- One must be a fox in order to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten off wolves. Machiavelli Niccolo
Visit Bal Harbour
Known for its centerpiece of Bal Harbour Shops, this famously snooty town is a narrow slip of land sandwiched between Surfside and Haulover beaches, with water on the east and west. That makes the property here very exclusive, with private homes and condos running into the stratosphere that only the very wealthy can afford, and shops and restaurants reacting accordingly.
See & Do
The beach in Bal Harbour is difficult to access--it's "private," meaning residents get to it through the club and travelers through their hotels--but worth a visit for the calm surf and wide layout. For more action, head one mile north to the Bill Bird Marina Marina at Haulover Beach Park, where the largest cache of charter fishing boats in Miami awaits customers who want to make a day of it.
Haulover Beach Park, nested between the Intracoastal and the Atlantic, gets a lot of play because a portion of the one-and-a-half miles of beaches here is the only nude beach in Miami, which contrasts sharply with well-to-do Bal Harbour. But if you turn left, there's the well-known kite-flying stand, Skyward Kites, that's been operating for eighteen years, running workshops, birthday parties and other events for enthusiasts. It's an odd juxtaposition, but that's Miami for you.
Bal Harbourites don't appreciate fast food--in fact, you won't find a single fast-food joint in the entire town--but they do love them their Carpaccio. You'll find this Italian restaurant, located in Bal Harbour Shops, packed 24/7, and that'll be the first recommendation to escape any resident's lips as well. But don't let other Bal Harbour Shops establishments escape your notice: Brasserie La Goulue serves up some stunning French fare, and Makoto matches Nobu for high-end Japanese. In One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa and The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, both signature house restaurants are main attractions, but none more so than J&G Grill, the Miami outpost of master chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten.
Not exactly a late-night kind of town, Bal Harbour nonetheless does have some offerings for the owl, as well as his or her pussycats. Drinks are always being poured at Carpaccios and Makoto in Bal Harbour Shops, and at the lobby bar in the The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort, you can catch live music in the evenings along with some freshly shaken martinis.
The hotels in Bal Harbour, standing sentinel on the eastern border of the town (private homes rim the northwestern portion), are intermixed with condos. Each is more stylish than the next, though they tend to be, on the whole, only quietly flamboyant. That means in places such as One Bal Harbour Resort & Spa and The St. Regis Bal Harbour Resort you should expect only to be ridiculously pampered rather than outrageously.
Glamorous, exotic and sultry--it sounds more like a model than a mall. But Bal Harbour Shops, with its collection of Prada, Hermes, Versace, Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Chanel (the list of enviable goods goes on and on), really is an elegant place to shop, whether your intentions are to browse or buy. Celebs agree--sports and hip-hop personalities are often spied here, enjoying the boutiques and restaurants as well as the open-air corridors, decked out in tropical foliage, that refresh flagging energy.