Posted September 23, 2013
By KATHERINE GUEST
MIAMI, Fla. — “Tropical, professional, sophisticated, quiet, clean cut, and just a touch of Miami” is how Brad Arling, an agent at the Conrad Miami Hotel, describes the area to inquiring future guests.
He is, of course, describing the well-known high class vacation center that is also home to the financial district, Brickell. It is located along Biscayne Bay on Brickell Avenue and ending at the Miami River, a mere 15-minute drive from Miami International Airport.
Once home to towering mansions that housed the affluent of Miami, it is now the quiet and classy miniature downtown; where glass bank towers hold the suited-up business goers during the day, and the unobtrusive vacationers roam among the friendly locals at night.
Brickell has the feel of South Florida everywhere but it holds such an appearance of class and elegance it’s almost like stepping into a different world within Miami.
Some say vacationers help make Miami what it is but for locals and long-stay visitors who desire a quiet unique niche of the Miami area can be difficult.
Thousands of tourists visit Miami, Miami Beach and Coral Gables areas every single year.
During spring break, summer vacations and almost every other holiday time of the year locals can spot the camera and swim suit clad tourists running wild in the city. Brickell offers such a place; a haven of discreet class and distinctive Miami-esque feel, but at a slower pace, that can only be found in Brickell.
Even to those locals who prefer their waterfront to be peaceful rather than lined with nightclubs and crowds, Brickell offers that luxury as well as some of the most pristine views in all of Miami including one at Club 50 with a 360 degree view over top of the city. The rooftop patios at one of the 18 different hotels and endless apartment buildings in the area are popular to the well-read and often-visiting vacationers but not limited to any kind of monetary class.
“Living in Miami is expensive, everyone knows that but it’s no different than any other big city,” said Dan Lucifit, a new resident of the area. “Brickell looks so high end that no one ever believes me when I say I live here and I’m a med student”
Although there is no sand upon which to lay a towel directly in Brickell, it is a 15-minute drive from South Beach and almost every hotel on the avenue has an outdoor pool — a must for a place that is treated to year-round summer weather.
Brickell Key is a small island only about 100 feet off shore of Brickell Avenue that is home to mostly high-rise apartments and is welcome to all for a stroll along the water.
For those new to the area or a local that wants to get back in touch with their adventuring side the Metromover has multiple stops throughout the Brickell area and all rides are free for anyone. Bicycling is also an encouraged option in this part of town, a rarity in car-filled Miami. The ride along the water is an easy way to catch some rays while site-seeing and bike racks are located throughout the streets.
“This sort of place is rare in any metropolitan area, I just love it because it’s beautiful in every way and has everything I need,” explained Nancy Corral, a visiting businesswoman for U.S. Century Bank.
Although they don’t sport huge blinding signs, pharmacies, bakeries and supermarkets are all available amenities among the luxurious hotels. Mary Brickell Village, named after the member of the family who were some of the original land owners of the Brickell Avenue area, is the local popular shopping destination choice.
With the design of an outdoor mall the village is filled with one of a kind boutiques, hair dressers, restaurants and the collection of bars for visitors that don’t want to go inside a hotel. The village is accessible and recommended for day, as well as, evening goers.
Nicknamed the “charming” hidden downtown of Miami by local employees, Brickell Avenue spans from south of the Miami River to the Rickenbacker Causeway.
“Brickell is like nothing else in Miami, it’s almost hard to describe. If I had to point to a place where everything is real, real money, real people, real class I would say it’s in Brickell,” said Natalia, a waitress at Gordon Biersch. “Just look around, the beach to the left, restaurants to the right and banks on all sides.”
A walk down Brickell Avenue under the banyan trees offers endless options for dining from fine to casual, inside to patio and American to Mediterranean. In online restaurant reviews, endless results will show four- and five-star rankings for delectable food and quality service.
Breanna Hayton, a Canadian student at the University Miami, recently visited Brickell for the first time.
“I didn’t even know this was here till this year and I’m a senior … of course, dinner is a huge treat to myself but it’s worth it. Coming here is really treating myself to a full evening of escape from my normal days in Coral Gables.”
Crazy About You is one of the most popular restaurants for their mid-price range menu, quality of food and view overlooking Biscayne Bay. With a set of well-kept palm trees and flowers lining the patio guests can escape to paradise on the bay.
“One of the details that I love about dining in Brickell is the quiet when sitting outside,” said Kate, a guest at Crazy About You. “I think it is one of the only places in the Miami area where you can sit outside and there aren’t blaring horns or disturbing music playing. The evening weather is gorgeous but I want the atmosphere to match if I am going to be dining with family or friends.”
The nightlife in Brickell is far from dull even though it’s known as much more downscale than that of the infamous South Beach. There is an array of options for all ages including; drinks outside under the tealights and umbrellas of Gordon Biersch, dancing on the 50th floor of the Viceroy Hotel at Club 50 and have a social hour at the M-bar in the Mandarin Oriental with one of the many celebrities that choose Brickell for their Miami stay.
The expected evening attire for both upscale and casual dining is dressy. As the M-Bar’s website explains (M being for Martini since they serve over 250 different varieties of the drink) Miami-chic is their expectation. Post-beach clothing and minimal cover won’t fly in this part of the city.
From morning to night, Brickell offers charm and relaxation in every aspect. To many, Brickell is just a word without meaning but to those that discover its hidden beauty it’s a true escape from the bustle of the city of Miami.
With beautiful minimalist austere towers for business during the day and upscale restaurants, hotels and shops for the typical Miami sunset evening Brickell attracts all sorts of people.
If You Go
Transportation & Parking: Driving down Brickell Avenue is a must for first time visitors. Parking is available at multiple lots along the road and most restaurants offer parallel spots to their guests. For wandering during the day, the Metro Mover, an elevated train system within the downtown area, runs daily and is free for all users. It is not advised to ride the public transportation in the evening or after dark for personal safety. The best way to see the water is simply to walk as you can get closest that way and it is only a couple minutes away by foot from most hotels.
- For walking, biking and public transportation maps of Brickell visit: http://www.walkscore.com/FL/Miami/Brickell
- For planning information on the Metro mover see the official website: http://www.miamidade.gov/transit/metromover.asp
- Parking information and maps can be found at: http://miami.centralparking.com/Miami-Brickell-Parking.html
Restaurants: One can find an overabundance of restaurants by walking down the Avenue but be warned, a new-goer in Brickell can find themselves seated in front of a very high priced menu if not careful. Some before-hand research is best for evening dining and reservations are recommended at most places as many locals drive into Brickell just for the dining.
- Gordon Biersch is a good casual dining option and offers a sports-bar style inside and comfy patio outside. Located at 1201 Brickell Ave., Miami, Fla. 33131; it is open 11:30 a.m. to 12 a.m. every day of the week and offer happy hour between 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on weekdays.
- Crazy About You is located at 1155 Brickell Bay Dr., #101, Miami, Fla. 33131, and it is advised that reservations be made in advance. Hours, specials and happy hours are available on their website: http://www.crazyaboutyourestaurant.com/
- M-Bar is the chic bar located in the Mandarin Oriental Hotel at 500 Brickell Key Dr. The bar hours are Mondays-Thursdays, Sundays 5 p.m.–12 a.m. and Fridays-Saturdays, 5 p.m.-1 a.m.
- For a quick lunch or treat visit Mary Brickell Village where TCBY, Burger & Beer Joint and Archie’s Pizza can be found. The Village has its own parking lot and the entrance is located at 901 S Miami Ave., Miami, Fla. 33130.