When you visit Miami Beach, the beach is just the beginning. Here you'll find fabulous places to shop for unique things you'll only find in this area, enjoy a delicious meal while people watching at a sidewalk café, hear great music or dance the night away at one of their internationally renowned night clubs. So you can relax at the beach, if you choose, or take advantage of all the many other wonderful things there are to do in Miami Beach.
Lincoln Road Mall
Carl Fisher, the original developer of Miami Beach, envisioned Lincoln Road to be Miami Beach's version of Fifth Avenue in New York, or Rodeo Drive in Los Angeles, so not surprisingly; it's one of the most popular destinations for visitors to Miami Beach.
Lincoln Road runs east and west between 16th Street and 17th Street and is considered South Beach's premiere shopping area
. To accommodate shoppers, they even closed it to automobile traffic between Washington Avenue and Lenox Avenue.
This open-air pedestrian mall is lined with boutiques, shops, retail outlets, sidewalk cafes and bars. The boutiques there are unique, they offer items not typically found in malls.
The restaurants and cafés there are world class with many of their chefs being trained in Europe; most offer either indoor or outdoor seating, and their bars are always full.
There's a cultural center and a state-of-the-art multiplex cinema, concert hall for the New World Symphony Orchestra, the Art Center South Florida
, many art galleries and the Colony Theater
performing arts center.
It's also a great place to people watch, there's a constant flow of tourists and locals wearing everything from the latest fashions to beachwear.
Visit South Beach's Art Deco District
As its name suggests, South Beach
is the section of Miami Beach that defines the lower part of the peninsula. With hundreds of nightclubs, restaurants and oceanfront hotels, today's South Beach is considered to be one of the most popular hotspots in the U.S.
Visitors immediately taste its international flavor as sidewalks echo not only English, but also Spanish and German languages. As it becomes a favorite European tourist destination, South Beach has become tolerant of the European custom of topless sunbathing, particularly at Lummus Beach
. Despite the occasional topless sunbather, most of South Beach's sand is open to the public.
More about South Beach-Miami »
Espanola Way, Historic District
Espanola Way, which crosses both Collins Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue, is also known as "The Historic Spanish Village," and was built in 1925 and modeled after the romantic Mediterranean villages of France and Spain.
As you walk down the street you'll see art galleries, quirky shops and authentic restaurants.
Outdoor cafes with genuine fare like the French café, A La Folie
, the Italian Hosteria Romana the Mexican, Oh! Mexico and the Spanish Tapas & Tintos add delicious food to the international flare of Espanola Way.
One building rich in history is the Clay Hotel. It was built in 1925 as a haven for artists and bohemians, Al Capone used to come here and gamble and in the 80's it was the site of the first and last episodes of Miami Vice.
On the weekends you'll find a farmer's market and outdoor shopping bazaar with vendors selling flowers; handmade semi-precious stone jewelry, sunglasses and clothing. The sights and sounds of this marketplace add to the foreign feel of the street.
Miami Beach's Espanola Way is a slice of history served with a touch of culture.
Places to See
Port of Miami
The Port of Miami is one of America's busiest ports; it has the dual distinction of being the Cruise Capital of the World and the Cargo Gateway of the Americas. The Florida cruise port
contributes over $17 billion annually to the South Florida economy and has an annual cargo tonnage of 7.5 million and nearly 4 million in passenger traffic a year.
The port currently has eight passenger terminals, six gantry cranes wharves, seven Ro-Ro (Roll-on-Roll-off) docks, four refrigerated yards for containers, break bulk cargo warehouses and nine gantry container handling cranes in short everything it needs to handle all the people and cargo that move through on a daily basis.
Miami has two world-class cruise facilities; that are among the most modern in the world. They feature a VIP lounge, a high-tech security screening facility for embarkation, airline counters and an airport-style conveyor baggage system, they each feature a convenient one-stop federal multi-agency facility for passenger processing.
Star Island - Hibiscus and Palm Islands
Star, Hibiscus and Palm Islands are all man made islands in the middle of Biscayne Bay within the City of Miami Beach all accessible via the MacArthur Causeway.
Star Island is just east of Palm Island and Hibiscus Island. Many people think Star Island is private, is it's not. There are 35 home sites on the island some owned by famous people like Don Johnson, Gloria Estefan, Shaquille O'Neal, Enrique Iglesias, Rosie O'Donnell, Madonna, and P.Diddy. In the 1979 trial of the Ethiopian Zion Coptic Church it was said that they based a marijuana smuggling ring out of a home on Star Island.
Hibiscus Island lies just north of Palm Island and it is an exclusive neighborhood. Palm Island is lies just south of Hibiscus Island and is an exclusive neighborhood with multi-million dollar homes. It was the site of the Famous Latin Quarter Nightclub owned by Lou Walters, Barbara Walters's father; it hosted many big-named entertainers of the era. Palm Island also became the winter home of Al Capone who died there on January 25, 1947.
The Venetian Causeway
crosses Biscayne Bay connecting Miami to Miami Beach. It follows the same route of the old Collins Bridge which was a 2.5 mi wooden bridge built in 1913 and opened up the island for development. In its day the Collins Bridge was the only direct route over land between Miami and Miami Beach. Then in 1925 the 2.8 mile long Venetian Causeway opened. It is a toll road with its one toll plaza is on Biscayne Island, the westernmost Venetian Island.
The Venetian Islands are a chain of seven artificial islands in Biscayne Bay. The most well known of these islands may be Flagler Monument Island which is an uninhabited picnic island that was built in 1920 as a memorial to railroad pioneer Henry Flagler, a man who is responsible for developing much of Florida.
The Venetian Causeway has two bascule bridges. Bascule bridges are sometimes referred to as a drawbridge and are moveable bridges with counterweights that continuously balance the span, or "leaf," throughout the entire upward swing as they open for boat traffic. They undo quickly and need very little energy to operate.
In 1999 the Venetian Causeway was re-dedicated after a $29 million restoration and replacement project was complete.
The causeway is a popular place for joggers, bicyclers, walkers and others wishing to get a little exercise.
Between Miami Beach and Fisher Island, you'll find Government Cut Inlet, a manmade shipping channel dredged to give boaters better access to the Port of Miami. Before the cut was done a, a single peninsula of dry land connected what is now Miami Beach and what is now Fisher Island, forcing boats headed for the port to pass south around Cape Florida.
In 1903 dredging on the pass began, authorized by the U.S. government, thus the name. The cut provides a direct route from the Atlantic Ocean to the seaport on Biscayne Bay.
Some of the fill from the dredging was used to help create Fisher Island. Later dredging to widen and deepen the cut added land area to the Port of Miami and created the foundation for the MacArthur Causeway, a six-lane causeway that connects downtown Miami and Miami Beach over Biscayne Bay.
Miami Convention Center
The Miami Beach Convention Center
is an indoor arena in Miami Beach and is currently the largest convention center in the Miami area; it has four large rooms that can each accommodate about 12,000 people.
The Convention Center was built in 1957 and originally called the Miami Beach Exhibition Hall; it was built to seat 15,000 people. Then in 1989 it underwent a $92 million renovation that doubled its size. The renovations included all the restrooms being completely redone and the installation of a state-of-the-art telecommunications and networking infrastructure.
The Convention Center has been the venue for several exciting events throughout the years including the Cassius Clay (aka Muhammad Ali) versus Sonny Liston boxing match in 1964 and it's hosted both the Republican and Democratic National Conventions, once in the same year. Currently the Miami Convention Center hosts an annual flea market which is touted as the "World's Largest" Indoor Flea Market, an annual South Florida Auto Show, Art Basel
, and wildly popular Miami International Boat Show
, which is always a huge draw.
Just north of Miami Beach you'll find the town of Surfside. It's a relatively small town with almost 5,000 people. Founded in 1935, Surfside is a beautiful oceanfront community that combines the old and new. The neighborhoods are quiet, peaceful and relaxed but it also has condominiums and hotels along the oceanfront on A1A. They aren't allowed to exceed 12 stories in height thus helping preserve the natural beauty of the area.
In 1962, Surfside built a beautiful, multi-purpose Community Center that open is 7 days a week and a variety of many activities day and night. Surfside also has a great traditional "home town" shopping district. It also has a few parks, tennis courts and plenty of beaches to enjoy.
Head north from Surfside and you'll be in Bal Harbour, this little village covers less that a square mile and has a population of just over 3,000 people.
Bal Harbour was developed from partially swampy land that stretched from the bay to the Atlantic. During World War II part of the land was used by the Air Corps for training and as a prisoner of war camp. The Bal Harbour Shops are where the prisoner of war camp used to be and the barracks were converted into apartment homes.
The Village of Bal Harbour was incorporated in August of 1946, swampland was filled, sea walls were built and the yacht basin was created. Today they are a community of beachfront and residential areas, shops, restaurants and beaches.
By Beverly Martinez-Collins – PlacesAroundFlorida.com