With all the hype, you'd expect Miami to have long outlived its 15 minutes of fame by now. But you'd be wrong. Miami's nightlife, in South Beach and, slowly but surely, downtown and its urban environs, is hotter than ever before -- and getting cooler with the opening of each funky, fabulous watering hole, lounge, and club. Not always cool, however, is the presence of ubiquitous, closely guarded velvet ropes used to often erroneously create an air of exclusivity. Don't be fooled or intimidated by them -- anyone can go clubbing in the Magic City, and throughout this section, I've provided tips to ensure that you gain entry to your desired venue.
South Beach is certainly Miami's uncontested nocturnal nucleus, but more and more diverse areas, such as the Design District, Wynwood, Brickell, South Miami, and even Little Havana, are increasingly providing fun alternatives without the ludicrous cover charges, "fashionably late" hours of operation (things don't typically get started on South Beach until after 11pm), lack of sufficient self-parking, and outrageous drink prices that are standard in South Beach.
While South Beach dances to a more electronic beat, other parts of Miami dance to a Latin beat -- from salsa and merengue to tango and cha-cha. However, if you're looking for a less frenetic good time, Miami's bar scene has something for everyone, from haute hotel bars to sleek, loungey watering holes.
Parts of downtown, such as the Biscayne Corridor, the Miami River, and the Design District, are undergoing a trendy makeover à la New York City's Meatpacking District. Cool lounges, bars, and clubs are popping up and providing the "in" crowds with a newer, more urban-chic nocturnal pasture.
But if the possibility of a celebrity sighting in one of the city's lounges, bars, or clubs doesn't fulfill your cultural needs, Miami also provides a variety of first-rate diversions in theater, music, and dance, including a world-class ballet (under the aegis of Edward Villella), a recognized symphony, and a talented opera company. The new Cesar Pelli-designed, $446-million Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is the focal point for the arts, created to prove to the world that Miami isn't as shallow and devoid of culture as people once thought.
For up-to-date listing information, and to make sure the club of the moment hasn't expired, check the Miami Herald's "Weekend" section, which runs on Friday, or the more comprehensive listings in New Times, Miami's free alternative weekly, available each Wednesday; or visit www.miami.com online.
Think of it as the Big Lebowski meets Studio 54, because in Miami, this is not your Sunday afternoon ESPN bowling tournament. As much a fun rainy-day activity as it is with the kids, bowling in Miami gives new meaning to partying in the gutter.
Although some dining spots in Miami stop serving at 10pm, many are open very late or even around the clock -- especially on weekends. So, if it's 4am and you need a quick bite after clubbing, don't fret. There are a vast number of pizza places lining Washington Avenue in South Beach that are open past 6am. Especially good are La Sandwicherie, 229 14th St. (behind the Amoco station; tel. 305/532-8934), which serves up a great late-night sandwich until 5am. Nearby is the new in 2010 BK Whopper Bar, 1101 Washington Ave. (no tel. yet), Burger King's spin on a hip burger joint, open 24 hours a day, serving beer and as gourmet a burger as BK can make. Another place of note for night owls is the News Café, 800 Ocean Dr. (tel. 305/538-6397), a trendy and well-priced cafe that has an enormous menu offering great all-day breakfasts, Middle Eastern platters, fruit bowls, or steak and potatoes -- and everything is served 24 hours a day. If you're craving a corned beef on rye at 5am, Jerry's Famous Deli, 1450 Collins Ave. (tel. 305/534-3244), is open 24/7. If your night out was at one of the Latin clubs around town, stop in at Versailles, 3555 SW Eighth St. (tel. 305/444-0240), in Little Havana. What else but a Cuban medianoche (midnight sandwich) will do? It's not open all night, but its hours extend well past midnight -- usually until 3 or 4am on weekends -- to cater to gangs of revelers, young and old.