Best Place to Visit In Miami

Miami Beach

Located on a barrier island and connected to the mainland by a series of bridges, Miami Beach is a mix of quiet neighborhoods, lively entertainment-focused areas, and long stretches of soft-sand beaches. The southernmost portion of the island is the historic and action-packed area known as South Beach, and this is where you’ll find many of the top attractions and things to do.

One of the biggest attractions in Miami Beach is the Art Deco Historic District, with pastel buildings from the 1930s and early 1940s sporting classic neon signs. An expensive tourist district, this area features numerous beachfront restaurants, shops, hotels, and plenty of sunbathing opportunities.

The main street in this area is Ocean Drive, a section of road located along the oceanfront and home to some beautiful Art Deco buildings. Ocean Drive was closed to all but pedetrian traffic in May of 2020 but in 2022 opened to one-way vehicle traffic from 15th Street to 5th Street.

One block inland, running parallel with Ocean Drive, is Collins Avenue. Collins Avenue is actually State Road A1A and is the main street in Miami Beach, joining numerous neighborhoods.

The South Beach includes the southernmost portion of Miami Beach, including downtown Miami and the Port of Miami. It covers an area of 6.5 sq. km. This area has a diverse international demographic and a strong presence of celebrities, models, and entertainers. Most of its architecture is from the early 20th century, and the region has a distinct art deco style. Bright pastel homes and businesses can also be seen along the main Ocean Drive. This area has become known as the Art Deco district and is protected under the National Register of Historic Places as of 1979. This was significant as a move to revitalize the area for younger generations as it was faced with threats to bulldoze many of the historic buildings. In contrast, though, investors such as Tony Goldman and Ian Schrager purchased these art deco-style hotels and reimagined them. They maintained their historic look while still becoming some of the most sought-after hot spots of the ‘80s and ‘90s. Around the same time, TV shows and movies were beginning to highlight the area. The TV series Miami Vice had a strong influence on viewers and helped to reinvigorate the image and popularity of South Beach and Miami Beach more generally. The upswing in favor of South Beach brought famed celebrities such as Madonna, Sylvester Stallone, Cher, Oprah Winfrey, and Gianni Versace to the area. 

Art Deco Historic District

Even if you have no interest in the beach, the Art Deco Historic District is worth a trip out to Miami Beach. This architectural style, popular in the 1930s and 40s, dominates the trendy South Beach neighborhood.

These uniquely designed buildings, in a range of pastel colors and displaying large neon signs, were built following a devastating hurricane that struck in 1926. Many are hotels and restaurants, most of which have been beautifully restored. Along some of the main streets, awnings on the lower level of these buildings provide shade for outdoor dining areas. Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue are the two main streets through the area.

If you are interested in staying in one of these historic gems, many of the Art Deco buildings still function as hotels and have much more character than modern hotels. Some good options are the National Hotel Miami Beach or the more moderately priced Hotel Breakwater South Beach.

Visitors can learn more about Art Deco design during one of the daily walking tours offered by the Miami Design Preservation League. The tours, which run up to two hours, provide an introduction to Art Deco, Mediterranean Revival and Miami Modern (MiMo) styles found in the historic district’s hotels, restaurants and other notable buildings.

The League also runs the Art Deco Museum and Welcome Center which educates visitors about the signature design elements of the genre, including symmetry, glass block, neon lighting, curved edges and corners, round porthole windows, terrazzo floors and more.

 

South Beach

Located at the southern end of Miami Beach is the always action-packed neighborhood of South Beach. This is what many people have in mind when they plan a beach vacation to Miami. The wide section of beach that fronts the ocean along Ocean Drive is one of the big attractions. Often full of people in summer, this is the most popular beach in Miami and one of the top beaches in Florida.

This is a place to see and be seen, but also a place to swim and enjoy the shallow waters, escape the heat, and soak up the sun. A paved walk is set well back from the beach, and in behind is Ocean Drive. Art Deco buildings line the streets and offer luxury hotel rooms and a good mix of dining options.

South Beach is home to several popular festivals and events held throughout the year. By day, it’s a great place to wander around or hang out on the beach. At night it comes alive with dining and nightlife.

If you’re curious about the best things to do in South Beach Miami – look no further. Visiting the Lifegaurd Towers is, without a doubt, one of the best things to do in South Beach. In 1992, when Hurricane Andrew raged through South Florida, it sadly destroyed all of the original lifeguard huts, leaving the city of Miami to re-design the huts as future, inspirational icons. Architect William Lane helped in constructing the first stands, and local businesses and design competitions helped in the development as well.

Miami beach now houses more than 31 unique lifeguard towers. Some of the art work on the stands takes inspiration from bright, cartoonish colors, Miami’s Tropical Art Deco, and more free flowing forms. These quirky, inspirational towers continue to make an impression on tourists from all around the world and remains one of the top things to do in South Beach.

They represent a beautiful symbolism to remind us that even after a devastating disaster, you can still rise from the rubble.

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