The Venice Cheat Sheet 

With the Venice Biennale, the granddaddy of all contemporary art exhibitions, taking place from May 11-November 24, now is the time to book your ticket to Italy’s surreal floating city.  

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Drink up--A Weekend in Rioja

Just a few hours drive from Madrid; Rioja is Spain’s most lauded wine region. Unlike Napa, or to a lesser extent Tuscany and Bordeaux, places more commercial and accustomed to tons of visitors, Rioja is delightfully undiscovered and authentic. Traveling from San Sebastian, (see here) with a stopover first for a lunch to end all lunches at Extebarri (see here), we made our way to our home base at the Marques de Riscal for the next two nights. Hardly enough time to soak in all the compelling wines, delicious food, modern architecture and medieval villages.

Tripper Tips:

Do your research and plan ahead to schedule appointments at the wineries you wish to visit. Most do not have public tasting rooms and only offer limited tours in English, usually one per day.

You have the option to choose to tour the Marques de Riscal winery, it’s included in your stay. The 33,000 square foot complex, including the hotel and spa, is aptly called the The City of Wine. Tours of the winery are 90 minutes.

Another hotel option is to stay at the boutique Hotel Viura, located in Villabuena de Alava, home to over 30 wineries.

Have time for another day tip… dine at the the famed El Portal del Echaurren in the town of Ezcaray for food from chef Francis Paniego.  Chef Paniego is also the chef at the gourmet restaurant at Marques de Riscal.

Have more time…visit the mountain monasteries of Suso and Yuso. Be sure to make a reservation a few days before you plan on going.

Rioja is a vast area, and a useful source is to download the comprehensive Maribel Guides before you go.

Stay: Its not everyday you get to sleep in a Frank Gehry designed building that looks just like the younger sibling of the Guggenheim Bilbao (see itinerary here.) The Marques de Riscal sits high on a hill, overlooking the oldest winery in Rioja, dating from 1858. You can see the hotel miles before you arrive. It looks as if a space ship was dropped in the middle of tiny, sleepy Elcegio. Riscal has put Rioja on travelers’ maps, and indeed the crowds come—but they also leave quickly, and most of the time you have the place to yourself. 

Singular: Frank Gehry brought international attention to Rioja, but he is not alone in creating breathtaking architecture, Santiago Calatrava, Zaha Hadid, and Inaki Aspiazu have all designed cutting edge wineries that stand out in the landscape of rolling hills and fortified towns. It’s so surreal, so fun.

Morning Wake Up: Wander through the streets of Elcegio, and then head up towards the vineyards, you can walk or run for miles. It’s peaceful, beautiful, and the return vistas of Riscal are magical, changing form and color from every angle. It feels like life in Elcegio hasn’t changed all that much, as if untouched, even with the arrival of Riscal. Afterwards, enjoy breakfast in the hotel’s modern bistro. 

Drink: A large concentration of wineries can be found in or near Haro, approximately 30 minutes from the Hotel. We booked a morning tour at López de Heredia, where the Zaha Hadid decanter shaped tasting pavilion and wine shop stands in sharp contrast to the traditional winery next door. The tour begins in the winery, surrounded by men at work making wine barrels, one of the only wineries to handcraft their own barrels. You’ll learn the history of this family run bodega dating back to 1877, before venturing down to the underground tunnels and caves. Itchy at the sight of countless cobwebs, we were amazed at the thick layer of natural mold covering both the cellar walls and the wine bottles. I’ve visited a lot of wineries, and this was a unique and visual experience. Roda, right next door, has one of the rare public wine rooms. Stop in for a tasting, not only of their stellar wine, but also of their outstanding olive oil.  Another popular winery in Haro is Muga if you’d like to do another tour. 

Drive By: Make a stop at Ysios’ Winery, designed by Calatrava. We heard the building was more compelling than the wines, and it was well worth it to walk around and admire the architect’s handiwork. 

Still Thirsty: If you’re up for more touring, one of the more interesting tours is at Bodegas Baigorri. The winery is an architectural gem, a glass box with a multi level winery below, designed by Iñaki Aspiazu. Here the wine rivals the setting; Baigorri was one of our favorite Riojian wines. You can choose to eat here; we heard the set 3-course lunch overlooking the vineyards was a lovely way to spend the afternoon. 

Lunch: On the way to the afternoon stop in Laguardia, dine at the charming, small restaurant Hector Oribe in the nearby town of Paganos. The Michelin starred restaurant has quite a following for it’s creative take on traditional Riojian classics. 

Don’t Miss: Book a tour in the late afternoon with Judith of Pepita Uva, to not just see, but to learn and experience the history of picturesque Laguardia, a fortified medieval town, near the Cantabria Mountains.  Judith speaks perfect English, her mom is from Boston, and she lives here in her family’s home—offering you a true local’s insight and knowledge. The two-hour tour covers the historic town center, the church and the Abbot´s Tower. Laguardia is most fascinating for its network of over 300 subterranean wine cellars, all caves beneath people’s homes. These hidden caves, were once used for protection during sieges, now adapted for wine production and storage. Judith took us into her family’s own cave, deep underground. The tour ends at Judith’s shop with--you guessed it--a glass of wine. 

Dinner: Close to Riscal, head to Fuenmayor, it doesn’t look like much from the road, but has a simple, sweet town center.  Here we had one of our most delicious meals in all of Basque county at Asador Alameda. Run by husband and wife Esther and Tomas Alvarez everything is prepared simply using only the finest seasonal ingredients. The restaurant set up was a bit unusual as Tomas grills in an curtained, glass enclosed kitchen right in the dining room utilizing his 2 grills –one for huge slabs of t-bone steaks, and another for whole fish.  He kept smiling at us as he cooked our dinner, his pride fully evident. Later touring the tiny, spotless kitchen we met Esther who proudly showed us what was bubbling on the stove. We left with hugs and a meal we’ll remember for a long time. After many memorable dinners over our ten-day trip, my best bite may have just come down to a simple bowl of baby peas.

Day Two

Morning: It’s not just a winery tour, but also your morning workout. Walk the vineyards at world renowned Remelluri. Using the maps provided, you choose the 30, 60 or 90-minute self-guided walk throughout their gorgeous grounds.  Make sure to book ahead.  Afterwards head to Briones to visit the Vivanco Museum of Wine Culture, the world’s largest wine museum.  All 4,000 square metres are devoted to exploring the evolution of wine over 8,000 years of history. 

Lunch: Wander around lovely Briones before heading to lunch at Los Calaos, a family run restaurant in the old part of town with a traditional Rioja menu.  

Relax: Back at the hotel, book a massage at the lovely Caudalie Spa overlooking the vineyards, with a small indoor pool. You’re in wine country so try one of the wine related treatments such as a cabernet scrub.

Tapas Crawl: Some say Logrono, the capital of Rioja, rivals San Sebastian when it comes to pinchos. Simpler, and less haute, we found them equally delicious. All the action takes place clustered around two narrow streets in the Casco Viejo: Calle Laurel and Calle San Juan. Come hungry: it’s a bustling area with over 50 bars, a real food marathon. The evening crawl gets going around 9 pm, plan on visiting 5 or 6 bars, and sampling the specialty in each place. How will you know what to order? Ask the bartenders, look and see what the locals are ordering, or choose what looks good to you and be adventurous. 

Eat: Bar Angel serves just one thing: garlicky wild mushrooms grilled and served on a toothpick atop a slice of bread, with a small shrimp as a garnish. It might sound boring, but trust me; it was so good we immediately ordered another round. Half the fun is wandering around and finding your own favorites: we liked El Sebas for their tortillas de patatas, Juan y Pinchame’s prawn and pineapple brochettes and Pata Negra for the toasted jamon sandwich or plates of their rich iberico.

Drink: Wash down your pinchos with the inexpensive Txaoli, the popular fizzy white wine or with a local red crianza. At Taberna de Correos for a few extra euros we ordered wines by the glass, sampling some higher end wines from the area. One we discovered, El Pundito, we are now buying and drinking at home. 

Still Hungry: I’m betting you’ll be properly stuffed after a good pincho prowl , but if you want to sit down and eat dinner, Iruna and Matute, both on Calle de Laurel are good choices.

Related Destinations

A weekend in Venice


Venice, a floating city is one of the world’s most magical of places. A city of contradictions—sensual, romantic and architecturally significant while at the same time fragile, overcrowded and very expensive. One of the most unique places to visit, go and see the sights, but leave time to wander; getting lost is half the fun! Venice’s charms and treasures are too numerous to experience in just a weekend, so plan your time well and make the most of your day.

Tripper Tips:

Venice’s beautiful opera and concert house, Teatro La Fenice, reopened after a catastrophic fire in 1996 that destroyed it completely. Click here to see the schedule while you are here. The theater is usually open for daily tours, check ahead to be sure.

The tiny boutique of Cristina Linassi sells hand-embroidered nightgowns and sheets made in its own workshop. This is an ideal place to pick up something extra special as a present. They also have exquisite bed and table linens...with the prices to match.

Off the beaten track -  visit Cemetery Island, Isola di San Michele, to see the tombs of Igor Stravinsky, Joseph Brodsky, Segei Diaghilev and Ezra Pound.

Venice has a great hot weather aperitif that you definitely want to try--the Sgroppino, which is Prosecco mixed with vodka and topped with a small scoop of lemon sorbet.

Before dinner head to a Bacaro, stand up snack bars resembling Spain's famous tapas bars. Cicchetti are little snacks, good for a bite before dinner with a glass of wine. Cantina do Mori and Bancogiro. both are good places to try near the Rialto Market.

Near St. Lucia train station visit the very old neighborhood of Campo del Ghetto, the world's oldest Jewish ghetto. Still an active community to Venice small Jewish population (approximately 500) with two synagogues still in use today. The Museo Ebraico offers guided tours every hour starting at 10:30.

Stay: The Bauer Il Palazzo, housed in an 18th century palace, overlooks the Grand Canal and is close to St. Mark’s Square. Two boutique hotels, both on the Grand Canal, include Ca Maria Adele and Ca’Sagrado. Feeling extravagant, there’s nothing better than the new Aman, a grand, historic, 24 room hotel housed in a renovated 16th century palazzo right on the Grand Canal. The legendary Gritti Palace just reopened after an extensive renovation. For those who want a more resort like feel, stay on the island of Giudecca. Belmond’s Hotel Cipriani or Bauer’s Palladio Hotel and Spa are a 10-minute boat ride from St. Marks.

Breakfast: Start the day at Café Florian on St. Mark’s. Dating back to 1720, this Neo-Baroque café is beautiful, sit outside and watch the crowds go by.

Morning Sights: For first time visitors, or those who can’t remember the last time they were in Venice, Piazza San Marco, or as the English say St. Marks’s Square is a must do. It’s sure to be filled with tourists so go early. Ride the elevator to the top of the Campanile for a great view of Venice from up high. Go inside St. Mark’s Basilica, the most famous of Venice’s churches and one of the best examples of Byzantine architecture. Book the Secret Itineraries tour in advance for the Doges Palace, and walk right past the long line with your guide. Inside you’ll see two very different sides of the building—first the magnificent rooms with walls of Venetian masterpieces, and then the hidden secret prisons and torture chambers behind those walls. All of these sights are within a few hundred yards—you can cover a lot of ground quickly! Set off in directions off the square and wander, you will discover a much quieter city.

Shop: Il Prato at San Marco has a great selection of Venetian handicrafts all handmade...from antique fabrics to leather goods, fine papers to old carnival masks.  

History Buffs: Visit the Correr Museum at St. Mark’s Square dedicated to the art, culture and history of Venice.

Lunch: Ristorante Quadri on San Marco serves delicious contemporary Italian. Near the Rialto Bridge dine at popular Antiche Carampane. Make sure to order the order the pasta with spider crab and fritto misto. Or head to Ai Gondolieri in the bustling Dorsoduro neighborhood.

Art Afternoon: Venice is an exciting place for modern and contemporary art even when the Biennale is not in season. Many museum quality collections can be seen at extraordinary palazzos throughout the city. One of Venice’s most popular attractions is the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. During her life Peggy Guggenheim was a pioneer of many artists, giving many their first shows. This is a personal, intimate museum in what was once her former waterfront home in the Dorsoduro neighborhood. Francois Pinault is one of the most influential art collectors in the world today. In 2009 he opened his second venue of contemporary art, Punta della Dogana, located at the tip of the Dorsoduro. It hosts temporary exhibitions, mostly with works belonging to the François Pinault Collection. (Pinault’s first venue, Palazzo Grassi, a palace built on the Grand Canal in the 18th century is also worth a visit!)

Old World Art: Not into contemporary art… head to the Gallerie dell'Accademia to see 5 centuries of classic Venetian painting.

Time Travel: The Palazzo Rezzonico is also in Dorsoduro. The interior offers you the truest sense of life in 18th century Venice.

Apertif: Fans of Hemingway must have an Aperol spritzer at Bar Longhi. Located at the Gritti Palace this was one of his favorite haunts; sit on the terrace overlooking the canal. Another favorite Hemingway haunt, Harry's Bar has been a fixture of Venice since 1931. It's on most everyone's list to visit, asthe birthplace of the Bellini, a mixture of white peach juice and proseco, invented by Giuseppe Cipriani and named after a painting by 15th century artist Giovanni Bellini.

Late Night: Venice is not a late night city, but Centrale is an exception if you're looking for a night cap. Just steps from St. Mark's the hip, stylish interior contrasts with the historic, 16th century building it calls home, a winning combination.

Dinner: Off the beaten track is Vini da Arturo. However, this under the radar restaurant is worth finding! Arturo's dishes never disappoint. Don't miss the Venetian pork with vinegar or the radicchio pasta. Arturo's only seats 22, so book ahead. Enjoy one of best meals in Venice at Da Fiore, this Michelin starred restaurant is tops for fresh local fish and seafood. Al Covo uses only the freshest ingredients to showcase the traditional Venetian cuisine from Chef Cesare Benelli. A friend recently loved her meal at Hostaria Da Franz.

Day Two

Early Market: Foodies can’t miss a visit to the Rialto Market to see the freshest fish and vegetables. 

Islands:  Spend a half-day touring the neighboring islands of Murano, Burano and Torcello. Watch the glassblowers at work and visit the workshops along Fondamenta dei Vetrai. Bring your camera to snap great shots of the rainbow rows of houses in Burano. Stop at the Burano Lace Museum, located at the historic palace of Podestà of Torcello, in Piazza Galuppi, which was the seat of the famous Burano Lace School for 100 years up to 1970. Here you will find rare and precious pieces showcasing the history and artistry of the Venetian and lagoon’s laces.In Torcello, visit Santa Maria dell Assunta, Venice’s first Cathedral. 

Lunch: Some say it’s worth going to Murano just to have lunch at Ai Frati or at Osteria al Ponte del Diavolo in Torcello.

Sweet Tooth: Choose between two of the best gelaterias in Venice at Nico  or Gelateria Alaska.

Peaceful: Escape the crowds and take a late afternoon launch to Giudecca Island, a small island in the lagoon just across from the Grand Canal.  Once home to Jewish merchants in the 12th and 13th century, though never a ghetto as the name implies.  This is a lovely neighborhood for a stroll along the waterfront with lovely views of the Grand Canal and city. Walk around the narrow streets and admire the old houses and churches.

Dinner: Dine at Cip’s Club in Giudecca for a romantic dinner with an incredible view. Or head back and go to casual Aqua Pazzo for delicious Neapolitan pizzas, great fish and must order sorbets. Arrive by gondola or foot to tiny, cozy Da Ivo on the canal not far from St. Mark's. Order the Florentine Beef and be sure to check the daily specials.

Related Destinations

Santorini: A Weekend In Oia

Photograph by William Abranowitcz

Photograph by William Abranowitcz

From the moment she saw the view of the caldera, my teenage daughter gasped that unlike other places she had been, Santorini lived up, and exceeded, all the glorious pictures and postcards that had mingled in her imagination. Born from a cataclysmic volcanic eruption, Santorini, the southernmost island of the Cyclades group, thrills with dramatic cliffs rising up from the sea and white villages perched high above the caldera. Oia at its most northwest tip is famous for its awe-inspiring sunsets, breathtaking views and incredible hotels and restaurants hugging the cliffs.

Tripper Tips:

Oia’s charms attracts busloads of visitors, it gets crowded in the summer—real crowded! May and June are the best time to visit. 

Try Santorini’s own micro brews--the Yellow, Red or Crazy Donkey or the local Fix beer.

Domaine Sigalas Winery, right down the road from Perivolas, is open to the public for tours or to visit their tasting rooms. The wines, especially the whites, have been gaining an international recognition and are truly delicious. It’s nice to visit in the early evening as the sun sets over the vineyards.

Want to continue eating healthy Greek food at home? Recreate the magic of your trip with the help of some of our favorite Greek cookbooks—Smashing Plates, How to Roast a Lamb, Food from many Greek Kitchens, and Kokkari from San Francisco’s acclaimed restaurant.


Stay: While there are many beautiful places to stay in Oia, there is only one Perivolas. Started by the Psychos family with a dream and a vision, and just that much of crazy, all the rooms are built dramatically into the Cliffside in restored 300-year-old caves. The hotel is set high above the Aegean with rooms spread out amphitheatrically.  The décor is simple, letting the scenery steal the show. All white interiors are accented with just a touch of pink, of purple, adding to the overall effect. And it only gets better with one of the most photographed infinity pools in the world, drop dead vistas over the caldera and neighboring islands and an incredible spot for sunset.

Location: Perivolas is on the outskirts of Oia, which is a good thing. It’s just a short walk (5-10 min. max), but it’s nice to be slightly outside of the main thoroughfare. I used, and highly recommend, Ronnie Liadis from Liadis Travel to organize our trip. Ronnie, recognized by Conde Nast Traveler as a specialist for Greece, has in-depth knowledge of the country and all things Greek. Ronnie also recommends Canaves in Oia, especially if you are traveling with children.

Breakfast: Perivolas’ dining room, for guests only, is built in a converted wine cellar overlooking the pool. Breakfast is buffet style with made to order eggs. At lunch, or as a late afternoon snack, you must try the traditional Santorini dish of favas, done here beautifully with capers and tomatoes on top. (Santorini is famous for its favas, which are yellow split peas, not the green favas from broad beans.) The Dakos is another must order—a Cretan style salad of tomatoes, capers, cheese and olives over a dark rusk.

Get Rolling: Head through town and run the steep steps down to Amoudi and back up, if that’s not enough of a work out do it more than once. For the ambitious there’s a hike from Oia to Fira that we had the best intentions of doing.  The entire hike takes about 4 hours and is meant to be spectacular.

On the Water: Greece is heaven out on the water with some of the most inviting swimming anywhere.  Rent a catamaran for either a half or whole day, leaving from the small port at Amoudi. While the view looking down is pretty impressive, the view looking up at the white washed villages is equally as good. You can cruise around the Caldera and over to Thirasia, or head to Ios or Anafi Island to swim in coves and enjoy the white sandy beaches. A BBQ lunch was served on board. Time it to be out on the water for the most beautiful sunset. A highlight of our trip!

Shop: During late morning when the cruise ship buses arrive en masse, and at sunset when the crowds aim to get their strategic spot, Oia is to be avoided –its really wall-to-wall people in the narrow, windy streets. Go early or late afternoon to have the town to yourself, or even after sunset when the crowds disperse. (The shops stay open late.) Atlantis Books is one of those special places, a small bookstore teeming with character. Started by expats from England and America, and reminiscent of Shakespeare and Co in Paris, there are books stacked everywhere. Go in and linger. Have fun exploring the maze like streets, finding your own favorite shops among the mix of chic boutiques and souvenir stores. There are many nice jewelry stores, some high end and some selling tons of inexpensive evil eye bracelets, which are good for gifts. Don’t miss Maria Baba Vida. Maria, a French ex-pat, has created a boutique with an eclectic array of jewelry and textiles from not only Greece, but also France and Asia. I left with 2 unique pairs of earrings and many stories from Maria.

Eat: Two of the most acclaimed restaurants in Oia are 1800 and Ambrosia, both with stunning views. If you can bear to leave Perivolas go for an early dinner and catch the sunset. Make a meal of mezes at Skala, a laid back restaurant with views not just of the water, but of the donkeys traveling up from the quay below. The Red Bicycle is more casual, a quirky, charming restaurant with good food. Down in Amoudi, some people favor Dimitris and some prefer Katina, you can’t go wrong with either for freshly caught fish and seafood. Katina, look for the orange chairs, was one of my favorite meals in Santorini and I’m still dreaming of their tomato fritters.

Day Two

Discover: It’s well worth it to drive to the other side of the island to spend some time at Ancient Akrotiri, the Greek version of Pompeii.  The entire site is enclosed and it’s fascinating to see the ancient city preserved after it was buried under volcanic ash during the Minoan period. Right nearby, take a look at Santorini’s famous Red Beach. You can choose to climb down and spend the day or just look at it from up high as we did. Next, drive to the lighthouse for spectacular views over the Caldera. Make sure to stop at the roadside stand right before you arrive to sample some of the local olives, cheeses, and the sun dried tomatoes, which are drying right in front on a rack in the sun. Don’t leave without some of the dried oregano branches, so much more fragrant than those you get at home. I only wished it was possible to bring back the jars of wild carpers and olives.

Afternoon at the Beach: Perissa and Perivolas are Santorini’s well-known black beaches on the eastern end of the island. They are fun to see, but I prefer the white sandy beaches of other Greek islands. Pick a spot for lunch and rent some sunbeds for the afternoon. You can rent jet skis or go windsurfing. The best beaches closer to Oia are Koloumbos and Baxedes and the winds determine which beach to go to on any given day.

Dinner: It’s crowded and it’s touristy, but if it’s your first time in Santorini you probably want to check out its main town of Fira. (Also spelled Thira) Overlooking the caldera, dine at Archipelagos or Naoussa for exquisite views, especially at sunset. One of the best restaurants on the island located in the hillside village of Pyrgos is Metaxy Mas; make sure to make your reservation well in advance.

Must do: A friend, who has spent over 20 summers on Santorini told me this before I left: At the port of Ammoudi follow the path past all the tavernas (away from the parking area) and continue along the gravel around several bends--you'll come to a place with several old little fishing boats. Off shore is a little tiny island.  The place will be filled with Italians who, for some reason, like to lie on the rocks and sun bathe.  It might be crowded but this will be worth it.  On the little island at the far side is a tiny church up around 20-25 feet off the water.  From the platform at the church, people jump into the sea.  You MUST all do this lest we will never consider you ever having had a true Greek experience.  Some people do intense flips into the water, but I just go simple. It’s exhilarating and the kids will love it.  The water here is crystal clear and it's an ultimate Santorini experience. 

Off the Beaten Path: Head to sleepy Megalochori. It feels more like old Greece than anywhere else in Santorini. Here there are little crowds and tourists, just a cute traditional Greek square. Wander the narrow streets, admiring the stone houses and the beautiful church. Have lunch on the square at Raki and definitely order the chicken kebabs. Even better come late afternoon so you can have dinner at Feggera, closed at lunchtime. Gavalas Winery, a classic old school winery is right at the entrance to town, arrange a visit before hand to taste their delicious wines.

Night Cinema: Meander the beachfront of Kamari, browsing in the shops before heading to an early dinner at Irini’s or Nichteri . Then proceed to the open-air cinema a 5-minute drive from town. (All the movies are in English) Though we weren’t fans of the movie playing that night, World War Z, I still remember sitting underneath the stars, drinking a Red Donkey and watching Brad Pitt.

The Hideaway

Extravagant: Rent out the Perivolas Hideaway carved into the foot of a cliff on the island of Therasia, a 5 minute ride from Oia. More than just a luxury villa, it’s got the feel of a private island as its set in its own secluded cove, accessible only by boat. The décor is simple, but stunning with terraces overlooking the sea and Santorini. Saying it is extraordinary and jaw dropping is no exaggeration. The Hideaway comes with a private boat, sea kayaks, waterskies, wake boards and windsurfing equipment.

**Photographs for Day 1 and The Hideaway by William Abranowicz

Related Destinations

Miami: A Grown-up Spring Break

When you picture Spring Break, do you think of college girls gone wild and red solo cups? Yes, there are parts of Florida infamous for all of that (and then some), but for those of us who’ve outgrown those party days there’s still the alluring draw of sun and warmth to ease the chill of North East winters. March and April usually promise ideal weather in Florida and a weekend in Miami at the Edition Hotel makes for a very civilized Spring Break. You can still have that cocktail, just out of a nice chilled glass.

Tripper Tips:

For another very personal art tour…visit the De La Cruz Contemporary Art Space in the ever-growing and transforming Design District. Works from the private collection of art world collectors Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz are housed here in a new 30,000 square foot space. (Closed Sunday and Monday.)

Eat in the courtyard at Michael's Genuine Food & Drink, Chef Michael Schwartz opened his restaurant in the Design District back in 2007 showcasing local fresh ingredients and the crowds have been coming ever since. If you build it, and it’s delicious, they will come!

Check In: They may seem like strange bedfellows, but the partnership of legendary hotelier Ian Schrager, the man who many say invented boutique hotels, and Marriot International delivers. I for one was doubtful; Marriot is not exactly a chain known as hip or high end, yet this upscale move for Marriot to create a luxury brand has been big a success so far.  Just look at the popularity of The London Edition and its hot restaurant Berners Tavern.  The brand new Miami Edition is light and airy, an expansive gold and white lobby is filled with tall pots of green plants and numerous public spaces.  Rooms are all beige—clean, calm and contemporary. Set on 3 1/2 private acres in the former Seville Hotel there are two pools, one for the kids, and a beautiful beachfront area. Located in currently hip Mid Beach, a short walk from South Beach, it’s a perfect fit for families or couples. 

Breakfast: Style by Schrager, food by Jean Georges Vongerichten. Have breakfast outside at Matador Terrace, overlooking the beach and pool. Both the terrace and the inside Matador Room echo the flavors of Jean Georges’ ABC Cocina in NYC, a modern interpretation of Latin cuisine.  At breakfast along with the typical egg and pancakes try the huevos rancheros. Lunch brings chipotle chicken or fish tacos and a delicious, now somewhat signature pea guacamole. Inside the hotel, Market at Edition is a stylish mix of a classic 24-hour coffee shop and gourmet food hall —offering specialty pizzas, a ceviche and raw bar, charcuterie, sandwiches, juices and smoothies, and a nice selection of wines.

Art:  It’s truly a family affair at the Rubell Family Collection (open Wednesday through Saturday)! Major players in the art world, Don and Mera Rubell have been acquiring art since the 60’s and with their son Jason created a 45,000-square-foot home for their collection in a former DEA warehouse in Wynwood.  This was back in the early 90’s, way before Wynwood was trendy. Now one of the world’s largest privately owned contemporary art collections, featuring such well-known artists as Basquiat, Haring, Koons, Hirst, Warhol, and Cindy Sherman.

Don’t Miss: I’d been hearing a lot about the Wynwood Wall’s and walking around all I kept thinking was wow—how had I not come here sooner. The late Tony Goldman had a vision to transform this warehouse district, through art, and it has dramatically changed the neighborhood—both visually and commercially with over 70 galleries, hip restaurants, eclectic stores,  juice and coffee bars. Recently, I have seen the gentrifying power of urban art in Cartegna, Buenos Aires and closer to home in NY, but this may be one of the most inspiring examples of open-air street art created by some of the world’s greatest street and graffiti artists. What struck me most was that beyond the park area known as the Wynwood Walls and Doors, the murals have exploded and expanded in all directions throughout the neighborhood--it is really something to see, explore and experience.

Eat In The Walls: Located right when you enter the square, eating at Wynwood Kitchen and Bar is to be fully immersed in the murals while enjoying dishes from a delicious Latin-influenced menu. Killer cocktails, a large outdoor patio and amazing art everywhere make for a flavorful and colorful lunch.

Afternoon: Relax at the pool or beach back at The Edition. The late afternoon light and wind brought tons of kite surfers for a magical show. And I was surprised at the amount of sand bars there were on either side of the hotel beach. I watched a group of guys playing soccer out on one before heading to the beachside promenade for a run. Finish with a cocktail at Tropicale located next to the pool.

Dinner: Where to eat is a hard decision these days in Miami with so many excellent choices. If you only have one night I’d head to the Design District to eat in the lovely outdoor courtyard at Mandolin. My Greek friend told me not miss the Kefte, better than any she had eaten in Greece. Everything was delicious! We loved the dips on the Greek sampler—the hummus, tzatziki, followed by a perfectly grilled fish and lamb chops. Funny enough the biggest hit of the evening was the barley salad—bursting with flavor from the combination of frisee and arugula with apples, mint and pomegranates. Dare I say that someone at our table said the food was better than anything they had in 2 weeks traveling around the Greek Islands last summer?

If you want to stay local,  stroll down the beach to Soho House and eat in the tree lit garden at Cecconi's for excellent Italian food.  We all shared some salads and pizza to start; the spaghetti with lobster was a big hit.

If I lived in Miami I’d be a regular at Pubbelly Sushi. The menu has innovative rolls such as Wagyu Beef Tartare and Porkbelly and Clams that you just don’t see on most sushi menus. Don’t miss the Screaming Orgasm, Rock Shrimp Tempura Roll, and the addictive Big Eye Tuna, served over crispy rice with truffle oil. Located next door to to the original Pubbelly, both are worthy destinations in the quieter section of South Beach known as Sunset Harbor. With a no reservations policy dinner is packed, lunch tables are easier to come by.


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