(CNN) — It's always some version of summer in Miami, and there's never been a better time to visit the gateway to the Caribbean and South America than right now.
A thriving art scene, an ever-changing culinary landscape and, of course, the beach, bay and hotel pools combine to make an irresistible destination for all ages. Here are the latest travel highlights to add to your Miami to-do list.
Beach and beyond
Miami Beach is home to the most famous stretch of coastline in Florida, as well as some of the city's best hotels and nightlife.
For quieter nights, look at the growing number of options in Mid-Beach (between 23rd-46th Streets).
You'll find better deals in other neighborhoods like Coral Cables and downtown Miami. The latter is a great option if you plan to spend a lot of time in nearby happening neighborhoods like Wynwood and The Design District.
Goods and galleries
Art lovers can't miss Brickell City.
Art Basel Miami Beach brings the art world to Miami in December, but the city has plenty of art on tap year-round.
Lately, a lot of it takes the form of public art in shopping hubs like The Design District -- home to luxury brands and a new museum, the free Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami -- and the recently revamped Aventura Mall (check out the 93 ft. tall Aventura Slide Tower by artist Carsten Höller -- yes, it's art but a working slide, too.)
For street art, head to Wynwood, where colorful murals share space with art galleries, laidback bars, restaurants and hip boutiques like Warby Parker and local floral art spot Plant the Future.
Downtown, Brickell City Centre houses a collection of glossy boutiques, many of them from lesser-known European brands, while the new Frost Museum of Science keeps kids busy with interactive exhibitions and a planetarium open every day of the year.
The Perez Art Museum (PAMM) hosts excellent exhibitions and a permanent collection of Caribbean and Latin American art.
Admission is free the first Thursday and the second Saturday of the month. Thursday nights are a great time to go, too, with evening events and a 9 p.m. closing time.
Aventura Mall, 19501 Biscayne Boulevard, Aventura, FL 33180, +(305) 935-1110 ICA: 61 NE 41st Street, Miami, FL 33137, +1 (305) 901-5272 PAMM, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, FL 33132, +1 (305) 375-3000
Restaurants and food halls
St. Roch Market is the place to be seen for foodies and socialites alike.
Courtesy St. Roch Market
Miami is a great food town, with new restaurants, bars and casual eateries opening up seemingly every week.
Right now, it's all about food halls, with the recent opening of St. Roch Market in The Design District offering an assortment of vendors serving everything from báhn mì and noodles to oysters and vegan cake.
La Centrale, in Brickell City Centre, meanwhile, is focused squarely on all things Italian. It's home to a market, a clutch of restaurants, a wine bar and a cooking school.
Other new restaurants that encapsulate Miami's culinary diversity include Chotte Matte in South Beach -- Peruvian-Japanese with a late-night clubby vibe, and Amara at Paraiso, the latest from Miami chef Michael Schwartz, which focuses on Latin cuisine.
For brunch, grill carts and sweets carts reinterpret the dim sum format, and spiked fresca can be customized to your tastes.
More casual options include Veza Sur Brewing in Wynwood and Mason, a brand new late-night diner in Midtown.
Miami's balmy weather means it's always the right time for ice-cream and chef Soraya Caraccioli-Kilgore's MadLab Creamery is the place to go for soft serve and exotic flavors.
St Roch Market, 140 NE 39th Street, Suite 241, Miami, FL, +1 (786) 542-8977 Chotte Matte, 1664 Lenox Avenue, Miami Beach, FL 33139, +1 (305) 690-0743 Mason, 3470 North Miami Avenue, FL 33127, +1 (786) 618-5150
Stand up paddle boarders off Miami Beach.
Joe Raedle/Getty Images
No trip to Miami is complete without spending time on (or in!) the water.
This is a great place to indulge your adventurous side and try kite-surfing, parasailing or jet-skiing.
The beach is an obvious draw -- head to South Pointe or mid-Beach for quieter scenes than you'll find in the heart of South Beach -- and hotel pools are often a destination unto themselves.
Stand-up paddle boarding and kayaking are fun ways to explore Miami's bays and an Island Cruises boat tour to Stiltsville -- a collection of old wooden houses on stilts in the ocean -- will give you the opportunity to take some striking photos and savor the sea breeze.
It's hard to get cooler than the Four Seasons Miami Surf Club.
Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
In Miami, hotels are more than just a place to lay your head; in fact, in many cases they're about everything but sleeping.
In South Beach, the destination hotel complete with a day-drinking pool party scene is best encapsulated by Hyde Beach at SLS South Beach. In Mid-Beach, the EDITION South Beach tops off its pool, spa and restaurant hotspots with Basement, a nightclub with a 2,000 square-foot indoor skating rink and four-lane bowling alley.
Nearby, Faena Hotel has eye-catching interiors by Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin, an elaborate spa called Tierra Santa Healing House and its own Faena Theater with regular live shows.
Other hotels to check out include the new Cadillac Hotel & Beach Club, opening this summer; EAST Miami, a chic downtown hotel with sleek rooftop lounge, and Miami Beach favorites, W South Beach and Standard Spa Miami (where you'll mingle with locals).
For something truly spectacular, you can stay in Gianni Versace's former home, Casa Casuarina, or head to Surfside for a dose of old-world Miami glamour in a chic new package at The Four Seasons Surf Club, where The Surf Club Restaurant by Thomas Keller is scheduled to open this summer.
SLS South Beach, 1701 Collins Avenue. Miami Beach, FL 33139, +1 (305) 674-1701 EAST Miami, 788 Brickell Plaza, Miami, FL 33131, +1 (305) 712-7000 W South Beach, 2201 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, FL, 33139, +1 (305) 938-3000