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Introduction to Miami
Sunny Florida skies, a buzzing nightlife and the insistent rhythm of Cuban culture have electrified this sultry polyglot of a city fronting the Atlantic Ocean. Celebrity-drenched South Beach attracts people-watchers, but beyond the glitz, the Art Deco stylings of the Venetian Pool provide a glimpse into Miami’s sleepy past. Its symmetry with nature is reflected in the dolphins that play at Miami Sequarium and the tropical birds that flutter at Parrot Jungle Island. For each Pan-Mediterranean-Asian haute dining room is a down-home, no-nonsense Cuban bodega serving hearty food at ridiculously cheap prices.
Things to Do
From water sports and sunbathing on Miami Beach to alligators in the Everglades, Miami lives outdoors. Play golf at Crandon Park, watch manatees on Coconut Grove’s waterfront, scuba dive off Jupiter Beach or simply soak up the sun. On rainy days, you can school yourself in Dutch and Italian tapestries at the upstanding Bass Museum of Art or learn about the city’s humble beginnings at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida.
Miami provides an eclectic shopping experience, from designer boutiques at Bal Harbour or mainstream chains at Bayside Marketplace. Miami likes its megamalls, and one of the best is Aventura Mall, which houses a fabulous collection of shops and department stores. Look for new art and furniture in the Design District, or take home a little bit of Cuba with a hand-stitched guayabera shirt from Little Havana. Pick up incense and Indian imports from Española Way’s Mediterranean storefronts, which close to traffic on Sunday afternoons.
Nightlife and Entertainment
Nightclubs change quicker than stoplights in trendy South Beach, where beautiful people groove to thumping beats in velvet-roped hotspots until dawn. Follow Latin grooves to tiny Española Way and toast with creative cocktails on Lincoln Road. Sip martinis in the swanky bars and lounges in the Design District, or watch live, jazz, flamenco, and national bands at the Carnival Performing Arts Centre. On Sunday, join the locals at Alabama Jack’s for cheap beer and crispy conch fritters.
Restaurants and Dining
Traditional Cuban meets spicy Caribbean and an ocean of seafood to create Floribbean cuisine, which permeates many Miami restaurants. Eat deliciously sloppy tacos at 24-hour joints, plus Thai, Japanese, and five-star sensations in South Beach and along Lincoln Road. Try Cuban along Calle Ocho, Haitian in Overtown, and casual comfort food at the Grove. Dine at an open-air café in Coral Gables, while enjoying stone crab claws and a mojito, the city’s signature drink.