Miami is one of Florida’s — and the world’s — most popular vacation spots. Here are just three reasons why, and some tips for when you visit:
Tip No. 1: “Miami” includes Miami Beach, Coral Gables, the Design District, Wynwood and a host of other places that aren’t technically in the city. But they’re most definitely “Miami.”
Tip No. 2: You need a car. Miami (see Tip #1) sprawls over an area the size of Rhode Island.
3 Places to visit in Miami, Florida
Circa 39’s WunderBar. Photo: Lindsay Wurm
South Beach is where movie stars, millionaires, models, and regular folks can get a ground-level view of Ocean Drive, the beach and the Art Deco hotels that have served as the iconic backdrop for “Miami CSI,” “Miami Vice” and just about every televised sporting event in a 25-mile radius.
Every north-south street here has a distinctive flavor and is packed with restaurants and shops. East-west spots not to miss are tiny Española Way with its Mediterranean flair, and Lincoln Road, a chic, pedestrian-only mall lined with shops and eateries, most of which offer shaded outdoor eating under clusters of umbrellas. The stunning Holocaust Memorial stands a few blocks north, behind the convention center.
Explorers and culture-seekers will appreciate the central Miami Beach location of Circa 39 — just minutes from a number of craft breweries, the trendy arts district, numerous live music venues and more. In between it all, kick back at the chic, tropical pool deck, sip on a rum cocktail at Wunderbar and relax in the Instagrammable WunderGarden. Only a block from Miami Beach, Circa 39 is a happy haven for upbeat travelers of the world.
Classy, chic, trendy and historic all in one. The Gables is one of the oldest neighborhoods — actually, a city unto itself — where you can come for the architecture, enjoy the fine dining and stay for a stroll through some of the finest art galleries in the area.
The Biltmore Hotel’s 93-foot, the copper-clad tower may be the Gables’ most recognizable point. It’s modeled after a 12th-century Moorish tower in Seville, Spain. Everyone from Judy Garland to Al Capone has stayed there, including “Tarzan,” Johnny Weissmuller. It’s got a spa, a 22,000-square-foot marble swimming pool and one of the most elegant and challenging — but not daunting — golf courses around.
The Venetian Pool started as a quarry, providing the rock to build the first Coral Gables homes. City founder George Merrick fancied it up as a “Venetian” lagoon with loggias and towers, added waterfalls, a cave and “cliffs” for the kids to jump off (you, too, if you want), and opened it as the “Venetian Casino” in 1924. The 820,000-gallon pool, fed by artesian wells, is drained and refilled nightly.
Drive down just about any street to see some of the exquisitely maintained original Mediterranean Revival 1920s homes with their Old World arches and columns. Merrick’s coral stone home (tours available) is on Coral Way.
Miracle Mile is the center of the shopping and fine-eating district. It’s hard to go wrong here. There’s cuisine from around the world. Gallery night (first Friday) brings showings of fine contemporary and Latin art, including talented new artists and Cuban art you won’t find anywhere else.
Design District and Wynwood
Wynwood is best known for casual eats, including clusters of food trucks, and as the heart of the region’s art scene. There are galleries galore, but no trip to South Florida is complete without a visit to the Wynwood Walls, a world-class display of graffiti by some of the top artists in the urban art field, such as Os Gemeos and Shepard Fairey.
That’s just a few blocks from one of Miami’s most impressive structures, the Bacardi Buildings, at 21st and Biscayne. They very deliberately merge art and innovative engineering, with massive murals of traditional Spanish blue-and-white tiles on one and walls made of 1-inch-thick hammered glass tapestries on the other.
Restaurants in the Design District are equally trendy, but more upscale, with fusion menus and fancier décor. There’s art here, too. A whole crowd of jury-selected resident artists work and show at the Bakehouse Art Complex, and Swampspace Gallery regularly presents innovative Miami art. Visit Florida Staff