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Walking along South Beach, you feel as though you’ve stepped into an MTV video clip. A bronzed bikini-clad babe skates by and gives you a knowing wink that says... Welcome to Miami.
Miami is an eclectic mix of American, Caribbean, Cuban, Mexican and Brazilian people, which means Miami is Florida’s most exuberant and exciting city. Miami’s bustling arts scene has it all; from street art to brilliant displays at the Pulse Miami Contemporary Art Show in the city’s Ice Palace Studios.
Miami’s pristine Biscayne Bay and glistening Beachfront provide the perfect setting for the beach party lifestyle of Miami. Miami is the place to see, and be seen. Celebrities favour Miami Beach as the ultimate vacation destination, and why not when the city has some of the most amazing beachside luxury hotels and resorts in the US?
Relive the days of Miami Vice by strutting your stuff around the Art Deco District, and thank your lucky stars the old days of drug trafficking and prostitution are no longer Miami’s vice. These days it’s just an obsession with their basketball team, the Miami Heat, non-stop nightlife, beach bumming and too much coconut oil.
Miami's Top 10
10. CocoWalk is an open-air mall in Coconut Grove,with a cinema, some good fashion shops and some great Latino food.
5. Sunny Isles Beach isn’t quite the ‘Venice of America’ developers had hoped for, but the beach is nice and offers a fun range of water sports.
9. Miami Seaquarium Swim with dolphins or watch Lolita the killer whale perform some of her death-defying tricks.
4. Bayside Marketplace has great shopping, daily live entertainment. A great place to stroll and absorb Miami’s bayside atmosphere.
8. Monkey Jungle Hang with an orang-utan or Java monkey in Miami’s free-range monkey zoo.
3. Miami Metro Zoo You’ll find rare black rhinos, pygmy hippos and even koalas here.
7. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens A beautiful historical mansion and parklands with Renaissance charm.
2. Feel the bohemian vibe of Espanola Way with its cobbled streets full of lively tapas joints and art galleries.
6. Lincoln Road Mall is where you go shopping alongside glamazons. This pedestrian mall is busy with shops, restaurants and cafés.
1. South Beach is Miami’s answer to the Vegas strip. Nightclubs, topless sunbaking and roller-skating chicks… need we say more?
- Ancient Spanish Monastery – Originally built in Spain in 1141, the monastery was later moved and reassembled in Miami.
- Barnacle State Park – Completed in 1891, this popular tourist attraction is the oldest house in the county.
- Coral Castle – Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this castle was built by Edward Leedskalnin following his heartbreak at his fiancée leaving him the day before their wedding.
- Deering Estate at Cutlet – Built in the early 1900s, there are three historic buildings to explore on the estate.
- Historical Museum of Southern Florida – Provides an exploratory journey through Miami’s rich history.
Miami Art & Culture
- Frost Art Museum – On the Florida International University grounds, this museum houses a large collection of 1960s and 1970s American photography.
- Lowe Art Museum – Offers a wide range of arts through the centuries, including antique ceramics and pottery.
- Vizcaya Museum and Gardens – A European-inspired estate that features a house filled to the brim with enticing artwork and fascinating furnishings.
- Miami Science Museum – An educational museum featuring countless hands-on exhibits for kids.
- Miami Art Museum – This contemporary museum in downtown Miami is dedicated to exhibiting international art.
- Collins Avenue – Set between 15th and 3rd streets, Collins Avenue has stores to satisfy all tastes and budgets.
- Lincoln Road – Located on South Beach, this shopping district offers a wide selection of stores and restaurants, with a Sunday farmers’ market.
- Aventura Mall – A staggering 2.3 million feet of space features nationwide chain stores.
- Bayside Marketplace – This mall offers striking views of Biscayne Bay.
- CocoWalk – Mediterranean-styled architecture in an open-air mall featuring well-known chain stores.
Miami Gay & Lesbian
- Score – South Beach’s largest gay nightclub, promising a multidimensional nightlife experience.
- MOVA – Formerly known as Halo, this gay-friendly lounge will dazzle you with its modern décor.
- Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival – This 10-day event, typically held at the end of April, features the best gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender movies.
- Proud – A popular nightclub for gay and lesbian visitors to Miami.
- Boy Bar – A full-liquor Miami gay club in Normandy Isle.
- Star Island – A stunning artificial island located within Miami Beach.
- Venetian Pool – A pool featuring a waterfall and areas for kids and adults.
- Miami Beach – On a barrier reef across the Biscayne Bay, this popular beach offers glorious, sandy beaches for families and friends.
- Miami Balloon Rides – Take to the skies and enjoy stunning views of the Miami skyline.
- Jungle Island – A lush, tropical garden offering animal shows and exhibits for the whole family.
- American Airlines Arena – Catch the NBA’s Miami Heat home games here.
- Miami Yacht Charters & Rentals – Choose from a large selection of yachts and take to the Miami waters.
- Sun Life Stadium – The NFL’s Miami Dolphins train here.
- Oleta River State Recreation Park – Miami’s largest urban park, with trails for biking and a beach for swimming.
- Kendall Ice Arena – Strap your skates on and enjoy the cool climate of this Miami ice rink.
Miami is a popular setting for popular TV shows. But the real thing is so much better…
Art Deco District
All the buildings in South Beach’s Art Deco District, are practically untouched from Miami’s glory days back in the roaring 1920s. Miami’s light-pink, orange and blue-pastel buildings make up the best collection of Art Deco architecture in the world. You can’t miss the Park Central Hotel or The Imperial on Ocean Drive, which are perfect example of the flamboyant Art Deco style. Watching the sun set just as Ocean Drive’s neon lights flicker on at twilight is a fantastic sight. Palm tree-lined promenades with bustling sidewalk cafés, restaurant and bars make this one of Miami’s most popular districts.Freedom Tower stand as spirited memorials to the Caribbean migrants, many of whom risked everything to make it from Cuba to Florida. The neighbourhood is alive with the strong wafts of Cuban coffee in the morning and Cuban cigars in the afternoon.
The streets are almost as colourful as the personalities you’ll find here. Go to the famous Domino Park on ‘Calle Ocho’ (8th Street) to watch the locals play dominoes and get rowdy over the day’s politics (according to them, there’s nothing a strong cup of coffee can’t fix). Quaint art galleries and restaurants showcasing Cuban culture and food make coming to Little Havana feel like a holiday within a holiday.
This is the overarching commercial hub of Miami. There’s a whole lotta shopping to be done here. The famed Miami Jewelry Districtmight take your fancy, but for a bit more shopping variety, the Bayside Marketplace is where you’ll find some real treasures (with a much more agreeable price tag). Relax on the green at Lummus Park, which sits between the beach and café-lined promenade. It’s a great place to rest or dust off the sand before you hit Downtown Miami’s lively restaurant and bar scene.
Miami’s Upper East Side is the result of gradual gentrification through commercial development. You can almost taste the community’s excitement, as the dreams of wealth and prosperity are reassured with every new skyscraper that is erected. Upper East Side has some great views across to Key Biscayne, and on Biscayne Boulevard the Miami Modern (MiMO) District features some impressive modernist architecture. At the end of the road, an Organic Farmer’s Market is held every Saturday between 9am and 2pm. Stock up on some healthy supplies here, before having a picnic at Morningside Park and watching the sun set over Miami Bay.
Miami BeachThe beautiful people of Miami turn this seemingly endless stretch of white sand and azure sea into the ultimate sun lover’s playground. South Beach, or SoBe, is Miami’s most popular, thanks to the carefree spirit of the beachgoers (aka topless sunbakers).
Sunny Isles Beach is a 2.5-mile (4km) stretch of beachy heaven that practically begs you to laze around all day. But if you’re feeling more adventurous, you can rent a kayak or jet ski and hit the waves. The beachfront plays host to crowds of wannabe socialites and celebrities lining up outside fashionable restaurants and nightclubs, so don’t be surprised in your inbuilt phoney detector keeps going off.
Miami Eat & Drink
Miami’s Latin and Caribbean cuisine sure knows how to bring the heat. Steakhouses remain true to both American and Latino flavours, and it’s recommended you sample as much quality steak and seafood as your body can handle. The fast-food chains and typical US diners don’t stand a chance next to these delectable recommendations:
Grimpa Steakhouse This Brazilian Steakhouse, located in trendy Mary Brickell Village, offers flavours you won’t find in an ordinary steakhouse. Enjoy 17 types of beef, chicken and fish, an impressive salad bar for vegetarians, and a huge selection of fine wines.
Acqua at the Four Seasons Hotel: Overlooking the pool, this lush dining room has a really special feel. The extensive wine list will have you cheering, and that’s before you’ve eyed the menu.
Prime 112 Book in advance to secure a seat at this celebrity-spotting steakhouse. Prime cuts (or meat, not celebrities) are cooked to your taste, and the cocktails go down a treat. South Beach.
The Capital Grille presentssimple, but boldtakes on classic dishes such as the Shrimp Cocktail, with a Miami flavour punch. The aged meat is a real treat.
The Oceanaire Seafood Room has an outrageously good – and well-priced –selection of seafood delight. The ‘Black and Bleu’ Costa Rican Mahi Mahi is sensational.
Emeril’s Miami Beach Celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse runs this great Caribbean/French fusion restaurant. Great service and an unpretentious ambience make this a delightful dining experience.
Café Sambalat the Mandarin Oriental Miami is the less pricey alternative to its big sister, Azul. Sip sake and sample the spectacular sushi overlooking Miami Bay, and let all your worries wash away.
Joe’s Stone Crab is an institution of Miami thanks to Joe’s outstanding stone crabs served with mustard sauce. Brash wait staff can’t spoil this chef’s broth, although they give it a good thwack. Joe’s also has great finger-lickin’ ribs and steaks.
Atrio (Level 25) Conrad Hotel With views over Biscayne Bay, Atrio asserts itself as a sophisticated cocktail and wine bar with bite! The menu depends on seasonal produce, so the food is absolutely fresh and delicious.
Azul at the Mandarin Oriental Miami:
Miami Art Deco Weekend in January celebrates Art Deco with the ‘Light Up the Drive’ parade along Ocean Drive and the Arf Deco dog promenade (bad doggy pun apparently intended!).
The Original Miami Beach Antique Show has an interesting range of collectable goods, including historical artworks dating back to the 17th Century and unique glassware. In early February, keen exhibitors and collectors are only too happy to show off their goods – much like the girls on South Beach.
The Miami International Boat Show is billed as ‘the greatest boat show in the world’. Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? Anyway, during mid-February, Miami Bay plays host to speedboats, sailboats, yachts, fishing boats and hordes of boating enthusiasts.
If boats aren’t your bag, mid-February also sees the Coconut Grove Arts Festival. This outdoor arts fest is the perfect place to buy a quality souvenir in the form of watercolours, digital art or jewellery.
The Miami International Film Festival at the Tower Theatre dedicates the first week in March to screening 100 films from over 40 countries. The festival particularly prides itself on showcasing the best Spanish-speaking films.
Miami’s Calle Ocho Festival (Eighth Street Festival) is a raucous Carnaval-inspired street parade that’s said to be the biggest in the world. Every March, Little Havana’s streets erupt with Latino, reggae and salsa sounds and flavours. As Bob Marley would say, ‘Ya man!’
Urban Beach Week is Miami’s ultimate hip-hop beach party bonanza. South Beach’s Art Deco District hosts parties, fashion parades, and celebrity-sponsored promos. The event takes place on Memorial Day, in May.
The Goombay Festival is a vibrant celebration of Miami’s Caribbean population. Feel ‘da riddim’ of the Junkanoo dancers and the Royal Bahamas Police Band as they parade the streets of Coconut Grove in early June. And while you’re there, sample some delicious Caribbean food.
The Miami International Wine Fair is one of the largest wine festivals in the US. Sample some of the 1,500 wines on offer from around the world. Takes place in mid-October at the Miami Beach Convention Centre.
White Party Week in Miami is a weeklong fundraiser for HIV/Aids in support of Miami’s gay community. Wild (but safe) pool parties are held in clubs, and the Vizcaya Museum and Garden goes off! The White Party takes place in late-November.
What To Miss
Liberty City has the largest African-American community in Miami, and racial tensions are sadly still rife here. Drive-by shootings are a common occurrence, as is gang-related crime.
Overtown is a poverty-stricken ghetto that even the locals steer clear of. Its high crime rate doesn’t exactly entice visitors – and considering there aren’t many worthy attractions here, it’s best you give it a miss.
Don’t let Opa Locka’s catchy name draw you in, because there’s a good chance you might not get out. OK, slight exaggeration, but it is a decidedly dodgy area that’s not worth leaving the beach for.
When To Go
Miami knows how to bring the heat, in more ways than one. Thanks to its proximity to the equator, it’s bikini and boardshorts weather pretty much all year round.
- Summer is from June to September, when temperatures average 32ºC (90ºF).
- The winter average is a reasonable 23ºC (75ºF), although it drops markedly at night.
- Expect rain and thunderstorms between June and November.
South Beach Local Bus Service is geared toward visitors, so it’s easy to use and the bus stops are easy to spot. The buses are air-conditioned, clean, safe and cheap. The Metrobus service will take you around Miami Beach, Downtown and everywhere else.
The Miami Metrorail, known simply as the ‘Metro’, is another cheap and fast way to explore Miami. There are a number of Metrorail stations in Downtown Miami that can get you to the historic towns of Coconut Grove and Vizcaya.
It might sound obvious, but the best way to get around is on foot. All the main districts are connected by sweeping esplanades and pedestrian malls, and walking means you won’t miss out on the hidden art galleries, shopping malls and café arcades.
Miami beams with year-round sunshine which holidaymakers find irresistible during winter! It is the second largest city in Florida and home to multiple ethnicities. As such, the city invigorates with its lust for life as seen in its golden beaches, exciting restaurants, fantastic shopping and latin-flavoured culture.
Apart from its reputation as a party town, there are other features toasting to Miami’s fame. Food and shopping are a class act. The well-preserved buildings at the Art Deco district offer unique architectural highlights while Little Havana is suffused with Cuban colours as Spanish is a dominant language and cigar-rolling is very much a thriving business.
Definitely one of America’s key cities, Miami is popular among domestic and foreign tourists, young and old alike. It is a buzzword among partying heiresses, college kids on a Spring romp, mature folks contemplating on retirement and families thrilled to enjoy Seaquarium. For who wouldn’t want to make Miami a permanent home and be showered by its warmth and energy 365 days of the year?
What was once a boring swampland is now a fully developed city running at a frenetic pace with fun-filled activities and attractions for every age!
Miami Beach boasts historic areas known as the Art Deco District. The city maintains over 800 buildings dating back in the 1920s and walking tours are available to give visitors a look at the unique architecture. Another stylish enclave is South Beach which is a favoured spot for the trendy set at night. At daytime, Ocean Drive becomes a hub for bronzed, well-toned bodies lazing around the cafes or playing by the sandy shores. Appearances are important, after all, the world-famous diet was named after this fashionable beach!
Small islands around Miami Beach are filled with holiday villas of celebrities and high-rise condominiums of mavens from the music world. There are cruises along Biscayne Bay which give you a chance to gaze at these luxurious properties and the stunning view of the downtown skyline.
Back on dry land, a more lavish setting can be seen in the Vizcaya Gardens and Museum along South Miami Avenue in the heart of the city. This stately home used to be the winter retreat of rich industrialist, James Deering. The Renaissance-style mansion is now a museum filled with precious art pieces and opulent furnishings.
The same richness, though of a different perspective, pervades in Little Havana, home to the Spanish-speaking people of Miami. Cuban culture is richly preserved in the daily life at the district. Cigar factories, restaurants serving Cuban cuisine, flamenco nights at Casa Panza and a weekly arts showcase are just some of the activities which keep Little Havana sizzling to the hilt.
Moving on to more of Miami’s famed sights, the Everglades National Park is an enormous swampland teeming with all the local flora and fauna. If the size is too much for you, the nearby Everglades Safari Park serves as your crash course to the uniqueness of the eco-system. Ride an airboat to see the gators and birds up close.
For theme park fun, Seaquarium still ranks popular among kids with its killer whales and bottle-nosed dolphins drawing scores of animal-lovers to Miami. The Parrot Jungle Island is another recommended must-see as it has thousands of birds fly free and other exotic animals found in a lush tropical setting. Don’t forget to pack a swimsuit to enjoy the big water slide or take a relaxing walk in the Japanese garden inside. With its location between Miami and South Beach, the Parrot Jungle is a perfect daytrip for those looking to add more variety to their Miami itinerary.
Carnival frenzy hits Miami in celebration of Calle Ocho around February and March. Little Havana hosts two weeks of parades, street markets and concerts swaying to the beat of salsa, merengue and caribbean music. Food stalls also line the streets during this annual charity event.
To take in the arts scene in Miami, take note of the Coconut Grove Arts Festival on February. Held in a small village south of downtown Miami, the event is a large-scale exhibition of arts and crafts where visitors can interact with the artists themselves. More on Miami’s cultural pride is on the spotlight during Dade Heritage Days. There are special programmes and activities that promote the Miami-Dade county’s rich heritage.
The Miami Carnival is another a crowd-drawer every year when the whole city sizzles in a 14-day spectacle filled with street dancing, food expositions, costume parties for the kids with special arts and crafts fairs. The culminating event is the grand Carnival Parade which features marching bands and live entertainment at night.
One major tournament that puts Miami on the sports map is Orange Bowl. The city’s Pro Player Stadium is the venue for the college football championships as top teams meet at the start of the year.
- Winter (December to February) 16-24°C; dry, mild and low humidity
- Spring (March to May) 20-29°C; pleasant and warm
- Summer (June to August) 26-32°C; very humid, always have sunblock on hand, potential storms
- Fall (September to November) 19-29°C; temperate but hurricanes still abundant in early Autumn
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- Ice Palace Film Studios hotels
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- Miami Children's Museum hotels
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