Miami Travel Guide

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Bayfront, Miami Downtown

Bayfront, Miami Downtown

Raymond Longaray

Welcome to Miami -- the sunny southern city in the sunny state of Florida. To most people who have never taken a Miami trip, just think of Sonny Crocket and Ricardo Tubbs in a speedboat chasing some drug dealers. Be your own judge and take a Miami vacation to find out what this city really is like: a melting pot of cultures, a warm and friendly city on one of the most beautiful spots in the world, a city of great architecture and the perfect starting point for exploring the rich variety of sights and sounds in Florida.

But most people think Miami is only a city of fun and games based just on tourism. Miami is a lot of fun, but it is also a huge financial center of the world. Downtown Miami has the largest concentration of International Banks in the United States. Miami was named a Gamma world city based on its economic importance especially towards Latin America. U.S. Southern Command Headquarters are in Miami, also the National Hurricane Center calls Miami home. Miami also how the highest percentage of foreign- born residents in the world! 59% of Miami residents were born outside the US. This makes Miami one of the most diverse cities in the world.

Miami is also known as the capital of Latin America and the Caribbean for economic, transportation, and cultural reasons.

When you are in Miami, one thing is sure, you will not be bored! There are too many Miami activities to enjoy such as going to museums, hanging out at one of many Miami restaurants, cafes, or bars, and dancing until dawn at a hot nightclub.

Now, if you haven't taken a Miami trip for Memorial Weekend, you are missing out.  Imagine BCR weekend in Daytona with class and about 100,000 more people.  There are three main streets where all the action can be found: Ocean, Collins, and Washington. All three streets are within walking distance from one another. A great place to find excellent Miami hotels is along the ocean -- and it's well worth the money. You're always within walking distance to the beach, of course and a Starbucks is always nearby.  Hey, did you know you could stay in Versace's house for about $1,200.00 per night? 

The beach is beautiful, the water is very warm and the view to the bottom of the ocean is crystal clear. You can rent an umbrella and 2 lounges for about $24 for the entire day. It's not as hot as you think it would be on the beach, however.  It's actually hotter on the strip than on the beach. Collins offers plenty of shopping and lots of expensive boutiques. The Miami restaurants in the area are pretty amazing as well and reasonably priced. Ocean drive restaurants may be a bit more expensive, but the excellent cuisine and service is well worth the price tag.  

The Art Deco architecture in the old section of Miami Beach alongside the beach is impressive and worth a leisurely stroll to view its beauty.

Top Ten Miami Attractions

Biltmore Hotel – Located in the Coral Gables area of Miami, the Biltmore Hotel is sits on 150 acres of pristine land. The hotel features a magnificent 18-hole Donald Ross-designed golf course, 10 tennis courts, a pool, a wide variety of restaurants, and a world-class fitness center. The Biltmore is much more than just a hotel, it is one of Miami’s star attractions. If you plan stay at Miami’s Biltmore Hotel the hotel features 275 guest rooms and suites including the famous Poolside Cabana Suites. 1200 Anastasia Avenue, Coral Gables FL, 33134, Ph: 800-915-1929, www.biltmorehotel.com.

The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens - Agricultural industrialist James Deering built the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in 1916. The site features 10 acres of formal gardens, a main house, and an historic village. This National Historic Landmark is open to the public 364 days a year. 3251 South Miami Avenue, Miami FL, 33129, Ph: 305-250-9133, www.vizcayamuseum.org.

Coral Castle – Some people call it The Eighth Wonder of the World and others call it a mystery. But one thing is true about Coral Castle – it is the most amazing sight you will see during your Miami vacation. One man -- Edward Leedskalnin, a five-foot tall 100-pound man, built Coral Castle from 1920-1951. The amazing part is the stones that were used to build the castle weighed several tons each. The question still remains, how did Edward Leedskalnin build the castle alone? 28655 S. Dixie Highway, Homestead FL, Ph: 305-248-6345. Open daily from 7:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m.
 
Bass Museum of Art – The Bass Museum of Art is located in the center of Miami’s historic district and it has been on the National Register of Historic Places since 1978. The museum features works by Pablo Picasso, Juan Gris, and Julio Gonzalez as well as works by pop artists such as Andy Warhol and Richard Linder. The exhibition schedule changes every several months or so, so please check the website before your visit. 2121 Park Avenue, Ph: 305-673-7530, www.bassmuseum.org. Admission $8.

Elian Gonzalez’s House – Who could forget that heartbreaking scene that took place in the home of Elian Gonzalez’s relatives on April 22, 2000. Federal police, were forced to remove Elian by force in order to return the child to his father in Cuba. The home, now a shrine, can be photographed on Sundays from 10:00 a.m.-6:00 p.m. 2319 N.W. 2nd Street at N.W. 23rd Avenue, Little Havana. Cost: Free.

Barnacle Historic State Park – Featuring beautiful views of Biscayne Bay and Old Florida, Barnacle Historic State Park is an excellent place to spend the day sightseeing or relaxing. Activities and points of interest include: Miami’s oldest home complete with original furnishings, Yoga by the Sea every Wednesday night from 6:00-7:30 p.m., and special Moonlight concerts and dances. 3485 Main Highway, Coconut Grove FL, 305-442-6866, www.floridastateparks.org/TheBarnacle.

Miami Metro Zoo – The Miami Metro Zoo is a must see for adults and kids alike. The 740-acre zoo has 81 exhibits, 1,306 specimens, 392 inverts, 428 fishes, and 10,000-15,000 Italian honeybees. Visitors to Miami Metro Zoo can also catch a wildlife show, attend a “keepers Talk,” go to an “Animal Meet and Greet,” have a “Pelican Feeding Encounter,” or ride on the “Wildlife Carousel.” Also onsite is Lake Iguana where visitors can rent a water cycle and observe some native wildlife. Public Tram Tours are also available every day of the week and weekends. 1 Zoo Boulevard, Miami FL, Ph: 305-251-0400, www.miamimetrozoo.com.

South Beach – South Beach is Miami’s hottest spot for nightlife, dining, shopping, and recreation. A major South Beach attraction is the Art Deco Historic District. The buildings in the district were constructed in the early 1900s and “they have influenced” buildings around the world. Art Deco District Tours are available every Wednesday-Sunday. Local architects and historians conduct the tours. The Art Deco Welcome Center, 1001 Ocean Drive, Miami FL, Ph: 305-531-3484, www.mdpl.org.

The World Exotic Museum – If you’re looking for something different, look no further than The World Exotic Museum. This 12,000-square-foot museum features more than 4,000 pieces of art, sculptures, artifacts, and tapestries handpicked by 70+-year-old owner/curator Naomi Wilzig. The museum is located a few minutes from Ocean Drive and the beach at 1205 Washington Avenue, Ph: 305-969-WEAM, www.weam.com, info@weam.com.

Coconut Grove – Coconut Grove is South Miami’s oldest settlement, but it is also one of Miami’s hottest places for shopping and hanging out. While the area is considered upscale, the shops and boutiques at the shopping village called “CocoWalk” and the “Streets of Mayfair” (228,000 square feet of shopping and dining) attract a young crowd of college kids and teenagers as well as tourists. Coconut Grove is also home to several outdoor lounges, restaurants, and bars located at Commodore Plaza. CocoWalk: 38 shops, 3015 Grand Avenue, Ph: 305-444-0777. Streets of Mayfair: 38 shops, 2911 Grand Avenue, Ph: 305-448-1700.

Contributors

December 04, 2006 change by waterfalls (2 points)

August 17, 2004 change by angie_p (1 point)

February 28, 2006 change by allumzahai (1 point)

May 31, 2008 change by mcburton

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