If you are planning on visiting Miami, bar hopping on South Beach is considered by many to be a right of passage. The problem, though, is that most South Beach bar guides are geared towards clubs endlessly competing to be at the top of the latest “hot list.”
Packed with the showy, “see and be seen” crowd, you could wind up spending your entire vacation budget just to get in the door. Or worse, if you’re not careful, you may end up at a spot filled with a bunch of crazed twenty-something’s that don’t know the difference between a Mai Tai and a muddled Old Fashioned.
Instead of stressing about where to go out, use this handy guide to find a spot for whatever mood you’re in. Packed with locals and people that actually come to the beach to drink, relax and watch the weirdoes, this is the real South Beach.
The Tourist - The Clevelander
Located on the iconic Ocean Drive, the Clevelander is an absolute must if it’s your first trip to South Beach. While you won’t find many (any) locals there, it’s a great spot to people watch and catch a glimpse of all the crazy cars cruising down A1A. Located in the center of Miami’s historic Art Deco District, it’s actually inside a small hotel complex so you can sip and stay if you’re so inclined.
The Beer Nerd - Abbey Brewing Co
While it’s laidback atmosphere and friendly bartenders make the Abbey a fantastic place to hang out, the real draw is its incredible craft beer. As the oldest, and the only, brew pub on Miami Beach, these guys take their beer making very seriously. Started as the answer to the ridiculous chocolate martinis and cosmopolitans at the club scene, it’s just down to earth, good Belgian ales on tap.
The Hipster - The Room
The definition of hipster and off the beaten path, The Room is hard to find (like really hard) because it’s quite literally a single small room. Once you do find it though, you’ll be rewarded with a quiet, upscale bar with a deep beer and wine list. Don’t expect craft cocktails because there are none - one thing that really sets it apart from the rest of South Beach. That and the music. You'll find a tasteful selection of your favorite classic rock tunes, a welcome break from the pounding house and reggeaton beats you'll hear throughout the rest of Miami.
The Dive - Mac’s Club Deuce
If there’s just one thing you need to know about Mac’s it's that happy hour starts at 8 a.m. and runs until 7 p.m., which makes a total 11 hours of happiness. Once you wrap your mind around that, you’ll find the ultimate dive bar. From a pool table surrounded by sharks to an old jukebox, if you are looking for trouble on South Beach, this is a great spot to start or end an evening, or unwind after a long day at the office.
The Pre-Gamer - Lucky Strike Miami
If you are looking for a fun spot to meet up with friends before hitting the clubs, this is it. For starters, it’s probably the only bowling alley you’ll ever visit that offers bottle service. Combine that with 14 lanes, pool tables, and a huge lounge, and you’ve got the perfect central spot to pre-game.
The Mixologist - The Broken Shaker
Have you ever heard of a hostel that has a James Beard award-winning bar in it? Now you have. Welcome to The Broken Shaker, located inside the Freehand Miami. With drinks like the Salted Caramel Old Fashioned and Kale & Pineapple Caipirinha, they take the concept of craft cocktails to the extreme. Everything is made using a combination of syrups, herbs, and elixirs sourced from around the world. If mixology if your thing, this is your place.
The Lounge Lizard - Purdy Lounge
This small and always packed lounge serves up quite a different feel from most of the typical South Beach hangouts. With nightly live music that ranges from reggae to jam bands and live DJs, there’s always a fun and upbeat vibe. Combine that with lava lamps, board games, and comfortable seating, and you’ve got yourself the perfect lounge.
The Punk - Kill Your Idol
A giant statue of Bruce Lee framed by Jaws and a mounted buck sounds like the start to a bad joke, but nope, it’s just standard décor at Kill Your Idol. If that’s not enough to get you out the door, you may want to check your pulse. There’s a great beer and cocktail selection, but people really come here for the eclectic hipster-meets-punk vibe.