SEE Bacardi Buildings
2100 Biscayne Blvd., 305/573-8511
A modernist masterpiece, best known for the white and blue floral murals sprawling across its facades, which were designed and installed by Brazilian artist Francisco Brennand in the early 1960s. There's a small, so-so museum of Bacardi memorabilia on the main floor here, but unlike the original museum in Puerto Rico, this one is normally off-limits to visitors.
SEE Living Room Building
4000 Miami Ave.
Local husband-and-wife architects Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt's low-rise office building has an exterior entryway that looks like a living room (hence the name). There's a giant concrete couch, an oversized floor lamp, and even a "painting"-a framed hole through which you can see the sky.
SEE Little Haiti
The main drag of this vibrant immigrant district is 54th St. just west of Biscayne Blvd. The blocks are filled with cafés, stores selling books in Creole and French, and record shops buzzing with Caribbean rhythms. There are also several botanicas, where adherents of the voodoo-like Santeria can purchase ritual potions, candles, and statuettes. Passersby are welcome to enter, but not to take photographs.
SEE The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse
591 NW 27th St., 305/576-1051, margulieswarehouse.com
Art maven Marty Margulies recently renovated his museum, which showcases his astonishing collection of avant-garde art, especially photography. Diverse talents such as classic writer/photographer Eudora Welty and contemporary artist Vanessa Beecroft are represented, along with 3-D installations. Open Oct.-May, Fri.-Sat. 11 a.m.-4 p.m.; free.
EAT Cafe Cafe
5580 NE 4th Ct., 305/754-6700
A down-home café with mismatched furniture-overstuffed leather sofas, antique tables, bent wooden chairs-and a leafy, grove-like patio shaded by umbrellas. Simple salads and sandwiches make up the menu.
EAT The District
35 NE 40th St., 305/576-7242, thedistrictmiami.com
Trendy bar/restaurant/lounge with a palm-shaded courtyard, a fountain in front, and a larger seating area inside at the back. Note the unusual yet stylish touches throughout, like the flowers encased in the backlit Lucite bar. The modern American food is less impressive than the stiff, fruity cocktails.
EAT Dogma Grill
7030 Biscayne Blvd., 305/759-3433
Cheery hot-dog stand with red tables, white umbrellas, and an inventive menu-you'll find standard favorites like chili dogs and less-standard concoctions such as the Athens, sprinkled with feta cheese, olives, tomato, and cucumber.
DRINK Grass Restaurant & Lounge
28 NE 40th St., 305/573-3355
A French Polynesian bar that looks like a Dior-designed tiki hut. Come dressed to the nines if you want a peek inside-it's notorious for velvet-rope burn. Cover from $20.
DRINK Magnum Restaurant and Lounge
709 NE 79th St., 305/757-3368
Lush red banquettes and a hidden entrance give this out-of-the-way Little Haiti restaurant/bar the impression of a bordello or speakeasy. Go for the live Casablanca-style piano.
5501 NE 2nd Ave., 305/757-1807, churchillspub.com
Brit-inflected-a huge Union Jack covers the exterior, soccer games play on the TV-and reliable rock venue that's nurtured emerging and local talent for 20 years. Both Marilyn Manson and the Mavericks played their first gigs here. Covers range from free to $10.
FOOD & DRINK
Though Miami has its own menu lingo, it's easy enough to decipher. Those touting "Floribbean" food basically serve bikini-ready cuisine: light, diet-friendly dishes composed of fruit, fresh fish, and Caribbean spices. Cuban cuisine is more indulgent, much of it deep-fried-vaca frita (chunks of beef fried with onions), tostones (mashed, fried plantains), and ropa vieja (literally "old clothes," but actually a rich, decadent combo of shredded beef and vegetables stewed with spices). Be sure to try one of the Caribbean cocktails on most menus. There's the thirst-quenching Cuba libre (a rum and Coke with a squeeze of fresh lime) and the aromatic mojito, made from a blend of rum, muddled mint, lime, and sugar.
TIPBill Baggs Cape Florida State Park At the tip of Key Biscayne, this scene-free, family-friendly alternative to most Miami beaches has a historic 1825 lighthouse, picnic spots, and bike rentals for $5 per hour (1200 S. Crandon Blvd., 305/361-5811).