Miami Florida has a number of wonderful shopping opportunities but one of the best ways to enjoy the wonderfully sunny Florida climate and do a little shopping too is by hitting one of the open air shopping venues. Lincoln Road Outdoor Mall is probably the best place to do this in all of Florida, if not one of the best places in the country. The main reason for Lincoln Road’s popularity is it is the best place to people watch in South Beach, (other than the beach itself). This means that you’re likely to see a celebrity strut by, although you may not recognize them as this area is so full of rich and beautiful people they all seem to look alike after a while.
Back in the 1930’s when Miami was experiencing its first real boom, local developer Carl Fisher envisioned Lincoln Road as sort of a Fifth Avenue or a Rodeo Drive and pictured it bringing together the east and west sides of the city. Today the most popular part of the road is between Lenox Avenue and Washington Avenue where it serves as a pedestrian mall and is full of restaurants, stores, specialty shops and other expected and unexpected distractions for shoppers in Miami.
The stores on Lincoln Road are just as numerous as most malls but there is more variety and some stores that you definitely will never see anywhere else. If you’re looking for something comfortable and familiar then there are the old standbys like Ann Taylor Loft, Anthropologie, Apple, Banana Republic, Chico’s, The Gap, Guess, Payless Shoe Source, Victoria’s Secret, Walgreens, and Williams-Sonoma. But for those who are willing to live on the edge a little bit and try something unique and different there is The 9th Chakra, Alvin’s Island, Body Up, Brownes and Co., Cascella, Fly Boutique, Follies, Kiehl’s, Miss Sixty, Morgan Miller, Next, Owww Clothing, Post Blue Jean Co., Rainbow, Red Zebra and The Shop on Lincoln. The majority of the stores on Lincoln Road focus on hip and trendy clothing by some of the top designers in the world and unique home accessories and furnishings. Don’t despair if you must have something but don’t have a way to bring it home, the stores are quite often willing to arrange shipping for their out of town visitors.
There are a great number of restaurants in the Lincoln Road area featuring just about everything you could ever want to eat. But if you’re in Miami you’ll probably want to try something that has a distinct Miami flavor or you’ll want to explore some fresh caught fish. Yuca Restaurant features new Cuban cuisine and a Latin club and will deliver on that local flavor you’re looking for. For the freshest fish around, Sushi Siam will satiate that need. If you’re looking for a restaurant that offers a little more of a South Beach experience then the Van Dyke Cafe is a great stop, this indoor/outdoor restaurant is one of the most popular ones on Lincoln Road and often features a live jazz band upstairs. Segafredo Zanetti is another popular location among visitors (famous and not-so-famous) because its prime outdoor seating provides great views of the promenade and the people, and the foods pretty good too. Aura is another popular dining stop but its main draw is its architecture, designed by Morris Lapidus the creator of the Fontainebleau hotel and Eden Roc Hotel.
If it’s a traditional movie you’re interested in seeing then the South Beach 18 is the place to go. This three story movie theater has 18 different screens and all the current hits. For an actual theater experience you’ll want to check out the Colony Theater which hosts a variety of programs including traditional theater, dance, music, and film. The Lincoln Theater is home to the New World Symphony and offers visitors an incredible night of music and entertainment.
Art is an important part of life in Miami and the number of art galleries along Lincoln Road is a testament to its significance. There are two ArtCenter/South Florida locations on Lincoln Road and both are excellent galleries to visit, especially if you want to explore what is happening in the local art scene. In addition to the ArtCenter/South Florida locations you can try Britto Central, Carel Gallery, Collection Privee, Peter Lik or the Royal Art Galleries.
For book lovers there is really only one place to stop on Lincoln Road, Books & Books. Books & Books is a combination bookstore and coffee shop/restaurant that is extremely popular with the locals, but one reason for its immense popularity is its focus on local authors. Look for regional tomes with a specifically Miami feel, and if you’re real lucky you will hit a reading or a signing with one of these local celebrities of the literary world.
At night Lincoln Road is one of the most popular places to hang out and enjoy the South Beach atmosphere. This happening promenade has everything you could want from upscale eateries, trendy celebrities stumbling around before their next detox and some incredible bars and nightclubs. The best way to take in the whole Lincoln Road after dark vibe is by just strolling from bar to bar and examining what’s happening in each. But that’s not always the most practical or plausible approach. If you’re looking for a few noted hotspots to visit consider Segafredo Zanetti which is known to attract the beautiful people day and night, Van Dyke Cafe when they’re having a live jazz band upstairs, and Zeke’s Roadhouse, a little less upscale but one of the most welcoming joints on the promenade.
Visiting Miami’s Lincoln Road is a must for shoppers but this open air shopper’s paradise has so much more to offer it won’t be hard to keep the non-shoppers in the group occupied as well. In fact you may find yourself spending a whole day, or several days, exploring all of the stores along this famous strip in South Beach.
Photo credit: interbeat