Miami Beach, Florida
Value for Money:
Personality Types that Like it Best
Did You Know … ?
- Miami Beach became a city in 1915 with a population of less than 100.
- Benjamin Green, a local pharmacist, created the first suntan lotion (1944), which became Coppertone.
- Miami Beach’s Art Deco District claims the world’s most Art Deco buildings (more than 800).
- The stone crab’s crusher claw can exert up to 19,000 pounds of pressure per square inch.
- Nearly half a million men, including Clark Gable, attended World War II boot camp in Miami Beach.
Art Deco by the sea
Miami Beach — located on an island on the outskirts of Miami — is a tourist destination with just about everything. It has a good climate; white-sand Atlantic beaches; waters suited to diving, fishing or surfing; a vibrant urban arts scene; restaurants and nightspots for every taste and budget; an unmatched collection of Art Deco buildings, and, not least, the buzz that comes from being a playground for the rich and famous.
Much of that information is well known, so it may be hard to imagine that in the 1980s, at least part of the city — today’s trendy and glamorous South Beach — was a crime-ridden neighborhood where untended Art Deco gems were falling into decay.
Producers of TV’s “Miami Vice” created sets using South Beach’s abandoned stores and sad hotels, after giving them an on-the-fly facelift.
That is history now, and Miami Beach — which was promoted and developed as a tropical playground between the two world wars — has reemerged as that and more.
Predictably, today’s tourists come to bask in the sun, play golf, rejuvenate at a spa and play on the water. But they also come for spectator sports, theater, world class art shows, boutique shopping and antique hunts, and festivals with themes as varied as food/wine and NASCAR racing.
The city is particularly noted for its nightlife. Dinner may mean the simple pleasure of fresh-caught fish or the rituals of fine dining. Nightspots also range from comfort zones with live music to exclusive clubs noted for fancy pricing and fancier clientele.
Also, the 21st century Miami Beach is famous for its restored Art Deco District, which the National Park Service says has “the largest concentration of 1920s and 1930s resort architecture in the United States.”
Miami Beach offers a rich menu, as well, for active travelers. The area’s reefs, natural and artificial, provide varied choices and experiences for divers. Fishing is popular because the warmer waters of the Gulf Stream — which attract fish — are less than a 20-minute ride from area marinas. Finally, the nearby Biscayne National Park lets visitors combine boating (using sails or muscles via canoe/kayak) with wildlife viewing and a camping experience.
Things to do for Venturers
- Turn your attention to Miami Beach mansions and Art Deco gems while touring the area on the seat of fast-moving jet skis.
- Go surfing in Miami Beach waters. They tend to favor the beginner and intermediate surfer, so if lessons are in order, this is the place to take up the sport or improve skills.
- Make yourself comfortable at the clothing-optional Haulover Beach.
- The waters around Miami Beach abound with natural and artificial reefs. Take a dive (or two) for a look at the water’s abundant sea life. One such dive site is the so-called Wreck Trek, a string of artificial reefs lying just off the shores of Miami Beach.
- Go clubbing in South Beach. Or, for more variety, sample everything from a glittery nightclub to a hole-in-the-wall nightspot.
- Head to the Biscayne National Park, where you can kayak to the Boca Chita or Elliott Key and camp overnight. Only experienced paddlers should make the seven-to-nine-mile open-water crossing to the keys; for the less experienced, a ferry service can transport your boat to the islands.
Things to do for Centrics
- Attend the one-day NASCAR Championship Drive Festival in November on Miami Beach. The free outdoor event offers a lot of music, food — and a parade of haulers. Bad timing? Consider the South Beach Comedy Festival, held in the spring.
- Order Cuban food at dinner. Or, of course, stone crab at Joe’s Stone Crab. In Florida, the crabs are in season from mid-October to mid-May.
- Charter a boat for deep-sea fishing. You have a chance to bring in sailfish nearly year round, but high season is November through May. If a charter is too rich for your wallet, join a party boat — meaning you fish with a large party of strangers on the same quest.
- Study the Miami Beach skyline from the vantage point of a Champagne sunset cruise.
- During the Art Basel modern art show, held in December in Miami Beach, attend free screenings of art videos made by filmmakers in the U.S. and abroad.
- See deep-water alligator wrestling at the Seminole Okalee Indian Village at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino Hollywood. Gamble a little, too.
Things to do for Authentics
- Attend a Florida Marlins baseball game, or make that a Miami Heat basketball game.
- Build a sandcastle on the beach, or just veg out.
- Take a guided walking tour that is focused on the city’s world-renowned Art Deco architecture. The district is on the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places.
- Attend one or more of the events at the star-studded Food Network South Beach Wine and Food Festival, held in winter.
- Play golf where the climate is perfect for duffers.
- In winter, get into some serious antiquing at the Original Miami Beach Antique Show. The event’s more than 800 dealers make this the world’s largest indoor antique show.
For additional information, consult the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.miamiandbeaches.com