Where To Stay

Forget its seedy past. Sunny Isles Beach is full of fancy things to do.

Sunny Isles beach on the north side of the fishing pier.
Sunny Isles beach on the north side of the fishing pier. cmguerrero@elnuevoherald.com

Known as The City of Sun and Sea, Sunny Isles Beach is a two-mile spit of sand north of Haulover Park and separated from Aventura Mall and Oleta River State Park by the Intracoastal. Once home to a slew of seedy  motels, it’s now a glittering row of luxury high-rise condominiums and hotels, like the Porsche Design Tower and Acqualina Resort & Spa. It’s an only-in-South-Florida hodgepodge of over-the-top luxury, a laid-back local culture and plenty of natural beauty.

Here’s what to do the next time you visit.

Where to Stay

Poolside at the Acqualina Resort & Spa, a Forbes Five Star and AAA Five Diamond hotel in Sunny Isles Beach.

1. Acqualina Resort & Spa

The epitome of luxury in Sunny Isles Beach, Acqualina is one of Miami’s only Forbes Five Star resorts, and it has the Five Star ESPA Spa to boot. The hotel’s design is distinctive for its Mediterranean motif and its eye-catching red chaise lounges along the beach and pool deck. The hotel recently opened AQ Chophouse by Il Mulino, a modern steakhouse with the flavors of Italy, inside a gorgeous dining room inspired by mid-century European design and 19th century Italian residential classicism. Guest rooms provide chic abodes in the lap of luxury. Current rates from $500.

2. Residence Inn Sunny Isles Beach

Miami has seen a spate of Residence Inns open in recent years and the latest was in Sunny Isles Beach at the beginning of 2018. Located across Collins Avenue from the beach, the newly built hotel tower boasts a rooftop swimming pool, a chic lobby with Carrera marble and modern guest rooms and suites boasting floor-to-ceiling windows and mid-century modern-inspired furnishings. True to the extended stay brand, each room features a kitchen or kitchenette and complimentary breakfast served near the lobby. Current rates from $127.

What to Eat & Drink

photo via Timo Restaurant/Instagram

3. Timo Restaurant & Bar

Timo is a landmark Sunny Isles Beach restaurant serving a signature blend of Italian-Mediterranean fare since 2003. Chef Tim Andriola specializes in wood-fired pizzas, decadent pastas, fresh seafood and fine steaks. There’s even a plant-based tasting menu for vegan diners that includes wild mushroom cannelloni made with butternut squash, spinach and Kite Hill almond “ricotta.” For the carnivores in the party, you can’t go wrong with pizza topped with filet mignon carpaccio with fontina, mushrooms and truffle oil or the Parmesan risotto with braised pork shoulder. Enjoy your dish with a selection of global wines inside the warm, homey dining room.

4. Chayhana Oasis

Tucked away on Sunny Isles Beach Boulevard, Chayhana Oasis is a lively restaurant dedicated to Uzbek cuisine. For the uninitiated, that translates to a variety of rice and noodle dishes, sizzling soups, savory mutton and plenty of naan bread to soak up all the bold flavors. The dining room is decorated in colorful Uzbek décor with mosaic tile murals and tapestries. Opt for lamb shish kebabs with traditional hachapury puff pastries stuffed with cheese. Themashkurda, an Oriental green pea soup made with rice and beef served with a dollop of yogurt is not to be missed.

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5. Miami Juice

Miami Juice has been around since 1992 serving up a healthy selection of juice, smoothies, salads, sandwiches, baked potatoes and even pizza and burgers. Whether it’s a post-beach boost of nutrients from their B-52 Happy’s Special juice made with carrots, celery, beets, cucumber, spinach, garlic, ginger and apple, or a wholesome lunch, you’ll feel at home inside their inviting dining room. Lunchtime temptations include vegetarian options, like veggie burgers, falafel, hummus and tofu marinated in ginger and curry. For the carnivores, opt for the rosemary chicken platter or the blackened red snapper served with organic brown rice and steamed vegetables.

What to Do

Beach day
Beach goers play in the waves at Sunny Isles beach. Charles Trainor Jr MHS

6. Newport Fishing Pier

Built in 1982, the Newport Fishing Pier is the only public fishing pier in all of Miami-Dade County. Take a stroll down the 776-foot pier, check out the fishermen’s catch or cast a line yourself. There’s also a new Beach Bar where you can dine al fresco along the pier and enjoy everything from a frosty tropical cocktail to fresh caught fish and sushi.

7. Oleta River State Park

A visit to Sunny Isles Beach is a great excuse to explore Oleta River State Park. Drive through the gates, past the ranger station and you’ve enter a quiet world of tangled tidal mangroves in this protected river estuary inside Florida’s largest urban state park. Spend the day kayaking or canoeing through mangrove trails or mountain biking on through 15 miles of trails. Rent the equipment on site or bring your own. There’s also a beach, fishing pier and peaceful nature trails, all of which makes you feel miles away from the hustle and bustle of the city.