What better way to shop than by the seaside? From high-end retail to boho bargains, there's something for all tastes on Miami Beach's celebrated Lincoln Road
Miami Beach architecture in shopping area Lincoln Road
Lincoln Road is at the heart of Miami Beach. The al fresco mall runs east to west for eight lingering blocks and has been closed to cars for more than five decades. Locals and tourists converge here, sauntering through the lush medians as they shop and dine or simply relax and watch the passersby.
This neighbourhood focal point has experienced various transformations since its creation in the 1920s, with boom and bust episodes alternating throughout the 60s, 80s and 90s, and its current upheaval is no exception. Rents have skyrocketed and pushed out many of the smaller businesses, while mainstream corporations have settled in. It's an age-old tale that continues to evolve, but a few cool places are gracefully hanging on alongside ultra-modern venues that certainly leave an impression.
Herzog & de Meuron's 1111 Lincoln Road car park is a striking addition to the pedestrian promenade's west end. It towers over the intersection of Lincoln and Alton Road with floors of parking spots rising above ground-level giants like Taschen and Nespresso. Two excellent venues can be found within. At level five, the cutting-edge fashion boutique Alchemist sits defiantly behind walls of reflective glass. It's above the bustle, hard to find and extremely high-end. Lauded for its curatorial strengths, Alchemist blends high fashion with art, architecture and design – perfect for the nonconformist who likes starting trends rather than following them. Scared of heights? Fret not. There's a version of the boutique at the bottom of the building.
The Taschen bookstore at Lincoln Road car park
Perched atop the radical building on the opposite side is Juvia. Facing east, towards the ocean, the luxe restaurant's views are unparalleled, and the food is top-notch. Expect a confluence of French, Japanese and Peruvian fare and, again, a lot of visual stimulation.
Golden Bar (1566-1570 Washington Avenue) is just a few strides south of Lincoln Road's main walkway and the minimal effort to get there makes it a must-see on any tour. Savvy shoppers searching for quirky and unique pieces – cushions, assorted furniture, candles, wall ornaments – will feel right at home inside the shabby-chic space. Look out for a glowing Buddha for your desk, a grab-and-go version of Jeff Koons' Balloon Dog with its signature Mylar gleam, and a thoughtful collection of uncommon coffee-table books, as well as rare incense, crystal-centric jewellery and handmade soaps. The instant you enter, you know you're in an independently owned boutique, where bohemian charm and good taste meet. What's more, Golden Bar's women's and menswear in the shop next door is brimming with the same ethereal vibe.
Fancy a quick pick-me-up? For nearly 30 years, Frieze (1626 Michigan Avenue) has supplied South Beach with its sugar kicks. The ice-cream and sorbet shop, a tiny gem hidden half a block south of Lincoln Road, has survived every possible shift in the community's social structure, including all corporate coups. Its dashing Art Deco-inspired logo is a nod to 1920s Miami Beach, the glitzy era that saw the creation of Lincoln Road. Popular flavours (all-natural and kosher), such as Indian mango, lychee, champagne and dulce de leche, echo the tropical flair of the neighbourhood and are made fresh daily.
The Alchemist fashion boutique
Back on the shopping trail, edgy London transplant AllSaints Spitalfields (910 Lincoln Road) sits grandly in a historic 1929 building near the middle of Lincoln Road's wingspan. Its unmistakable style within evokes an amalgam of hip rocker and modern-day beatnik. While leather biker jackets aren't necessarily a good fit for Miami's steamy temperatures, the store offers plenty of alternative on-trend looks for men and women. The recurring colour theme – brooding grays and blacks shot through with understated tropical hues – is a nod to the two cities. AllSaints' durable leather pieces, including handbags, boots and shoes, are worth the visit alone.
Finally, for an intense and worthwhile dose of art, head for the ArtCenter/South Florida (924 Lincoln Road), an incubator for local artists to work on their craft in an affordable studio setting. Resident artists regularly exhibit in the Project 924 gallery space and open their studios to the public for viewings and conversation. Their innovative spirit is nurtured through ongoing ArtCenter programmes, with master teachers, curators and alumni accelerating growth and exploration. The community is welcome to join many of the classes, which often serve as a direct link to local creatives. By stepping in, you'll see first-hand what's new on Miami's contemporary art scene.
SoBe, 2015, by Heloise Botelho at the ArtCenter/South Florida
Whatever you choose to do and see on Lincoln Road, end your day on the calming waterfront of Biscayne Bay at one of Mandarin Oriental, Miami's renowned restaurants. La Mar by Gastón Acurio serves up mouthwatering Peruvian dishes, while Azul offers delicious modern Asian.