This small neighborhood packs a big cultural wallop. Settled in the years following Castro's revolution, it's now home to a third of Miami's 2 million residents. Its main...
Miami Airport Guide
Things to do in Miami, FL
More About Miami
Sultry, seductive Miami, Florida entertains many identities: snowbird refuge, retiree haven, celebrity playground, immigrant stop-off and tourist mecca. All undeniably accurate, they're telling descriptors of everything this dazzling city embraces. They're also indicative of the melting-pot culture that has come to define South Florida, an area originally dismissed by developers. The region later found purpose as a resort destination and as farm land for Florida's first settlers (or "Crackers"). These initial roles ultimately led to today's Miami, a capital of travel, commerce and self-assertive flamboyance.
But what else could you ask of a sub-tropical wonderland washed by brilliant light and kissed by enveloping seas? As recently as the early 20th century, America's Riviera was largely a backwater. Its potential was finally brought to fruition by the arrival of the railroad, promise of a year-round growing season, and the emerging leisure class's disposable income for vacationing in Miami. These days, easy access is a given, and agriculture flourishes. However, the city's natural beauty – and world-class Miami travel destinations – most strongly render it a fashionable escape for fun and freedom.
The primary locus for such hip activity is Miami Beach and, more specifically, South Beach (affectionately deemed SoBe). Artistic, self-aware and boasting some of Miami's best vacation spots and hottest beaches, it's an enclave that maintains its vibrancy no matter the moment, illuminated alternately by sunlight and neon. Here, Art Deco Miami landmarks tie past and present together with pastel sleekness while impossibly beautiful people lounge during the day and party late into the night.
Still, Miami vacation spots and travel destinations are not all this area has to offer. Miami transcends the promoted glitz it's gained from association with movies, TV shows and magazine spreads. It encompasses Coconut Grove's residential beauty and superb shopping (CocoWalk and the Streets of Mayfair attract folks by droves) and Coral Gables' winding streets, Mediterranean architecture and refined lifestyle. It even reaches out to the quiet, suburban domesticity of South Dade with its malls, parks and wildlife attractions.
Miami travel guides note that it also shines as a beacon of accessible liberty for immigrants from throughout the Caribbean and South and Central America. Escaping poverty and lack of opportunity, they come with a dearth of material goods but an inextinguishable hope and an abiding heritage that manifests itself in food, music and community richness.
Food and music, in fact, showcase Miami's zest for all things sensual. Cool jazz, spirited salsa rhythms, and a cuisine that unites fresh seafood, tropical fruits and tongue-tingling flavors provide evidence of a people and a city mesmerized by – and dedicated to – the spices of life. Experience its many incarnations in the most sizzling Miami neighborhoods: Little Havana, SoBe or the Design District. Each one boasts top-notch clubs and superlative restaurants, energized by a style-conscious clientele, so you will never run out of things to do in Miami.
Such range and so much possibility – for both spirit and appetite – ultimately impart to Miami a semblance of meaning that it neither needs nor demands. The city's allure remains independent of attempts to quantify it, and regardless of the effort, satisfaction comes with just experiencing it. After all, when sympathetic climate and abundant care give rise to a strong, vivid hybrid, it's not the parentage that draws attention but simply the beauty of the flower.
Things to do in Miami
Miami is known for...
It snowed in Miami once...well, actually, it flurried briefly in 1977. Since that time, Miami's climate has hovered gracefully around 80 to 90 degrees in the summer, dipping to a perfectly cool 65 degrees in most winter months. The sea breeze coming in from the Atlantic cuts the temperature perfectly, reducing humidity. The glowing sun blanketed in cloudless skies makes nearly every day in Miami a beach day - which explains why everyone here is so tan.
According to the most recent census figures, the population of Miami-Dade County is 65% Latin American or of Latino origin. With one of the largest Latin American populations of any city in America, many Miami residents are native Spanish speakers or bilingual. Haitian Creole is another language that is prominent in Miami, though it's mostly limited to predominantly Haitian neighborhoods. The varying cultures in Miami create a cultural mosaic, and are evident in the city's culinary enrichment and year-round festivals.
The City of Miami is almost unequivocally tied to South Beach, though the two are far from interchangeable. South Beach is packed year-round with tourists and locals alike who flock to the rolling sands and warm waters. Not to be ignored are the many other beaches in Miami, most of which are located over the Rickenbacker Causeway on Key Biscayne. These are natural beaches and are often a tranquil, family-friendly alternative to South Beach. Among them are Bill Baggs Cape, which offers scenic biking, running trails and an historic lighthouse, and Crandon Park, which consists mainly of shallow waters perfect for lounging.
For over two decades, Miami has been known as the "Cruise Capital of the World." It is completely surrounded by water. Locals embrace the open seas by boating out to the sandbar at Mashta Flats, located just off Key Biscayne. Any kind of boat can be rented or chartered from the Grove Key Marina in Coconut Grove, and dozens of day and evening cruises set out from Bayside Marketplace downtown. The waters surrounding Miami are pristine and glassy, making every boat outing a relaxing one.
Miami is home to a number of top modeling agencies including Elite, Next, and MC2. Celebrities are frequently spotted throughout popular restaurants, clubs and lounges. With all the surrounding competition, fashion consciousness in Miami is a must. Every day here is a fashion show, whether you're stepping out on the town or walking into the grocery store. Designer labels abound, risks are taken - the point is not to be seen but to be noticed.