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5 Reasons to Explore Miami Beyond South Beach

If just thinking of the techno beat in South Beach gives you a headache then why not head north to experience a more sophisticated Miami?
11/19/2015 02:02pm ET | Updated December 6, 2017
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If just thinking of the techno beat in South Beach gives you a headache then why not head north to experience a more sophisticated Miami? South Beach may be synonymous with early morning nightclub exploits and warm weather but if you head north you will be surprised with luxury and relaxation in sleepier parts of Miami like Sunny Isles, Bal Harbour and Aventura. So rather than pay a fortune for a cramped hotel room, crowded beaches and overpriced cocktails, upgrade your Miami experience and head north where glitz and glamour await.

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Relax and Unwind
If you're looking for a true escape from the hustle and bustle, put ESPA at the Acqualina Resort & Spa on your list. This state-of-the art spa is one of the world's best. This 20,000 square-foot, luxurious oceanfront spa features an outdoor terrace with pool and Jacuzzi complete with Roman waterfall. Come early to enjoy all of the amenities, which include crystal steam room (with chakra soothing rainbow lights), Finnish sauna, ice fountain and experience showers with cool and warm mists.

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You can also experience restorative treatments with the optimal wellness program at the spa at Turnberry Isles Miami. In addition to traditional therapies like massage and facials, guests can discover a new vision of health when they connect with Turnberry's team of medical professionals who will customize individual programs to improve wellness by focusing on improving nutrition, stress management, fitness, hormone balance or detoxification. Or if it's a round of golf you're after, Turnberry Isles Miami features two legendary golf courses.

Art
South Beach has Art Basel (North America's foremost contemporary art fair) and no one can say that it isn't spectacular, but the rest of Miami has a burgeoning art scene too, where you won't be bothered by Kanye's entourage. The Winwood Walls, just minutes away from downtown Miami, features captivating colorful murals. World-renowned artists have adorned buildings with larger-than-life paintings that are so photogenic they're guaranteed to blow up your Instagram. Come on the Second Saturday of each month when the local galleries host "Art Walk," a free showcase for visitors. Be sure to pop by Panther for a cup of Joe or Wynwood Kitchen & Bar for Latin-inspired favorites. Local food trucks also serve gallery-goers delicious offerings.

Retail Therapy
If you're looking to blend your cultural experience in Miami with a bit of retail therapy, head to the Miami Design District, which is home to tons of trendy galleries filled with unique artwork. The Design District also hosts an Art Walk the second Saturday of each month where galleries and showrooms extend their hours, musicians and artists take to the streets and showcase their work. When you've gotten your fill of the arts, explore some of the area's high-end boutiques like Christian Louboutin, Prada, and Hermes. And the food is great too! Check out James Beard Award-Winning Chef, Michael Schwartz's locally-inspired eatery, Michael's Genuine.

Still not had enough shopping? You can also explore shopping meccas like the Bal Harbour Shops or Aventura Mall. Aventura features exceptional luxury boutiques including a magnificent Louis Vuitton Maison--the brand's second largest location in the U.S. and a full-line Cartier store complete with glistening chandeliers.

Foodies will Rejoice
Yes, South Beach has no shortage of restaurants where you can rub elbows with the gliteratti--but even if you can snag a reservation for 10pm, unless you have a black Amex and a fistful of cash you'll probably find yourself waiting at the bar for an extra hour. Downtown Miami favorites like Zuma and Seasalt and Pepper and Il Gabbiano won't seat you much sooner.

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If you're looking for attentive service and gourmet meals head to world-renowned chef, Michael Mina's contemporary steakhouse, Bourbon Steak. The Grill at Aventura Mall or Il Mulino at Acqualina Resort and Spa in Sunny Isles are also fabulous options for dinner. Brunch goers must visit The Ritz-Carlton Bal Harbor where Fried Chicken and Waffles or an over-the-top bread pudding breakfast sandwich (complete with bacon, egg and cheese) can be enjoyed alongside sweeping views of the water accompanied by live music. The health-obsessed will delight at Miami Juice (multiple locations) where everything is fresh and much of the food is organic.

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Luxury for Less
If you're looking for oceanside bliss,Acqualina Resort & Spa is considered one of the best hotels in the world--even though it's not cheap (rooms start at $450), it's a bargain when you consider that just a Three Star hotel room in South Beach can run this much. If you're looking for something a little more affordable there are tons of great options in Sunny Isles--especially for families as it has a complimentary kid's program and it's more casual than typical Trump hotels. The Trump International Miami features plenty of amenities like a Grotto-style pool complex with hot tubs, waterfalls and a great pool bar for adults, tennis courts, water sports rentals as well as a great spa. If you're more interested in golfing than the ocean, head to Turnberry Isles Miami, which has expansive and well-maintained golf courses, two pools (featuring a lazy river) and posh guest rooms.

Katie Lara is a freelance travel journalist and video host based in New York City. In addition to The Huffington Post, her writing and photographs appear regularly in Forbes, Fodor's, U.S. News and World Report and Fox News. Keep up with Katie's adventures on her travel blog Travelingpanties, Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.