The fast-growing Miami Design District has transformed into a high-end epicenter of luxury fashion, innovative design and gourmet dining. We scouted the South Florida neighborhood to find out the latest hot spots for shopping, dining and exploring.
What you need to know
To say that the Design District — the centrally located address is just a short drive from Miami Beach, up the street from Downtown, right above Wynwood and close to the airport and mainland areas — has undergone a transformation would be an understatement. This burgeoning 10-square-block cultural area was once a place where farmers cultivated pineapples, peppers, tomatoes and citrus.
In the mid-1920s, it began to serve as a place where wealthy homeowners bought furniture. By the 1980s, it had become run down. That was until Miami developer Craig Robins, a major player in the revival of South Beach, came along to work his magic on the area.
Today, the Design District is home to more than 130 art galleries, showrooms, stores, antique dealers, creative services, eateries and bars.
What to see
Best known as a hub of designer stores and specialty boutiques, the Design District is welcoming a growing number of well-known fashion houses, up-and-coming designers, galleries and event venues now.
On any given day in the eclectically urban neighborhood, you’ll find business people lunching, tourists shopping and local artists setting up shop.
Speaking of the latter, if you’re into forward-thinking art and design, check out the Design District Second Saturday Art Walk (the same night as the lively Wynwood Art Walk just a few blocks down the street.) Every month, design showrooms stay open late, galleries open their doors to their current exhibits, and musicians and artists showcase their newest works.
Where to shop
The biggest names in high-end fashion, hailing from New York City, Paris and Milan, are opening outposts in this shopping mecca, from Christian Louboutin and Prada to Louis Vuitton, Max Mara and Harry Winston. Holding true to its name, you’ll also find more than 50 high-end design specialty stores featuring quirky furniture (Oggetti), plumbing fixtures (Waterworks) and showrooms from home goods icons like Luminaire and Jonathan Adler.
Where to dine
Taking a cue from top-shelf designers, many of the finest toques have also begun flocking to the Design District. Here, you’ll find gourmet culinary favorites such as James Beard Award winners Michael Schwartz (Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, The Cypress Room) and Michelle Bernstein (Crumb on Parchment) and local favorite chef Dena Merino (MC Kitchen).
If you’re in search for a quick bite, head to Schwartz’s Harry’s Pizzeria for a handmade slice out of the wood-burning oven and a craft beer. Mandolin Aegean Bistro is another gastro gem, this time of the farm-to-fork Mediterranean variety.
Tucked inside a charming 1940s house, the scene is reminiscent of the Greek Isles. Sweet-toothed visitors will love Bsweet Coffee Shop, a stop with a menu filled with baked goods and café fare.
What to look for next
There’s more in store for the Design District. By the end of 2016, the Design District is expected to have more than 120 luxury-brand stores, galleries and furniture shops, a 10-story hotel and luxury residential condos, nearly 20 restaurants and large-scale public art, design and graphic art installations.
Among the 2015 highlights are the new Institute of Contemporary Art building and an extension of the pedestrian area, Paseo Ponti. The art-filled plaza’s 2016 goals include more beautifully designed retail spaces and destination dining, including chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s ABC Kitchen and L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon.