we said...
our places to see (and maybe be seen) in miami

the clay hotel & hostel
, inexpensive, (305) 534-2988. it takes a village. at least that's the feeling you get at this friendly spanish-style complex that welcomes students, families, and anyone else looking to save a buck. there are shared dorm rooms, but larger private ones with baths, too, all of which are smack-dab in the heart of south beach.

the hotel chelsea, moderate, (305) 534-4069. this affordable art deco retreat features mood lighting, crisp linens, bamboo floors, and feng shui styling. extras include gym passes, free drinks from seven to eight p.m., and vip passes to the neighborhood's hottest clubs.

island's café
, moderate, (305) 867-8883. dine here, and you may just be sampling the handiwork of the next allen susser or douglas rodriguez. that's because island's kitchen serves as the hands-on classroom of a nearby culinary college, whose students whip up an array of dishes that are almost always appetizing and adventurous.

miami jai-alai courtview club, moderate, (305) 633-6400. this snazzy steak-and-seafood spot (with a couple of cuban dishes thrown in for good measure) overlooks the jai alai courts, so between bites you can place your bets on the next match and cheer on your favorite players. and also be thankful that’s not you dodging those speeding pelotas.

rubell family collection
, (305) 573-6090. the rubells may be hoteliers by trade, but they have a knack and a passion for art, as well, and they’re willing to share it. their collection, housed in a former dea warehouse, includes the tried and true, like keith haring and cindy sherman, as well as budding local talents. note: subject matter can be explicit; think twice before you take the kiddos there.

alf’s golf shop
, (305) 673-6568. whether you’re headed for the micromanicured courses at the doral golf resort & spa or the bayfront crandon park muni, head here first for the latest gear and goodies to make your game look good. the staff is first-rate and offers discounts to many of the local links.

el credito cigar factory, (305) 285-9154. inside this shoebox-size storefront in little havana, veteran rollers prepare the ever-popular torpedo and other highly rated blends. got a light?