If you're going to be in South Beach and enjoy a little day drinking, I recommend stopping at Wet Willies Drinks, Frozen Daiquiri Bar. It is a prime location on Ocean Drive, where you can sit and people watch while feeling the ocean breeze and enjoying your frozen beverage
If that's not your cup of tea, shopping in the area is always fun. It runs the gamut from fun, touristy shops with great souvenirs to high end designer stores, so just a walk down Washington or Collins Ave will be entertaining.
Enjoy your time in Miami, and definitely make time for the beach!
Sorry it's taken me a while to join in this thread greattraveltime, but I didn't want to just say a few vacuous words, and I didn't have the time till now to draw up a detailed reply.
My wife and I stayed at the Marriott Stanton for 10 nights from 4th to 14th April. While there I posted on the Re: The "I'm sat in the Exec Lounge right now, and it's..." Thread so I'll not repeat the info there on the exec lounge, save to add that Rosa-Lee in the lounge is definitely one of the most friendly and helpful lounge hostesses I've experienced in all Marriott-dom. The lounge breakfast is fine for a morning fill-up but is repetitive and the evening food is uninspiring, although desserts are nice. But when the wind beats against the front of the hotel - and it frequently does - the exec lounge balconies (there's 4 of them) provide a welcome place away from both the wind and airconditioning.
The hotel itself is situated at the far south of Miami Beach, but that's a real blessing. South Beach itself runs from 5th Street North up to 16th, the Marriott Stanton is on 2nd Street, but is one of only a few genuine beachfront hotels. The area it's in is trying to market itself as SoFi (South of Fifth). When exiting the hotel on the road, turn right and it's a 2-minute walk to fifth, and the madness, colour and action of SoBe. It is easily the most conspicuos ArtDeco street I have ever seen, the buildings are wonderful, take a walk in the morning before last nights revellers awake and the traffic builds and admire one of the largest and best preserved collection of Art Deco buidings in the world! Walking past 16th will eventually lead you to Lincoln Road which after a short walk becomes a lengthy pedestrianised shopping, bar and restaurant area. If on the other hand you turn left and left again after Nikki Beach you'll find yourself at South Pointe Park, Get there around 5pm and you can watch the huge cruise liners up close as they leave Miami Port. South Pointe is a lovely walk with a couple of bars and a marina too.
Turning to the beach itself, it's beautiful with lovely white sand. Accessed from the hotel via the Deco Blue bar at the rear and down the steps you can either turn right which will take you directly to South Pointe Park or left and walk the boardwalk northerly parallel with Ocean Drive. Initially it's a concrete walkway to about 20th street, then becoming a genuine beachfront Boardwalk, or stroll along the beach itself. There are regular lifeguard stations and if you're planning to bathe make sure you check out the flags, most of the days we were there were not green flag days, and one was red. Yellow flag (excersise care - ususally meaning rip currents) were the most common. Purple warns of nastier marine life, typically jellyfish. The sea in April is however lovely and warm (to us English who consider the North Sea in June acceptable bathing) and will have warmed up further since we left. Its actually a long paddle to get out of your depth, not least because theres a submerged sandbank meaning you walk out to waist height and then as you walk further out find yourself back to knee height. The water is crystal clear and try to look out for the shoals of almost transparent fish that swim between the two sandbanks. The hotel has an arrangement with the sunbed providers whereby you get a card and exchange it for towels to use on the beach, retrieving your card when you return the towels. Beach sun beds are $13/day, and a food and drinks service is offered on the beach, all chargeable to your room.
If you prefer to hang around the pool the hotel has pool chairs and double sun-beds with the same arrangement for towels as on the beach. If you're looking to spend the day by the pool you'll need to be up early-ish and see the pool attendant who will provide you with towels reserving your space. If there's no space he does keep a waitlist. If you're a keen pool person make sure you tip the attendant well! There's also an upper lounging area next to the exterior restaurant tables overlooking the pool and if your a pasty northerner like me you will be relieved to know it's well shaded by early afternoon!
The hotel restaurant, Deco Blue is very nice and the food is good. It's reasonably priced for SoBe, but SoBe is pricey. The hotels Bar prices are similar to those at all Ocean Drive bars. The restaurant and bar is well staffed, though one or two have only a passing grasp of English when spoken in an unfamiliar non-American accent! Hence a request for vinegar one day resulted in a small pot of vegetable oil! Eating out, I'd strongly recommend the institution which is Joes Stone Crab Restaurant and also the Prime Fish Restaurant, both of which are pricey but great food in wonderfully individual surroundings. Both are walking distance from the hotel. Cheaper but other great eats are the Big Pink diner on 2nd Street and the 11th Street Diner on Washington Ave opposite the police dept. Definitely do sit down and people watch on Ocean Drive, it's fascinating. Although all the restaurants on Ocean Drive are pricey tourist traps it's worthwhile grabbing a meal one night next to the road just for the experience. And do make sure you visit Wet Willies on Ocean Drive, sit on the upper terrace and watch even more of SoBe as you enjoy the the highly alcoholic frozen offerings. A great way to pass the time! While there we took a day trip to the Everglades riding an airboat and took an Uber into Miami and walked around there using the free and very regular monrail to help us get around. We certainly noticed the difference in prices between expensive Miami Beach and the much cheaper city!
The Stanton is quite small for a Marriott and currently has only 1 restaurant and bar, but 2 restaurants are being built and it will then convert to a resort. This will mean it closes the exec lounge and no doubt begins charging a daily resort fee. I think it could find some consumer resistance however as it will I'm sure be the smallest "resort" in Marriott-Dom, if not one of the smallest in the world. Now in order to satisfy Marriotts resort specification it has to have 2 pools and 3 restaurants. Well, it now has 2 pools, 2 of the smallest resort polls you are likely to see, which are clearly a box-ticking exercise and I think the new restaurants, a Mexican and a Sushi bar will follow that example, at least in terms of size. The Stanton rooms are a nice size to us Europeans though I heard many grumbles about the size from American guests, though that really does have to be accepted, the building itself is now marching towards it centenary, and hotel rooms in the 1920's and 1930's were built far smaller. We were redeeming and hence were booked into a city view room but the hotel upgraded us on arrival for our entire stay to a beautiful Ocean View room. It was lovely each morning literally waking up to the palm trees, that strip of yellow sand, and a layer of glistening azure sea leading into the uninterrupted bright blue sky of the horizon. And we got that every morning we awoke! Gorgeous!
In short it was a lovely holiday and the Stanton is a great place to stay in SoBe. I'd certainly stay again and am quite jealous that youve got all that SoBe goodness to come. Enjoy, it's a great destination!
Try to seek out a few of the better restaurants where locals dine - one of our favorites:
You can always go 'bird watching along many of the more interesting beach locations!
I do as often as possible.