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    South Beach Florida: what to see in the most famous area of ​​Miami

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    Martí Micolau

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    Palm trees, sun, breeze and relaxation, a mix of tempting features that we like so much; if we add to this beach life and a thousand ways to have fun at all hours, a stone's throw from a famous metropolis, we feel ready with the suitcase in hand! Fortunately, in the world there are some places that reflect these characteristics; but here in our beloved States, what destination are we thinking of?

    Our destination is in the south-east of Florida, in Miami-Dade County. A long, narrow island connected by bridges to the mainland opposite Miami, between Biscayne Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, hosts Miami Beach; South Beach it is the part that includes the blocks south of 23rd street.


    • A little South Beach story
    • Clima di South Beach
    • What to see in Miami South Beach?
      • Art Deco District
      • Ocean Drive
      • Collins Avenue
      • Washington Ave
      • Espanola Way
      • Lincoln Road Mall
      • Holocaust Memorial e Memorial Wall
    • South Beach Events
    • Where to eat and find typical dishes
    • Nightlife in South Beach
    • Where to sleep in South Beach
    • South Beach: how to get there?
    • How to get around the neighborhood and where to park
    • South Beach and environs

    A little South Beach story

    This is our point of arrival, a trendy neighborhood also known as SoBe, with a population of approximately 40.000 inhabitants. What is now South Beach was a coconut growing area in 1870. In 1886 Charles Lum built the first house, then in 1912 the Lum brothers' company, the Lummus Brothers, began to build a city overlooking the sea with modest family homes.

    The beach and the whole area owe much of their development to Collins Bridge erected in 1913, the first bridge that connected the island of Miami Beach to the mainland and the metropolis of Miami. A few years later, in fact, the boom began, the population began to grow, as well as the business, and several millionaires also arrived. South Beach was the first area of ​​the island to develop.

    Clima di South Beach

    Florida has a climate sub-tropical and the hot-humid is felt for many months of the year so it is important to protect yourself well with sunscreen. It is also essential to read the signs on the beach that notify the warnings for bathers. The period between June and November is when hurricanes sometimes occur.

    Let's say that Florida seems equipped to overcome them without catastrophic damage but the thing that worries the whole Caribbean area, and beyond, is the growing intensity of the phenomena. We personally believe that March and April are great months to visit this state and South Beach. For further information, I refer you to 2 of our articles:

    • Florida climate: when to go and what temperatures to expect
    • Miami Weather and Temperature: when will you walk?

    What to see in Miami South Beach?

    The Beach lives a lot even after sunset, which is why nightlife lovers will find endless possibilities between nightclubs and bars. SoBe has been the backdrop to many television and film scenes: Miami Vice, Scarface and Bad Boys to name a few. Beyond the police scenes, here you feel safe but, as happens in any part of the world where there is crowds, it is necessary to use common sense.

    Sul coast, which stretches for 16 kilometers and has transformed over the years, you are spoiled for choice. You can lie down and relax enjoying the sun, palm trees and the breeze, you can take shelter under a pop-up beach cabana (a self-erecting beach tent), under an umbrella (not very frequent), you can do activities physics, playing beach volleyball, you can walk, run along the beach, entertain the children, experience romantic moments and of course immerse yourself in the blue of the ocean.

    This area is so popular precisely because it is suitable for everyone, families, young people, retirees and those who have chosen Florida to escape the harsh winters. It is always full of people, both local and from all over the world. On this coast, which must be constantly integrated due to marine erosion, colorful lifeguard posts stand out and there is no shortage of carefree swimmers as well as some surfers (in the southern area).

    Art Deco District

    After a tremendous hurricane in September 1926 that devastated the city causing chaos and more than 400 deaths, South Beach began to be reborn in early 1927. Art Deco and for about twenty years the buildings that were built resumed the new chic style predominant at the 1925 Exposition Internationale des Artes Décoratifs in Paris (abbreviated simply to Art Deco).

    The greatest concentration of these in the world refined buildings it is found in particular along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. They are more than 800, well cared for and show the interpretation that was given in Miami of the architectural style presented in France and developed in other parts of the world. The Florida version uses motifs such as flamingos, suns, nautical and geometric symbols. In fact, as often happens in the field of styles, we tend to make changes, to personalize them.

    In the seventies a campaign to protect this artistic heritage was successfully undertaken and now the district is included in the register of historic places.

    In this regard we point out some buildings representative of various interpretations of the style: the Beacon Hotel (720 Ocean Dr.) with abstract decorations that develop in height, on the ground floor windows and with a beautiful flamingo engraved in the glass door of the atrium, the Colony Hotel (736 Ocean Dr.) with its imposing sign, linear decorations in turquoise and blue on a white background and the Marlin Hotel (1200 Collins Ave.) with its splendid façade in pastel beige and blue, finely decorated.

    We now want to ideally take you with us to South Beach and begin to familiarize yourself with some of the main roads.

    Ocean Drive

    Let's start with Ocean Drive, “A showcase”, the coastal road that distinguishes it the most, with palm trees and leafy trees, which here in SoBe stretches for 2,1 kilometers from 15th Street to South Pointe Drive. This is the area of ​​entertainment par excellence, which never stops, enlivened by the presence of day and night clubs, bodybuilders, model parades, exhibitionists who turn in beachwear, eccentric characters and "cucadores" who they drive Ferrari or Lamborghini at a “turtle-like” pace to look around and to be noticed in turn.

    But walking around SoBe there are also many ordinary people like us and this variety of people who frequent it makes it particularly interesting. In the evening, the play of lights together with music, dances and drinks accentuate the suggestion and create an evocative mix.

    Ma South Beach it is not just "enjoyment", a place of excesses, it is a world for everyone where everyone finds their ideal space. On both sides there is a large sidewalk that from the inside is the access road to restaurants, clubs, bars and hotels, while on the other side it "looks" at the beach and a splendid sea that near the coast is colored turquoise and then becomes bluer as the water depth increases.

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    Along this street it is impossible not to notice the buildings in art deco style facing the sea, well-preserved structures that house hotels, restaurants, shops and clubs. You can notice the pastel colors ranging from white to pink and from light blue to green. The whole creates a bright atmosphere. And then the sun, the palm trees, the blue of the sky, the bright colors of the cafes invite you to stroll without haste and enjoy a drink. Each place has its own method to entice people to enter or sit at the tables outside; often they are smiling girls who do not go unnoticed, real "promoters" who also advertise events and special evenings with flyers and tickets.

    Life here is vibrant, energetic and you want to have fun, each in their own way. In fact, it is not uncommon to see people leaving the premises at five in the morning as well as to observe those who do it early in the morning jogging on the beach and enjoy the sunrise. When the first workers wake up, the people of the night go to sleep probably waiting for a different place and a new adventure to live. Hispanics, Eurasians, African Americans and tourists from all over the world meet and have fun in the sunshine of the Sunshine State. Here the night is as buzzing as the day and you never get bored.

    One of the most photographed spots along Ocean Drive is Home Casuarina, at number 1116, the house that once belonged to Gianni Versace, has now become a hotel. Lummus Park (1130 Ocean Dr.) is a splendid green area that runs alongside the road for much of its length; it is embellished with magnificent palm trees and has a paved walkway for pedestrians, bicycles and skateboarders, called the promenade, which separates the grassy part from the beach. Miami Vice fans will recognize that some scenes from the famous 80s show were filmed here.

    Open seven days a week, TheArt Deco Welcome Center (1001 Ocean Dr.) is not just an information center for the Miami area, it also houses a museum that chronicles the culture and history of the Miami Beach community with the ever-present gift shop.

    Collins Avenue

    Another road that we point out is Collins Avenue. It is very long, it starts further north of SoBe and in that stretch the buildings (mainly hotels) line the beach; then the artery enters and becomes a street parallel to Ocean Drive along which to stroll, with art deco style buildings that house hotels, restaurants, clubs, and shops, all enriched by splendid palm trees. Walking is pleasant and the nightlife is also active here. But not only.

    For art lovers the Bass museum (2100 Collins Ave.) hosts international exhibitions of modern art, design and fashion. The museum was opened in 1964 thanks to the donation of the private collection of John and Johanna Bass. It is currently closed for renovations but its reopening is scheduled for October 8, 2017. During this period some exhibits have been located at the Miami Beach Regional Library, the library at 227 22nd Street.

    Along the promenade do not miss 2 splendid examples of Art Deco hotels, the Sagamore and Delano; freely enter the halls to appreciate the architectural style and the many works of art on display (in the first of the 2).

    Washington Avenue

    Although less on everyone's lips than Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue, which runs parallel to the aforementioned streets, it is however well equipped with hotels, shops, restaurants but above all nightclubs. That's right, the nightclubs follow one another along its entire length and often the traffic is congested until the morning. A real attraction for those who love this type of attractions.

    Of a completely different kind, at number 1701 there is the Emanu-El Temple, the synagogue active since 1949 which can be visited on Mondays and Wednesdays at 13.30pm. The white marble on the outside makes the building very bright. The South punchline Park (1 Washington Ave.) instead, is the southernmost area of ​​SoBe and an active city park where it is pleasant to walk among the walkways and enjoy the surrounding landscape.

    It is a good vantage point and from the observation deck you can admire the ocean, downtown Miami, cruise ships, yachts, Biscane Bay and Fisher Island. This park ends on the beach and is also an ideal place for fishing lovers. The area is equipped to accommodate dogs, children to play and there is also a restaurant. In the park there are sculptures of contemporary art. This is also a popular site for film crews and photo shoots.

    Unsurprisingly, these roads are heavily trafficked during peak periods.

    espanola Way

    Next to Washington Avenue is the lovely pedestrianized street espanola Way, with buildings with a European flavor and a Mediterranean style. This green lane is the ideal place to stroll, linger pleasantly in the shops, relax in the cafes and restaurants. A different "flavor" to that of Art Deco that South Beach is known for, but it is worth being here to enjoy Espanola Way and admire, among other things, pink stucco buildings with Spanish tiles.

    Lincoln Road Mall

    In addition to the aforementioned streets, we recommend not to miss the pedestrian area of Lincoln Road (Lincoln Rd. & 16th St.), a very pleasant, cheerful and lively walk between shops, restaurants and pubs that stretches for 10 blocks. It is defined as an area of ​​excellence for shopping but it is still a pleasant walk to take and a place to find some places for lunch or dinner. The Collins Avenue Fashion District, between 5th and 9th Streets, it offers a wide range of trendy collections and is a mecca for shopaholics.

    Holocaust Memorial e Memorial Wall

    Certainly there is a completely different atmosphere’Holocaust Memorial (1933-1945 Meridian Ave.), a site commemorating the victims of the "Shoah". It is an important and impactful symbol especially for those who have experienced the horrors of war. In 1985 the work was commissioned to sculptor Kenneth Treister by a group of survivors of the 1984 Holocaust when more than 3.000 Sikhs were massacred in India after Indira Gandhi was herself murdered. It took five years to make it happen.

    In this memorial area, on a plinth inside a reflecting pool, the artist has erected a huge arm whose hand is turned towards the sky. Below it stand out sculptures of life-sized human figures that convey a sense of tragedy. In memory of all the victims, and especially for their families, the Memorial Wall where the names of the victims were engraved on the black granite in order to create a bond of eternal memory. The memorial is open daily from 9:30 am until sunset and admission is free.

    South Beach Events

    We report some Events taking place in this part of Miami Beach throughout the year. In January along the Ocean Drive takes place theArt Deco Weekend Festival which consists of various activities, guided tours, film screenings, art exhibitions, live music and vintage car displays.

    What started as "Taste of South Beach" on Lincoln Road in the heart of Miami Beach has become an experience in style and now this annual event which takes place in February is called Food Network South Beach Wine e Food Festival; is one of the beach events featuring many of the best starred chefs, producers and suppliers of food, wine and spirits, as well as culinary personalities. The event is run by the Florida Int. University School of Hospitality and Tourism. Attendance at this (paid) event increases exponentially every year.

    La Miami Music week instead is a week-long marathon of electronic dance music that takes place in Miami Beach and various Miami neighborhoods during the last week of March attended by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world. The artists play in over 250 private venues scattered throughout the area; let's talk about night clubs, private sites, swimming pools and boats in places like Miami Beach, downtown Miami, Little Haiti and Wynwood (the spectacular street artist museum, with huge murals and galleries). Music Week has continued to grow every year, becoming one of the most popular events in the world for lovers of that genre of music.

    In April takes place on South Beach Triathlon at the Lummus Park (1130 Occean Dr.), a classic race, of great appeal for the context in which it takes place, consisting of tests in the disciplines of swimming, cycling and running open to everyone, from beginners to super experts.

    Since 1990 in the period of the Memorial Day holiday which occurs in May, in various locations in South Beach theUrban Beach Week, an event that has become known for its "super fashionable parties" which are held in private structures.

    Lovers of cooking will like it Miami spice which takes place between the end of August and early September when some restaurants, for both lunch and dinner, offer three courses of refined food created by renowned chefs at reduced prices. An opportunity not to be missed!

    Still in the culinary field, the South Beach Seafood Festival (800 Ocean Dr.) takes place in the third week of October when for four blocks on the beach of SoBe there is the "marriage" between the open bar and the cuisine of excellent restaurants that serve customers directly on the sand. Check the website for available ticket types as they are updated every year. However, among the various options there is the possibility to try your hand at the kitchens with the chefs. It is certainly a very appreciable event and, for those interested, to be grasped immediately.  

    Where to eat and find typical dishes

    An important part of a trip is definitely the knowledge and appreciation of kitchen, both local and ethnic and since for us this aspect is anything but marginal, we wrote an article with our advice on where to eat in Miami: you will find restaurants in South Beach and other neighborhoods, but below we point out some that have particularly impressed in the South Beach area.

    Southern Brazilian cuisine welcomes us to the chain Ground fire (836 1st St.) with the specialty of churrasco, in which the meat is first marinated and then grilled. The waiters choose their favorite “cuts” of meat from a large spit to bring to the table.

    If you can't stand eating meat anymore, try the best fish dishes in town at Joe’s Stone Crab, a historic venue on 11 Washington Avenue (SoFi area) that has been cooking delicious crab dishes (Stone Crab) and other seafood specialties in tasty and generous portions since 1913. You will most likely find a queue outside the venue, but it's worth the wait. The important thing is that you do not show up in shorts, as there is a dress code.

    Modern American cuisine prepared with fresh seasonal ingredients can be sampled at The Restaurant at the Raleigh (1775 Collins Ave. - Raleigh hotel). Food is served for breakfast, lunch, dinner and mid-morning weekend brunch, indoors, by the baroque-style pool and terrace bar. Please note:: Unfortunately this restaurant has recently closed.

    Asian cuisine is the specialty of Jaya at the Setai (2001 Collins Ave. - Setai hotel) with aromas of cardamom, cinnamon, curry, tamarind, ginger and coconut milk. You can eat for lunch, dinner and Sunday brunch inside the restaurant and in the courtyard. A curiosity about the meaning of the term jaya: in Sanskrit it means victory (a good name for a successful business) and it is also the name of the person who furnished the interiors, Mr. Jaya Ibrahim.

    If the refined or the ethnic are not for you but you are in a spasmodic search for an American cuisine of substance, you can opt for the Big pink (157 Collins Ave), a place with an unmistakable pink facade and remarkable burgers (both in size and quality).

    Nightlife in South Beach

    La nightlife it is an important part of South Beach so we point out a few local for those looking for fun.

    Il Mango's Tropical Cafe (900 Ocean Dr.) is inspired by the Caribbean with live performances by dancers, musicians, DJs and stand-up comedians. The rhythms range from Latin flavors such as samba, salsa, cumbia and bachata but there are also belly dancers and disco music. For those over 21 the lounge has food and alcoholic drinks.

    If you want a particular place, go to Drinkhouse Fire & Ice Bar (1672 Collins Ave.). A glacial paradise opens up before your eyes with a temperature of zero degrees. The place is entirely made of ice and so are the furnishings, sculptures and glasses. The bar offers its customers gloves and coats but as they are not infinite it is advisable to book unless you want to bring something warm and heavy from home. In the same structure there is the Fire Lounge where cocktails are served during entertainment, all in a more colorful environment for those who want to diversify from the glacial atmosphere.

    The Playwright (1265 Washington Ave.) is an Irish pub and restaurant offering live music, breakfast, lunch, dinner and brunch. This is the typical place where Americans come to see baseball and football games or to play pool always accompanied by a good beer.

    Where to sleep in South Beach

    Fontainebleau Miami Beach

    In addition to the South Beach tips that you already find in this article, Here we point out other structures to be evaluated for a more complete overview.

    The art deco style characterizes the Clevelander (1020 Ocean Dr.) with its 60 elegant and comfortable rooms in a modern style with predominantly white and blue colors. The hotel offers a swimming pool, restaurant, panoramic terrace and sports bar, basically an area for indoor sports activities.

    Check availability

    even the Washington Park Hotel (1050 Washington Ave.) continues the array of art deco style structures of the place. It is close to the coast that can also be reached thanks to a tuk-tuk shuttle that carries out round-trip transport from the beach on 9th street. The services offered are a swimming pool, a fitness center, a restaurant and free bike rental. The rooms are chic and comfortable with light colors, mainly white and pearl gray.


    Check availability

    Il Shore Club South Beach (1901 Collins Ave.) is the ideal place for a seaside stay thanks to its easy access to the beach from the swimming pool. This boutique hotel has an art deco style lobby, spa, two swimming pools and a skybar located in the tropical garden. The rooms and suites are elegant, modern and with furniture in which white prevails.

    Check availability

    Il Delano (1685 Collins Ave.) is a well-known boutique hotel that offers its customers a spa, swimming pool with lounge chairs, umbrellas and various restaurants, for example Leynia, which offers Argentine grilled cuisine combined with Japanese rustic cooking over an open fire. Even in these modern rooms and suites, light-colored décor prevails.

    Check availability

    The already mentioned Marlin (1200 Collins Ave.) is an art deco boutique hotel with a beautifully decorated facade. It is located a few steps from the beach, has refined modern furnishings, spacious rooms, all comforts and an excellent staff.


    Check availability

    Finally, although it is located a little further north of SoBe, in Miami Central Beach we mention the Fontainebleau Miami Beach (4441 Collins Ave.), an icon of the area dating back to 1954. Excellent property directly on the beach with rooms and suites overlooking the sea, ideal for those seeking refinement and seaside life. The hotel has 11 swimming pools, various restaurants, a spa and its own marina.

    Check availability

    South Beach: how to get there?

    To reach South Beach the fastest way is to land atairport di Miami (2100 NW 42nd Ave.) which is about half an hour away. You can take a direct flight from Spain, with a European or American stopover. L'Airport-Beach Express, a bus service operating seven days a week, connects the airport to the major points of the Beach. There are also many other airport transfer services, from shared shuttles to private vehicles, you can find them all on this page:

    All Miami airport-hotel transfers

    How to get around the neighborhood and where to park

    Once you arrive at your destination, if you don't have a car, you can use the mezzi public operated by Miami-Dade Transit. You can use the Metrobus Lines, a bus line that connects South Beach to downtown, the downtown area of ​​Miami. For on-site travel, you can rely on South Beach Local (SBL) which connects, by bus, the major points of SoBe. For a detailed overview, I refer you to our in-depth analysis on how to get around in Miami.

    And a good ride? The shop is located at 746 5th Street Miami Beach Bicycle Center who rents, sells bicycles and accessories, also providing assistance to the vehicle. Instead, if like us you have a rental car (and in this case I refer you to our advice on like renting a car in Miami), there are parking possibilities at garage e parking spaces. We mention a few, at the corners of Washington Avenue and Commerce St, 1st Street and Washington Avenue, 13th Street and Collins Avenue, 21st and Collins Avenue and at South Point Park.

    During our visit, one of the best car parks from the point of view of the position / price ratio turned out to be that of the Publix Super Market at Fifth & Alton (here the GPS address); you just need a short walk to find yourself in the heart of South Beach! Alternatively, it is possible to park in one of the garages of the shopping centers of Lincoln Road. In the linked article we have indicated the most advantageous from an economic point of view.

    South Beach and environs

    Enjoy the sun, the heat, the palm trees, the beaches and the joy. Whether it's a day, a week or even two, the Beach always has something to offer. Combine SoBe with the north part of Miami Beach and Miami itself, take an excursion to the Keys islands, paradises with their corners for fishing and diving until you reach the relaxed atmosphere of Key West, the most famous and largest island, much loved by the writer Hernest Hemingway. If you like nature do not miss the Everglades park among swamps, mangroves, alligators and birds. But don't forget that Miami itself has so much more to offer than South Beach, check out our article on what to see in Miami!

    Water, beach, sun and fun are the things that come to mind when thinking about a trip to Florida as well South Beach it fully embodies the spirit. Take a tour, discover, enjoy and feel the energy, the tropical-American atmosphere of this corner of the world.

    Are you planning a Florida tour?

    I recommend these articles:

    • How to organize a Florida tour on your own?
    • Car rental Miami and Florida: low cost practical tips
    • Florida climate: when to go and what temperatures to expect
    • Miami Travel Guide: Useful Tips for Planning a Vacation
    • Low Cost USA flights: how to save money for your flight to the United States
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