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Exploring the Magic City: Miami’s Best Beaches and Neighborhoods

Discovering the Charm of Miami’s Historic Art Deco District

Miami, also known as the Magic City, is a subtropical paradise that offers world-famous beaches, a variety of cuisine, and vibrant neighborhoods such as Little Havana, the Art Deco District, and Coconut Grove.

During my visit to Miami, I immediately noticed the magic of this city when I pulled out of the Miami airport’s rental car parkade. The pastel sky glittered as the sun began to set. In the following three days, I set out to see as much of Miami as possible, including its top beaches, culinary scene, and some of the most vibrant neighborhoods such as Little Havana, the Art Deco District, and Coconut Grove.

I started by visiting South Beach, the popular neighborhood that is synonymous with Miami. It’s home to two miles of pristine white sand beaches, top-notch restaurants, shops, and the historic Art Deco District. My sister and I stayed in the Lord Balfour Hotel for three nights, a 1940 hotel that underwent a multi-million dollar overhaul but still preserved its aesthetic integrity. The original fixtures, such as the terrazzo flooring and the hand-stenciled gold elevator door add to the hotel’s charm.

We then moved to the iconic Avalon Hotel, famous from the 1983 film Scarface, which features Al Pacino as a Cuban refugee turned Miami crime boss. The bright yellow, 1955 Oldsmobile Super 88 convertible parked outside, reportedly one of the most photographed cars in the US, distinguishes this 1941 art deco hotel. Nearby, we ate at Havana 1957, a restaurant that evokes memories of the city’s 1950s heyday, featuring delicious, authentic Cuban cuisine such as roasted chicken, rice, beans, and sweet plantains.

Our second day started with Sunday Jazz Brunch at Jaya in The Setai, a luxurious Asian-inspired resort known for its impeccable service. As we sipped mimosas and a jazz quartet played on a raised platform over the pool, we couldn’t resist the varied, plentiful buffet of food. The liquid nitrogen ice cream station in particular caught our attention. Later, we visited Coconut Grove and spent an afternoon at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, full of European treasures and formal gardens modeled after the Italian gardens of the 17th and 18th centuries. For dinner, we tried Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill, a restaurant with a world menu featuring American and Latin classics, where I had a deliciously whole roasted branzino and torrenjas, a Latin version of french toast with dulce de leche and apples.

Little Havana’s Ball & Chain, a restored jazz nightclub dating back to 1935, was our choice for Miami nightlife experience. It’s a hotspot for locals and tourists alike, and on a Sunday evening, we could see why. Salsa dancing with a Cuban instructor added to the fun night.

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The third day started with a 90-minute Art Deco Walking Tour with the Miami Design Preservation League. The tour begins at the Art Deco Welcome Centre, located in the heart of South Beach’s Art Deco District, and costs $35 US for adults, allowing for a deeper understanding of the city’s history and architecture. Director of the Preservation League, Mark Gordon, says, “South Beach has the largest amount of art deco buildings assembled in the world. Between 6th to 23rd Street, from the ocean to the bay, there are between 800 and 850 buildings under preservation, the majority art deco.”

“Miami Beach is constantly reinventing itself. The buildings are still there but the clientele is different. The restaurants and the hotels are way more upscale. The food of Miami Beach can rival any city,” says Gordon. Our last day in Miami was spent dining in two of the most well-known restaurants in South Beach, namely Gianni’s and A Fish Called Avalon. Gianni’s is located in the former Versace mansion, and A Fish Called Avalon is in the Avalon Hotel. At Gianni’s, we enjoyed people watching as we played a game called “spot the Versace.” We sipped Negroni cocktails and had fresh seafood at A Fish Called Avalon, such as Macadamia Crusted Snapper, jumbo sea scallops, and spicy bigeye tuna tartare. Their delicious key lime pie was also the winner of the last APC National Pie Championship held in 2019.

Miami is renowned for its beaches, international cuisine, and lively neighborhoods. South Beach, with its historic Art Deco District, and Coconut Grove are essential to enjoy a relaxing afternoon. For foodies, there is no shortage of choices, including Gianni’s and Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill. To learn about Miami’s rich architecture, the Art Deco Walking Tour won’t disappoint. Miami Beach has come a long way from when it was a senior’s citizens playground, as it constantly reinvents itself in restaurants and hotels now more upscale than ever.

The Magic City is a subtropical paradise with pristine white sandy beaches, world-class dining, and vibrant neighborhoods such as Little Havana, the Art Deco District, and Coconut Grove. Miami Beach is constantly evolving, as evidenced by the upscale restaurants and hotels on offer, ensuring it remains relevant. The historic Art Deco District, South Beach, and the architectural walking tours are just some of the highlights of this beautiful city.

Miami is a city that never ceases to amaze. The Magic City is full of wonders from its two miles of pristine white sand beaches to the vibrant neighborhoods of Little Havana and Coconut Grove. There is no shortage of world-class cuisine in this city either, with restaurants such as Sugarcane Raw Bar Grill and Gianni’s providing some of the best food in the country. To get a glimpse of Miami’s history and architecture, one should take an Art Deco Walking Tour.

Miami has it all, with pristine white sand beaches, a variety of international cuisine, and vibrant neighborhoods. South Beach boasts historic art deco buildings, making it a must-visit destination for architecture buffs. Coconut Grove offers visitors the opportunity to take in the grandiose Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Finally, to learn and appreciate Miami’s history and architecture, the Art Deco Walking Tour is the perfect activity.

Miami has come a long way since its days as a senior citizen’s playground. Miami Beach now boasts upscale restaurants, hotels, and shops that cater to a more sophisticated clientele. The historic Art Deco District, South Beach, and the architectural walking tours showcase Miami’s rich history and architecture. To embrace the past while enjoying a taste of the city’s present, visitors should enjoy locally-owned restaurants like Havana 1957 and A Fish Called Avalon.

Miami is a beautiful city, boasting two miles of pristine beachfront and a vibrant Latin flavor. South Beach’s historic Art Deco District is renowned worldwide, home to over 800 preserved art deco buildings. Coconut Grove, once the winter home of many wealthy Americans, is home to the opulent Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Visitors can learn about Miami’s history and architecture through the Art Deco Walking Tour. Miami’s constantly evolving restaurant and hotel scene offer world-class cuisine and a luxurious stay.

Miami is the perfect vacation destination, with its beautiful beaches, diverse cuisine, and lively neighborhoods like Little Havana, the Art Deco District, and Coconut Grove. The city’s beauty can be attributed to the preserved art deco buildings, as seen on the walking tour. Miami Beach is constantly evolving, with upscale restaurants and hotels, a far cry from its senior citizen’s playground days. Gianni’s and A Fish Called Avalon, both situated in historic buildings, serve local and contemporary fare, while Ball & Chain at Little Havana is the perfect spot for a vivacious night out.

Miami is a subtropical paradise that features world-famous beaches, top-rated cuisine, and exciting neighborhoods. South Beach is the most popular area and features a two-mile stretch of immaculate white sand beaches and top restaurants. For visitors seeking a change of pace, head 30 minutes to the quieter Coconut Grove area and visit the grandiose Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. For an in-depth understanding of Miami’s history and architecture, take the Art Deco Walking Tour.

A trip to Miami provides breathtaking moments, whether it’s enjoying two miles of pristine white sand beaches, dining at some of the best restaurants the city has to offer, or taking in the rich history and architecture of the area. South Beach is a must-visit location for its historic Art Deco District, while Coconut Grove offers a chance to see grandiose mansions and landscaped gardens. The best way to learn about Miami’s history and architecture is through an Art Deco Walking Tour led by the Miami Design Preservation League.

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