Food & Drink

The Ultimate Guide to Miami's Best Clubs

Published On 12/09/2013 Published On 12/09/2013

If you’re a Miamian who’s lived here any longer than a year, the only reason you go to clubs anymore is to remind yourself why you never go to clubs anymore. However, we must all remember that not EVERYONE is a jaded local, and that occasionally, people come to town who want to experience the Miami they see on TV -- $21 vodka sodas and all. And sometimes, if you actually venture out to a club with them, you’ll find that said clubs can be -- crazily enough -- fun. So read on for some spots to take those visitors, or clubs you might actually like, that are undoubtedly the best clubs in Miami.

E11EVEN

Downtown

Take all the bad decision making of a strip club, throw in a swanky rooftop, big-name DJs, LED screens, and a stage with a pole that lowers into the ground, and you’ve got Miamians' new favorite place to do things they’d rather forget. This Downtown mega-club never closes, and is more like a club with topless dancers than a strip club. Yes, you can go get a private dance in the back. But you can also join the throngs of female patrons at the tip rail who tuck more bucks than the guys, or head upstairs for a cocktail at Touché, one of Miami’s best rooftop bars… where you’ll inevitably look off to the horizon and say, “Oh God, is that the sun coming up? We really need to go.”

STORY Miami

Story

South Beach

Story seems to have finally broken the Opium curse on 2nd and Collins and opened up a club that lasts longer than a hockey season. And by closing in the former open-air space, and leaving plenty of room for dancing and VIP tables, Story’s become mentioned in the same breath as LIV for celeb spotting, tourist splurging, and (supposed) model mating calls.

LIV Miami

LIV

Miami Beach

The club who’s name actually is the Roman numeral for 54 has become about as close to the legendary studio as Miami’s seen since Chris Paciello was running Liquid. And since “getting a table at LIV” is basically Miami for “my weekend’s gonna be way cooler than yours,” the two-story megaclub in the Fontainebleau is definitely a top contender.

SET Nightclub

SET Nightclub

South Beach

Nestled between a CVS and a store full of “I’m in Miami, B**ch” T-shirts sits a rather nondescript door that opens into a massive main room of sensory overload, starting with a chandelier that’s bigger than your house, glass tubes filled with almost-naked dancers, pounding dance music, and red padded seats for you to chill in on the dance floor.

©2016 Club Space/Dan Vidal

Club Space

Downtown

Any Miamian worth his bath salts has at least a dozen stories that start with, “And so then we decided to hit up the Space patio," none of which can be repeated here. The after-after-after-hours club is Miami’s greatest freak show and, depending on when you're there exactly, is the kind of spot everyone will swear is the greatest place in the history of civilization... and then say exactly the opposite the next morning.

Rockwell Miami

Rockwell

South Beach

What does one do after one spends six years in prison with ties to the mob? Open a club in South Beach, duh... or at least you do if you’re Chris Paciello, who has returned to the club scene that made him famous with Rockwell, a smaller-scale spot that might not be as big as Liquid, but is every bit as swanky. The artsy interior (complete with Leonardo da Vinci’s Vitruvian Man on the wall) makes a great backdrop for the crowded house of beautiful people, all of which seems to have Paciello lightening up the club death zone that was 7th and Washington.

Rec Room

Rec Room

South Beach

So if South Beach locals don’t go to “clubs,” where do they go? Rec Room. And seemingly only Rec Room, because this spot at the bottom of the Gale hotel is never anything less than packed, typically with people who actually live in Miami. The music is a nice mix of open format and '80s/'90s hits in a laid-back living room space, allowing those who came out to have fun -- and didn’t come out to “be seen” -- have a dance club they can enjoy, too.

Courtesy of Studio 23

Studio 23

South Beach

Finding a good hip-hop night in South Beach can be even harder than finding a good driver. But that’s why we’re glad this spot opened up in the old Aerobar space on 23rd and Liberty Ave, where on any given night you might see FloRida sitting amongst other big spenders at the VIP tables that line the surprisingly large dance floor. The parties here are classy hip-hop affairs that keep a strict door and a sophisticated crowd... even if they might have the occasional “Say hello to my little friend” theme nights, complete with small ziplock baggies of Splenda on every table.

Courtesy of Edition

Basement

Miami Beach

In a city where every third restaurant is named after its address, it should come as no surprise that a place seemingly named by a kid has become one of the hottest clubs in town. The downstairs of the Edition is collectively known as “Basement,” and the multi-faceted parties thrown in the spaces down there are equally as self-explanatory. The ice rink is called “Skate,” the bowling alley is “Bowl,” and the open-spaced nightclub at the end that plays 20th-century dance hits? That’s Disco. But simple names do the trick, since this place is jam-packed with both tourists and locals, straight from Thursday-Sunday.

Heart Nightclub

Heart

Downtown

Until the Miami Worldcenter turns it into Brickell North, the Park West entertainment district is probably the most underrated Miami neighborhood for nightlife. Its newest entrant? Heart, a club actually designed for people who like music and dancing, and not people who buy bottles. Think of it as what Space was once upon a time -- a large-scale mega-club that attracts big name talent and lets people in regardless of their ratio. It’s an insane concept that’s led this place to become a favorite among local partiers... who will hopefully keep it open once the towers go up around it.

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Matt Meltzer is a staff writer with Thrillist. Follow him on Instagram @meltrez1.

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1. E11EVEN Miami 29 NE 11th St, Miami, FL 33132 (Downtown)

Burlesque performances? Check. Big-name DJs? Yeah. LED screens, a stage with a (cough, cough) pole, plus straight-off-the-carving board eats like pulled pork sliders 24 HOURSA DAY?! Miami's hottest dayclub, E11EVEN, is delivering all of the above, plus bottle service, and scantily clad dancers who are wayyy more likely to hang out if you buy said bottle service and post up in one the leather booths lining the dance floor/balcony.

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2. STORY Nightclub 136 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (Miami Beach)

With a phenomenal sound system and concert lighting that rivals LIV Nightclub's, this 27,000-square-foot SoFi spot brings in the world’s best DJs -- from David Guetta to Kaskade to Cedric Gervais, and of course, Steve Aoki -- to light up the dance floors until the wee hours. 60 VIP tables are also on offer to accommodate spenders, with manicured bottle service accompanying the over-the-top circus setting.

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3. LIV Nightclub 4441 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (South Beach)

Part of the 'Bleau's Vegas-style resort, LIV is a massive, 18000-square-foot vaguely amphitheatrical club laid out in a multi-layered, nearly circular design that presents zero obstacles to voyeurs, performers, and DJs -- Calvin Harris, Steve Angello, and Sander Van Doorn -- from seeing and being seen from from almost anywhere. And since “getting a table at LIV” is basically Miami for “my weekend’s gonna be way cooler than yours,” the two-story megaclub in the Fontainebleau is definitely a top contender.

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4. SET Nightclub 320 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (Miami Beach)

Taking inspiration from its former theatre function, SET nightclub offers an overload of party stimulation, including a chandelier that’s bigger than your house, glass tubes filled with almost-naked dancers, pounding dance music, and red padded seats for you to chill in on the dance floor. It regularly hosts international house, techno, and trance DJs, making this fog-filled spot one of the best for weekend fist-pumping.

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5. Club Space 34 NE 11th St, Miami, FL 33132 (Downtown)

This over-the-top club is located in a multi-story warehouse, and comes complete with live DJs and a rooftop terrace. Thanks to its 24-hours license, lots of lasers, and pretty lights, the after-after-after-hours club is Miami's greatest freak show, and likely the only 10+-year-old club that can lay claim to such subsisting fame.

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6. Rockwell Miami 743 Washington Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139

This boutique club hosts up to 450 clubbers at once, offering a more intimate albeit equally swanky experience as the larger South Beach venues. Opened by former mobster Chris Paciello, the space prides itself on not being DJ-driven, offering a more holistic nightlife experience complete with an artsy interior, live performances, and mixed musical format.

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7. Rec Room 1685 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, FL 33139 (South Beach)

A subterraneous lounge with a retro, '70s kitch vibe, Rec Room is one of the few places with a lax door policy and a genuinely nice door staff. The relaxed attitude is reflected in the tracks as well: DJs spin LPs to crowds of 20- and 30-somethings, giving fair play time to everything from electronic to Hip Hop.

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8. Studio 23 247 23rd St, Miami Beach, FL 33139

Tasteful hip-hop nights might be hard to find in South Beach, but Studio 23 nails it on the mark with posh and sleek private rooms, seasoned DJs versed in more than the latest top 40 hits, and an attentive staff. The parties here keep a strict door and a sophisticated crowd... even if they might have the occasional “Say hello to my little friend” theme nights, complete with small ziplock baggies of Splenda on every table.

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9. Basement Miami The Miami Beach EDITION , Miami Beach, FL 33140

Sometimes, just bowling isn't enough. In which case, head down to Basement Miami, located within beach hotel Miami Beach Edition, where your layman's rolling ball sport is offered in combination with ice skating and disco dancing. The rink is decked out with white drapery and theatre lighting, while the DiscoBox features disco tunes and flashing lights. When you're done with your evening activity of choice, there's also a concrete bar and a lounge to the side, where bottles of vodka await.

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10. Heart Nightclub 50 NE 11th St, Miami, FL 33132

Hailing itself as an unpretentious clubbing experience in downtown Miami, Heart Nightclub gathers electronic music lovers for no-frills dancing and drinking. And while authenticity might be the key to its aesthetic, Heart is generous with its offerings: the 20,000-square-foot venue is spread out over three floors, each offering high-quality sound, as well as a climate-controlled rooftop terrace.

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