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Miami, Florida

Miami

Great Destination:

3.5

Value for Money:

2.5

Total Stars:

6.0

Personality Types that Like it Best

A favorite for Centric-Authentics, Mid-Authentics, and especially Authentics, and some Centric-Venturers

Did you know … ?

  • Schnebly Redland’s Winery in Homestead is the southernmost winery in America.
  • Miami Beach is a man-made island that was once a coconut plantation.
  • More cruise ships are based in Miami than at any other port in the world.
  • Two-thirds of Miami’s population is of Hispanic origin.
  • Miami is the only American city with two national parks in its backyard (Biscayne and Everglades).

Of beaches, hand-rolled cigars

Not so many years ago, south Florida, especially Miami, carried an image of posh hotels on balmy beaches, populated by wealthy tourists from the North.  No more! Miami and neighboring towns are important ports of call for the cruise industry, Miami Beach is home to the hip South Beach, the area is very Cuban — and nowadays, tourists come from Canada, Europe and Latin America, as well as the U.S. states.

Leisure travelers come for the subtropical weather: Miami’s average annual temperature is 75 F. Palm trees sway in the breezes, wild parrots brighten the skies and jasmine scents the night air. Visitors also come for business because the city has emerged as an international business hub, as evidenced by the soaring office towers in the downtown.

The city is a network of barrier islands, coral rock and mangrove swamps, connected by bridges, causeways and panoramic roads. Its miles and miles of white beaches face the Atlantic and the tranquil Biscayne Bay — and promise the water sports enthusiast plenty of fun.

The city and surrounding neighborhoods also are noted for fine dining, a lively arts and culture scene, entertainment events, professional sports competitions and shopping to tempt the most miserly.

Miami has neighborhoods with names that resonate, such as Coconut Grove, Little Havana and South Beach.

Coconut Grove has a past as a beatnik arts colony.  Today, it draws tourists to eateries, art galleries, boutiques, farmers’ markets, bookstores — and the Coconut Grove Arts Festival.

Little Havana got its moniker for obvious reasons. In this bit of Cuba-in-Florida, Calle Ocho is lined with eateries (representing several Latin cultures), and tourists may see artisans hand-rolling cigars or visit tailors who make custom guayabera (traditional linen shirts).

Visitors come to South Beach for its world-renowned Art Deco District, plus restaurants, clubs and beaches frequented by the rich and famous, or just the beautiful.

Winter is the best time to visit thanks to Miami’s pleasant weather.  Summers are warm and humid, but the Atlantic Ocean and Biscayne Bay cool things off some, and the prices on hotels and air tickets are better.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Go scuba diving in Miami, called the “wreckreational” diving capital of the world. It counts more than 50 wreck sites suitable for divers, and one is the Spirit of Miami Boeing 727 jet, sunk to provide artificial reefs.  For divers (or snorkelers) who prefer their reefs au naturel, Greater Miami’s Biscayne National Park is the place to go.
  • Find your way to Jimbo’s, a ramshackle shantytown hidden down a lane on Virginia Key in Key Biscayne, for outstanding smoked fish and coolers filled with beer, water and soda.
  • Go boating and camping in the nearby Everglades National Park. The park service advises that boating in the Everglades requires skill because of treacherous passes that cut through long banks of mud and seagrass in Florida Bay. Other areas, especially among the Ten Thousand Islands, have many oyster reefs and sandbars. Also, most of the park’s 47 wilderness campsites are only accessible by boat.
  • For museums that raise eyebrows: The Wolfsonian has America’s largest collection of 20th century American, German and Italian political propaganda.
  • Charter a yacht and do some jet skiing or diving. Or charter a sailboat. Or go deep-sea fishing.
  • Go to the Richard Petty Driving Experience in Homestead for a chance to ride in or drive an authentic NASCAR Nextel Cup-style race car.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Sightsee over Miami in a helicopter or by plane. Or, take to the water: Choose a sightseeing cruise or a dinner cruise.
  • See the Everglades National Park by taking a narrated tram tour departing from the Shark Valley Visitor Center and/or by taking a narrated boat tour of the Ten Thousand Islands from the Gulf Coast Visitor Center. Biking in the park is an option, too.
  • Activities for visitors to the Biscayne National Park include diving and snorkeling, canoe and kayak rentals, fishing and camping. Also, a glass-bottom boat tour.
  • Hear jazz, salsa and reggae in the funky neighborhood bars of Coconut Grove.
  • Swim with the dolphins at the Miami Seaquarium.
  • Visit Schnebly Redland’s Winery in Homestead, but forget the part about grapes. Come for tours and tastings of wines made with tropical fruits: carambola, guava, lychee, mango and passion fruit.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Take the kids to Miami’s Metrozoo, a fine example of a cageless zoo, where animals roam in settings that imitate natural habitats.
  • Eat great seafood; make that stone crabs if they are in season. In Miami, seek out Cuban foods.
  • Miami has spas of all kinds and to fit every budget. Find the one that meets your needs (or fulfills your dreams).
  • Visit the ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach. The oldest building in the Western Hemisphere, it dates to 1141 and was brought to the U.S. by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and rebuilt on its current site.
  • Take a Miami Duck Tour which lets you explore Miami by land and sea. On land, you ride through downtown Miami and South Beach aboard a “vesicle” that looks like a duck on wheels, but later you are cruising into Biscayne Bay for a new angle on the sights.
  • Play golf, of course.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the Greater Miami Convention and Visitors Bureau at www.miamiandbeaches.com