Miami's club scene is legendary, with partying going to all hours of the morning. If you're planning a big night out, opt for a late dinner to ensure you arrive clubside at a respectable hour. Real Miami nights don't even kick off until well after midnight. When it comes to nightclubs, tourists go for name recognition and big-ticket DJs that pack the house at superclubs such as Mansion and hyperselective lounge lairs à la Mokaï (that said, both spots lure ample local contingents, too). And as a rule, partying in Miami is set to the tune of electronic and dance music rather than that of the live-band variety. You might skip paying the cover charge if you arrive before midnight at the city's more serious nightclubs, but chances are you'll be partying solo.
If you fear South Beach is all supermodels and their hangers-on, think again. An alternative locals scene dominated by Manhattan transplants and European and Latin American expats is found at laid-back bars such as Buck 15, where the crowd opts for jeans and designer sneakers over minis and stilettos. Bella Rose is another experimental indie spot with a legendary Sunday-night party that's a good alternative to Nikki Beach's infamous Sunday-night bash.
Hotels in South Beach and downtown often lure locals, too, and are good bets for sunset cocktails. Plunge, the rooftop bar at Gansevoort South, is fringed with daybeds and cabanas and lays out panoramic views of the city and the beach. The Delano remains perennially popular for mojitos poolside with the requisite Deco facades and swaying palms.