Miami Beach: Known as the “American Riviera” or “Hollywood of Latin America,” Miami Beach is a visual feast of pastels and whimsical details. The offshore island has become a byword for beach life and night life.
The flagship is the world-famous Art Deco District on South Beach (also called SoBe). The more than 800 lovingly restored buildings from the 1920s to 1940s are considered the world’s largest ensemble of Art Deco buildings. Preservationists and business people have invested years of work and millions of dollars in this neighborhood to preserve the beautiful old buildings and transform them into hotels, restaurants, clubs and boutiques.
According to topmbadirectory, Miami has the highest density of boutique hotels in the world, which primarily attracts a young trendy crowd to the area between Ocean Drive and Biscayne Bay – to where the world-class architect Frank Gehry designed the new concert hall for the New World Symphony built on around 8,000 m². The 200-million-dollar building with first-class technical and acoustic equipment is the star architect’s first building in Florida. The concert hall is characterized by its broken geometry, the angled planes, tilting rooms and inverted shapes. It offers a concert hall with 700 seats, a music library, a studio for conductors, 26 individual and six group rehearsal rooms. A park adjacent to the building and a multi-storey car park offer space for the curious public – the front of the building also functions as an oversized screen on which video projections or live transmissions can be shown in the open air.
Downtown Miami: In addition to the financial and business mile, Brickell Avenue, the district now stands for art and culture. The architecturally impressive Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts by Cesar Pelli offers an extravagant platform for famous artists and talented newcomers. Visitors interested in culture can experience Broadway musicals, ballets, dance and cabaret as well as jazz, rock and pop concerts by world-famous music greats in front of a breathtaking backdrop.
Wynwood Arts District, Design District, MiMo District: From Betancourt to Botero, Reggae to Rumba, Art Deco to Art Basel – within just a few years Miami has blossomed into a top-class art Mecca. The Design District, the center of South Florida’s furniture design and interior design industry, is located north of Downtown Miami. Interior designers, exhibition rooms and art galleries are lined up here and are also open to the general public. In addition, chic clubs and lounges have settled here, which attract an illustrious scene audience late in the evening with their mixture of techno, house and art events. In the immediate vicinity you will find the Wynwood Arts District, in which, among other things, the Rubell Family Collection, the largest private collection of contemporary art in the United States, and the Margulies Collection, with its exciting photography and fine art exhibits.
In terms of architecture, in addition to the famous Art Deco District, Miami is now also returning to its roots on the mainland: the MiMo style (Miami Modern) has been experiencing a renaissance for several years. Fresh green shines along Biscayne Boulevard between 50th and 77th Streets, surrounded by the futuristic Jetson style of the 1950s, embodied by the Motel Blu, for example.
Little Havana and Little Haiti: Miami’s Cuban vibe is best experienced in Little Havana. Here the air is heavy with the scent of strong Café Cubano and sweet sugar cane juice, which Cubans call “guarapo”. Although many people from Nicaragua and Honduras have also moved here over the years, the Cuban authenticity has been preserved in the restaurants, nightclubs, theaters and cigar shops around the main street Calle Ocho. Salsa and merengue sounds can be heard everywhere.
To the north of the Design District is Little Haiti, home to many Haitian artists, musicians, and entrepreneurs. Against the background of Caribbean colors and Creole charm, the visitor repeatedly encounters a piece of Afro-Caribbean religion. Between family-run grocery stores and restaurants, you can sometimes even feel a little of the magic of voodoo. The pride of the community is the Caribbean Marketplace : an open-air replica of Port-au-Prince’s famous Iron Market.
Coconut Grove: South of Downtown is Miami’s oldest community, Coconut Grove. Known as an artists’ colony in its heyday, the culturally diverse place today attracts tourists and locals alike. Numerous restaurants and cafés along the streets invite you to linger after a stroll through the galleries, antique shops, boutiques and bookstores. If you like, you can also be chauffeured through the lively district in a cycle rickshaw. Behind walls of coral rock lies the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, a 70-room mansion packed with European art treasures spanning four centuries. Each February, the neighborhood honors its artistic roots with the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, America’s largest outdoor arts extravaganza.
Coral Gables: Red roofs, Mediterranean-style homes, streets named after Spanish cities and conquerors, and a network of waterways anchored by sleek yachts define Coral Gables. Known as “City Beautiful”, the district designed by George Merrick in the 1920s has some interesting sights to offer: The Venetian Pool – considered by many to be the most beautiful swimming pool in the world – was created in 1923 from an old coral quarry and was known for its playful ornaments, fountains, cobbled bridge, caves and waterfalls as one of the most sophisticated meeting places of the place.
Also nearby is the legendary Biltmore Hotel, which during its heyday in the 1920s hosted illustrious guests such as Al Capone, the Duchess of Windsor and later Judy Garland. During World War II it served as a military hospital. It was extensively renovated in 1986 and went bankrupt just a few years later. In 1992 it reopened. The Biltmore has the largest pool of any US hotel, where movie Tarzan Johnny Weissmuller taught swimming and set a world record in the 1930s.
The open-air shopping mall The Village of Merrick Park only opened in December 2002 as the latest highlight. More than 100 shops, boutiques and restaurants are grouped here around an attractive park with colorful flowers.
Food for the head: Other museums worth visiting
The Bass Museum of Art, in the heart of the Art Deco District, offers various temporary exhibitions and an attractive collection of European art and sculpture.
The Historical Museum of South Florida tells, among other things, the history of the Cuban exiles very vividly.
The Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) is an art museum dedicated to modern, contemporary, international art of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Jewish Museum of Florida traces the history of Jews in Florida back to 1763.
Not only in the MOCA – Museum of Contemporary Art, lovers of contemporary art get their money’s worth. www.mocanomi.org. The Miami Art Museum is also committed to this.
The Lowe Art Museum is part of the University of Miami and displays works of art from all parts of the world that are up to 5,000 years old. www6.miami.edu/lowe
The Haitian Heritage Museum describes itself as the Haitian Mecca in Little Haiti, where everyone is invited to admire the beauty of Haitian art, whether in the form of historical collections, films, music or books.
The renowned Patricia and Philipp Frost Art Museum on the Florida International University campus is dedicated to Latin American and Modern American art.
The Miami Science Museum, houses over 140 interactive science exhibits on physics, electricity, light, acoustics and anatomy. Astronomy and laser shows are offered daily in the adjoining planetarium. In addition, the home features the largest natural history collection in South Florida. The attached animal center, which cares for injured birds of prey and reptiles, is home to 175 animals.
A rather whimsical museum is the Ancient Spanish Montheryin North Miami Beach. The monastery cloister was built in 1133-1141 near Segovia in Spain. In 1925, the newspaper mogul William R. Hearst acquired the early Gothic-Romanesque building, packed the approximately 35,000 stones in crates and had them shipped to America. Due to a foot and mouth disease rampant at the time, the crates were opened to examine the straw, with the stones being put back incorrectly. The boxes were then stored in New York until the decision was made in 1952 to put the world’s largest and most expensive jigsaw puzzle back together. The cloister resembles the original, but some of the stones are still in the garden because they could not be identified. www.spanishmonastery.com
The Miami Children’s Museum is dedicated to the city’s youngest visitors.
Excursions and tours in the surrounding area
Key Biscayne: One of the most famous islands in the Florida Keys archipelago is Key Biscayne. The Rickenbacker Causeway connects the mainland with the island, just a few miles southeast of Miami, which boasts beautiful beaches. Most impressive is the five kilometer long, very wide beach in Crandon Park in the upper half of the island. At the southern end is Bill Bragg’s Cape Florida State Park.
Key Biscayne is also home to the Miami Seaquarium, where you can learn about the wonders of the sea and swim with dolphins. You can also spot sea turtles and manatees here. The Aquarium is one of Miami’s most famous attractions.
Another sensation is Everglades National Park ‘s swamps, which are fed by Lake Okeechobee. The unique landscape consists of large areas of sedge, interrupted by forest islands and waterways. This biotope is home to many animal and plant species – including more than 400 species of birds and the only crocodile population in the USA.
Biscayne National Park : Dense mangrove swamps protect the coast of Biscayne National Park with the northernmost islands of the Florida Keys. The highlight of the park is the coral reef with its coral formations, myriads of fish and other sea creatures. The beach wall islands here are pristine, so the coral is healthier and the water clearer than at the underwater parks further south. Glass bottom boat trips as well as diving and snorkeling trips are offered. All excursions are arranged by the visitor center.