Miami is famous for its nightlife scene, parties, and beaches. The focus of many Miami vacations is fashionable South Beach, and while SoBe rightly deserves the attention, metropolitan Miami offers so much more, from Domino Park to downtown art galleries, from the splendors of Vizcaya to the sandy solitude of Virginia Key.
The clean architectural lines of restored mid-century hotels like the Fontainbleu and Eden Roc can be viewed from a convertible cruising up Collins Avenue (A1A). Continuing north, dress way up at the exclusive boutiques of Bar Harbor, or dress way down at the clothing-optional Haulover Beach.
The tip of Miami Beach south of Dade Avenue, SoBe is known for runway models and exclusive nightclubs. Don't be overly surprised if the last time you saw the couple at the next table at Mynt was on the cover of a magazine. If you think you've got what it takes, you can swim with supermodels at Nikki Beach Club, or show off your pects to the boys on 12th Street Beach, then rave on till dawn at Crobar.
But you don't have to go all gliteratti to thoroughly enjoy South Beach. Sip an iced tea at the News Café and watch the world's beautiful people stroll by. Dig into some serious seafood and righteous hash browns at Joe's Stone Crab on Washington Avenue. Take in the diverse collection of paintings, sculpture, and photography at the Bass Museum of Art. Or stroll along a self-guided tour of the Art Deco District starting on Ocean Drive.
Downtown is home to a number of uniquely Miami Florida attractions, including the blue-and-white mosaic tile tower of the Bacardi Building, and the Miami Art Museum, which showcases the city's artistic multiculturalism. South of downtown in Coconut Grove is the spectacular Renaissance-style estate of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.
Miami's significant Cuban community is centered downtown in Little Havana, which radiates from S.W. Eighth Street, or Calle Ocho, as the neighborhood is otherwise known. Challenge an old-timer to a game at Domino Park, then top off a meal at the mirrored Cuban diner Versailles with flan de turron and café cubanos, and lend and ear as the locals complain about Castro.
Just north of downtown, you'll find the Design District, home to dozens of leading-edge furnishing showrooms like Holly Hunt and Odegard. This 18-block neighborhood of old warehouses was redeveloped in the mid-nineties, and has become the center of hip Miami style. The district comes alive after dark at cool lounges, bars, restaurants, along with gallery events like Art Basel and Art Night events held the second Saturday of each month.
With architectural-revival-themed neighborhoods and the one-of-a-kind Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables expresses the epitome of Roaring Twenties elegance. Put on your diving cap and pretend you're Esther Williams or Johnny Weissmuller at the grandly opulent Venetian Pool.
You can travel Miami streets for only so long. Eventually you have to hit the beach. And the quintessential Miami Florida beach is the postcard-perfect Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area on Key Biscayne.