Coming to Miami for New Year’s is not for the faint of heart. It revs up strongly with party-goers from all over the world. You can feel the energy in the air. No matter when you visit, I have two pieces of advice. First of all, plan in advance for dining, as the restaurant scene heats up all year round. Second, decide if you want to stay in a large resort away from the action, in town amidst it all, or bayside near it.
Some of the newer restaurant spots worth trying are Hakkasan and Scarpetta, both at the famed Fontainebleau hotel. The hotel, while a bit Vegas-like, can't help but impress with its grandness. Red (redthesteakhouse.com) in the South of Fifth district is great for amazing meat. Expect deluxe prices but those three are worth it, in a town awash in overpriced, overdesigned dining digs.
Some older but very good spots I like include Prime 112 on Ocean Drive, Casa Tua (www.casatualifestyle.com) in a lovely mansion, and Meat Market (www.meatmarketmiami.com) on Lincoln. While those are all pricey but worth it, for more modest and good fare try Grillfish (www.grillfish.com) or Da Leo (on Lincoln; www.daleotrattoria.com). Alternatively, hit Espanola Way for lots of inexpensive options. If you are downtown, stop by CVI.CHE 105 (www.ceviche105.com) for authentic, outstanding, and moderately-priced Peruvian food. It's not famous like the other restaurants mentioned here, but I like it as a locals hangout.
The talk of the town these days though for once is not all about eating, real estate, and hotels. Rather, Miami is becoming quite a cultural and art mecca. A new Miami Art Museum is set to open in 2013 and the Miami Design District has only grown more impressive each year.
Finally, some must stops while on vacation: the new W Hotel (they did this one right; www.wsouthbeach.com), The Raleigh (a great hotel option that gets it all right, located on the beach), and do try sunset drinks at The Mondrian South Beach.
For more trip-planning information, see our Miami Travel Guide.