Armand Van Helden's Guide To Miami 2016

To celebrate the coming release of Miami Sessions 2016, we got AVH to tell us what's good in his adopted hood.

In aid of Miami Sessions 2016, Armand Van Helden gives us the lowdown on where to go and what to see in his adopted city

It's almost that time of the year again, the time when everyone in Britain gets well jel over those lucky Americans and their annual ironically-titled celebration of dance music, palm trees and pool parties. Yes in just a few short weeks, Miami Winter Music Conference will once again be taking over the hotels, beaches and rooftops of Florida's most infamous city.

Tony Montana's home town will once again see the DJ glitterati jet in from around the world for a week of playing music, partying and 'meetings'. The DJs won't be partying it up on their own though, as every dance fan in America will be snapping up Air BnB's from South Beach to Bayfront.

Miami is one of the most exciting cities in the world and it's never more vibrant than during music week, but with literally hundreds of parties taking place, and a million other things to see and do, it can all get a little bit overwhelming.

Luckily we're a pretty connected bunch and we've roped in our buddy and recent Masterpiece mixer, Armand Van Helden, to talk us through the best things to see and do in his adopted city.

The Best Place to Stay

The key thing is that Miami beach has a West side and an East side. The Eastside is on the Atlantic Ocean. The Westside is on the bay. For me personally, I love the ocean. I’d rather look at the waves and the aquamarine water, than the bay. The bay’s pretty and it has beautiful sunsets, but to me you can see a bay anywhere, I want to see the Atlantic Ocean. So you want to stay on the Eastside and really any hotel there is good. The Edition has great food, but there’s so many along there, any of them are good.

The Best Way to Spend an Afternoon

I think a big thing that you should look into is they have these bikes out here called Deco Bikes. Everywhere there are these bike racks, they’re spread all over South Beach. You put your credit card in and it’s maybe like eight bucks for 24 hours. One of the best things you can do out here is to get one of those and cycle down the boardwalk on the Atlantic side. It’s a great bike ride and I do it all the time.

Miami Beach Boardwalk

The Best Place to Hangout

There’s a bar down at the bottom of south beach. It’s a sort of tiki bar, they play yacht rock and a bunch of other underground music. It’s kinda like a hang. There are pool tables and sometimes there’s a band on. It’s just a good place to go for an ice-cold beer.

The Best Place to Eat

There are a lot of good restaurants. Miami has really upped its restaurant game. There’s a spot called Cleo on 18th street. It’s kind of mixed Mediterranean style. There’s a restaurant in the Edition called the Matador. It’s a Jean George restaurant, he does The Kitchen in New York and it’s one of my favourite restaurants. He kind of repeats the plates in Matador. There’s another place called The Forge, it’s a real eating experience. These are all quite high-end spots. I can’t really talk about any of the hood spots, because I’m a vegetarian and they’re always pretty pork heavy. 

The Best Places to Pre-Drink

There’s this amazing part of Miami that tourists probably don’t know about called Wynwood. It’s about a ten minute drive from South Beach. There’s a ton of street art everywhere, it’s a super colourful place with great little shops and art galleries. When I tend to go out, that’s where I go. I don’t really want to be in the high-end. I mean I eat high-end, but I don’t like to hangout with high-end people. Wynwood is more my speed, it’s more starving artist. The have eclectic music and various craft beers, it’s a real interesting place. The two I like are Gramps and Wood. They’re mostly outside and everyday they do different events.

Something called The Wynwood Art Walk

The Best Place to Go Clubbing

There are plenty of nightclubs here. Miami Beach is known for its nightlife and they all go to the break of dawn. Some clubs don’t close at all. Like Club Eleven – which I have never been to – it doesn’t close at all. I think it opens on Friday and it closes on Sunday. It’s a full on club with strippers and it’s all crazy, it’s a huge space. I’ve been in there in the 90s when it was just a strip club, but not since it’s been a nightclub. And of course there’s Space and tonnes of others. It’s basically a pretty easy bet on Miami Beach, you can stumble into any nightclub and it’s usually pretty chaotic.

Inside Club Eleven

The Best Place to Watch the Sun Come Up

Oh that’s easy. The Atlantic side of Miami Beach. I think the most amazing sunrises I’ve ever seen are here. If there’s a ripple of clouds, get ready for a show. It’s just that perfect sunrise, it hits the clouds and it looks like a watercolour. Anywhere on the Eastside is the place to see it. Just go over there, look East and get ready.

The Best Place to Go / Thing to Do to Cure Your Hangover

I’m a big fan of coconut water. This is a good one. There are these guys on the boardwalk in South Beach with shopping carts. They knock down the coconuts off the palms. They crack them open with a machete, stick a straw in it then sell it for like five bucks. You’re walking around with an entire coconut and a straw. I don’t know if they’re allowed to do it, but nobody stops them.

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Written by Matthew Francey

23 Feb 2016