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Sunny Isles Beach

SMALL DOG, BIG BARKFor a postage-stamp size of a city, Sunny Isles Beach has big ambitions. Besides glamorous high-rises shooting up along one of Miami’s last remaining stretches of sand, the feisty newcomer goes grand on municipal amenities like a dozen parks, including a multimillion-dollar fishing pier whose restaurant opens this summer.

HAUTE HOTELThe private sector woos the finicky jet set too. Acqualina Resort & Spa snagged five-star status for its quartet of swimming pools and ESPA’s 16 treatment rooms that service a mere 98 suites. Young guests’ eyes grow large at the gummy bear bar, while their parents dash out for a date night at on-site Il Mulino or to the two other hotel restaurants, now helmed by former Forge chef Dewey LoSasso, who recently introduced new menus.

SKY PALACES Residents also live large. And most paid cash for the pending Mansions at Acqualina’s nearly sold-out 79 units, averaging $8.4 million— though none had splurged on the $55-million, 21,000-square-foot, two-story penthouse as of press time. At Jade Signature, a 57-story property with 192 units topping out at approximately $26 million, designer Pierre-Yves Rochon, the visionary behind London’s Savoy and Paris’ George V hotels, selected Hermes wallpaper and Snaidero Pininfarina’s Ola20 kitchen for the unit interiors. Architects Herzog & de Meuron and landscape legend Raymond Jungles further increased the tower’s value and curb appeal. And just when it seems developers have reached the pinnacle, along comes Porsche Design Tower, an auto enthusiast’s condominium fantasy. By 2016, owners should be able to park in garages right outside their doors through a 60-floor custom lift.

ETHNIC EATSDespite its reputation as Little Odessa south, the area has a penchant for Italian cuisine. Two notables: pioneer Timo, whose wood-burning oven crisps specialty pies that are perfect between bites of homemade gnocchi, and new kid on the block Alba, where baked clams and bucatini are straight from Arthur Avenue in The Bronx. Long before the wellness trend, Miami Juice attracted health nuts for its Israeli and tropical fare like fruit salads topped with shredded coconut. Groups meet over Indian feasts at Copper Chimney or picnic on the beach with delicacies from Epicure Gourmet Market.

SECRET SHOPThough two of the country’s most successful malls are only a short drive away, locals pop by Boutique Flirt for outfits on the fly. Women go for Mara Hoffman’s resort wear in tribal prints and Letube’s versatile namesake dress featuring art works, as well as swimsuits ranging from Agua Bendita’s ornate, hand-embroidered bikinis to Mikoh’s seamless, surfer cuts. A small men’s section carries casual linen collections and Jared Lang’s dressier shirts in Turkish cotton to hit the dance floor at imported Russian nightclubs.