24 Hours In: Miami

It's a non-stop party in Florida's buzzing city. You could spend all day just people-watching, but there's great restaurants, bars and shopping, too. Or just chill out
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The Independent Travel

1 Breakfast on the run

08.00: Pull back the curtains in your suite at The Setai, at 2001 Collins Avenue (00 1 305 520 6000; setai.com), marvel at the view of South Beach's pastel-coloured hotels and their still-empty pools and then get your running shoes on. If you want to go for a jog along the beach, this is the perfect time - any later and you will melt. From The Setai it's about a 25-minute dash to the breakwater at the southern end of the beach and, along the way, you will pass the keenies exercising. One problem: you've got to run all the way back again.

2 Read all about it - back home

09.30: The Setai makes the perfect breakfast, but you should also consider a trip to the News Café at 800 Ocean Drive at 8th Street (00 1 305 538 6397; newscafe.com) which has been a South Beach institution ever since 1988. Buy the international press and read about how people are suffering in the cold back home and order a full-on breakfast feast - they do great French toast - to be downed at one of the outdoor tables.

3 Search out the bargains

10.30: Miami is not the best US shopping city. There are some good malls where you can stock up on Banana Republic and Abercrombie & Fitch clothes that are not sold in the UK. Aventura, at 19501 Biscayne Boulevard (shopaventuramall.com), a 30-minute drive from South Beach, has everything, although it can be a shock, swapping the beautiful people of Ocean Drive for a world of mall rats. But your best bet is just to walk to Lincoln Road, which has chains and independent boutiques. There are even some second-hand clothes here - check out the Fly Boutique, at 650 Lincoln Road (00 1 305 604 8508).

4 Eat sea food with a sea view

12.00: You have got so many lunch options. You could stay in Lincoln Road at one of the outdoor cafés, but an ocean view would be better. Gay visitors might want to try the Palace Bar & Grill, at 1200 Ocean Drive, which is just by the gay beach at 12th Street. Always packed with buffed boys, it serves a good lunch and is also recommended at sundown for amazing views, and the ocean doesn't look bad either. But we recommend you head to restaurant Victor, at the hotel of the same name, 1144 Ocean Drive (00 1 305 779 8888; hotel victorsouthbeach.com), track down the superstar waiter Eric and get him to take you on a culinary tour through the menu.

5 Have designs on the beach

14.00: Miami is fast becoming an art capital. This newly acquired status is mainly due to the annual Art Basel Miami Beach (00 1 305 674 1292; artbaselmiamibeach.com), which this year runs from 1 to 4 December. An offshoot of the prestigious Art Basel Switzerland, it's an excuse for a lot of great parties and high-calibre art shows. You should take some time to visit the galleries in the up and coming Design District or check out the shows at the Wolfsonian at 1001 Washington Avenue, South Beach (00 1 305 531 1001; wolfsonian.org).

6 Time to relax and chill out

16.00: That's enough of the culture. With the sun finally losing its ferocity, take time to relax on the beach or, if your hotel has a cool pool - The Shore Club (00 1 877 640 9500, shoreclub.com); Delano (00 1 800 555 5001, delano-hotel.com); Raleigh (00 1 305 534 6300, raleighhotel.com); and Setai all have amazing ones - head back for a bit of R&R. Most of the hotels play chill-out music at this magical time of day.

7 Sundowners and pick-ups

18.00: Fancy a sundowner or three? Nicky's Beach Bar, at 1 Ocean Drive, is where the party starts. Models, musicians and playboys head here to listen to Balearic music and to give each other the eye.

8 Crustaceans and bubbly

20.00: If you are feeling really peckish, have some oysters and champagne at The Setai's crustacean bar, before heading to Casa Tua (00 1 305 673 1010; casatualifestyle.com) for a gourmet Italian experience. And, no, you can't wear your flip-flops, this is an A-list venue where the wealthy residents of Miami come to eat exquisite pasta and chew the fat with the owner, Michele Grendene.

9 Tank up for the club scene

22.00: If you want a nightcap, or some rocket fuel to send you on your way to a club, the most stylish place to visit is the bar in Ian Schrager's Delano Hotel. This minimalist masterpiece always impresses. Just walking through the giant white billowing curtain that hangs over the door makes you feel excited.

10 Dance the night away

24.00: The coolest nightclub on South Beach is Mansion, at 1235 Washington Avenue (00 1 305 531 5535, mansionmiami .com) which seems to attract more than its fair share of sexy people. But then, I am afraid, it will be time for bed.

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