WELCOME TO MIAMI, FLORIDA
Water-born shadows guide your eyes across the bay towards the luminous the Miami skyline – cruise capital of the world. A bit of Latin mystery awaits. Where else can you find clean air, yachts, beaches, award-winning architecture, fabulous cars, and stunning condos in a subtropical outpost of the United States? A cutting-edge multicultural destination that effortlessly features a New World blend of Florida, Caribbean and Latin American cuisines shepherded by celebrity chef restaurants. Outstanding Cuban, Bahamian, Jamaican, Brazilian and Dominican restaurants are as common as Denny’s and you can still get gratifying, slow-cooked Barbeque!
With its huge population of Cuban, Puerto Rican, Dominican and South American ex-patriots and guests, Spanish is spoken as often as English. Their laid-back approach to life comes natural to a place where an afternoon siesta and ocean breezes interrupt the hot mid-day sun.
Don't let Miami's easy-going tendency fool you. Miami has a wealth of museums, galleries and attractions to keep you on the go and plenty of conventions. Miami Art Museum features many of the great Latin art works. Historical Museum of Southern Florida is first-rate as is the Museum of Contemporary Art. For a sense of what old wealth created in the region, visit the Biltmore Hotel or Viscaya Museum. And a new museum center is under construction in Biscayne Park downtown.
With so many adult attractions, what’s a kid to do? Plenty. Metrozoo, an award-winning zoological park, specializes in Parrot Jungle, but its Fairchild Tropical Gardens might be the venue grabbing their fondest memories. At Miami Seaquarium, killer whales compete with Flipper the dolphin for your vicarious entertainment. Take in a Miami Heat basketball game at the AmericanAirlines Center so prominently perched on the downtown waterfront. Feel like a kid in candy shop picking your favorite ships as they arrive and depart the world's busiest cruise terminal.
Sunrises and sunsets have the same hypnotic quality as a tropical island. That quality, day or night, brings glee to every landscape artist. No time of year is more colorful than the annual Orange Bowl Parade or the Miami Grand Prix. For a soulful flava’, the Bob Marley Festival takes center stage each February. Stop at Bayside to rub shoulders with locals in the waterfront “shoppertainment” center. Take a side-trip out 7th Street to Little Havana and enjoy Cuban plantains for lunch as open air Salsa plays. Head south on Brickell Avenue for dramatic vistas of condos that alternate between each branch of a tree-shaded passageway.
Moments later, a tranquil southerly direction takes you to Coconut Grove, once dominated by Miami's oldest historically Black district. Though gentrified with a profusion of shopping, dining and entertainment sites, a daytime saunter to the Grove's historic treasures keeps it real. By comparison Overtown, Miami's second oldest historically Black district is showing more signs of redevelopment, yet maintains a tradtional charm. Its Lyric Theatre, a lovingly restored relic of the Chitlin’ Circuit, and historic churches remind all that this district remains culturally and historically anchored. Further sustaining Miami's Black heritage, Florida Memorial College and the African American Cultural Arts Center sponsor popular exhibits and events throughout the year. For a taste of Haiti culture and shopping without leaving the states, you must Little Haiti.
South Beach was first a visual extravaganza of art deco homes and hotels built in the 1920's and 1930's. Time and changing demographic patterns caused South Beach to wither. But in the 1970s, a relentless movement began to historically renovate a nearly every Art Deco building that sat empty. The multi-million dollar hotels and condos renovations you see have strict requirements since the district is designated in the National Register of Historic Places. Despite or perhaps because of such constraints, South Beach is most responsible for Miami’s intense party reputation. There’s enough eye-candy to fill a Hershey factory and Washington Ave is a wellspring of nightlife options.
Ocean Drive hotel fronts are stocked with buffed bodies, luxury cars, scooters and roller blades. Every year it seems a new luxury hotel is the “in” spot while, the National, Delano, Royal Palm and Beacon hotels remain stand-outs. At least one should be on your itinerary.