With ideal January weather and a legendary party scene, Miami could be the perfect Super Bowl city, says Jason Taylor, a retired Miami Dolphin, and Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee.
The former defensive end, who has lived in South Florida for more than 20 years, says visitors coming for the big game won’t want to leave.
“For a city that’s not very old, it has great history and culture. There are so many beautiful buildings. And in January, it’s 80 degrees outside.” He shares some Miami area favorites.
Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino
Anchored by a guitar-shaped hotel, this resort casino has recently reinvented itself with a $1.5 billion re-do. It has high-end shops and great restaurants, including Kuro, one of Taylor’s favorite spots for sushi. “It’s like having a piece of Vegas right here in Fort Lauderdale and Miami.”
More information: seminolehardrockhollywood.com/
Smoke on the Water Cigar Bar
Although an admittedly biased partial owner, Taylor says this 6,000-square-foot shop has the best selection of cigars in the country. It has been honored by Cigar Aficionado magazine and offers a full bar. “We’ve got tens of thousands of cigars. If you like spirits and cigars, it’s absolutely a place you’ve got to visit.”
More information: smokeweston.com
It may be a steakhouse, but Taylor says a top reason to visit this celeb hangout is its famous bar snack. “Instead of giving out peanuts or some BS, they give out bacon. It kind of sits in a tall wine glass.” But, he cautions, it may be hard to get a seat during Super Bowl week. “If you come at 11 p.m., it’s still bustling, and people are waiting. It’s a hotspot.”
More information: mylesrestaurantgroup.com/prime-112/
Joe’s Stone Crab
This South Beach institution made the stone crab famous, introducing many to its rich, lobster-like taste. And while wildly popular, it’s still a must-visit, Taylor says. Making things even better, the Super Bowl overlaps with stone crab season. “It’s the perfect timing, and it’s worth the wait.”
More information: joesstonecrab.com
Located about just outside the heart of South Beach, this small modern Spanish-style hotel offers an escape from the craziness of the famed nightlife district. “It’s got amazing views and an amazing restaurant. But it’s not stuffy at all. It’s relaxed and chill, says Taylor. “I’m getting married there in a couple of months.”
More information: faena.com/miami-beach/
No visit to Miami is complete with a stop in Little Havana, and that requires a stop by the Cuban neighborhood’s unofficial headquarters, Café Versailles. “You get a taste of Cuban food and culture,” says Taylor. “Make sure you order a cafecito (Cuban coffee) and you’ll be up all night for the Miami nightlife,” he says.
More information: versaillesrestaurant.com
In the past decade, this once run-down warehouse district has become an epicenter of Miami’s thriving arts scene. Much of the appeal lies in its extensive murals, painted by local and international artists. “It’s the mecca of Miami art,” Taylor says. Even the Hard Rock Stadium, which hosts the Super Bowl, features Wynwood-curated works. “You must go by and check it out. There are restaurants and bars and speakeasies, and great cafes and shopping. It’s great for hipsters and great for older people and younger people. It’s a good time.”
More information: thewynwoodwalls.com
The celebrated restaurant group does Miami proud with its glitzy South Beach outpost. The restaurant lives up to the hype, Taylor says. “It’s the best sushi you’re going to get anywhere in the world. The chef does a great job on creating the presentation. It’s phenomenal.”
More information: noburestaurants.com/miami/home/
Fort Lauderdale, Florida
While Taylor loves his seafood, he also has a weakness for a great steak. This spot in the W Hotel, which takes its name from the local telephone area code, is a favorite. Part of it is the atmosphere, with patio seating overlooking the Atlantic. And inside, a giant aquarium with jellyfish serves as the centerpiece of the dining room. “It’s pretty much a regular for us,” he says.
More information: steak954.com
Billy’s Stone Crab
During the October-through-May stone crab season, it’s worth ordering the crustacean every time, Taylor says. This waterfront location near Fort Lauderdale has its own dock for visitors arriving by boat. “Everything’s good: fish, steaks, raw bar, and the stone crab. It doesn’t get any fresher.”
More information: crabs.com