Miami Beach dazzles in the sunlight as the palm trees sway slightly of the breeze. It’s a lovely scene especially by the gorgeous South Beach, affectionately known.
The area makes for a gorgeous ramble along two miles of pristine beaches, passing appealing pastel hued Art Deco architecture that sparkle in the sunshine mingled with wave after wave of seafront and loud, neon lit that light up after sundown.
And as Miami turned 100 you could say it has. It emerged onto the party scene as recently as the mid-90’s when several Art Deco were restored and remodeled. In came Madonna, Demi Moore and Ricki Martin who fell in love with Miami. And of course everyone else followed. And stayed. Was this city really created out of a swamp a mere century ago.
Art Deco and Ocean Drive on South Beach
Ocean Drive has amazing with music blasting out of every outlet. Many have live music like Katrina and Oceans Ten. As you pass it’s a a bit like having the radio change channel with every step. This is a long stretch and Thursday to Sunday, it seems everyone is out enjoying the evening air, and nightlife.
But probably its most interesting quality is its architecture. There are plenty of Art Deco examples, but there is also the Mediterranean Revival and Miami Modern (MiMo) architecture that appeared on the streets.
To explore, start at 728 Ocean Drive where now stands the inspired Johnnie Rockets hamburger. Originally it was the location for Irene Marie Models, a model agency – the first in Florida. They were pivotal in bringing the beautiful people to South Beach.
What’s more, this spot between two art deco – the Beacon and the Colony – also has a claim to fame as the location of the Sun Ray Apartments where Al Pacino’s chainsaw scene.
If you make it to Ocean Drive you will see the retro-futiristic facade of the Carlyle, where The Birdcage was filmed. On the way you will pass Gianni Versace’s former villa, Casa Casuarina and its stylish and unmissibable black and gold tipped gates. The eminent fashion designer was shot and in front of it at point blank range while returning from buying a newspaper.
The property has since been turned into a luxury 10-bedroom boutique called The Villa by Barton G. Inside is a spa and glamorous mosaic-tiled swimming pool designed by Versace with much Italian flare.
But be warned: You may find that when walking the length of Ocean Drive the buzzy are too much of a distraction to keep walking.
This is quite an extraordinary outdoor mile-long shopping and chilling out area. It’s a complete contrast to the rest of Miami offering 60 high end shops in the futuristic architecture. Big names include the likes of Tom Ford, Fenci and Marc Jacobs. There’s even a triple story Hermes as well as six home design stores. Gucci has recently come on board and so has the high-end Cuban by Emilio and Gloria Estefan. There’s also the Romero Britton gallery which is a celebration of Miami’s home grown artists.
Plenty of dining options on Lincoln Road from a casual drink or full-blown dinner. Or even some culture with the chance to people-watch along the long tropical styled broad walk. Try the Meat Market has become a hot spot offering sizzling steakhouse style dishes and to match. Or if sushi is more your bag this offers alfresco dining and an indoor lounge where you can dine to the backdrop of a mural by California-based street artists Aaron de la Cruz.
The Cuban legacy is very much part of Miami’s. Places like El Titan de Bronze still roll cigars by hand every day and locals play at Domino Park. You’ll soon get into the swing of it all especially on Calle Ocho (Southwest Eighth Street) on the main drag when all your senses become alert to the myriad Cuban experiences; the stucco houses, the street art, the sounds Samba music that escape from music stores, rum is easy to come by fruit markets energise the air with citrus aromas and food around these parts is pretty rustic and includes a repertoire of chicken, rice and platanos – fried sweet bananas.