A Visit to the Florida Riviera: Sunny Isles Beach

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  • October 01, 2019
Acqualina pool

The City of the Sun and Sea welcomes you to Sunny Isles Beach. An aptly named city that showcases South Florida’s glorious weather, pristine white sand beaches and mesmerizing turquoise blue waters. Located just 30 minutes north of Miami International Airport and a quick 10 minutes from Fort Lauderdale, this barrier island sits between the Atlantic Ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.


beach view sunny isles beach

Sunny Isles Beach stretches 2.5 miles along the oceanfront, offering a destination for couples, families and singles alike. What was once home to two story budget motels is now filled with sleek, contemporary high rises and luxury resorts that line the Atlantic Ocean beachfront. Exclusive brands have a presence on bustling Collins Avenue including Residences by Armani, Porsche Design Tower Miami and Forbes 5 Star award-winning Acqualina Resort and Spa along with their Mansions at Acqualina and the Estates at Acqualina, currently being built.

The Ambience

Art and design is everywhere in Sunny Isles Beach. You will find it in the skyline of buildings, artwork in hotels and restaurants, in the children’s fountain and playground and of course, in the culinary scene. 

acqualina high rises sunny isles beach

(Photo courtesy of Acqualina Resort and Spa) 

Vacationing in Sunny Isles Beach means you have the best of both worlds. You are in close proximity to Miami’s vibrant, eclectic lifestyle with a wealth of trendy nightclubs and the Art Deco District while still being able to relax on the peaceful beaches of Sunny Isles. This coastal living community offers luxury residences and opulent resorts with over the top amenities to enhance your relaxation. 

There is a calm to this city that is felt in the warmth of the people, the innate sense of security and the cleanliness of the streets and parks. It’s an easily walkable town with a free shuttle service available to destinations in the area. 

Shopping Mecca

This upscale community has this topic covered with premier destinations for visitors and locals.

Aventura Mall

Just a short drive over the waterway is the second largest indoor mall in the country. With over 300 shops from luxury to everyday favorites, 50 restaurants, an extensive museum quality Arts Aventura Mall collection, a unique public work designed specifically for the Mall by the Haas Brothers called “Gorillas in the Mist” and a 24 screen AMC Movie Theater, there is something for everyone.

aventura mall apple store

 

Photo courtesy of Aventura Mall

aventura mall artwork

Photo courtesy of Aventura Mall

Photo courtesy of Aventura Mall

aventura mall art

aventura mall jimmy choo store

Bal Harbour Shops

bal harbour shops

Elegant. Sophisticated. “Shopping Hall of Fame”. All describe the more than 100 stores that surround the outdoor, tropical garden at the Bal Harbour Shops. This exclusive destination is known for its internationally recognized, high-end designers and retailers including Balmain Paris, Chanel, De Beers Jewellers and Neiman Marcus. 

Bal Harbour Shops Sunny Isles Beach

Bask in the Florida Sunshine

Parks

Enjoying the tropical weather of Sunny Isles Beach means having a wealth of outdoor activities to choose from. The city takes its role very seriously in building and maintaining all of its parks. The designs of the more than 10 different landscaped areas are conducive for everything from relaxing to exercising to playgrounds to concerts to special events. Try Yoga Under the Moon or the Outdoor Concert Series at Samson Oceanfront Park.   The parks are also a gathering spot for the community to create neighborly and family activities. 

Want to re-live a bit of your childhood? Choose a fun, vibrant colored kite to fly in the park. 

kite shop sunny isles beach

The Water

Feel like doing something on the water like jet skiing or fishing? Stop by Newport Fishing Pier, the only public fishing pier in Miami-Dade County. Located just off Collins Avenue, the pier is open every day of the year with a small ticket price to fish or hang out on the pier enjoying the views of the Atlantic Ocean. There are many amenities including a beach bar restaurant, restrooms, showers, beach access with lifeguard station, bike racks, metered public parking and community shuttle service available to ticket holders.  

Newport Fishing Pier Sunny Isles Beach

If fishing out in the ocean is your goal, head to Haulover Beach Park and Marina to take advantage of the opportunity to go deep sea fishing on charters or rent a boat (with/without a captain) to spend time on the water. 

fishing sunny isles beach

fishing boat in Suny Isles Beach

 

Where to Stay

With luxury hotels lining Collins Avenue in Sunny Isles Beach, each just steps from the ocean or Intracoastal Waterway, your choices are many.

Acqualina Resort and Spa

The only AAA 5 Diamond, Forbes 5 star resort in Sunny Isles Beach that is continually recognized for outstanding customer service. With resident owned Roll-Royce sedans framing the entrance to the resort, this property offers both hotel and residential living opportunities. Stunning architectural design that welcomes guests to its Mediterranean inspired lobby which flows into a modern art filled property with furnishings to match. Along with beautiful interior design comes a waterfront oasis complete with 400 square feet of unobstructed (no boardwalk!) white sand beach bordered by the intricately landscaped grounds. The Aqualina is a luxury resort that aligns art, architecture and lifestyle with extraordinary customer service.  

acqualina rolls royce

acqualina lobby

With just four doors per floor and 98 rooms/suites total in the hotel portion of the property, the views of the Atlantic Ocean and Intracoastal Waterway are breathtaking. Luxurious decor, a calming gray color palette and details that make the suite feel like home in conjunction with a balcony that overlooks the water gives a sense of peace to your stay.   

A full selection of amenities are available at the Acqualina Resort and Spa. They include the award winning Acqualina Spa by ESPA, the AcquaMarine Program focused on a variety of children’s activities and education, a Bedside Reading Program created in partnership with publishing houses, and a curated collection of lifestyle offerings around Miami. 

The trademark red seating, cabanas and umbrellas on the intricately landscaped beachfront along with the four pools, white sand and turquoise water are picture postcard perfect. Add to it the beach butlers who make sure your every need is met make this the spot you want to be.  

(Photos courtesy of the Acqualina Resort and Spa)

Read more about the Acqualina from a hotel and residential experience here

 

JW Marriott Miami Turnberry

Who ever thought that creating a residential community on a cocktail napkin that would one day turn into a world class luxury resort had to be a visionary. That’s exactly what the founder of the JW Miami Turnberry Resort and Spa in Aventura, Florida, did with this sprawling property.

(Photo courtesy of JW Turnberry Maimi)

Just 12 miles north of Miami, the JW Miami Turnberry has over 600 rooms with a guest list that includes individuals, couples, families, girls’ trips, golfers, business travelers and conference attendees. The interior ambience is open and airy with contemporary design and artwork throughout the lobby while a tropical landscape surrounds the building and pools. 

Amenities abound with two championship golf courses, five acre Tidal Cove waterpark, six pools, Turnberry Kids Program, âme Spa & Wellness Collective, six restaurants and lounges, 120,000 square feet of conference/event space, a marina on the Intracoastal Waterway and beach access. In fact, the resort was named to Travel + Leisure’s “World’s Best Resorts” list.

 

Solé Miami, A Noble House Resort

If a boutique hotel is more in line with your vacation plans, then Solé Miami is the place for you. With views of the Atlantic Ocean out your window, the oceanfront pool, pool bar and private beach are beckoning you to take in the shimmering aqua blue water and pristine white sand beach. 

 
(Photo courtesy of Sole Miami)
 

 

Dinner and Drink in Sunny Isles Beach

While Sunny Isles Beach may be a small community, their culinary scene is one to watch and explore. Local, national and international chefs as well as celebrity chefs have a strong presence in this city.

Food is fresh, inventive, seasonal, Florida local and plated with presentation in mind. From smoothies to full on steak dinners, you options are extensive. Here are six recommendations to start your culinary journey.

Timo Restaurant and Bar 

A true neighborhood restaurant that has a passionate following. An Italian menu with a Mediterranean twist that Chef Tim Andriola has perfected. Dishes are filled with the richness of a homemade marinara sauce or scallops so beautifully presented you need to just take in the plate before eating every last one.

timo eggplant meatballs sunny isles beach

Eggplant meatballs baked in San Marzano Tomatoes with polenta and almond ricotta cream

scallops timo restaurant sunny isles beach

Pan seared sea scallops with baby artichokes, preserved lemon and little neck clam vinaigrette

 

International Smoke

A visit to Aventura Mall is an obvious must, not only for the incredible shopping and art, but to also experience the difference between American Barbecue and international Barbecue at International Smoke. Celebrity Chef Michael Mina and Ayesha Curry’s collaboration is where you will learn how fire and smoke elevates BBQ dishes you thought you knew.

International Smoke Aventura Mall

While you may think that BBQ is predominantly meat, at this visit to International Smoke, it was the seafood that won the prize. From the light and delicately sweet Ayesha’s Fresh Baked Cornbread muffins with the brush of heat to the Whole Roasted Cauliflower that is fragrant with Middle Eastern spices and flavors (with a presentation that stops your conversation) to the main courses themselves.

cauliflower with knife International SMoke

Asian Cedar Smoked Salmon and Mediterranean Branzino that look like works of art from the ingredients to the plating. Incredibly flavorful. Unquestionably fresh.

salmon International Smoke

Mediterranean Branzino International Smoke

An environment that is modern yet warm. A menu that encompasses dishes for meat eaters, pescatarians and vegetarians. Come for a meal or cocktails and appetizers. There is something for everyone at International Smoke.

Bourbon Steak

Within the JW Turnberry Miami, is another of James Beard award winning Chef, Michael Mina’s ventures. This time, it’s his highly regarded Bourbon Steak restaurant. Located just 10 minutes from Sunny Isles Beach, this steakhouse is upscale in design and menu. Elegant, sophisticated and with a splash of drama defines the look of the space. A wine list of more than 850 selections from their Wine Spectator Award winning cellar, along with a bar creating classic cocktails pairs beautifully with their extensive menu of prime cuts of American beef, Japanese A5 Wagyu beef and ice cold seasonal shellfish. 

Bourbon steak reception

Start out any meal with a French fry presentation that includes three varieties of seasoned potatoes and dipping sauces, and you know you are on the right path to a memorable meal. From appetizers to main courses, each is flavorful, creatively presented and delicious.

bourbon steak french fries

Sit at the bar or table in the sophisticated dining room, wherever you are most comfortable. It’s very clear that there are “regulars” here as they know what they like when it comes the menu.  

meat lettuce wraps bourbon steak

Spicy Beef Lettuce Cups with Thai chili and basil, sweet chili sauce, crunchy rice

bourbon steak tuna aventura sunny isles beach

Michael’s Tuna Tartare

 

BALEENkitchen

Located in the Sole Miami, A Noble House Resort, BALEENkitchen has floor to ceiling windows that allow for panoramic views of the Atlantic Ocean with soothing colors to complete the waterfront vibe. A casual, comfortable ambience with a menu that makes choosing what to order very difficult as you will want one of everything. Dinner at BALEENkitchen is a celebration of the flavors of the world with the restaurants’ vision to “Eat Local. Think Global.”

sunny isles beach view

A casual, comfortable ambience with a menu that makes choosing what to order very difficult as you will want one of everything. Dinner at BALEENkitchen is a celebration of the flavors of the world with the restaurants’ vision to “Eat Local. Think Global.”

fish Sole Miami

Pan Roasted Grouper with truffle corn puree, roasted marble potatoes, asparagus and cracked olive relish

sole miami meat and fries sunny isles beach

Skirt Steak Frites with parmesan truffle fries, arguula and brandy green peppercorn sauce

baleen kitchen sole miami sunny isles beach key lime pie

Key Lime Pie

IL Mulino New York, AQ Chop house by Il Mulino Restaurant

Within the luxurious Acqualina Resort and Spa, you will find acclaimed fine dining restaurants, Il Mulino New York and AQ Chop House by Il Mulino. While Il Mulino New York offers a traditional Italian design with dark wood creating an intimate and cozy feel, the newly remodeled AQ Chop House showcases the Mediterranean and contemporary look that Acqualina is known for. With stunning artwork surrounding you as you walk through the lobby to the restaurant, it takes a moment to take in the restaurant’s design. An enormous art-deco style chandelier draws your eyes up while at the same time your gaze drops to the picturesque windows that are a post card of Acqualina’s branded red umbrellas and oceanfront location.

Acqualina Il Mulino

(Photo courtesy of Il Molino New York, Acqualina)

Il Mulino New York offers authentic Italian flavors, market fresh daily specials and flawless service along with an extensive selection of Italian wines. Legendary for their dinners, brunch enthusiasts will enjoy live music and an extensive buffet with unlimited Prosecco, Bloody Marys, Mimosas and Mojitos. 

Acqualina Il Mulino tuna

(Photo courtesy of Il Molino New York, Acqualina)

Recently opened, AQ Chop House by Il Mulino delivers a modern steakhouse feel with gourmet Italian cuisine. Prime cuts of meat and seafood as well as pastas provide a full menu to exceed guest’s expectations. Along with the classic dishes are innovative choices like the Sheep’s Milk Ricotta with Sea Salt and Extra Olive Oil, Branzino Crudo with Blood Orange and Frisee and Short Rib Ravioli with Sage and Butter.

Acqualina AQ restaurant sunny isles beach

(Photo courtesy of Il Molino New York, Acqualina)

aq chophouse steak

(Photo courtesy of Il Molino New York, Acqualina)

What a view. Breakfast on the AQ Terrace at the Acqualina Resort and Spa. 

breakfast on the patio at Acqualina sunny isles beach

Back in 1920, Sunny Isles Beach (not officially named until 1977) was known as the “Venice of America” due to the waterways that surround the barrier island. With the emergence of the opulent residential high rises and resorts, this oceanfront vista with its stunning turquoise water and sugary white sand beaches rightly deserves the title of the Florida Riviera. In fact, it is ranked number one of the top ten U.S. destinations by TripAdvisor Travelcast.

With plentiful transportation options, a forecast of warm weather and sunshine, extensive dining options and a wealth of activities, Sunny Isles Beach is the ideal vacation spot for individuals, families and couples looking to escape their hectic lifestyle. For more information on all Sunny Isles Beach has to offer, please visit their visitor’s guide. 

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