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    Miami Beach: recommended itinerary among beaches, luxury hotels and historic districts

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    Martí Micolau

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    Those who do not know its geography well tend to identify Miami with Miami Beach, also for the rather common idea linked to the luxurious seaside city life given to us by the media and popular culture. In reality, although very close, the two cities are distinct.

    Furthermore this is not the only mistake that is made: when we talk about Miami Beach, we often refer exclusively to its most famous and touristic area, South Beach. Again this is not the case, because Miami Beach is actually made up of three different municipalities: in addition to South Beach There are also Mid Beach (better known as Central Beach or Middle Beach) e North Beach. These two areas aren't as interesting as South Beach, but they still deserve to be mentioned and discovered for what they have to offer.

    If we have talked extensively about the Miami neighborhoods with various insights, this article is meant to give a complete overview of what to see in Miami Beach, this long island strip which runs from South Pointe Park Pier to Bal Harbor, stretching for approximately 10 miles right in front of Biscayne Bay and the city of Miami itself.


    • South Beach
      • What to see in South Beach
      • How to reach us
      • Accomodation
    • Mid Beach (Central Beach)
      • Faena District
      • Morris Lapidus/Mid 20th Century District
      • Beaches
      • How to reach us
      • Accomodation
    • North Beach
      • North Beach Resort Historic District
      • Normandy Isles District
      • North Shore District
      • Beaches
      • How to get?
      • Accomodation

    South Beach

    Let's start with South Beach, the part of the island that most noticeably shines with its own light, as well as the main reason it's worth it visit Miami Beach. There is a lot to say about it, starting from the history of this place, which was born as a fruit plantation and in a short time becomes one of the world reference points for luxury tourism, thanks to its hotel vocation and the irresistible charm of its beaches.

    What to see in South Beach

    There are so many attractions to visit and things to do that we decided to dedicate a specific article to the topic: what to see in South Beach. However, to make a summary, we can indicate the following points:

    • The beach: as you read in the article dedicated to all the beaches of Miami, in South Beach there is the most representative of the city, Lummus park beach. White sand, calm, warm and crystalline sea, the iconic colored huts of the lifeguards, the girls in bikinis and the tanned guys who flex their muscles on the water's edge, the palm trees waving with the frame of Ocean Drive ... in short, Lummus Park Beach is an unmissable event for those arriving in South Beach;
    • Ocean Drive: the string of palm trees and colorful Art Deco hotels that characterize this short stretch of road overlooking the seafront is a sight that is not so easily forgotten. Both day and night, you will always find a reason to take a stroll along Ocean Drive: if it is not to spend a few hours between one club and another, it will be to observe the extravagant people walking on the sidewalk or the guys at the wheel of the luxury cars moving along the road at a walking pace;
    • Art Deco Historic District: Art Deco hotels are not only on Ocean Drive, they are also scattered around the surrounding streets, especially Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue. For this reason in South Beach we speak of Art Deco Historic District, an entire district recognizable thanks to a unique architectural style. The historic buildings, built in the late Thirties in the European style so much in vogue atInternational Exhibition of Decorative Arts in Paris, in most cases they have been restored and today they are shown to our eyes in all their tropical splendor. There are so many that we have created a guide complete with a map so that you do not miss the best: you can find it in our article on Miami Art Deco.
    • Lincoln Road: South Beach is also one of the hotspots for shopping in Miami (and Miami Beach). The number of shops is infinite, but those who want to loot the best shelves can reach Lincoln Road, where the flow of people passing from one shop to one restaurant to another is continuous!

    These 4 are the main reasons why South Beach is worth visiting. Of course, they are not the only ones: if you get out of the main tourist circuits you can also find the dramatic monuments to the memory of the victims of the Shoah (Holocaust Memorial and Memorial Wall), museums and art galleries (Bass Museum, The Wolfsonian-Florida International University etc.) is a pleasant Hispanic-Mediterranean oasis (Espanola Way): in short, South Beach is waiting to be discovered!

    Our tips for visiting South Beach

    How to reach us

    The visit of South Beach is facilitated for his position: in fact, thanks to the MacArthur Causeway - the bridge that crosses the Biscayne Bay canals - this is the easiest Miami Beach area to get to from Miami, more precisely from the north side of Miami Downtown. If you do not have a car, as you read here you can always use public transport, which, however, in my opinion are not the best in comfort.


    For targeted advice on lodging in this area of ​​Miami Beach, read our in-depth study on where to sleep in South Beach.

    Mid Beach (Central Beach)

    Collins Avenue, which in South Beach retains some splendid historic hotels, is not limited to this part of Miami Beach, but cuts the whole island in half. At 23rd Street, shortly after Collins Park (which with its Bass Museum marks the end of South Beach) you enter Mid Beach, the central part of the island, as well as the narrowest. At 26th Street the road branches off: while the external part (Indian Creek Road, the one that runs along the canal) is more destined to the flow of cars, the inner part of Collins Avenue remains more suitable for strolling to see the luxury hotels and apartments that characterize the area.

    Although to a lesser extent than in the southern part of the island, the main reasons of interest of Mid Beach are once again precisely the hotel of luxury, even if the architecture changes here. The social life of Miami in the years of the Second World War took place right here and the splendor of the villas and residences that hide among the very high buildings testifies to this.

    Just along the inner stretch of Collins Avenue, between the 26th e la 44th Street, before the road narrows again, are the most interesting attractions, namely the futuristic buildings of Faena District. In addition to this, there is another historic district with very specific characteristics: the Morris Lapidus District which, as we will see, takes its name from an important architect active in Miami, interpreter of MiMo (Miami Modern), an architectural style of the XNUMXs that reworked certain styles of Art Déco.

    Faena District

    In my opinion, although somewhat aseptic, this is the most fascinating area of Mid Beach. The Faena District covers a rather small area of ​​Collins Avenue, from 32nd to 36th Street, but is able to impress anyone with its ultra-contemporary taste concept, conceived by the hotel industry giant Alan Faena, an Argentine entrepreneur of Jewish origins. Developed by the architects studio OMA starting from 2011 and ending in 2016, the Faena District it's one of the most innovative neighborhoods in all of Miami, and it doesn't take long to see why. Walking along the main street you will see buildings in a MiMo style extensively revisited in a contemporary key. The buildings are intended for the most varied uses: luxurious condominiums, a gigantic resort, an innovative and multifunctional cultural center, shops, a parking lot and a commercial center, in an urban context where the white color imposes itself on the rest.

    • Faena Forum: the huge building, the work of Rem Koolhaas, is divided into two sections. The one most evident from the street is cylindrical in shape and was meant for exhibitions of an artistic nature; behind, on the other hand, there is another cubic section, intended for conferences and hotel reception. Both exterior walls of the building are carpeted with numerous windows of various shapes, which make the forum look really extravagant.
    • Faena Hotel Miami Beach: right in front of the forum is the grandiloquent Faena Hotel, which stands out on Collins Avenue with its soaring white facade with aquamarine terraces. Confirming the luxury that exudes from the outside, this hotel hides inside luxurious rooms, a theater and ... a secret that many do not know. If you go to the sea side of the hotel, on the Miami Beach Boardwalk, to your amazement you will notice it in the hotel's garden golden skeleton of a mammoth, visible behind a glass case. This installation, dated 2014 and the work of the artist Damien Hirst, has the name of Gone but not Forgotten. As you know, the artist is not new to provocations in the field of art, and this does not seem to me to be outdone: if I have not misunderstood, those are really the bones of a mammoth!
    • Faena House: right next to the hotel is the Faena House, a building with a completely different architecture and of "more modest" dimensions: according to the project, this condominium should act as an annex of the hotel, to favor those guests who prefer the domestic comfort of a home over the luxurious atmosphere of the resort . In reality, of course, the condominiums of the Faena House are also prestigious, but we make it enough for its external appearance: the architect Norman Foster has created a futuristic 19-storey building with aerodynamic shapes that has as its key element a terrace with curved lines. To be seen!
    • Faena Bazaar: this building is one of the most recent and takes the place of the Atlantic Hotel, of which it takes on some Art Déco characteristics, giving up the hyper-contemporary splendor of the buildings that surround it. Inside there are luxury shops and boutiques, galleries and exhibition spaces for artists. On the top floor there is a space for events. A little kitschy note: the kiss-shaped red lips invading the white facade.
    • Faena Park: in Miami Beach even the parking lots are works of design! A bit like 1111 Lincoln Road, Faena Park also stands out for its sophisticated architecture. The boxy structure and ubiquitous texture with non-functional elements such as cheese holes of MiMo style ancestry make it a building that is anything but functional!
    • Task House: hidden among all these buildings with a futuristic concept, house work - not to be confused with Faena House - is the exception that proves the rule. The building is owned by Faena, but the style is completely different: you will feel a little out of context when you see its elegant and dignified white and red facade, with decorative elements in Mediterranean Revival style and a retro look close to Art. Deco. The sign of the original Claridge Hotel testifies that in this case the architectural work was conservative: perhaps Faena's studio wanted to show visitors to the district what this area of ​​Mid Beach once was like.

    Morris Lapidus/Mid 20th Century District

    This area of ​​Mid Beach (or Central Beach if you prefer) extends between 44th and 53th Street, but in fact the most famous attractions are both located in just 400 meters, between 4441 and 4525 of Collins Avenue. I'm talking about 2 hotels once again: the Fontainebleau andEden roc, two branded masterpieces Morris Lapidus, the most important of the architects who conceived and interpreted it style mimo in the XNUMXs and XNUMXs.

    • Fontainebleau: before becoming an eden for VIPs and wealthy luxury-loving vacationers, this area was only home to the villas of wealthy Americans who came here to spend the winter. Thanks to the monumental project by Morris Lapidus, in 1954 the Fontainebleau took the place of the residence of the entrepreneur Harvey Fireston, raising the bar of luxury even more and, in a short time, becoming a reference point for all hotels in Miami Beach. It was in fact defined by the journalist Howard Kleinberg "the most favored, most adored, most panned, most reviled hotel of Miami Beach": the guest list, full of VIPs and celebrities of the time, proves it. This majestic, gigantic semicircular building has its back to the street and is, in essence, the summa of the MiMo style: it took up in a more ambitious and excessive way some stylistic features of Art Déco, however, enormously enlarging the size of the buildings and omitting the eclecticism of the external decorations.
    • Eden Roc: the main competitor of the Fontainebleau is practically next to it. This hotel was also designed and built by Lapidus, and became a reference point for the protagonists of the cinema and music scenes of the XNUMXs, in particular the Rat Pack: in the luxurious interior rooms of the hotel, in the tropical garden and by the pool, Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin ruled. The aquamarine facade of the Eden Roc is less grand than the Fontainebleau but more pleasant, starting with the retro-style sign.
    41st Street

    A relatively interesting area of ​​Mid Beach is 41st Street, the road that, moving away from Collins Avenue inwards, connects the waterfront with the residential part of the island, across the canal. Here you will find shops, restaurants serving Jewish cuisine and various austere buildings in austere Mediterranean Revival style. Continuing west, Miami is reached via the Julie Tuttle Causeway, coming out at the District Design, just north of Wynwood.


    As a de facto continuation of it, Mid Beach's long stretch of beach is not very different from those of Lummus Park for naturalistic characteristics, however, you must take into account that there are hotels and buildings with condominiums behind the boardwalk shaded by tropical vegetation.

    How to reach us

    Arrivare a Mid Beach in auto da South Beach it's the best and easiest way - just keep going north on Collins Avenue, leaving Collins Park behind. If you want to arrive directly from Miami without going through South Beach, you will need to reach the Design District area and use the Julie Tuttle Causeway (I-195 E).

    If you move by public transport, you can use the Collins Express, a free trolley system that allows you to move between South Beach, Mid Beach and North Beach thanks to three different itineraries connected to each other. Alternatively, you can use the 120 line, departing from Downtown Miami.


    For my recommendations on where to sleep in this area of ​​Miami, follow the link below:

    Advice on where to sleep in the area

    North Beach

    When Indian Creek and Collins Avenue intersect W 63rd Street - the other street besides 41st that connects the two parts of the island - it means that you are about to move from Mid Beach to North Beach, the northern area of ​​Miami Beach. Here too the long line of skyscrapers, hotels and luxury condominiums continues, but we also find a greater variety in the type of beaches and 3 historic districts in which it is interesting to look for some examples of the MiMo style, now bizarre now majestic.

    The island in this stretch is wider than Mid Beach, but Collins Avenue remains the route to follow to see the areas of main interest, up to the north end of the island (Surfside and the exclusive Bal Harbor), where you they find a lower density of buildings and a greater number of private residences.

    I am basically 3 the historic districts where you can find the best North Beach MiMo style buildings:

    North Beach Resort Historic District

    As the name of the district implies, here are North Beach's most unique historic beachfront hotels. Driving your car at low speed along Collins Avenue you will no doubt notice the historic Sherry Frontenac with the unmistakable luminous sign (6565 Collins Ave), the whimsical White House, with its inevitable and whimsical references to African traditions (6345 Collins Ave) and the futuristic carillon (6801 Collins Ave), towering over the road on one side and the beach on the other. One of the most significant hotels in the area was the Deauville Resort (6701 Collins Ave), aerodynamic and sporty looking structure, but in recent years it has been put to the test by both Hurricane Irma and a fire and is now under renovation.

    Normandy Isles District

    71th Street, traveling west, leads to Normandy Isles, a small neighborhood with a personality that seems not to have completely given way to tourism: in these parts you can breathe a Latin atmosphere, given by the presence of many Argentine emigrants who have come to live here and have opened their premises. The symbol of the neighborhood, whose streets curiously have all names in French, is a Hispanic-style monument located in the central square: the Vendome Fountain. The address to enter to see it is 7802 Rue Vendome.

    North Shore District

    This is the most residential part of North Beach (from 73rd Street to 87th St): there are fewer blocks of flats, residences with design details take over. Here is the North beach bandshell (7275 Collins Ave), an amphitheater dated 1961 and renovated in 2011. The importance of this place is linked to its social role: the residents of the area spent their evenings here between concerts and entertainment evenings in the years in which Miami Beach lived its golden age. However, not all the most curious hotels and buildings are located on Collins Avenue. If you still haven't figured out what this MiMo style is, go by car to 620 75th St, where the Temple Menorah: let yourself be struck by the more joyful side of this architectural concept, enjoying the curious yellow tower of the temple, with the “cheese holes” typical of the Miami Modern style.

    Ancient Spanish Monastery We are far beyond the confines of North Beach, but if you are tired of seeing 16711s luxury hotels and miles of beaches you can go to XNUMX W Dixie Hwy, where you will find a Spanish monastery original dedicated to St. Bernard of Clairvaux. The monastery was built in Sacramenia (near Segovia) between 1133 and 1141, becoming Cistercian in 1174. Over the centuries this place has also had moments of difficulty (in 1830 it was converted into a barn) but who built this place in medieval times did not he would never have expected, however, that in 1925 the tycoon Hearst (yes, the owner of Hearst Castle in California) would buy it, take it apart piece by piece and take it to Florida, planning to faithfully rebuild it in a suburban area of ​​Miami.

    The first part of the project went well, but when it came to putting the building's reconstruction work in place, things went badly for Hearst, who went into economic crisis. The ancient monastery passed into the hands of another entrepreneur in 1952, who rebuilt it according to the original project to transform it into tourist attraction. Today it is an episcopal church, and opens its doors for the visit of the cloisters and the magnificent interiors. Tours are available every day from 10am to 16.30pm. Admission is $ 10 for adults and $ 5 for students and seniors.


    The beaches of North Beach are perfect for those looking for more tranquility than South Beach. Not only that: compared to Mid Beach, North Beach there is a little more choice with regards to seaside life. The best news is that for a long way, between 79th St and 87th St, there is a (relatively) pristine beach: the North Shore Open Space Park. Being unique to all of Miami Beach, this beach is part of my article on the best beaches in Miami, so if you want to know more check out the link above. North of the North Shore Open Space Park are the beaches of Surfside e Bal Harbour. While a Surfside the beach is narrow and less crowded due to less tourist exposure, a Bal Harbour private hotel beaches and luxury resorts are back.

    How to get?

    The indications to reach North Beach from South Beach they are the same as in Mid Beach: Collins Avenue will take you to the northern edge of the neighborhood, among the luxurious residences of Bal Harbor. If you are coming from Miami, you will access the island via Normandy Isles, which can be reached via NE 79th St.

    Also with regard to public transport, I refer you to the information you have read about Mid Beach, as it is there line 120 that the North Beach Loop of trolley Collin Express extensively cover the area. South Beach to North Beach Resort Historic District takes approx 40 minutes by public transport, but the bus takes a little less than the trolley.


    For my recommendations on where to sleep in this area of ​​Miami, follow the link below:

    Advice on where to sleep in the area


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