Miami Design District and Wynwood neighborhood guide

Get to know the Miami Design District and Wynwood with our neighborhood guide to the area’s best blocks and attractions

Photograph: Dan Forer
Miami Light Project at the Light Box Theatre in Wynwood, Miami

The Miami Design District
While South Beach is still a destination with a capital D, coolhunters are now also venturing into once-forbidden neighborhoods across the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Formerly best avoided, the Design District and Wynwood (along with Little Haiti and now the Upper East Side) are enjoying a renaissance.

Filling a grid of a mere five streets (NE 36th to NE 41st Street) by two (NE 2nd Avenue to N Miami Avenue), the Design District is vastly out of proportion with its influence on the arts and culture scene.

The area started as a pineapple grove, and evolved into what became known as Decorators' Row during the building boom of the early 1920s, when home-design stores lined its streets. The neighborhood fell on hard times in the late '80s, when crime drove many businesses north. It's not yet perfectly polished, but it's getting there. As its name attests, the area still attracts the type of tenants it enjoyed during its heyday: Fine furnishings and kitchen and bathroom showrooms.

Where there's design, there's usually art, and galleries occupy many premises here. Thanks to developer and art collector Craig Robins, a South Beach pioneer who also owns about 40 percent of the Design District's property, a good deal of public art (most of it created by locals) is also on display. Rosario Marquardt and Roberto Behar's zany open-air Living Room, complete with couch, lamps and curtains, is on the corner of NE 40th Street and N Miami Avenue.

The majestic 1921 Moore Building (4040 NE 2nd Avenue, at NE 40th Street) is the historical heart of the district. Originally a furniture showroom, it's now the retail home to interior designer and potter extraordinaire Jonathan Adler (305 576 0200) and a rentable space for special events and parties (many of which happen during Art Basel). Complementing the art and design are food and drink. Pick of the bunch is sleek foodie favorite Michael's Genuine Food & Drink.

Wynwood
South of the Design District is Wynwood (which is more clunkily known as the Wynwood Arts District). Running all the way to the northern fringes of Downtown, it's an area roughly bounded by NE 2nd Avenue to the east, I-95 to the west, I-395 to the south and NE 36th to the north.

Formerly a working-class area with a large Puerto Rican population, Wynwood is one of the city's newest trendy neighborhoods. Many of its erstwhile factories and warehouses are now inhabited by creative types—more than 50 galleries, artist's studios, art complexes, private collections and museums call the district home. The proximity of the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts can only help to hasten the gentrification process.

Area pioneers include the Rubell Family Collection and the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, home to photography, video, sculpture and installations. But for many, the area’s centerpiece is the stunning Wynwood Walls, the city's only outdoor street art park. Located on NW 2nd Avenue between NW 25th and 26th Streets, the Walls are home to more than 40 murals from a roster of world-renowned artists, including Shepard Fairey, Ryan McGuinness, Kenny Scharf, How and Nosm, Faile, Retna, the Date Farmers and Liqen.

Restaurants and bars in the Design District and Wynwood

Michael's Genuine Food & Drink

Critics' pick

This buzzy restaurant is a true star. Decor and menu are classy yet casual, and the service also strikes just the right note. The interior mixes industrial chic—concrete floors, exposed ducts—with warmth (red lamps, flickering candles, modern art and a brick oven glowing from the open kitchen). With an emphasis on local ingredients, the high-end comfort food ticks all the right boxes. Mains change daily but might include a selection of wood-fired pizzas; a whole "poulet rouge" chicken with plumped raisins, toasted pine nuts and rocket; and duck confit with tangerine marmalade and spiced pumpkin seeds. Hedy Goldsmith’s innovative desserts—including bread pudding and weekend pop tarts—are indeed a grand finale.

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Design District

Federal Drink & Provisions

Critics' pick

Go on, play with your food. The folks at the Federal won’t mind. Experimentation is encouraged at this bustling gastropub, located in a not-so-bustling strip mall on the upper part of Biscayne Boulevard. Co-owners Cesar Zapata and Aniece Meinhold treat this gem as if it were their very own nightly dinner party, and in a way it is. Which is why you’ll see the same faces here several nights a week, chowing down on newfangled editions of classic American dishes. Starters include a Jar-o-Duck (a Mason jar full of duck, layered with charred fluff and candied sweet potato) and buffalo-style pig wings. Popular mains include the daily-changing Not Your Granny’s Pot Pie, and a lamb burger served with grilled pickled onions on a pretzel bun.

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Design District

Jumbo's

A Miami tradition for more than 60 years, this family-run place is known for its world-famous fried shrimp, fried chicken, catfish fingers and collard greens. Sure, it’s located in what locals call the "ghetto," but it’s open 24/7 and worth slumming it. And there’s history here too: Jumbo’s was the first restaurant in Miami to integrate in 1966 and the first to hire African American employees in 1967.

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Design District
More Design District restaurants and bars

Things to do in the Design District and Wynwood

Wynwood Walls

Critics' pick

Launched during Art Basel, what began as a few commissioned murals to beautify the area has morphed into the city’s only outdoor street art park, featuring more than 40 murals from a roster of world-renowned artists, including Shepard Fairey, Ryan McGuinness, Kenny Scharf, How and Nosm, Faile, Retna, the Date Farmers and Liqen.In late 2012, a major installation was added to the park as a tribute to Tony Goldman—the legendary neighborhood redeveloper who sculpted the Wynwood Art District from nondescript and decaying storefronts in the mid 2000s, and who passed away in September 2012. The Kenny Scharf Garden (2219 NW 2nd Avenue, at NW 22nd Street) features a landscaped garden, fountain, large-scale mural and Scharf's own 1960s-style Airstream trailer, complete with Day-Glo interior. Fairey also reworked his mural outside Goldman's Wynwood Kitchen & Bar to incorporate an image of the man himself.Wynwood Walls is open to the public all year round and admission is free. You can even take home a piece of Wynwood—the GO! Shop features a curated collection of limited edition prints from Wynwood artists.FOR MORE SHOTS OF THE WYNWOOD WALLS

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Wynwood Art District Free

Margulies Collection

Critics' pick

The Margulies Collection is a giant of the scene. It showcases contemporary and vintage photography, video, sculpture and installations from prominent Miami collector Martin Z Margulies. A recent airing of his sculpture collection included pieces by Miró, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein; photography features the likes of Cindy Sherman and Walker Evans.

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Wynwood Art District

Rubell Family Collection

Critics' pick

One of the country’s top private collections of contemporary art, this is a bold assortment of avant-garde work: conceptual art, photography, sculpture and painting are all represented. Owned by brother and sister Jason and Jennifer Rubell, the collection features important works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst. It’s located in a former DEA confiscation center—something that the late Steve Rubell, founder of Manhattan’s infamous Studio 54 and uncle to Jennifer and Jason—would have found hugely amusing.

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Wynwood Art District
More things to do in the Design District

Cultural highlights in the Design District and Wynwood

Wynwood Walls

Critics' pick

Launched during Art Basel, what began as a few commissioned murals to beautify the area has morphed into the city’s only outdoor street art park, featuring more than 40 murals from a roster of world-renowned artists, including Shepard Fairey, Ryan McGuinness, Kenny Scharf, How and Nosm, Faile, Retna, the Date Farmers and Liqen.In late 2012, a major installation was added to the park as a tribute to Tony Goldman—the legendary neighborhood redeveloper who sculpted the Wynwood Art District from nondescript and decaying storefronts in the mid 2000s, and who passed away in September 2012. The Kenny Scharf Garden (2219 NW 2nd Avenue, at NW 22nd Street) features a landscaped garden, fountain, large-scale mural and Scharf's own 1960s-style Airstream trailer, complete with Day-Glo interior. Fairey also reworked his mural outside Goldman's Wynwood Kitchen & Bar to incorporate an image of the man himself.Wynwood Walls is open to the public all year round and admission is free. You can even take home a piece of Wynwood—the GO! Shop features a curated collection of limited edition prints from Wynwood artists.FOR MORE SHOTS OF THE WYNWOOD WALLS

Read more
Wynwood Art District Free

Margulies Collection

Critics' pick

The Margulies Collection is a giant of the scene. It showcases contemporary and vintage photography, video, sculpture and installations from prominent Miami collector Martin Z Margulies. A recent airing of his sculpture collection included pieces by Miró, Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein; photography features the likes of Cindy Sherman and Walker Evans.

Read more
Wynwood Art District

Rubell Family Collection

Critics' pick

One of the country’s top private collections of contemporary art, this is a bold assortment of avant-garde work: conceptual art, photography, sculpture and painting are all represented. Owned by brother and sister Jason and Jennifer Rubell, the collection features important works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons, Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst. It’s located in a former DEA confiscation center—something that the late Steve Rubell, founder of Manhattan’s infamous Studio 54 and uncle to Jennifer and Jason—would have found hugely amusing.

Read more
Wynwood Art District
More museums and galleries in the Design District

Music and nightlife in the Design District

Bardot

With no neon sign outside and no valets to park your car, Bardot aims to keep a much lower profile than its brethren across the causeway. The venue has a soft spot for local musicians, and top-notch DJs often spin into the wee hours. The Thursday night Living Room Sessions feature well-known indie pop and hip-hop artists such as Slick Rick and Junior Boy. Be sure to check out the erotic artwork on the walls.

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Design District
More clubs and music venues in the Design District

Shopping in the Design District

Kartell

Critics' pick

A fantastic plastic paradise featuring a wide variety of pricey products created by internationally known designers, including gnome tables by Philippe Starck, modular bookshelves by Giulio Polvara and storage units by Anna Castelli Ferrieri.

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Design District

Holly Hunt

With branches across the nation (and one in Brazil), Holly Hunt specializes in its own range of custom-built luxury furnishings—including rugs, lighting, furniture and other home accessories. Its Miami Design District location is impressive, with all manner of wares displayed across a two-story, 22,000 square foot space.

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Design District

NiBa Home

Critics' pick

Imagine Willy Wonka was diabetic and had to channel his love for candy instead into a technicolor world of glass, furniture, lighting and accessories. The result would be NiBa Home, a funky store offering cool furniture and flamboyant accessories, both new and vintage.

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Design District
More stores in the Design District

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