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A Local’s Guide to the Best of Miami

There is more to Miami than South Beach.

But honestly, South Beach is pretty fun, too. Just ask Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon (aka JetSetSarah), a travel writer, on-screen host and self-described “Carivangelist,” who goes to the beach and beyond to share the culture, lifestyle and personalities of the Caribbean with the world. Based in Miami, she is a special correspondent for Travel + Leisure magazine and creates content for outlets including Condé Nast Traveler; Afar; Islands.com; the U.K.’s Telegraph and Canada’s Globe and Mail newspapers. Sarah is also jetsetter-in-chief at JetSetSarah.com where her passions – travel, style and fitness – meet.

Here’s Sarah’s favorite spots in Miami, Florida.

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Why did you move Miami? How long have you lived there?
I originally came to South Florida from Jamaica in 2003. But I moved south to Miami from Broward county in 2013 – I’ll take the city over the suburbs any day!

Local guide to Miami

Three words to describe Miami
Diverse, dynamic, sweltering.

What’s something that might surprise people about Miami?
The city is so much more than just South Beach. It’s a collection of neighborhoods spread over the mainland and barrier islands, and each one has its own distinct flavor.

What are your favorite restaurants Miami?
For breakfast, the Cuban diner Enriqueta’s is my go-to. For outdoor dining (my preference these days) Itamae (Nikkei) and Mandolin (Greek) in the Design District; and Thatch (vegan) in Midtown.

Where would you go for a special occasion meal?
That’s an easy one! NAOE is a “secret” Brickell Key sushi spot that serves a 10-course sushi omakase dinner to max of only eight people a night. I hear the food is incredible and seen the intimate experience described as “life-changing.” I’ve never spent $300 (per person) on a meal before, but if I did, it would be here.

What’s your favorite place to get fresh air?
The Venetian Causeway is a three-mile-long stretch that connects downtown Miami to South Beach, and comprise miles 8 through 11 of the Miami Marathon and Half Marathon route. On any given day, it’s popular with runners, walkers and cyclists, and I run it at sunrise several days a week. Ogling the posh homes along the way is fun, but the views of Biscayne Bay on either side are what really makes it special.

We often don’t get to stay in hotels in our hometown, but let’s pretend: Where would you stay in Miami?
The Standard is #SoMiami, but in the best, non-pretentious way. It’s a small hotel just steps from South Beach on one of the Venetian Islands, and one of my favorite happy hour spots. I like to meet my friends for a frosée (or three!) on the waterfront deck at the Lido Bayside Grill and watch the yachts and speedboats glide by. I love the chill vibe and the creative crowd, and I’m really looking forward to the new spa, which opens this fall.

Where’s your favorite place to shop?
From jewelry to home accessories, I can always find something unusual to buy in the gift shop at PAMM (Perez Art Museum Miami) and the Sunday market at Jungle Plaza in the Design District.

What’s the arts scene like? Anything you think is a must-see/do?
We have a thriving art scene here, with several galleries, museums and outdoor installations – and you don’t have to spend a cent to see it. When you come, a visit to the colorful murals in Wynwood is a must, as is strolling around the swanky Design District, where the Instagram-worthy public art installations change every few weeks.

There are so many reasons to stay up past your bedtime in Miami. But if you had to just pick 2-3, what are they?
I’m an early riser who’s usually tucked in by 9:30pm! But I’d make an exception for the Nite Owl Drive-In.

What’s the most chill/relaxing experience in town?
Hands down, watching the sunrise. Whether you’re on South Beach (which is deserted at that time of the morning), Key Biscayne or anywhere else with a water view, it’s the best way to start the day.

What do you think most tourists do wrong in Miami?
A lot of people never leave South Beach, but the mainland is just three miles away and has so much more to offer. First-class dining, art and culture, shopping … it’s worth it to peel yourself off your chaise, if only for a day.

Best place for a selfie?
Ride the new Skyviews Miami observation wheel at Bayside in downtown Miami and snap a selfie from 200 feet above the city. (Time your visit for sunset for the best shots.)

Best day trip?
Rent a car and drive south to the Florida Keys and Key West. On the way in Islamorada, stop for lunch at Morada Bay. And when you get to Key West, sample key lime pie at Kermit’s and make sure you snap a pic at the iconic Southernmost Point mile marker.

What’s the most quintessential Miami experience?
Ocean Drive is IRL just like it looks in the movies. Iconic architecture, leaning palm trees, beautiful beaches and superb people watching. Throw in an over-priced cocktail and it doesn’t get more Miami!

Most underrated experience in town?
Everyone knows about posh (and pricey) Joe’s Stone Crab. But few people know that in their take-away section next door they sell  half a fried chicken for just $8.95. Grab one and walk a couple of blocks to the beach at South Pointe for the perfect picnic.

Follow her adventures on Instagram and Facebook @JetSetSarah.

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Sarah Greaves-Gabbadon (aka JetSetSarah) is a travel writer, on-screen host and self-described “Carivangelist,” who goes to the beach and beyond to share the culture, lifestyle and personalities of the Caribbean with the world. Here's Sarah's favorite spots in Miami.

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