The modern Miami Downtown and metro
Miami, to me, is a vibrant yet weird combo of business and pleasure. Miami is the second-most populous metropolis and one of the busiest ports in the southeastern United States, and the third tallest skyline and the largest hub of international banks in the country. It is also known as a popular vacation and retirement tropical destination. The city enjoys a long coastline along Biscayne Bay which contains several hundred natural and artificially created barrier islands. It’s pleasant weather and miles of beaches allows for year-round outdoor activities like snorkeling, scuba diving, and surfing.
Weird enough, the city is incredibly close to Cuba. Lots of Cuban and Caribbean migrated to Miami and settled down, while the Little Havana district displays Cuban art and a vibrant mix of western and Latin culture. The connection with the Caribbean somehow felt special to me.
Visit Key West, the southernmost tip of the United States which is a very iconic people to many traveler’s hearts. The small island is at the very tip of Florida Keys yet it’s famous for its vibrant party scene, key lime pie, southernmost of everything, and sunset at the Mallory Square!
I used the Go Miami Card to get around the city for 3 days and it’s a really good deal. Merely joining two day-tours (like Key West Day Trip + Everglades Tours), it already covered the costs of the card. Not to mention a Hop-On Hop-Off Big Bus tour 24-hour pass, and free admission to lots of attractions in downtown and Miami Beach, including Biscayne Bay Sightseeing Boat Cruise, Water Taxi, Jungle Island, Perez Art Museum, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, World Erotic Art Museum, Art Deco Walking Tour, and much more! It is even applicable to places in Orlando including the Kennedy Space Center (not sure if it’s worth traveling that far with this card, though).
I visited the South Beach and explored the area with a bike the day before, and then I hopped on the Big Bus Tour to travel through the Art Deco Historic District while the on-bus tour guide gave us funny and informative commentary!
South Beach or people in the know would call it “SoBe”, is, in fact, the first section of Miami Beach to be developed since the 1910s. South Beach had experienced ups and downs from the booming economy and tourism to destructive hurricanes. While what I appreciated the most was the surging of Art Deco architectural style along the beach in the 1930s. South Beach’s Art Deco Historic District is one of the largest manifestos of the Art Deco building group in the world! The area contains more than 800 buildings built between 1923 to 1943, and today they are well-preserved and cannot be torn down.
What is Art Deco?
The Art Deco architectural style was brought in from Paris and at its prime from the early 1920s to 30s. The style is a modern take on neoclassical, historic, and retro – the buildings feature simple shapes, clean lines, and are painted with romantic pastel colors. Yet they also put on the most whimsical and flamboyant, over-the-top embellishment possible: from porthole windows, chrome accents, glass blocks, neon signboard, to terrazzo floors, as if they coexist peacefully and competing silently for attention at the same time.
I just love the bold and striking contrast of these buildings while they have the modern elements and still embrace the historic beauty. Inside of the buildings, they have exotic flora and fauna motifs, prominent structural gems, fountains or statues.
The Art Deco Historic District is located on Miami Beach between 5th Street and 23rd Street, along Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, and Washington Avenue. It is a popular Spring Break and tourist area, a district that people can show off their expensive cars, and where many famous nightspots, bars, and restaurants are located! SoBe is also home to several famous sites, including Gianni Versace’s former oceanfront mansion, where he was murdered and it’s now turned into a hotel. The Fontainebleau hotel, a cultural and architectural icon where the James Bond Movie “Goldfinger” was shot.