A First-Timer's Guide to Miami Art Week


December 17, 2019

I wasn't able to do a big intercontinental vacation this year, so my lady and I took an easier trip to Miami for art week, which consists of many art fairs, exhibitions, parties, and related events. We developed a rough itinerary with Mary leading on food and me on art, but kept it fairly flexible. Here's how it worked out.


  • ✈️
    Miami International Airport (MIA) - Our delayed red-eye got us in at 8am, so we had a full first day. A Lyft to South Beach from the airport doesn't take too long.
  • 🏨
    Lennox Hotel Miami Beach - A brand-new small boutique hotel right by the convention center. It's a cool hotel and the staff is great, but lots of street noise makes it tough to recommend. However they did give us a ridiculously-early check-in which allowed for a much-needed day-one nap.
  • 🇨🇺
    Moreno's Cuba - The outdoor seating and a tropical Cuban vibe were a great intro to the city, and the cubano was pretty good.
  • 🖼
    INK Art Fair - This fair wasn't on our itinerary but it was in a hotel literally next door to ours. It's focused on prints and multiples from many presses and galleries. I was very attracted to the James Siena pieces produced by Flying Horse Editions and the crazy things that Mixografia produce that stretch the definition of "print".
  • 🛍
    KITH MIA - Also right by the hotel, we dropped into the very hypebeast-y boutique featuring Kith's own brand and lots of other hits. I resisted buying yet more CDG Play stuff.
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    Kith Treats - And of course we got trapped by the adjacent ice cream shop, featuring soft-serve creations supposedly-designed by the likes of Virgil Abloh and Daniel Arsham.
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    Miami Beach - We took a long walk on the beach to the fairs which are in giant tents right by the sand. There weren't many folks hanging out, probably because 70° is considered cold in Miami.
  • 🖼
    UNTITLED. Art Fair - We'd been to the SF edition of UNTITLED a couple of times, so this was a pretty familiar browse. The highlight was Bitform's presentation of Daniel Rozin's interactive RGB Peg Mirror.
  • 🦀
    Joe's Stone Crab - We hiked down to this iconic see-and-be-seen spot that's been around since 1913. Dinner was stone crab claws and king crab legs while eavesdropping on conversations about art deals and the week's afterparties. Don't forget the very legit key lime pie.


  • 🥐
    Rosetta Bakery - We didn't have a solid breakfast plan but discovered Rosetta right up the street. It turns out to be a Miami staple with a bunch of locations, including right in the heart of the main fair.
  • 🖼
    Art Basel - Obviously the biggest of the fairs, with 270 galleries showing. This is where the banana was, though we somehow didn't see it. I was most excited to check out the "Meridians" section, which was a seperate floor of monumental-scale pieces that don't fit in a typical gallery, but ended up being not that into it. If I went back I'd develop more of a hit list of galleries rather than attempting to browse everything.
  • 🪑
    Design Miami - A much smaller fair next door, with access included in the Basel ticket. It features artistic interpretations of furniture, lighting, and other products largely for the home. Highlights included the Daniel Arsham room and the Louis Vuitton collection. We spent a lot of time debating the purchase of a special-edition Rihanna book that wouldn't be released until the following week.


  • 🍽
    Upland - We were definitely hungry after the long day and had no trouble sharing five courses at this Italy-by-way-of-California spot. The margherita pizza and the duck breast were highlights.
  • 🎳
    Basement - Definitely the celebrity party hotspot (Britney Spears was there on Monday), and probably the only club featuring a mini bowling alley and ice skating rink. We were definitely the first people there when we showed up around 10p, and while bowling would've been fun, we weren't up for the $500 bottle service minimum.
  • ☕️
    All Day - A very cute third-wave coffee place near the mainland fairs and not much else, with the menu as one of many pages in a self-published zine. Pourovers and avo-toast? Check.
  • 🖼
    Art Miami - Probably the second-ranked fair in the city. It's more contemporary, more accessible, and easier to navigate than Basel.
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    Art Miami CONTEXT - A sister fair to Art Miami and included with the ticket, this one is focused more on emerging and smaller artists. More galleries actually have posted prices in the realm of affordability. I very nearly purchased a ceramic piece by Addfuel, and Mary was tempted by an Jade Rude mirror.
  • 🎉
    The Wynwood Walls - With time to kill before dinner, we made our way over to Wynwood, which is covered in street art murals and was having a pretty crazy multi-block party with competing stages. We got trapped for a bit at Levi's Haus, which is one of the more impressive experiential retail spaces I've encountered.


  • 🍽
    Alter - Definitely a fine-dining tasting-menu experience, but with a very casual vibe and flexible menu. If your tasting consisted of several rounds of the "soft egg", no one could blame you.
  • ☕️
    ella - Another cute cafe for breakfast with a pretty great french toast. It faces what is essentially a shopping center courtyard which was hosting a very well-attended 10am outdoor yoga session as we ate. It was strange.
  • 🛍
    Miami Design District - I didn't actually realize the "Design District" was a giant luxury mall, but I don't mind that. We didn't shop too much, but did spend a while at the Dior × Rimowa popup.
  • 🤳
    Institute of Contemporary Art - Part of how I tricked Mary into coming along was the plan to see our first Kusama Infinity Room at ICA. It's in a separate space from the main galleries with timed tickets and didn't disappoint. ICA itself was doing a big Sterling Ruby exhibit, but his work doesn't really turn me on.
  • 🖼
    The Moore Building - Gagosian had taken over this event space to put on The Extreme Present, with four floors of works commenting on how humanity is pretty much ruining everything. It was more fun than it sounds.
  • 🥪
    Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop - Our first mistake was trying to walk here from the Design District — Miami is just not a walking city. Our second mistake was maybe ordering the wrong thing. The cuban and steak sandwiches didn't really excite, though the place was rammed full of locals and fans. Clearly we were doing it wrong?
  • 🏛
    Rubell Museum - I didn't think we'd have time to make it to new museum that had just opened a few days prior, but I'm so glad we did. Mary got more Kusama infinity rooms among the giant Keith Haring and Koons pieces. The outdoor cafe was a nice spot to chill for a bit before the long journey home.
  • 🥪
    La Sandwicherie - Thanks to the gallerist at the Bitforms booth for telling us about this local favorite, which was a mobbed takeout window for French-style sandwiches. We took them with us to the airport as a gate snack while we waited for our delayed flight to get going.

But was it any fun?

Certainly no regrets, and everything pretty much worked out. Wednesday-Saturday were good days to be there, as Wednesday is when the VIP previews transition into access for the general riff-raff like myself. If we'd stayed until Sunday we could have made it to some of what we missed, like NADA, Scope, Pulse, Aqua and The Bass, but honestly I was pooped after four days.

After having been a part of many trade shows in my career, it was weird to pay to go to an industry event that wasn't technically in my field, and that I wasn't working at. The cost of tickets to everything definitely added up, and there was an intentional divide between the collectors/VIPs and the specators like us. I guess I'll have to get going on some art projects open that gallery that I keep thinking about.