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The Mechanics of Bar Hopping in Miami

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The Mechanics of Bar Hopping in Miami
 
By Nick Jurkowski
 
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Bar hopping can be a zesty, fulfilling experience. It can also be a terrifying exercise in drunken futility where everything falls apart and nothing is as it seems. How does one string together a variety of enjoyable institutions to patronize in a town with as much nightlife as Miami? As always, proper planning is key. Make sure you know what districts you want to visit, how to get there, and how (if applicable) you are getting back. For starters, lets take a closer look at the parts of Miami you will want to see in your alcohol-fueled frenzy.
 
Each Miami neighborhood is like a little city unto itself, and it is important to know something about them (making sure your papers are in order) before you head off, lest you be detained at the border and forced to sit in an empty bar in Coral Gables at 8pm with nowhere to go, your dreams of a fantastic night on Miami turning to bitter ashes in your mouth. What kind of evening are you looking for? Here’s a survey of neighborhoods and some of their characteristics:
 
* A nice place to start the evening (or end it, if it is to your tastes) might be Coconut Grove. The Atmosphere is a little bit more laid back then the more hardcore locations like South Beach. The bars and clubs there feel a bit more like the halcyon college days of light-hearted hedonism then places on Miami Beach, which generally cater to an upwardly mobile, affluent, Epicurean crowd. Places like Quench and The Tavern in the Grove are nice places to start.
 
* A short jaunt on the Metrorail system (or Bayshore Drive) brings you to downtown Miami. The partying scene here is certainly amped up when compared to a place like Coconut Grove, but it doesn’t quite reach the epic proportions it does on Miami Beach. It is a nice intermediate destination if you are planning on heading to Miami Beach, and a great ending destination if you are planning on making an early night of it. The proximity of highways and public transportation makes it quite easy to get to and from the downtown area, so transportation shouldn’t be a headache. Check out Noir Bar.
 
* Last up, Miami Beach. In particular, South Beach. This island has a well-deserved reputation as a Mecca of partygoers, and is ruled by a shadowy “party-warlord” whom no one can remember ever seeing. Though that last sentence was false (as far as you know), this powder keg of an island still represents a bit of an enigma. Things really only start to pick up around 11pm, so if you show up too much earlier, be prepared for some empty space. However, if you wait to late, you will never find a parking spot, as the entire island fills up very fast. Showing up early is also advantageous for getting into the clubs, as both bars and nightclubs often only start charging a cover after the parties start to pick up. Hence the enigma: you go there because it’s crowded and fun, but you can’t get in anywhere because it’s crowded and fun. Since the Metrorail system doesn’t go out to the islands, you might consider taking a cab or (if you are feeling adventurous and have a few friends) renting a limo from a place like Millenium Limo. To minimize the cost, you could set it up so the limo only comes to get you once you are ready to go to Miami Beach, so you don’t have to pay for it while you patronize the more easily accessed establishments. There are more clubs and bars in Miami Beach than can be described here. Just keep your eyes open – you know what kind of scene you like, and it’s pretty easy to see the nature of a place by what the lineup outside the establishment looks like (and whether or not there is such a line).
 
One last tip for those of you who prefer an honest bar to the nightclub scene: The upscale hotels throughout Miami generally invest quite a bit on their bars, making them fantastic locations for the consummate drinker to hole up in. Places like Raleigh Bar at the Raleigh Hotel and the Metro Kitchen + Bar at the Hotel Astor might be more to your taste then the clubs. Scout out a few during the day and take note.
 
Now that you know about some of the different parts of Miami, it should be easy to formulate a plan, pick out some places, and go. If you have solid transportation and no what you like, there’s plenty of room for improvisation, and you are bound to come away from the evening with only a headache and memories that are sketchy at best. Happy travels, and happy eating/drinking/dancing/debauchery.
 
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