Every December, thousands of people flock to Miami for the American show of Art Basel, the world’s premier modern and contemporary art festival, bringing together people of the art world and visitors alike to view highly esteemed art. It’s also a week full of parties, gatherings and other social events that draws celebrities and influencers by the crowds. It’s been on our bucket list for a while, but as we get older and our interest in the art world grows (#adulting), we found ourselves wanting to experience the art aspect just as much as the social scene. So a few weeks ago, off we went to Miami Beach for our first Art Basel experience. There were no disappointments… the city is livelier than you can imagine, full of positive and exciting energy. The amount of incredible art to be seen was astounding but not overwhelming, and the dining, hotel and nightlife scenes were just as you’d expect them to be… a celebrity sighting here, people dressed in crazy costumes there, and tons of people you don’t recognize but are probably very important in the art world. It’s definitely an event worth traveling for, and we can’t wait to head back next year. Below, we’ve put together a first-timer’s guide to everything Art Basel.
1 Hotel South Beach
2341 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
South Beach’s 1 Hotel is a mecca of natural luxury situated on 600 feet of beach. This is the eco-friendly luxury hotel’s second location (read about its first location here). With two of the best pools in South Beach (both with stunning ocean views and one on the rooftop), this hotel makes for a perfect place to relax in between all the Basel festivities.
Miami Beach EDITION
2901 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33140
The Edition hotel’s luxurious design has been a Miami Beach favorite since its debut in 2014. Besides its gorgeous lobby (pictured) and guest rooms, two pools and beachfront access, the hotel also features the Basement–an entertainment complex complete with a nightclub, an ice skating rink and a bowling alley.
2727 Indian Creek Dr., Miami Beach, FL 33140
The Freehand is a fun, vibrant and more budget-friendly place to stay in Miami Beach. The hotel features a wide variety of room styles, from a standard room or suite to an eight-bed bunk room, all decorated in Miami’s classic art deco style. Enjoy complimentary breakfast before you walk a short two blocks to the beach, and at night hit up Broken Shaker, the hotel’s buzzing cocktail bar.
SLS South Beach
1701 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
The SLS is the epitome of a sleek and sexy South Beach hotel, with stunning guest rooms and villas designed by Phillipe Stack and Lenny Kravitz. Dine at The Bazaar by José Andrés (start with cocktails outside on the patio!) or enjoy sushi at the highly acclaimed Katsuya.
1700 James Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
Located in a villa-turned-tiny boutique hotel, Casa Tua serves delicious northern Italian cuisine (their pastas are to die for) in an incredibly romantic setting. If the weather is nice, sit outside in the garden (pictured above). Dining with a big group? Ask for the chef’s table which seats up to 20. Definitely call well in advance for reservations, and go hungry!
4385 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33140
Cecconi’s is an adorably charming Italian spot located outside in the courtyard of the Soho Beach House. It serves breakfast/brunch, lunch and dinner and even makes a great place to stop in for a cocktail. We love the iconic green and white striped floors.
Joe’s Stone Crab
11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33139
Probably the most well-known restaurant (and longest wait for a table) in Miami is Joe’s Stone Crab. Their stone crabs are legendary, so don’t leave without trying some. They don’t take reservations, FYI, but it’s well worth the wait!
Market at Edition
2901 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, FL 33140
Modeled after Spain’s food markets, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant inside the Edition hotel is part cafe, part patisserie and part salumeria. It’s a perfect casual spot for breakfast, lunch, coffee or juice. It’s also open for dinner should you opt for something more low-key after your busy day.
222 NW 26th St., Miami, FL 33127
Jugo Fresh is the place to go in Miami for cold-pressed juices and smoothies. Located in Wynwood right next to the Wynwood Walls, it’s the perfect place to stop in for a refreshing beverage as you’re walking around the area. There’s also one in Miami Beach… click here to see the other locations.
Bal Harbour Shops
9700 Collins Ave., Bal Harbour, FL 33154
There is no shopping experience quite as luxurious as the Bal Harbour Shops. Stop into one of the many dining options for lunch and do some people watching, then after you’re done shopping, head across the street to the St. Regis for a glass of champagne in the St. Regis bar.
There is so much great art to be seen during Art Basel. The entire week in Miami is now referred to as Art Week because of all the satellite fairs and other art-related events that go on during the week of Art Basel. Below are the things you won’t want to miss.
Art Basel Miami Beach
Miami Beach Convention Center
1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach, FL 33139
Art Basel’s main show is held in the Miami Beach Convention Center, and is open to the public Thursday through Sunday. Tour the show with an expert guide or walk around and browse the art on your own. There’s lots to see with hundreds of galleries displaying works by thousands of contemporary and modern artists.
Meridian Ave. & 19th St., Miami Beach, FL
Design Miami/ is a sister fair of Art Basel and is held every year during Art Week in a temporary structure across from the Miami Beach Convention Center. This design fair brings the top galleries from around the world specializing in collectible design. Like Art Basel, Design Miami/ is open to the public on Thursday through Sunday.
Pérez Art Museum Miami
1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132
Explore the galleries of modern and contemporary art at Pérez, Miami’s flagship art museum. Not only does it house some incredible exhibitions, but the three-story museum is located on the bay in downtown Miami’s Museum Park and is decorated with over 65 gardens, making it an aesthetically stunning experience. It’s highly recommended by experts in the art world, so be sure to put it on your Art Basel agenda.
2520 NW 2nd Ave., Miami, FL 33127
No first-timer’s Art Basel experience would be complete without a visit to Wynwood. What used to be Wynwood’s warehouse district is now referred to as Wynwood Walls, a park with gardens, street art, and graffiti and murals displayed on the walls of warehouse buildings. After exploring the park, walk around the neighborhood and pop into the many shops and restaurants that line the streets.
– Purchase your Art Basel tickets online in advance here. Prices are slightly lower if you purchase them online, and you will avoid standing in line outside at the event.
– Make your hotel and restaurant reservations well in advance! Thousands of people come to Miami for Art Week and things book up quickly.
– Do research the events scheduled throughout the week. While lots of the parties and events are private and invitation only, many of them are open to the public and are worth checking out.