Alternative Miami: Your guide to Brickell
If you're looking to get to know Miami beyond the beach, consider checking out Brickell*. Home to a booming financial district, this skyscraper-filled zone of Downtown Miami naturally attracts those on business.
However, in-the-know travellers will tell you that Brickell also teems with cool places to eat, drink and explore. Virgin Holidays offers great value getaways* to this sassy side of the city, and this is your handy guide to the best things to see and do in Miami's Brickell.
Brickell: a bit of history
Long before Miami was even considered a holiday destination, it was mostly an area of low-lying swampland, forest and farmland.
That was before early pioneers William and Mary Brickell arrived in the late 1800s and set the foundations for the city alongside businesswoman Julia Tuttle and Henry M. Flagler, the founder of the Florida East Coast Railway.
After the property boom of the 1920s, Downtown Miami surged in size and wealth, and in recent years, the area of Brickell, just south of the river, has become one of the fastest-growing financial and residential hubs in America.
Things to do in Brickell
Take a segway tour
One of the best ways to tour Miami is on two wheels and there are a variety of segway and bike tours you can take in Brickell and Downtown Miami. Try the Miami River Segway tour with Bike & Roll Miami to get a glimpse of the multimillion dollar yachts that line the Miami River.
Explore Simpson Park
In the concrete jungle of Downtown Miami, you might be surprised to find the 7.8-acre urban oasis known as Simpson Park. Discover the walking trails, koi pond and endangered plant species that form some of the last remaining areas of canopy forest known as Brickell Hammock.
See where Florida's indigenous people once lived
If you fancy getting a history fix, take a walk to Brickell Point at the mouth of Miami River. Known as The Miami Circle, this palm-fringed park surrounded by the city's skyscrapers is considered a National Historic Landmark as it's here where Tequesta Indians lived for over 2,000 years.
Today, you'll find a 38-foot circle, which represents an original dwelling, and a striking Tequesta Indian statue that has been installed in their honour.
Take a history tour of the Brickell Neighbourhood
To really understand the history of Brickell and the birthplace of Miami, take a historical walking tour with the Dade Heritage Trust. Their 1.5 hour-long Brickell Avenue North and South tours offer a glimpse of cultural and historical landmarks that shaped the city, such as Brickell Bay Drive, Miami Avenue and the area once known as Millionaire's Row.
Hit up the city's coolest farmers' market
The urban jungle of Downtown Miami may feel like the unlikeliest places to find a farmers' market but every Saturday, from 10am-4pm, Brickell City Centre hosts one of the coolest urban farmers' markets in Florida. They sell everything from artisanal street food and plants to baked goods, arts and crafts.
Best places to go shopping
Brickell City Centre
Thanks to new urban development, Brickell City Centre, you're in a great place to get your fix of retail therapy.
This gleaming mega mall is one of the sleekest shopping centres in Florida and is largely responsible for Brickell's recent boom in popularity. It offers everything from designer names such as Swarovski and Saks Fifth Avenue to favourites such as All Saints and Zara.
Mary Brickell Village
A few streets down from Brickell City Centre, the shops at Mary Brickell Village offer a small selection of fashion stores, barbers, spas and specialty food shops across an inside-outside mall, with plenty of places to eat and drink too.
Dining out in Brickell
One of the great things about Miami (aside from that glorious sunshine) is its fantastic mix of Latin American and Caribbean cultures which have shaped the food and drink scene across Brickell and beyond.
For guilt-free juices and salads, head to Dr Smood, an organic eatery in Brickell City Centre. Food and drink is based on themes such as Detox, Energy, Immunity and Power - a sure-fire way to boost your sightseeing for the day.
An alternative for healthy eats is hipster hangout DIRT. Tuck into matcha protein pancakes, vegan salads and plenty of options to suit gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan diets.
Quinto La Huella
Book Quinto La Huella for a smorgasbord Sunday brunch of sushi, salads, calzones and hearty steaks cooked on a traditional South American wood-fired parrilla. Make room for the wide selection of desserts and there's an option to add free-flowing fizz too.
Try SuViche for a lively and purse-friendly fusion of Peruvian and Japanese cooking. Order an authentic macerado (pisco-infusion) from the Pisco Bar and choose from an array of tantalising bites including sashimi, ceviche, tempura, sushi and spring rolls.
Diverse Baby Jane is a wonderful place for lunch, or early evening tipples and sharing-style plates of food. The menu features Eastern-inspired dishes like deep-fried tofu and steamed buns as well as Japanese fried chicken and hearty bowls of ramen with an innovative cocktail menu to boot.
Nightlife in Brickell
Yes, the neon-lit Ocean Drive and swanky bars and clubs of South Beach are great, but Brickell has some really cool places to enjoy cocktails and go partying after hours.
For a drink-with-a-view, dress to impress and head up to rooftop bar Sugar for resident DJs and Asian-inspired cocktails in the Balinese-esque garden. Check out the food menu too - you'll find a tempting selection of wok-tossed edamame, braised beef buns and Bangkok spring rolls.
For top-notch Biscayne Bay views and equally unmissable cocktails, hit up the WET Deck at the W Hotel. You'll find inside and outside areas, great panoramic views from 50 floors up and a cool line-up of DJs and live acts.
Places to stay
EAST Miami* is a sleek Eastern-inspired hotel located in the stylish Brickell City Centre. Guests here can enjoy Feng-Shui designed suites, a sprawling 20,000 sq ft pool area and fantastic city views. There's also a 24-hour fitness centre, Uruguayan restaurant Quinto La Huella and Sugar rooftop bar.
Atton Brickell Miami
The Atton* is a bright and stylish hotel with a rooftop pool and bar and Peruvian restaurant, LIMA. Guests have access to a 24-hour fitness centre and it's a 12-minute walk from Biscayne Bay.
Aloft Miami* is an affordable and convenient hotel that is part of the Marriott Hotel group. It has contemporary rooms, a bar offering drinks and snacks, and Happy Hour specials and is minutes from Mary Brickell Village.
Miami: what you need to know
- Flight time from the UK: fly direct in around 10 hours from London Heathrow with Virgin Atlantic.
- Weather: find out what the weather is like in Miami year round with our dedicated climate guide.
- Entry, exit and visas: travellers living in countries that belong to the Visa Waiver Program must apply for an ESTA before visiting the United States, which grants up to 90 days of travel.
- Currency: US Dollars
- In an emergency: call 911
Does Brickell sound like the kind of neighbourhood you'd like to discover on a visit to Miami? Check out the latest deals on breaks with Virgin Holidays direct from the UK. You can also see when we think is the very best time to go to Miami for wonderful weather.
Weather2Travel.com stayed as a guest of EAST Miami in January 2018. All opinions are those of the writer. Room rates for an Urban King at EAST start from $219 / night in low season.
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