With cool laid back beach vibes and robust nightlife options, Miami and Los Angeles top our list when it comes to seaside adventures and diverse downtown districts. Atlantic to Pacific, we’ll let you decide where to dip your toes and explore beyond the shore.
The Salty Life
These two world-class beach getaways have their own distinctive attributes that lure countless visitors and locals to their pristine strips of sand.
MIA: Miami’s beaches have one thing in common: warm crystal-clear water that spans the coastline from North Miami to Key Biscayne. If you have the family in tow, visit Bill Baggs State Park Beach in Key Biscayne. The kids will love touring the charming Cape Florida Lighthouse and helping you grill beach-side. Next, head to Miami Beach and follow the troves of tourists to South Beach’s most popular spot, Lummus Park. In the heart of the Art Deco District, you can grab a piña colada at one of the nearby Sobe beach bar institutions in between beach volleyball games and people watching. If you’re looking for less of a scene, walk or bike a little further south to Miami’s South Pointe Park. This is where you can make a stop at the Legendary Joe’s Stone Crab for takeaway and then continue biking your way along the sunset-kissed paved pier.
LA: Larger and with more distinct beach neighborhoods that span styles from bohemian to sporty, Los Angeles has crisp, deep blue beaches for everyone. The most well-known, Malibu, is both a surfer’s paradise and mecca for celebrities spanning 27 miles across the Pacific coastline. After building an appetite up surfing at Zuma Beach, casual Malibu Seafood will hit the spot. For the best people watching out west, grab your tank top and stop at Venice Beach. Best known for their famous Muscle Beach, beautiful canals, and great shopping hub on Abbot Kinney Boulevard, there’s something for everyone. Next, rent a pair of rollerblades and take your moves to Santa Monica Pier. Snap a selfie at the iconic Ferris Wheel and take in the expansive views of the rolling blue-green sea.
In two cities where it’s always bikini season – you won’t have trouble staying fit as both locales enjoy gorgeous weather set against the best beaches and views.
Bring a Mat, Leave your Wallet
Make room in your suitcase for the essentials – like a few extra bathing suits and opt for sandals rather than sneakers. These free mat classes help you maintain your workout routine while checking some must-see areas of the city off of your list.
MIA: Head inland to another favorite outdoor spot for locals, Wynwood Yard, It has it all – good eats, cold cocktails, live music, and a calendar full of activities each week. Check the Yard’s event calendar and join fellow Miamians for free Pilates or yoga. Afterwards, recharge with the vegan forbidden bowl from Dellabowls or a refreshing (and well-earned) Mojito.
LA: Knock out two birds with one stone when you hike the famous Runyon Canyon. Your reward when you get to the top? Free yoga with sweeping 360-degree views of Los Angeles. Pro Tip: you may want to wear your best lululemon just in case you run into Hollywood’s A-list elite that frequent the trails.
Whether you’re a first time rider, seasoned professional, or command your board by tuning into nature, LA and Miami may not have similar oceans conditions, but do have a similar passion for the surf.
MIA: The warm and calm clear-blue water paired with strong winds provide the perfect marriage for Kiteboarding in Key Biscayne. Crandon Beach offers a number of rentals and lessons – but the shallow water Lagoon beach is famous for beginners to ease into this exhilarating sport.
LA: Surfing is synonymous with SoCal, and with as many surfing spots as there are In-and-Out Burgers, its easy to get overwhelmed on where to get your board wet. If you’re a beginner – head to Zuma Beach on the north end of Malibu. The more experienced riders enjoy the big waves of Manhattan Beach.
FOOD & DRINK
Drop the stale chain-bakery glazed, and visit one of these artisanal gourmet donut shops to start your day on a sweet note.
MIA: Located in Miami’s Arts district, the Salty Donut’s picture-perfect confections, like the popular Maple Bacon donut, uses local food purveyor Miami smokers and neighbor brewery J. Wakefield for the perfect taste of salty and sweet.
LA: With clever band-name inspired donuts like the S’Morrisey and Jets to Basil, you’ll have a hard time walking away with just one from Donut Friend in Highland Park. Best yet, put all of those episodes of Chopped to work and create your own donut masterpiece with endless combinations of fillings and toppings.
Taste of Culture
Rich in diversity, each city’s cuisine is infused with flavors from the cultural influences that have taken root in their respective neighborhoods. From Cuba to Mexico, you won’t have to leave the country to try these delectable cuisines.
MIA: Dubbed as the world’s most famous Cuban restaurant, it’s for good reason. Versailles, on Miami’s illustrious Calle Ocho, is home to the perfect Cubano sandwich. Order a side of croquetas and finish your meal with a cafecito to avoid the urge to nap.
LA: Despite the fact that you really can’t get a bad taco in town, head to West Hollywood for the sampler platter at taqueria Guisados. The hand-made tortillas are always fresh, and the bold chiles torreados are the best in town. You may want to order an extra horchata to cool things down post-meal.
Decisions Decisions You won’t be making any when you visit two of the best omakase restaurants in LA & MIA. The Japanese Chef’s selection will introduce you to some of the freshest sushi to touch your lips, and educate even the most novice of sushi lovers. The days of spicy tuna rolls are behind you.
MIA: Chef Kevin Corey‘s Naoe is less of a meal, and more of an experience. With only space for eight diners at each seating, this intimate sushi den offers a personal dining experience for each guest. Chef Corey will take you on a journey starting with sake from his family’s brewery in Japan to fresh and skillfully prepared nigiri.
LA: LA has sushi ingrained in their DNA. Q Sushi in DTLA shines with a 20-course omakase menu with delicated courses of uni and Japanese mackerel topped with freshly grated wasabi. And don’t bother asking for soy sauce, Chef Hiro only serves his nigiri with the sauces and spices he wants you to experience it with.
From the mural lined streets of photogenic DTLA and Miami’s Wynwood to the new modern art museums making a national name for themselves, LA & Miami go head to head, each with a young eclectic art scene.
Let’s face it. We all want more likes. We can’t promise Bieber status, but standing in front of these blogger obsessed street art murals will give you that amazing profile pic you’ve been vying for.
MIA: With never-ending building facades covered in street art, have your selfie stick ready when head to Miami’s Wynwood Arts District. Visit Wynwood Walls for photos in front of Maya Hayuk’s symmetrical rainbow and Ron English’s “Hulk Boy”.
LA: For pops of color, visit the “Love Wall” by Curtis Kulig in Culver City or the Polka Dot wall by The Most Famous Artist in DTLA. We also love the hieroglyphic-inspired art of Retna that can be found in West Hollywood.
With clean lines and striking design, LA and Miami’s contemporary art museums are eye-pleasing cultural landmarks with impressive collections and or stylish gift-shops.
MIA: Overlooking Biscayne Bay, The Perez Art Museum of Miami (PAMM) fuses nature and distinctive architecture to house rotating exhibits of over 1,800 works. Afterward, grab lunch al fresco under the rows of vertical gardens at museum restaurant Verde.
LA: On the west coast, The Broad, named for Eli and Edythe Broad’s collection of over 2,000 post-war works that rotate throughout the museum, is at the epicenter of the DTLA arts scene. The Giftshop is one of our favorites with unique items like Jean-Michel Basquait skateboard decks.
In cities where famous DJ’s headline the clubs and patrons opt for bottle service over beers, the live music scene is often underestimated but not overshadowed. Don’t miss these hidden gems sprinkled across each city.
Warm Nights, Hot Beats
With gorgeous weather year-round, grab a blanket and a cold beer and head to each city’s best outdoor concert venues.
MIA: With a backdrop of the Miami Bay and South Beach skyline, the Bayfront Park Amphitheater hosts shows of every genre during concert season. Relax to a soulful John Legend or relive your middle school dances at Bryan Adams this summer – there is literally something for everyone.
LA: Framed by the famous HOLLYWOOD sign, this iconic venue is best known for it’s Frank Gehry designed bandshell and renowned musical acts. Dance on the ceiling with Lionel Richie or live your best surf life with Jack Johnson this spring/summer at Hollywood Bowl.
If Walls Could Talk
Rich in musical history and stiff cocktails, these storied nightclubs may have opened decades apart, but each have a colorful past of legendary musicians and countless stories.
MIA: Step back in time and into Little Havana at Ball and Chain in Miami’s Calle Ocho neighborhood. A recreation of the original venue housed in the same location, this iconic nightclub welcomed jazz superstars like Billie Holiday and Count Basie. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes – before you know it you’ll have your third mojito in hand, smoking a cigar, and doing your best salsa in front of the retro Pineapple-shaped stage.
LA: Opened in 1957, the Troubadour in West Hollywood has helped launch the careers of musical legends Elton John, Neil Diamond, and Guns N’Roses. Their impressive history and roster of acts can be found peppered behind the bar in the form of gold albums and autographed headshots. Who knows, the show you catch just may feature the next Adele.
City of Stars
After our 3rd viewing of La La Land our Spotify was full of John Coltrane and Thelonious Monk’s best jazz tunes. Upgrade your vodka soda to an extra dry martini and head to these classy jazz joints.
MIA: Upstairs, the club may be going until the sun rises, but downstairs in dimly lit Floyd, a sophisticated post-theater crowd sips on one of the 49 hand-crafted cocktails on the menu and sways to the soulful sounds of live jazz.
LA: Founded by musical Legend Herb Alpert, it’s no surprise that Vibrato Grill is host to some of the world’s most talented musicians. Dress to impress in this romantic supper club with impeccable acoustics.
LAST STOP: SHOPPING
We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention the glitzy high-end shopping districts each city has to offer.
MIA: A spillover from the arts district, Miami’s Design District is a one stop shop for luxury brands. The area is sprinkled with top global designers in fashion, design, and art. Don’t leave without admiring the curated collections at Chrome Hearts, COS, Miu Miu, and Jonathan Adler.
LA: Luxury shopping is synonymous with the iconic Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. A stroll along the fabled street means Celeb Spotting and a chance to reenact that famous Pretty Woman scene. The international fashion hub is home to Valentino, Tom Ford, Chanel, and Cartier.
With their larger than life personalities, warm nights, and cool vibes, we won’t make you rep one coast over the other. There are enough sunny days, good eats, and eye-pleasing art to keep you busy from east to west.