Miami

The Best Scenic Drives in the Miami Area

Enjoy Miami vistas while staying safe.

Francisco Anzola/Flickr
Francisco Anzola/Flickr
Francisco Anzola/Flickr

In case you’re unaware, Miami has a reputation for being the sun and fun capital of the world. That makes it one of the most frustrating places to live during the coronavirus pandemic, when residents are obeying self-isolation orders and remaining at home as much as possible. Non-essential businesses are shuttered across Miami-Dade County, beaches are closed to the public, and world-famous events like Ultra Music Festival and the Miami Open have scrapped their plans for 2020, leaving locals with little to do and even less to see.

But besides being a place for outdoor fun, the 305 is also known for something else: its overwhelming car culture, which used to be evident every day with traffic jams on I-95 and beyond. Locals love their wheels, and luckily, Miami is still a beautiful city, with many beautiful areas that can still be seen from behind the tinted glass of a car window. There’s more time and more reasons than ever to go for a scenic drive, and if you’re in Miami, you’ve got some of the best options in the country available at your fingertips.

Rickenbacker Causeway

Key Biscayne
There’s a reason why runners and cyclists flock to the seaside trail of the Rickenbacker Causeway: surrounded on both sides by crystal blue waters, white sands, and waving palm trees, the five-mile stretch connecting Miami and the nearby islands of Key Biscayne and Virginia Key has become synonymous with everything that locals love about living in Miami. The William H. Powell Bridge — jokingly (yet truthfully) referred to as “the biggest hill in Miami” — provides spectacular views of Miami’s downtown skyline and the waves of Biscayne Bay as drivers climb nearly 100 feet above sea level to its peak. It’s easy to get distracted by the sights on every side, so you’re probably better off having a friend or Uber driver behind the wheel while you snap pictures.

Ocean Drive

Miami Beach
South Beach has gained worldwide fame for its Art Deco architecture, and Ocean Drive is the epicenter of it all. The pastel-colored hotels and bars on Ocean Drive’s west side act as the perfect complement to the trees and sand of the beach and Lummus Park across the street, providing the ideal backdrop for pretending you’re in a music video while driving down this picturesque seaside road in the safety of your car. Public beaches, bars, and restaurants are all closed per Miami Beach city ordinance, but that doesn’t mean you can’t look at hotspots like the Clevelander, Palace, and Wet Willie’s or the opulent mansion once owned by Gianni Versace from a distance.

Courtesy of Chris Malone
Courtesy of Chris Malone
Courtesy of Chris Malone

Old Cutler Road

Coral Gables
The tree tunnels of Old Cutler Road make it one of the most popular spots in Miami for scenic Sunday drives. Stretching nearly 15 miles from the ritzy gated community of Cocoplum in Coral Gables to the suburban village of Cutler Bay, the road acts as a main artery for many of the upscale communities that are situated along the way. The route has attracted even more visitors — be they on four wheels, two wheels, or two feet — searching for a place to take in some of the beauty of living in South Florida. Matheson Hammock Park, located about a mile-and-a-half south of Old Cutler’s northern end, is home to one of the county’s quietest beaches and provides another scenic (yet shorter) drive, but remains closed until further notice.

Julia Tuttle Causeway

Miami Beach
As one of the three main highways connecting Miami Beach with mainland Miami, the Julia Tuttle Causeway is home to some of the most sweeping views of Biscayne Bay visible from a car. The highway’s two bridges clock in at just a few feet shorter than the Rickenbacker Causeway’s bridge, offering the same bird’s-eye view of the bay below and downtown skyline in the distance, albeit from a different angle. On the beach side, the Julia Tuttle ends at the iconic “Welcome to Miami Beach” sign that greets visitors as they enter the beach at 41st street; on the mainland side, the causeway spits you out in the heart of midtown Miami, just minutes away from the street art of Wynwood.

Thomas Hawk/Flickr
Thomas Hawk/Flickr
Thomas Hawk/Flickr

MacArthur Causeway

Miami Beach
Perhaps the drive that out-of-towners will recognize the most, the MacArthur Causeway connects the city of Miami on the mainland and the barrier island of Miami Beach, and has become iconic for its proximity to many of the things for which the area is known. On one side, the multi-million dollar homes on Star Island will make you dream about having neighbors like P. Diddy and Gloria and Emilio Estefan. On the other, the monstrous cruise ships docked at Port Miami will have you planning your next ocean getaway.

Venetian Causeway

Miami Beach
Like the MacArthur and Julia Tuttle, the Venetian Causeway bridges Miami Beach with downtown Miami. What makes the Venetian unique is the actual bridge.The causeway runs entirely at sea level, so it feels as if you’re driving on the water; specially-designed white barriers border the road on either side to prevent drivers from actually driving over the water. It takes you through the posh neighborhoods of Miami’s Venetian Islands and past hotels like The Standard and rentable luxury homes like the Villa Venetian, so driving through is not only the most scenic option, but also the most cost-effective.

Main Highway

Coconut Grove
Despite its name implying high traffic and high activity, Main Highway in Coconut Grove is one of the quietest major thoroughfares in the city, with plenty of low-hanging trees and colorful flowers to provide some ideal driving scenery. Don’t be surprised if you have to stop and wait for a peacock to cross the road: they’re some of Coconut Grove’s most famous residents, and have called the area home for decades. At just about a mile, Main Highway is a mostly residential street, but at its northern end, it’s home to popular attractions like the CocoWalk mall (currently under renovation) and food spots like Lulu and GreenStreet Café.Sign up here for our daily Miami email and be the first to get all the food/drink/fun in town.

Chris Malone is a native of Miami, where he spends much of his time as an arts and entertainment reporter for the Miami New Times. Follow him on Twitter.

Miami

Bad Bunny and David Grutman's Sexy AF Miami Steakhouse is Finally Here

The rapper does whatever he wants.

Photo by Michael Stavaridis
Photo by Michael Stavaridis
Photo by Michael Stavaridis

David Grutman is back at it again, and this time the hospitality guru is bringing a new partner into the fold-award-winning recording artist, Bad Bunny. Located in Miami’s trendy Brickell neighbourhood, Gekkō, which translates to “moonlight” is a Japanese-inspired steakhouse that will serve fancy cuts of Wagyu alongside a bevy of sushi offerings. In true Groot Hospitality form, this isn’t your basic steakhouse, it’s also got a lounge that very well may play the sounds of Bad Bunny and the like into the wee hours of the night.

“Gekkō is the result of so many of my obsessions in food,” says David Grutman, Founder of Groot Hospitality. “It’s a steakhouse inspired by Japanese cuisine. There are delicious, innovative sushi rolls. There’s a lounge. I knew I wanted to do something that combined these worlds, and once I started speaking with Bunny, I knew he’d be a great partner. Gekkō is about having an incredible meal while having an equally incredible night.”

Photo by WORLD RED EYE
Photo by WORLD RED EYE
Photo by WORLD RED EYE

To celebrate the opening of Gekkō (not so coincidentally the same weekend Bad Bunny has two shows scheduled in South Florida), the crew hosted a massive grand opening party that attracted dozens of A-list celebrities and friends of both Grutman and Bad Bunny. Upon arrival, in his white Bugatti, mobs of fans who spent the entire evening swarming the restaurant began chanting “Benito! Benito!” as he exited his car in an all black suit paired with black sunglasses.

The night went something like this. A-list artists of every genre came out to celebrate. Future and Lil Wayne were seen on a couch in deep conversation and catching up with Mack Maine. Bad Bunny and Karol G were spotted running from table to table together, while DJ Khaled was seen embracing Bad Bunny and congratulating him on such a beautiful new restaurant. Timbaland and Andy Garcia were spotted hanging out for a long period, while Sophie Turner and her husband, Joe Jonas, hung with Victoria and David Beckham. Amidst that hundreds of average joes mixed and mingled while attempting to make their way to the bar so they could get a peek at some of the restaurant’s cocktails and sushi bites. It was quite a scene.

Photo courtesy of Michael Stavaridis
Photo courtesy of Michael Stavaridis
Photo courtesy of Michael Stavaridis

Okay, so back to the restaurant. Gekkō was designed by New York City-based architecture and design firm, Rockwell Group, and is made up of three different rooms with seats for up to 185 diners. It’s centred around sultry jewel-toned decor with plush and stylistic elements like a custom gold and red dip-dyed rope installation, graphic wall coverings, and velvet drapery.

Now you might be wondering about the food, because that’s really why we’re going to a restaurant, right? Gekkō’s menu begins with shared plates where diners will find things like a signature Japanese milk bread, “Lava and Ice” Kumamoto Oysters, lobster dumplings, and a wedge salad. When it comes to raw plates there’s sushi and sashimi classics as well as an opulent 24k Otoro, that’s exactly what it sounds like-deliciously tender fatty tuna covered in a layer of 24k gold leaf.

Photo by Libby Vision
Photo by Libby Vision
Photo by Libby Vision

Then there’s the steaks which include a Tomahawk cut, an olive-fed filet mignon from Kagawa, Japan, and a snow beef strip from Hokkaido, Japan. Specialty preparations include Wagyu skirt steak and a bone-in ribeye. And because Grutman is always sure his restaurants cater to the tastes of everyone, there’s even some plant-based chicken options and more.

“Sitting down with friends to enjoy a good meal is one of the moments I value the most,” says Bad Bunny. “I am thrilled that now I will have a hand in creating this experience for others.”

Gekkō opens tonight at 8 SE 8th Street in Brickell. The dining room and lounge serve customers from 6 to 11 pm Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and 6 pm to 12 am Friday and Saturday. Valet parking is available for $20 or you can attempt to find a street parking on Brickell. Visit gekko.com for reservations.

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Amber Love Bond is a contributor for Thrillist.

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