Miami may be synonymous with vice but it's also a serious tourist town. Beaches packed with party-goers, fabulous Art Deco architecture and a year-round tropical climate entice thousands of visitors to Miami's sun-soaked shoreline every year. Miami tourism is heavily centred around South Beach, located across Biscayne Bay on a barrier island east of the city centre. There's more to Miami than just beaches though, as the city is a gateway to the Caribbean, a short hop to the Everglades and a centre of culture from Cuba and beyond, all set in a dazzling sun-drenched climate.
The jewel in Miami's crown is undoubtedly South Beach, the party-friendly stretch of sand renowned for its wild Spring Break adventures, when students from across the United States descend on Miami each Spring to celebrate their university holidays. If the action is too intense, head north to the quieter but no less interesting North Beach to soak up some of Florida's year-round sun. Continuing the aquatic theme is Miami's popular Seaquarium, where visitors can watch killer whales and dolphins frolic in the tropical sea waters. Another of the most popular things to do in Miami is visit the nearby Everglades – a vast region of natural swampland best explored on hovercraft.
Eat and Drink
Miami restaurants are heralded for their 'New World' cuisine; an exotic mix of Latin American and Caribbean influences cooked with traditional European precision. Typical Miami dishes include fresh seafood infused with hot Caribbean spices and traditional Cuban dishes. One of the finest exponents of Cuban cuisine is La Carreta, which serves authentic dishes from across the Straits of Florida 24 hours a day. Another local favourite is Baleen at Grove Isle Hotel and Spa – a consistent award-winner for its ever-changing menu of fine dining. Miami's drinking establishments tend to be upmarket in their outlook and many are housed in the city's top-end hotels. Dress to impress if you're planning to drink around South Beach as getting past security can be a tough task.
Where to Stay
Art Deco architecture reigns supreme in Miami owing to the city's rapid expansion during the 1920s and '30s. Many of the finest Miami hotels are Art Deco masterpieces, particularly around the popular South Beach area. The Mutiny Hotel in the heart of Coconut Grove is a popular choice, while The Anglers Resort at South Beach is an upscale resort featuring inspired interior designs. Numerous high-end hotels populate downtown Miami, including the JW Marriott Marquis Miami and the stunning Hotel Beaux Arts, which boasts spectacular views through its floor-to-ceiling windows. A fantastic mid-range option is the Miami Inn and Suites, which is well known for its outstanding concierge service.
Trendy Miami is one of the fashion capitals of the United States and it's common to see the streets of South Beach teeming with well-dressed locals. Not surprisingly, upscale boutiques are one of the hallmarks of Miami shopping and you can find plenty of exclusive outlets across the Bay and downtown. One of the best known is The Webster, though expect to spend hundreds of dollars on a single item in what is one of Miami's most expensive stores. For a cheaper alternative, head to the Lincoln Road Antique and Collectible Markets, where you can pick up some souvenirs of your trip to the city.
Miami like a Local
Miami makes the most of its stunning natural location and Art Deco architecture by welcoming millions of tourists to the various festivals and major events it hosts each year. The annual Art Basel Miami is one of the world's most popular art fairs and attracts celebrities and art aficionados eager to parlay some serious cash into their collections. Another of Miami's most popular events is the yearly Miami Masters tennis tournament. It features both men's and women's events and is regarded as one of the biggest tennis tournaments outside the 4 Grand Slam events. The South Beach Wine and Food Festival is growing in stature as well and has helped to cement the city's reputation as a serious food town.