With street names like Rue Versailles and Rue Vendome, one might expect to be transported to gay Pair-ee when visiting Normandy Isle. But though this North Beach enclave may have at one time been brimming with baguette-wielding immigrants, it’s Argentina that boasts the most influence here now. Which is kind of fitting, as the Argentines are known for thinking they’re the Europeans of South America. Identity crises aside, though, Normandy Isle is dotted with lovely shops, restaurants and stroll opportunities, making it the perfect spot for an off-the-beaten-path date.
Start out at Buenos Aires Bakery for arguably the best Argentine pastries in Miami. Order one (or two) and a cortada to go and walk across the street for a morning picnic and stroll along the ocean.
Now that you’re nice and relaxed, time to get that heart rate up with some physical activity (no, not in the abandoned lifeguard stand). Head to North Shore Park‘s clay tennis courts for a little back-and-forth, then to the new community pool for a dip and some lounging.
Shower off, it’s time for lunch. Options include Greek at Ariston, pizza and paninis at Sopranos or Thai at either Sawadee or Tamarind, which is located in “the circle” – you know you’re there when you see the obelisk fountain. Do some post-meal shopping at the small farmer’s market selling fruits, vegetables, smoothies and flowers every Saturday and be sure to stop by interior designer Jeffrey Lamb‘s shop, which is packed with adorable homegoods like tea sets, picture frames, rugs and lamps.
Plan your NI date to coincide with a performance or movie at the Byron Carlyle Theater or a concert at the North Beach Bandshell, then grab a late bite at popular sushi joint Katana, where dishes float around on boats that you grab as they pass your seat around the bar. For something heartier, try meat paradise Las Vacas Gordas or Café Prima Pasta. Afterward, indulge in a scoop of gelato at Dolce Vita – the perfect Italian ending to your trip to French-inspired, Argentine-influenced Normandy Isle.