The best of Miami nightlife

Miami nightlife is a hedonists’ paradise of glitz, glamour, swank lounges and megaclubs. Read on for our guide to going loco in SoFlo

Photograph: Grand Central
A grand night out at Grand Central—a former railroad station Downtown

Nightlife is to Miami what cheese is to Wisconsin or wine is to Napa: a cottage industry. Whatever the time of year, it's a flashy, splashy scene, boosted by countless celebrity endorsements and live appearances. And not all club kids are created equal: guest lists and velvet ropes are, perhaps unfortunately, integral to the Miami nightlife scene.

Classic Miami dance clubs

Grand Central

Critics' pick

This hipster enclave boasts an open, warehouse-like space in what was formerly a railroad station (it’s actually still situated on the tracks). A state-of-the-art sound system and accompanying light show set the sensory tone for Grand Central’s Friday and Saturday night parties, where you’ll see everything from indie punk bands such as Suicidal Tendencies to progressive rockers UK. At Grand Central’s club-within-a-club, the Garret (which has its own entrance on 7th Street), DJs prefer to keep it old school, spinning everything from early Michael Jackson to Usher.

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Downtown

Nikki Beach Club

Critics' pick

The quintessential beach club, Nikki is an outdoor fantasyland sprawling over a stretch of sand with tiki bars, lounge chairs and torches. Decorated with beautiful people, it’s like the Playboy mansion meets Survivor, where the fittest (as in toned, firm breasts and butts) don’t merely survive, they flourish. Buxom beauties attract well-oiled, deep-pocketed sugar daddies, and the studs also get rewarded for their packaging. In addition to the restaurant and beach club, there’s a club and lounge where the party gets started during daylight hours during Amazing Sundays: thongs and bikinis are de rigueur.

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South Beach

Bamboo

No, that admission price range is not a typo. Clubgoers who can shell out the dough are happy to pay as much as $2,500 for a reserved table at this South Beach hotspot, which took over the historic Paris Theater in early 2012. Melding many of the 27,000-square-foot space’s original art deco details with elements of over-the-top luxury (think crushed velvet drapes, marble tables, white crocodile banquettes and a two-ton Swarovski crystal chandelier) have made this one of the city’s hottest after-dark tickets. The club’s regular roster of A-list party hosts (such as Snoop Dogg and Flo Rida) bring in the club’s highest-priced tickets. 

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South Beach

More great nights out in Miami

Magnum Lounge

Critics' pick

You remember the cliché about queens singing show tunes around the piano? The cliché is alive and well at Magnum. Every night, a group of gentlemen gather at this cozy lounge to show off their pipes and musical knowledge. My Funny Valentine, The Man That Got Away and Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered—all the chestnuts get an airing here, and with great gusto. Far away from the muscles and techno of South Beach, this bar is a time warp—in the best possible way. It’s warm and elegant: under dim lights, the crimson walls, red velvet drapes, oil paintings, gilt mirrors and wooden shutters create a womb-like vibe. Lanterns, flickering candles and snug booths add a romantic mood. Cocktails are gorgeous, as are the staff. Meals are served, too, and they’re good enough to attract a straight crowd. An outdoor bar—the Shack—is open seven days a week (unlike the main club, which is closed on Mondays).

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Little Haiti

Mokai

Critics' pick

Darling of the lounge scene, Mokaï is frequented by the city’s so-called "somebodies." Be warned: even moguls have been snubbed by the brutal bouncers as they weren’t on "the list." If you are on the list, lucky you: brick walls, dim lights and leather couches mean this tiny spot packs a powerful punch. Expect a mix of models, celebs and DJs who spin everything from house to kitsch. The Sexy Bitch party on Wednesdays is buzzing.

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South Beach

Twist

Critics' pick

Twist is South Beach’s most well-established gay club. Two levels and seven bars make this a must-visit for every gay tourist, as you can bar-hop without ever having to step outside the premises (the two-for-one drink specials from 11pm to 3am on Thursday nights don’t hurt either). Don’t forget to stop at the back Bungalow Bar to check out the nightly dancers who boogie for dollars. "Never a cover, always a groove!"

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South Beach

Cameo

This renovated deco movie theater is a premier venue for superstar DJs. In addition to the impressive aural assets, Cameo attracts a mod squad of glamazons and scenesters. While the downstairs is dance central, the second-floor mezzanine is the VIP section, where suede and velvet banquettes accommodate the moneyed crowd, who get a bird’s-eye view of all the happenings below. The door policy is brutal, not necessarily because they’re choosy, but because this is one of the few bona fide dance clubs on the beach. Dress to be noticed and get there at the ungodly opening hour for the best chance of getting in.

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South Beach

Club Space

No, the hours we've listed are not a mistake. Club Space, the venue of choice for superstar DJs such as Paul Oakenfold, Sasha and John Digweed, opens late Saturday night and stays open until Sunday afternoon. The Downtown diva had to close its doors at one point after officials cracked down in the search for drugs. But it reopened a few days later to the joy of the dedicated tranceheads and electronica freaks.

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Overtown

La Covacha

Way out west near the Miami International Mall, this is still one of the city’s best Latin clubs, even though it’s gone trendy and introduced a Thursday sushi and disco night—which is about as un-Latin as it gets. For a less cheesy experience, try Noche Internacional on Fridays, with salsa, merengue and Spanish pop.

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Doral

Mansion

A longtime staple of Miami Beach’s nightlife scene, Mansion has provided a home for top DJs such as David Guetta, deadmau5 and Skrillex, hosted parties for P Diddy and Jay-Z, and featured live performances by Prince and Velvet Revolver. The club maintains much of the glamor of its former life as a theater, with the building’s original 1936 chandelier still holding court in the grand lobby. The club hosts popular weekly events, including Excess Mondays and Cirque de Mansion Wednesdays.

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South Beach

Comments

1 comments
Bernardo S
Bernardo S

I understand "The needs of my City: The Great Miami area and  Dade County I believe is embarrassing not to be updated with the information for locals and foreigners whom visit us every year by millions and have pass embarrassing moments looking for recreation places and end up been the center of an ugly experience whom nobody deserve to live...Please remember a happy tourist bring more tourist...As well we can use this information for the ones whom enjoy nude beaches with not recriminations. All I'm saying is Please let's make things easy for the ones who came visiting our city looking for privacy and free fun with-out shame.