Miami is nothing like NYC, it's got its own "vibe" and style.
Interestingly enough, many New Yorkers move to Miami and settle in either Sunny Isles Beach, Bal Harbour, Surfside or Aventura, and they love it here...our main attraction is proximity to the beach, outdoor lifestyle (parks, mountain biking, surfing, boating, etc. etc.) with all of what Miami has to offer in about 30 to 40 minutes away (when you want to go see places/people/attractions/go out). Yet, not all the time, and not as empty after 5pm or on the weekends (although it is getting better).
You see, our "city" or downtown life is not like Manhattan city life after 5pm and on the weekends.
Crowds go from downtown to either Mary Brickell village, some restaurants in Brickell area, to Virginia Key (the only beach in downtown, through tolls), to South Beach (which is really Miami Beach), to Midtown little restaurants and shops, Design district which is an up and coming area...with some going to Coconut Grove and Coral Gables. But, Coconut Grove is like a village, and Coral Gables is active in a Miami way - a lot of "office buidlings', yet it is not like NYC. Nobody is running on the street, very laid back environment...I mean try to run in the hot and humid temps...
If you want to go out a lot - I suggest South Beach - because Downtown and Brickell areas are not far at all, and South Beach has the beach, its own attractions, and it is a pretty unique world of its own...worth of looking into.
If you want to live a resort life style with great infrastructure, lots of shops and restaurants, outdoor lifestyle, great parks...and be close to South Beach/Downtown and Brickell - for the opera, concert hall, ballet, galleries, clubs on your weekend or Thursday night, then there is no better area than Sunny Isles Beach - you just got to give it a chance when visiting. It's a combination of a small city with resort life style, with Aventura and Bal Harbour are on each side of it - with their own shops, restaurants and beautiful malls...Sunny Isles Beach breeze and luxuy buildings skyline against the backdrop of the ocean and sky blues is something I enjoy looking at every day!
To be fair, Aventura is a great place to live, but it's not on the beach...which makes it my second choice, comparing to Sunny Isles Beach.
Hope this helps,
Beachfront Realty, inc.