See

South Beach definitely lives up to its billing as one of the best beaches in the country. Many of the waterfront hotels have private swaths of sand, but there is plenty of public access, complete with changing rooms. Most of the Miami Beach area is easily accessible by bike or foot. Parking is a nightmare anyway, though the city recently approved hybrid-only spaces and lot discounts in public garages. Lincoln Road, a seven block pedestrian mall is filled with cafes, high-end and vintage shops and a farmer’s market every Sunday. Buses run regularly and the city just announced the purchase of 39 hybrid buses this year. While in Miami proper, the Metrorail can get you to most major attractions, including Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, the landmark estate of agricultural industrialist James Deering.

Stay

The Standard, Miami is still reasonably new but feels like an old friend. Located on the bay—and removed from the spectacle of South Beach — André Balasz’s update of the old Lido Spa Hotel features lush greenery, chic rooms and the best pool area in Miami. The Standard also hosts the Center for Integral Living, a series of classes, workshops and retreats focusing on health, spirituality and ecology; and Integral Thursdays are weekly events for green activists with screenings, lectures and down-tempo beats. The Standard can suck you in for days, so if you need a break, rent a bike from the front desk and you’re at Lincoln Road in five minutes.

Taste

The famous Joe’s Stone Crab is the destination if you love crustaceans. The harvesting of stone crab claws is fairly sustainable because only one limb can be removed before the crab is sent back into the sea, where it regenerates another. Joe’s also serves the best key lime pie in the city. A less-touristy option is Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, a mostly-organic gem in the burgeoning Design District with an eclectic menu that draws heavily from local farmers. The chef, Michael Schwartz, also organizes Dinner in Paradise, a monthly supper that benefits community tree-planting organization Treemendous Miami. Dinner is $150 per head but includes six farm-fresh courses, paired wine and a farm tour.

Buy

Rag Trade Happy Clothing Co. is a great place to recycle your wardrobe. They’ll trade you “new” vintage and brand-new apparel for your old clothes. Price tags are made from recycled party flyers, and the store stocks work from local designers like So-Me, Eco-Chic and Green Tees. Designed by Olin McKenzie, the artist behind the cult T-shirt line Momimomi, Green Tees are made from organic cotton and bamboo and feature sly environmental graphics with slogans like “Where Have All the Bees Gone?” For a different kind of retail therapy, cool your heels at Uhma Spa & Shop, the first green spa in Miami. Built with natural, sustainable materials, this relaxing sanctuary uses only organic and cruelty-free products (also for sale), and the treatments meld contemporary techniques with ancient practices from around the globe. Wherever you end up in Miami, be sure to leave small footprints. 

Story by Andrew Paine Bradbury. This article originally appeared in Plenty in April 2008.

Copyright Environ Press 2008