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Alternative Art Basel Miami: districts you need to see

The main convention centre might be in South Beach, but Art Basel Miami Beach sees “mainland” districts blossom as fringe shows. The Miami Design District and Wynwood are arty alternatives to the main event, packed with art tents, temporary galleries and pop-up stores. If you’re on the hunt for edgy exhibitors or just want to sample Miami’s coolest quarters, these are your neighbourhoods.

Miami Design District

Where is it?

Miami Design District is roughly bound by North 43rd Street and North 36th Street (US 27) to the north and south, and by North West 1st Avenue and Biscayne Boulevard west and east. From central South Beach, the distance is just under seven miles.
Why go?

Think of it as Miami’s answer to SoHo in New York: a former ‘no go’ quarter of derelict warehouses that has been polished into an epicentre of design. Within a few blocks are names like Louis Vuitton, Hermès, Céline and Cartier, high-end interior design outlets and stylish neighbourhood restaurants. Start at the junction of North East 40th Street and North East 2nd Avenue and explore.
Who’s there?

South Beach escapees, interior designers, ladies who lunch.
Any art?

There are over 130 galleries in Miami Design District; from hip contemporary commercial spaces to non-profit galleries (see the district’s website below). One of the best is De La Cruz Contemporary Art Space – during Art Basel it has an exhibition of international artists who redefined post-war art movements, including New Abstraction and Figurative Painting.
Where should I eat?

The restaurant that launched Miami’s farm-to-table movement, Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, looks better than ever after renovation in October. Yet the table of the moment is Michael Schwarz’s other destination dining venue, The Cypress Room, a blend of French-influenced American cuisine (the lamb tartare with quail egg is famous) and elegant eclectic decor. Otherwise, smart-casual The District offers the Pan-American fusion dishes of chef Horacio Rivadero, one of the brightest young talents in the Gulf.

Wynwood

Where is it?

Wynwood is roughly framed north-south by I-195 and North 20th, and west-east by I-95 and Biscayne Boulevard. The Wynwood Art District centres around the intersections of North 26th and 25th with spine street 2nd Avenue. The distance from central South Beach is around eight miles.
Why go?

If the Design District has the prestige, Wynwood just south is winning the plaudits at the moment. On the back of its colonisation by artists in search of cheap studio space ten years ago, this former Puerto Rican neighbourhood has gentrified into Miami’s hippest zipcode; a little rough at the edges, but always creative. Expect edgy boutiques, an eclectic quota of laid-back restaurants, cafes and bars, and an atmosphere fizzing with brash creativity.
Who’s there?

Older Hispanic residents, fashionistas, young hipsters.
Any art?

Many art buyers come to Miami solely for Wynwood’s fringe art fairs – you could lose three days here without getting close to Art Basel on South Beach. Art Miami, the original Miami art fair, celebrates 25 years this year with a show of leading international contemporary and modern art in its pavilion on North East 1st Avenue. Sister show Context showcases emerging names. Other interesting art fairs in Wynwood during Art Basel include Miami Project, Spectrum, Latin American-focused Pinta and Red Dot. And if you’ve still time visit the Wynwood Walls, one of the world’s largest and most prestigious galleries of street art at the centre of the art district.
Where should I eat?

The hottest launch in Wynwood in 2014, Shikany offers sleek style in a restored warehouse plus innovative fine dining without any of the accompanying fuss. Or one of the neighbourhood’s original scene eateries, Wynwood Kitchen & Bar (aka ‘WKB’), is still packing ’em in thanks to the innovative Latin tasting plates of chef Miguel Aguilar, all served against the backdrop of brilliant street art.

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