Miami Area, FL!
When people think of Miami, it is the white sand shores of Miami Beach that usually come to mind. This neighborhood is renowned for its elegance and culture, with museums, private residential islands, discerning shops, upscale nightclubs, and performance centers that captivate a never-ending stream of visitors and have drawn such residents as diverse as Gloria Estefan and Al Capone!
This tiny strip at the tip of Miami Beach is a siren's call to the international jet-set party crowd. The glittering neon and art deco district has become the favorite place "to see and be seen" by everyone from college kids to superstars, getting together to chat, eat, drink, people-watch, and dance till dawn from one club to the next, throwing parties that spill into the street and onto the shore. South Beach is now the third-largest production center for film, television, print, music, and fashion, a feature of the neighborhood that has dramatically escalated its glamour and popularity.
This bayside neighborhood has one of the most colorful atmospheres of any in the country. Celebrities walk around like one of the crowd, street dancing and bed races are "business-as-usual," and sidewalk cafés lining the brick paths provide perfect vantage points to it all. Shops are mostly trendy boutiques and the people are a cross-section of Miami's melting pot. The festive, funky spirit of the Grove feels as though you've stumbled into a surprise party!
This is an elegant and historic neighborhood of meticulously preserved landmarks and stately Mediterranean architecture. Tree-lined streets and red brick sidewalks set the tone for upscale shopping along Miracle Mile or dining in highly-acclaimed restaurants and supper clubs. Bookstores host poetry-readings, the University of Miami Hurricanes dominate college sports, and museums showcase local and international masterpieces. In addition, its graceful parks, tropical gardens, and fountain pools all contribute to earning this community its title of "City Beautiful."
This area of Miami has had many lives. In the 20s and 30s, it was a sleepy rural town. In the 40s and 50s it was at the heart of the good life, when big name entertainers like Sinatra regularly appeared, shopping was an elegant pastime, and Pier 5's neon sailfish welcomed thousands of visitors every year. Then, in the 60s and 70s, all of it faded away and downtown was just a business center during the day and a ghost town at night. Today, Miami's downtown district has been reborn as a world-famous energetic shopping, dining, and nightlife center.
This quiet resort and residential island in Biscayne Bay has vistas toward Coconut Grove, Downtown Miami, Miami Beach, and the Atlantic Ocean, with a causeway connecting it to Coconut Grove. If you're looking for beautiful beaches, fine restaurants, resort hotels, nature trails, fishing, and championship golf/tennis in a peaceful setting, yet with easy access to the excitement of Miami Beach and Coconut Grove, this is the spot for you.
There's a song that says "Only in Miami is Cuba so far away." This southwest Miami neighborhood (called la sawesera by local Cubans) is the community's connection to the Cuban homeland, so close and yet so far. Everywhere you go you'll hear Spanish, as Cubans discuss politics in the park while playing dominos under a palm tree. The aroma of scrumptious Cuban food wafts past, and the kinetic Cuban music pours out of every window and doorway. Cubans are island people, and their community is bursting with the distinctively upbeat spirit of that island life.
Reasons to Visit
Gorgeous Beaches: Its no surprise that sun block was invented in Miami Beach, way back in the 1940s. The many beaches draw people from across the country, and there are beaches for every taste. Matheson Hammock Park Beach in South Miami is blissfully serene, and features an enclosed manmade lagoon flushed naturally by the tidal Biscayne Bay. Active vacationers prefer Hobie Beach, where loads of water sports can be found, including jet-skiing, water skiing, windsurfing, and sail boarding. South Beach is, of course, the place to be seen and to show off your tan to the trendy set. MacArthur Beach, just over in West Palm Beach, is considered by many nature enthusiasts to be the most beautiful nature park in south Florida. Those wishing to strip it all off and get an all-over tan will want to visit Haulover Beach, a nude beach nestled between the ocean and the Intracoastal Waterway.
Legendary Nightlife: Miami is a Latin-spiced party town, and the many different neighborhoods offer a vast array of nightly diversions. Parties on the beach are a common affair, and there are plenty of trendy nightclubs in downtown Miami attracting a motley crew of revelers. For a more cultural experience venture into Little Havana for a taste of Cuban festivities, or head to Little Haiti for bottle of their finest Prestige.
Exotic Culture: What makes Miami so exotic is the many different people who have made this city their home. You can find anything here, and shopping is a major hobby for many. Food is exceptional, with countless different styles served at restaurants ranging from ultra-casual to trendy and outright posh. Cuban, Haitian, and other Caribbean cuisines feature heavily, as does Mexican and Southwestern, but you will also find Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Vietnamese, French, Italian, and just about any other ethnicity or style imaginable.
What To Do & See
Miami River History Tour: Take an open-air boat ride along this river that winds through Downtown Miami. A guide will entertain you with tales of the river's contribution to the city's growth and mythology through maritime commerce, fishing, and a good dose of smuggling.
Butterfly World: Stunning butterflies flutter by, then come around and land on your shoulder — or nose — at this enchanting and educational habitat. There's a breeding laboratory where you can observe the entire life cycle of a butterfly, a museum with a collection of creepy crawly critters from around the world, and an aviary with hummingbirds and colorful parrots from down under that you can feed.
Villa Vizcaya Museum: This replica of a 16th-century Italian villa has been host to popes, presidents, queens, and princes. Built in 1916 as the winter residence of Chicago industrialist James Deering, Vizcaya has 10 acres of formal gardens and fountains, and 34 rooms filled with a diverse array of 15th- to 19th- century furniture and art. The gardens facing Biscayne Bay are perfect for a romantic moonlight stroll.
Art Deco Walking Tour: This is great way to get educated about the fascinating history behind the pastel and neon-washed buildings that give South Beach its unmistakable style. It's also the perfect chance to do some people-watching and get a feel for the city beat.
Soak in the Cuban Culture in Little Havana: The savvy visitor will order a traditional media noche (midnight) sandwich at a no-frills café and a fresh squeezed papaya juice from a corner stand. Spend some time at a park, enjoy the rhythmic music coming from dozens of portable radios, and listen in on passionate discussions about Cuban-American politics; even if you can't understand the language, the animated gesturing and excitable tones are fun to experience.
Miami Metrozoo: Large, open-air exhibits make you feel like you're on a safari. The zoo, open daily, has won awards for successfully breeding endangered species. On nearly 300 developed acres and with more than 900 animals, it is about 20 miles southwest of Miami Beach.
Miami Seaquarium: Lolita the Killer Whale and Salty the Sea Lion help teach you to appreciate the underwater world at this popular attraction on Biscayne Bay. Swim with dolphins in a lagoon where the 1960s TV show "Flipper" was filmed. Open daily.
Monkey Jungle: You're the one in the cage at this protected habitat, where nearly 400 primates representing 30 species run free. Step into observation cages to watch the monkey business at the swimming pool and see a training session with the orangutans. In southern Miami-Dade County, it is open year-round.
Parrot Jungle: A performing parrot riding a miniature bicycle is just one of the entertainments at this longtime attraction, between downtown Miami and South Beach. It has about 1,100 tropical birds and 2,000 varieties of plants and flowers. TIP: In the parrot and macaw fly zone, wear a hat!
Bayside Marketplace: Shop, eat, and take in some live entertainment at this open-air market that has 100-plus shops, more than 30 restaurants, free nightly concerts, and lively street performers. Take a boat tour of Biscayne Bay and walk over the pedestrian bridge to American Airlines Arena.
Dodge Island: Cruise ships dock on the north side of this island in the Port of Miami, known as the "Cruise Capital of the World." The island is just east of Downtown Miami, convenient to cultural attractions, beaches, nightlife, dining, and shopping.