steel doors.
Finally, we have it on good authority that some bachelor parties eschew the typical deep-sea fishing, scuba diving, and paddle boarding to go gator wrestling in the Everglades. No. Just . . . no.