The Travel Channel
ranked South Beach's broad sand beaches and
gorgeous turquoise waters as one of the top ten beaches in the world,
and the Surfrider Foundation
voted it the premier urban beach in the US.
Public beaches define the 10-mile strand along the Atlantic Ocean,
enlivened by colorful, funky lifeguard stations. Collins Avenue,
main artery, carves out a scenic route parallel to the beach,
and a raised boardwalk between 21st and 41st street invites strolling along the sea.
But there's more than powdery white sand to this land of
exuberant architecture, pulsating nightlife and international flavor
in a scene that is as cool as the sun is hot.
Occupying less than two square miles on the southern tip of
South Beach's subtropical sandbar has an identity of its own.
South Beach has been called the American Riviera and an
Art Deco Playground.
This magnetic city is alive every minute of every day and night,
and has earned a reputation as an ultra-chic, 24/7, people-watching street party.
With its beautiful beaches and whimsical architecture,
the area has also become a favored location for films,
music and television shows and a backdrop for a myriad of fashion shoots.
In fact, the renaissance of South Beach was a significant factor in
Greater Miami and Beaches'
growth as a nationally recognized center for film, television and
print production, and Latin music.
Today's hottest musical artists film their videos in
and then stay for the reminder of the week - turning
local parties into a people-watching nirvana.
The South Florida
beach scene offers a glimpse into
the lifestyle of some of the world's most outrageous and
Perhaps it's a case of art imitating life, because just
like in the music videos, sexy women can regularly be seen
traipsing around in their bikinis showing off their sun-kissed bodies,
while good-looking, athletic men work it out along
has emerged as a real estate hot spot, attracting
world-renowned property developers and thousands of
investors, residents and long-term visitors to its sunny shores each year.
is a city of architectural wonder ranging from early coral structures
that seem to rise from the sea, to
castles that evoke old world grace & flair,
buildings that looked towards the future for inspiration, and
architecture with its free form shapes both contribute to the
come-as-you-are architectural style of
The Art Deco Historic District
encompasses the largest concentration of 1920's and 1930's
architecture in the world. It is listed on the
National Register of Historic Places,
and is internationally recognized as one of
Art Deco District
is the first and largest district of
architecture in the world.
A visit to South Beach redefines how you look at buildings -
sweeping curves, soaring finials and glass brick expanses of the
architectural style create a wonderful time warp.
Stand in Lummus Park
(a green expanse bordering the beach),
and note how the pastel pinks, bright aquas and canary yellows of
Ocean Drive hotels fight for space in the sky.
In South Beach, outdoor cafes are ideal for not only
people watching, but also "building watching".
, and almost everyone thinks beaches, sunshine, and palm trees -
an old image that rests on essential truth. The name
comes from Mayaimi
(a lake - now referred to as Lake Okeechobee), which means "very large."
In the midst of a tropical paradise, one of America's most dynamic
cities is greeting the 21st century with a burst of passion, creativity,
and international flair.
is at a vibrant cultural crossroads, and for the last 20 years,
cultural community has grown more
rapidly than any other American city.
Much of the area's success is due to its diverse neighborhoods,
whose residents contribute in their own singular way to making
Greater Miami and the Beaches
one of the best - and most fascinating - places to live in the world.
Low buildings, shopping arcades and storefronts tightly packed
with merchandise evoke Miami's origins as a trading town.
On West Flagler Street the original 1920s Olympia Theater has become the
Gusman Center for the Performing Arts,
a worthy venue for concerts and performances.
A few blocks away, a broad Mediterranean piazza is at the heart of the
Miami-Dade Cultural Center,
bordered by the graceful arches,
barrel tile roofs and cream-colored stucco of the main public library.
Also on the piazza, the
Miami Art Museum
showcases changing exhibits of international art, while the
Historical Museum of Southern Florida
interweaves the tapestry of local and regional history
through permanent and special exhibits.
On Biscayne Boulevard, the
built in1925 as Miami's first skyscraper,
recorded city events when it housed the offices of the Miami Daily News.
It then played a starring role as the gateway to freedom
for thousands of Cuban refugees.
Across the Boulevard, the modern sculpted curves of the
American Airlines Arena mark the home of the
NBA's Miami Heat.
Football is played in the
Orange Bowl, home of the
University of Miami Hurricanes team.
Downtown Miami offers big city shopping with an urban flair.
Department stores and emporiums that sell clothes, electronics,
sporting goods and more, fill the historic Downtown Miami Shopping
District (from SE 1st Street to NE 3rd Street).
Spanish and Portuguese are routinely overheard, and the aroma of
Cuban coffee wafts through the air.
Downtown is also the place for jewelry, with dazzling
displays in the stores and workshops that comprise one of
the largest jewelry districts in the U.S.
On Biscayne Boulevard, next to Bayfront Park,
borrows from the past as it looks towards the future.
The open-air shopping and entertainment complex was
built on the site of the former Pier 5 fishing pier
(one of Miami's most popular tourist spots in the 1950s),
and is now a waterfront destination for shopping, dining
and outdoor performances.
Here you can browse through shops and vendors' pushcarts,
where everything from T-shirts to one-of-a-kind souvenirs is sold.
Just a few minutes north of downtown, the city's historic
Buena Vista Village, is the charming setting for the
Miami Design District,
which overflows with interior design
showrooms and stores; art studios and galleries; movie production
and theatrical costume companies and much more.
Distinctive furniture, rugs, lighting, fabric and cutting-edge
design accessories are all presented in a stylish shopping environment.
Don't miss the unique opportunity to explore the area's vast galleries during
Gallery Night at the
Miami Design District,
which is held the second Friday of each month.
A Coral Gables walking tour will take you past some of the meticulously
preserved landmarks that grace this old "city within a city ".
Coral Gables City Hall,
the city's most important publicly owned building,
is decorated with interesting interior murals and a distinctive portico.
Not far away, two fountains mark the ornate entrance to the
Country Club of
Coral Gables Historic District,
typical of the master-planned city.
Just beyond, residential areas featuring well-appointed houses can be viewed.
The Venetian Pool,
carved out of a spring-fed coral rock quarry,
is a local landmark and popular attraction.
Other Coral Gables landmarks include the
University of Miami;
the oldest university in the Greater Miami area, which dates back to 1925.
The University of Miami
enhances Coral Gables' cultural amenities with
Lowe Art Museum,
The Gusman Concert Hall, the
Bill Cosford Cinema and the
waterfront parks offer the best vantage
points for observing manatees, wildlife and sailboats in Biscayne Bay.
originally the base for Pan American World Airways'
seaplane flights from Greater Miami in the 1930s, now houses
Miami City Hall,
which was converted from the original hangar.
Earlier Grove history is also evident at
the 110-year-old home of pioneer Commodore Ralph Munroe.
The grandest home of them all is now the
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens,
an Italian Renaissance-style villa built by millionaire
James Deering in 1916.
Set on 10 acres of formal gardens and fountains -
with Biscayne Bay as backdrop - the 70-room estate is
filled with fabulous furnishings and antiques. In 1952, Vizcaya was purchased
by Miami-Dade County
and opened to the public as museum.
Miami Museum of Science & Space Transit Planetarium
features hands-on exhibits of everything from robotic dinosaurs to
virtual reality basketball, as well as star and space shows.
Festivals and street fairs such as the extraordinary
Coconut Grove Arts Festival; the
Coconut Grove Food and Music Festival (formerly Taste of the Grove); the
Miami/Bahamas Goombay Festival and the
Banyan Arts Festival, add to Coconut Grove's excitement.
may be one of the smallest municipalities in
but it is also one of the best known.
Covering a third of a square mile, the village has long been
the favored hideaway of the rich and famous (including a recent
American president), and celebrity spotting here is easy.
In Bal Harbour,
Collins Avenue becomes a wide boulevard graced
by stately palm trees and greenery.
Heading north out of
the road rises to a crest over the
Haulover Bridge and the park beyond.
Bal Harbour Shops
is the village's crown jewel. This upscale mall
is open to the sky, but designed to protect shoppers from the elements
in a tropical garden setting swathed in scarlet and purple bougainvillea.
Be sure to browse amongst a unique collection of internationally renowned
boutiques and stores evoking the style centers of New York, Paris, Milan and London.
The latest designer fashions and accessories, precious gems, and fine decorative
objects may be found in
Neiman Marcus and
Saks Fifth Avenue,
as well as in stores such as
Tiffany & Co.,
With it 660 miles of beautiful beaches, more than 8,000 lakes
which measures 700 square miles),
more than 33 springs and 4,500 islands,
is an American aquatic paradise.
And since the earliest of times,
has meant the dream of a new life in
paradise for many:
escaping the British; Spaniards and Greeks
looking for a better life; Cuban refugees dreaming of political freedoms and tourists
escaping cold weather and industrial cities.
The "Sunshine State"
has always been a place where almost
everyone is from somewhere else.
People first reached
at least 12,000 years ago.
The rich variety of environments in prehistoric
also supported a
large number of plants and animals.
Written records about life in
began with the arrival of the
Spanish explorer and adventurer
Juan Ponce de León
Sometime in April, Ponce de León waded ashore on the northeastern coast of
possibly near present-day St. Augustine.
He called the area
in honor of Pascua Florida ("the feast of the flowers"),
Spain's Easter time celebration.
Other Europeans may have reached
earlier, but no firm evidence of
this has been found.
Britain gained control of
in 1763 in exchange for Havana, Cuba,
which the British had captured from Spain during the Seven Years' War (1756-63).
Spain evacuated Florida after the exchange, leaving the province virtually empty.
The British had ambitious plans for Florida. First, it was split into two parts:
East Florida, with its capital at St. Augustine; and West Florida, with its seat at Pensacola.
British surveyors mapped much of the landscape and coastline and tried to develop relations
with a group of Indians who were moving into the area from the North.
The British called these people of
descent "Seminolies", or
The two Floridas remained loyal to Great Britain throughout the
War for American Independence, however, Spain regained control of the rest of
Florida as part of the peace treaty that ended the American Revolution.
Finally, after several official and unofficial U.S. military expeditions into the territory,
Spain formally ceded Florida to the United States in 1821
As a territory of the United States,
Florida was particularly attractive to people from
the older Southern plantation areas of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia,
who arrived in considerable numbers.
Florida's native population, the name
of Osceola has remained familiar after more than a century and a half.
Osceola was a
Seminole war leader who refused to leave his homeland in Florida.
noted for their fighting abilities, won the respect of U.S. soldiers for their bravery,
fortitude, and ability to adapt to changing circumstances during the Second Seminole War (1835-42).
Today, reservations occupied by Florida's Indian people exist at Immokalee,
Hollywood, Brighton (near the city of Okeechobee), and along the Big Cypress Swamp.
In addition to the
Seminole Indians, the
Miccosukee Tribe also calls
Prior to the Civil War,
Florida had been well on its way to becoming another of the southern cotton states.
Afterward, however, the lives of many residents changed.
The Ports of
again flourished due to the demand for lumber and
forest products to rebuild the nation's cities.
Beginning in the 1870s, residents from northern states visited Florida as tourists to
enjoy the state's natural beauty and mild climate.
Steamboat tours on
winding rivers were a popular attraction for these visitors.
In 1898, national attention focused on
Florida when the
The port city of
served as the primary staging area for U.S. troops bound for the war in Cuba.
Many Floridians supported the Cuban people's desire to be free of Spanish colonial rule.
By the turn of the century,
Florida's population and per capita wealth were increasing rapidly;
the potential of the
"Sunshine State" appeared endless.
By the end of World War I, land developers had descended on this virtual gold mine.
With more Americans owning automobiles, it became commonplace to vacation in
Many visitors stayed on, and exotic projects sprang up in southern
Some people moved onto land made from drained swamps.
Others bought canal-crossed tracts through what had been dry land.
The real estate developments quickly attracted buyers, and land in
was quickly sold and resold. Profits and prices for many developers reached inflated levels.