If you want to experience Miami like a celebrity or possibly bump into one, there are plenty of places to dine, dance and play like an A-lister. Here’s a cheat sheet for year-round celebrity spotting in the Magic City.
Faena, the new kid on the Miami Beach block, has become a major magnet for glam since Argentinian developer Alan Faena opened the flamboyant hotel in late 2015. Its lavish rooms have been booked by the likes of Usher, Leonardo Dicaprio, Katie Holmes and Neil Patrick Harris. English artist Damian Hirst’s jaw-dropping, gilded skeleton of a wooly mammoth, standing nine feet tall in the hotel’s garden, is almost as popular as the star-studded guest list.
~Patrick Farrell for VISIT FLORIDA
The fabulous Villa at Casa Casuarina, fashion designer Gianni Versace’s former oceanfront mansion, is where Justin Bieber naps before hitting the town. The Kardashians, Drake, Fergie, Snoop Dogg and Lionel Richie all have eaten, partied or slept here.
Host to a Lenny Kravitz-designed recording studio and high-profile fashion events, the sexy Setai regularly attracts boldface names, such as Jay-Z and Beyonce, Chris Brown, Gisele, Simon Cowell and U2. The all-suite hotel, which fronts the ocean, is known for throwing one of South Beach’s hottest New Year’s Eve parties.
~Patrick Farrell for VISIT FLORIDA
Even the rich and famous like a good game of Marco Polo, and the pool at the Delano is where you’ll find them. The celeb street cred of this grand dame of celebrity South Beach hotels goes back more than 15 years, when Madonna owned an on-site restaurant and Calvin Klein regularly cruised the bar. Today’s Delano pool rats include Andy Cohen and Justin Timberlake.
Paparazzi troll the beach outside members-only Soho Beach House searching for the famous faces known to swim and sun there, including Prince Harry, Jennifer Lopez, Sam Smith and Rosario Dawson. Non-members who agree to the no-photos, no-cell phones-in-common-areas policy can dine at the modern Italian restaurant in the trellis-lined courtyard. Cecconi’s is known for its jazzy, boozy Sunday brunches.
~ Patrick Farrell for VISIT FLORIDA
The carnivorous crème de la crème still flock to Prime 112 steakhouse inside the historic Browns Hotel, where a never-ending parade of A-listers arrives in Bentleys and Rolls-Royces. Waiting for a table at Prime 112 is a people-watching pastime and part of the experience (unless you’re Michael Jordan, Lil’ Wayne or Alex Rodriguez, who get whisked right in). Bill Clinton, Gisele Bundchen and Kanye West are among the stars who have ruined their diets here. Can’t afford Prime prices? Head to Cheeseburger Baby, where hip-hop royalty satisfy late-night protein cravings. Jay-Z gave the SoBe burger joint a shout out on Miami’s Power 96 radio station as his “favorite place in Miami.”
Venture off Miami Beach to mainland Miami’s Seaspice, a chic restaurant overlooking the Miami River where Portuguese soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo and Instagram fitness model Cassandre Davis fired up their spring 2016 romance over prawns a la plancha and Wagyu steak served on volcanic hot stone. Beyonce reportedly broke her vegan fast here and David Beckham became a regular while planning his Miami soccer stadium and team.
Hometown heroes who still like to mix with the regular folk keep it real at places like The Big Cheese pizzeria near South Miami, where former University of Miami football player Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson says he grabs slices while filming his HBO show, “Ballers,” in Miami. Ex-Boston Celtics and Miami Heat basketball star Ray Allen and his wife, Shannon (host of Comcast SportsNet cooking show “The Pre-Game Meal”), have their own organic, fast-casual restaurant, Grown, made from reclaimed barn wood in South Miami. Catch the health-conscious jock hanging out and chatting up diners over the nutrient-rich menu of salads and wraps, inspired by the couple’s young son’s battle with Type 1 diabetes.
Oh, the stories you can tell about Story, the neon-lit, five-bar South Beach nightclub where the Miami Heat celebrated their 2013 championship with a $100,000 bar tab. Rapper Mack Maine rang in his 34th birthday here with TV personality Christina Milian and Chris Brown’s ex, actress Karrueche Tran. Selena Gomez, Gigi Hadid, Reggie Bush, Michael Bay, Vanessa Hudgens, Sofia Vergara and DJ Khaled all have been spotted at the city’s largest club.
Big-name DJs continue to attract celebrities to Wall Lounge, an exclusive nightspot inside the W Hotel on South Beach where Jessica Alba, Gabrielle Union, Erykah Badu, George Clooney and Jamie Foxx have been among the VIPs bouncing to the house beat.
One of downtown Miami’s hot, emerging neighborhoods, Brickell has its own Cuban cabaret, El Tucan, where former Victoria Secret’s Angel Karolina Kurkova celebrated her birthday. Will Smith famously helped christen the restaurant-club soon after it opened in 2015 by walking up to the stage, handing the resident jazz singer a glass of water and free styling with the 11-piece Latin band. Welcome to Miami, Bienvenidos a Miami.
There aren’t many basements in Miami, where a high water table discourages underground abodes, but the seat-less nightclub Basement is the go-to party palace for celebrities who want to throw their own exclusive bashes. Inside the Edition Hotel in Miami Beach, the complex has its own ice skating rink, bowling alley and disco. Drake threw a concert after-party for Rihanna here, and Leonardo Dicaprio has booked the place multiple nights for private parties during Art Basel.
A VIP underground tunnel, a back-door entrance and private skyboxes can’t hide the fact that the Kardashians, Pitbull, Sean “Diddy” Combs, Eva Longoria, Ja Rule, Cuba Gooding Jr. and Scottie Pippin have all partied at LIV, the popular dance club inside Miami Beach’s opulent Fontainebleau Hotel. They’ve all signed the wall of fame to prove they were there.
Down a shot of Cuban cafecito so you can stay awake into the wee hours of the morning to catch celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Usher, Amber Rose, Dennis Rodman, Jermaine Dupri, Drake and Kevin Hart at E11EVEN, a 24-hour hangout in downtown Miami that features VIP rooms, a rooftop restaurant and a carnival-like party pit with aerial artists, go-go dancers and exotic acts.
The Miami Heat’s home court at AmericanAirlines Arena in downtown Miami is a good place to spot NBA fans like Serena Williams, Rick Ross, Jimmy Buffett, Anna Kournikova, Enrique Iglesias, Gloria Estefan, Drake and Rihanna. Look for them in courtside seats or the luxurious, gold-gilded Hyde Lounge on the south end of the arena.
~Patrick Farrell for VISIT FLORIDA
While Jason Mraz, Morrissey and Thalia perform on its stages, the Adrienne Arsht Center in downtown Miami also is known for star gazers in the audience. Kevin Spacey, Martina Navratilova, Katie Holmes, Columbian actor Fabian Rios and Harry Wayne Casey (aka KC from KC and the Sunshine Band) have all come to see shows at the 10-year-old performing arts center. In February 2016, Chrissy Teigen and John Legend popped into the Center’s Café at Books & Books to sign copies of Teigen’s cookbook, “Cravings.”
Anatomy at 1220 in Miami Beach is a gym, spa and wellness center where fitness buffs like Hulk Hogan, Tiesto and Gabrielle Anwar go to pump iron, get a vitamin infusion or grab a massage. The exclusive health complex was co-founded by former Jets and Patriots player Marc Megna. If sweaty celebrities are your thing, pedal over to Flywheel in Miami Beach’s Sunset Harbour neighborhood to try to catch Peyton Manning, Jeremy Piven, Sofia Vergara and other stars who like to spin there.
The tranquil Bal Harbour Shops in Bal Harbour is the shopping spree site of choice for Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Jonah Hill, Antonio Banderas, Elle MacPherson and Kelly Rowland. The lushly-landscaped, open-air mall is one of the nation’s most profitable shopping centers, with close to 100 luxury fashion and jewelry brands, including Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Hermes, Prada and Gucci.