Art Jungle Fresh off a 10-hour flight from NYC to Brazil’s largest city, I rejuvenate with some vitamin A (as in art). The lush Ibirapuera Park is home to the Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Contemporary Art and Museu Afro Brasil—as well as architecture visionary Oscar Niemeyer’s futuristic auditorium, where São Paulo’s biennial will take place in November. In the Pinheiros area, I check out the city’s world-famous street art at Choque Cultural, before visiting Isabela Raposeiras Coffee Lab in the hipster mecca Vila Madalena, where an overalls-clad barista concocts a heavenly cold brew with a hint of citrus. Coffee in hand, I walk over to Beco do Batman, a 30-kilometre alley splattered with colourful tags.
Shop, Shop Also in Pinheiros, I check out frocks from one of Brazil’s buzziest fashion designers, Pedro Lourenço (pedrolourenco.com), as well as pieces from the country’s most creative furniture makers, the Campana brothers, which are on display at Firma Casa (firmacasa.com.br)—a hub of emerging design talent. The tony Jardins District is São Paolo’s Fifth Avenue. There, I splurge on two urban warrior dresses from fashion-week star Alexandre Herchcovitch. Beachy Brazilian brands such as Osklen and água de Coco, also have stores in the area; from the latter, I pick up a teeny, Rio-ready print bikini.
Food and Drink Alex Atala of D.O.M., named one of Time’s most influential people in 2013, began cooking with local ingredients 15 years ago. Now a new wave of talents is following his lead. I start with caipirinhas and small bites—like octopus skewers with paprika-spiked potatoes—at Maní Manioca. Then it’s off to Epice for a tasting menu that includes fried pig’s ears and the super-tart açaí ice cream beloved by Brazilians.
Night Moves Most locals don’t head out until after midnight. I love the laid-back vibe at ó do Borogodó, a dark samba club off a Pinheiros alleyway. Not too far from the main action in the heart of Pinheiros, Riviera serves creative cocktails—like a cachaha, honey, ginger and lemon-grass libation—to a young, beautiful crowd.
Sleep at Last
Hotel Unique, a marvel of modern architecture, is a half-cylinder on stilts and the chicest place to stay here. Its rooftop bar offers sweeping views—excuse enough for one last nightcap.