Life's a Beach in Miami

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Life's a Beach in Miami
With long swathes of perfect sand and seductive blue Atlantic waters, Miami is all about the beach. Whether you want to work on your tan, explore nature, or feel the need for something more adventurous, Miami has the right beach for you.
By GiAnna Wyatt, AFAR Local Expert
Photo courtesy of Crazy About You Restaurant & Lounge
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    Oceanside Dining
    There are plenty of oceanfront bars and restaurants which have amazing views. Enjoy the cool breeze at Crazy About You at the Market Hotel in Brickell; breathtaking views of the bay, the chic dining space, and the affordable menu make for a perfect night. The DiLido Beach Club at the Ritz-Carlton South Beach is the only waterfront restaurant on South Beach—be sure to try their smoky mojitos. For a more casual night, head to Monty's along the Miami Beach Marina to enjoy avocado BLT sandwiches and a cold beer while watching expensive yachts sail by. There's also a pool onsite where you can take a quick dip.
    Photo courtesy of Crazy About You Restaurant & Lounge
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    Stroll along the Ocean
    Take a stroll along the water at Kennedy Park in Coral Gables for a scenic look at the bay and the residential community of Miami. A quiet place for a jog is Crandon Park in Key Biscayne, a national park that goes on for miles, ending at the world famous Key Biscayne Lighthouse. You can also run along the marina down Alton Road in Miami Beach, or stroll along the Venetian Causeway to view some of the most beautiful celebrity homes in the area. Along Ocean Drive, you'll get a more cosmopolitan vibe with a variety of shops and restaurants, perfect for an easy stroll.
    Photo courtesy of Chris Garcia/GMCVB
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    Bayfront Park
    One of the best spots for resting and relaxing in Miami is Bayfront Park. The park consists of Bicentennial Park, Bayside Park, the Tina Hills Pavilion, and the Klipsch Theater. There are several community events that occur throughout the year, including the July 4th fireworks and the New Year's Eve countdown, as well as regular and varied classes and exhibitions. Hit the onsite beach to watch dolphins jump and luxury yachts pass by Biscayne Bay. You'll have great views of the cruise ships and marina. Bring your dog for long walks around the fountains. Fitness classes are offered in the park during the week.
    Photo courtesy of Faroy Aerial Projects/Bayfront Park
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    Golf along the Water
    Just because you are right on the beach, doesn't mean you can't enjoy great golf in Miami. Turnberry Isle Resort and Golf Club is known as one of the best golf facilities in the country. It is comprised of two 18-hole championship courses, both designed by Robert Trent Jones, Sr. and renovated and redesigned by golf icon Raymond Floyd. Other top Miami greens include Normandy Shores Golf Club, Miami Beach Golf Club, and Fisher Island Club, whose 9-hole course opens up to views of yachts and cruise ships setting sail. All these courses include fantastic views, fine service, training facilities, and retail outlets.
    Photo courtesy of Turnberry Isle Miami
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    Get On the Water
    In Miami, it's important to take advantage of the outdoor water recreation at your disposal. Miami Watersports Complex offers award winning coaching and lessons in wakeboarding, waterskiing, wake surfing, kneeboarding, and bare footing. If you are a beginner the team can provide you with detailed and personal instruction, and you'll learn how to practice some of the most intense water sports in the world. If speed isn't your game, try snorkeling or paddleboarding along Key Biscayne, where you can view some of the most beautiful reefs along the east coast.
    Photo courtesy of GMCVB
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    Oceanfront Festivals on South Beach
    Every year, locals gather around the candy-colored art deco hotels and residences in Miami Beach to celebrate a variety of events. Local celebrities mix with the world-famous at the glitzy South Beach Wine & Food Festival, the electronic Ultra Music Festival, and the Miami Design Preservation League's Art Deco Weekend. Most events take place along the water with plenty of food, drinks, music, and sun. Be sure to wear your best beachwear: Maxi skirts and cigar shirts are the recommended style for the laid-back vibe. Breezy weather, gorgeous sand, and easy luxury provide visitors with a quick glimpse of what local life is like for the wealthy in Miami Beach.
    Photo by Jeff Greenberg/age fotostock
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    Soar through the Air above Miami
    Emerald waters, gorgeous hotels, and golden sands define Miami: See it all from above while parasailing right off Miami Beach. Attached to a boat that speeds through the stunning blue water, you will sail through the air and soar above the Atlantic—enjoying a bird's-eye view of the city skyline and Lighthouse Point—before scooping back into the water. The ride is exhilarating but is smooth and safe, and from hundreds of feet above the sea you can look down on the turtles, manatees, and South Florida reef below. If you don't like heights, try jet skiing instead: You'll test your strength and balance while roaring across the surface of the water.
    Photo by Norbert Eisele-Hein/age fotostock
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    Oceanfront Hangouts to Escape the Beach
    The sun can get strong while lazing on the beach in Miami, and sometimes you need to escape. There's a variety of venues just steps from the sand where you can mix with the elite beach crowd, but without the beach. The Raleigh Hotel lobby is a historic art deco monument, a popular spot to enjoy a shaken martini. Another gathering spot is the rooftop pool at the Catalina, where you can enjoy the catchy beats while taking in the cool breeze from the ocean below. Alternatively, reserve a cabana at the always-popular Lincoln Road Mall; grab a cone from a gelato shop and relax just a short walk from the water.
    Photo courtesy of Raleigh Hotel
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    Drinks on the Beach
    While on Miami Beach, locals avoid the crazy South Beach nightclubs and head to chilled beach bars where they can enjoy a refreshing beverage without the madness of the party scene. Head to Radio Bar on quiet 5th Street to hear classic music, including hits from the 80s and 90s, along with plenty of today’s top 40 favorites. Be sure to stop in for happy hour to get discounts on beer and liquor. If you're in a small group, head to The Room, which is literally a room with capacity for no more than 100 people. Be sure to sample some of the specialty drinks, which feature fresh herbs and premium liquors. If you can, make your way to The Betsy Hotel's rooftop patio for a breezy view of the park, and frozen beverages or cold beer.
    Photo courtesy of Radio Bar
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    South Beach Boutique Hotels
    Although there are many big brand hotels around town, some of the best hotels in Miami are small boutiques with fewer than 200 rooms. Pestana, a hotel brand from Portugal, has a cool poolside mermaid bar. Blue Moon Hotel, part of the Marriott Autograph Collection, has cozy and comfortable rooms and beds that feature a large moon headboard. Also check out The Surfcomber, one of the most entertaining spots for a pool party during Miami Music Week. Kimpton Epic Hotel has a boutique vibe in the middle of the bay front. Head to the lobby bar for casino nights on Saturdays.
    Photo courtesy of Kimpton’s EPIC Hotel