Top 13 Things to do in the Design District of Miami

miami design district things to do and to see

Miami’s centrally located haven for luxury shopping also boasts some of the city’s best dining, art, and events. This petite, tree-lined enclave is sort of like Wynwood’s older sister who went to a fancy art school up north and has amazing style. 

Pretty, manicured Design District might contain an unusually high concentration of coveted luxury shops, but it also has amazing cultural offerings—and many of them cost nothing to enjoy. Whether you’re looking to splurge or simply window-shop and take in the sights, there’s a bit of something for everyone in this relatively new Miami neighborhood. From large-scale public art to free museums, Michelin-starred meals and funky boutiques, these are the best things to do in the Design District right now.

Things to do in the Design District Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

1. Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami

The ICA (as you’re more likely to hear people call it) is a shiny museum housing some magnificent exhibits of contemporary art. Here you’ll see big names alongside criminally underrated and daring artists. The three-floor museum would certainly be worth every cent of your admission if it wasn’t free. But since it cost $0 to enter, there really is no excuse for not checking it out. Don’t leave without seeing the sculptures in the back patio. 

2. MIA Market

This Design District food hall (formerly named St. Roch and then Politan Row) has choices ranging from pasta and tacos to fried chicken and one of the best omakase sushi counters in the city. It’s a great lunch spot between shopping sprees and has plenty of seating for big groups, plus a large central bar if you need a bit of liquid courage to pull the trigger on your next purchase. 

3. Design District Public Art Tours

Twice a month, the Design District leads art tours, guiding curious folk around their many outdoor installations and murals including Buckminster Fuller Fly’s Eye Dome, Virgil Abloh’s Dollar a Gallon, Amani Lewis’ Baltimore’s Finest and more. The tours usually take place on the second and fourth Saturday of the month (confirm on the Design District website in advance). Plus, it’s free so…why not go? Most people don’t realize just how much awesome public art there is in the Design District. After this tour, you won’t be one of them.

4. Mrs. Mandolin

Trendy locals love this aesthetically pleasing, Greece-inspired shop (adjacent to the ever-packed Mandolin Aegean Bistro), which offers a selection of off-the-beaten-path labels and bespoke homewares as well as coffee from a café in the front. Mrs. Mandolin is a great choice for shoppers who feel a tad intimidated by the huge, high-fashion brands dotting the Design District. This place is a little more chill (and affordable) than your average Gucci store.

5. Dale Zine

Back in 2009, Steve Saiz (a senior art director) and Lillian Banderas (a stylist manager) created Dalé with one simple goal: to showcase this city’s independent voices in a fun, approachable environment through the “most low-key format ever,” the zine. Over the years, the concept has broadened. These days, Dale is an inclusive cultural hub for the community, with offerings ranging from all-ages zine workshops to an online radio show, pop-up events, and most recently an expanded storefront and gallery space in Design District.

6. Dior Café

If you’re looking to escape Miami’s fast-paced lifestyle, try Dior Café. Perched atop the third floor of the Dior boutique in the Miami Design District, this petite escape is pure perfection. Surrounded by toile-covered sculptures and tropical foliage café goers are treated to a very French-inspired menu, featuring classic coffees like espressos and cappuccinos, with the always iconic Dior logo emblazoned on top. Café Dior also offers more health-conscious choices such as the trendy matcha latte. Pair any of these drinks with the light bites and you have yourself the perfect indulgence.

7. Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink

Design District’s go-to for upscale yet approachable dining is a great spot to stop for happy hour or book a reservation for brunch. Expect an ever-changing menu of seasonal classics, fresh-shucked oysters and some of the best people-watching around.

8. de la Cruz Collection

Although not as big as the ICA, de la Cruz offers another selection of art to peruse—for free. The gallery also hosts lectures and summer workshops for kids. The de la Cruz collection is certainly nothing to sneeze at. Artists in the 2018 exhibition include classics such as Dalí as well as groundbreaking modern artists like Kathryn Andrews.

9. Andrew

Named for the devastating hurricane that swept through Miami in the early ’90s, Andrew serves as a haven for skateboarders and sports enthusiasts. Most well-known skate brands, such as Quasi and Quartersnacks, are sold here, as well as Andrew’s own namesake collection, which includes custom boards plus kitschy accessories and local-themed swag—think canvas totes, lighters and stickers. 

10. L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon

Looking to blow your wad on a luxurious experience rather than a new handbag? Miami’s only two Michelin-starred restaurant fittingly resides in Design District. At L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon Miami, find artfully composed, Miami-inspired contemporary French dishes (think seared scallops topped with coconut foam in a cilantro broth) in a dark and moody space. There’s an option to order à la carte, but if you can swing the price tag, go for the chef’s seasonal tasting menu.

11. Aubi & Ramsa

Aubi & Ramsa is an ice cream shop selling sweets with a twist: the ice cream has booze in it. Yup, order flavors infused with scotch, tequila and more creations. And, yes, you must be 21 or older to eat. It may sound a tad odd to your taste buds but the flavor pairings are actually pretty damn good. Once you find your flavor, you’ll eat this stuff up quick. But go easy. Remember, there is alcohol in it.

12. Kith Miami

The Design District outpost of this sneaker and streetwear emporium—with locations in Manhattan, Brooklyn, L.A. and South Beach—carries the latest apparel and footwear collaborations from brands like Puma, Nike, Adidas and others. Look for Kith’s house brands and cool-kid accessories like preppy caps, hoodies and bags. Past the shiny displays is a petite version of famed brunch spot Sadelle’s, and across the street is a tiny ice-cream parlor, Kith Treats, serving all sorts of whimsical (and pricey) cereal-inspired frozen yogurt creations.

13. DBC Fitness

Fitness freaks may want to see if they can nab a training session at this sought-after gym. The owner and head trainer, David Alexander, is a legend who has trained the literal best athletes in the world. He’s the go-to guy for LeBron, Wade and every other athlete and celebrity who rolls through Miami in search of a killer workout.

Conclusion

Miami’s Design District stands as a vibrant tapestry of luxury, culture, and creativity. From its world-class shopping and dining to its rich artistic landscape and community-centric offerings, the district provides an experience that transcends mere indulgence.

Whether you’re walking through its streets admiring public art, and luxury shops, savoring culinary delights, or immersing yourself in contemporary culture, the Design District offers something truly special for everyone.

So, whether you’re a local or a visitor, don’t miss the opportunity to explore this dynamic neighborhood and discover the best it has to offer.

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