Miami City Life

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Miami City Life
Miami is home to the rich and famous, and its melting pot of Caribbean, Central American, and South American immigrants lend it colorful culture and year-round celebrations. Other draws? Gorgeous beaches, luxury shops, hot clubs, and rich history.
By GiAnna Wyatt, AFAR Local Expert
Photo courtesy of GMCVB
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    Historic Miami
    Travel through Miami's historic neighborhoods to discover the city's architectural roots. Some of the most interesting areas are in the Art Deco District, the first 20th-century neighborhood to be listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Here, you'll find 800 structures of historical significance, most built between 1923 and 1943. Miami Design Preservation League hosts tours to view some of these buildings and historic outdoor spaces. Candy-colored buildings with porthole windows and ship-like railings resemble cruise ships overlooking the emerald waters.
    Photo courtesy of GMCVB
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    Street Art and Galleries in Wynwood
    For locals, the Wynwood art district has become the place to be on any given night. The area is filled with old warehouses covered in graffiti and the streets are lined with old buildings now used as galleries. Within the past five years, a variety of bars, restaurants, and shops have opened, but the biggest draw is Wynwood Walls at Wynwood Kitchen & Bar. The pathway leading to the restaurant features some amazing street art by internationally recognized artists, including Shepard Fairey, ROA, and Os Gemeos. Popular Wynwood spots include Gramps, Wood Tavern, The Butcher Shop, Joey's, and Panther Coffee.
    Photo courtesy of GMCVB
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    Myriad and Mesmerizing Museums
    Miami has dozens of museums, from Vizcaya Museum and Garden in Coral Gables to the many art-themed museums, including Bakehouse Art Complex, Bass Museum of Art, Lowe Art Museum, the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, Miami Art Museum, and the Wolfsonian–FIU. Families will enjoy the Miami Science Museum, Miami Seaquarium, and Miami Children's Museum. If you love history, you'll definitely want to stop at the Gold Coast Railroad Museum, Holocaust Memorial, Jewish Museum of Florida, and Wings Over Miami Air Museum. In keeping with the tropical climate, there are also many excellent botanical gardens throughout the city.
    Photo courtesy of Bill Sumner/Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
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    Miami’s Beaches
    Miami Beach and South Beach are the most popular areas to soak in the sun. That's where the most well known resorts and tourist destinations are to be found. Visitors have easy access to shopping, dining, and nightlife, all just steps from hotels and beaches. For less crowded water and sand, visit Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park or Crandon Park in Key Biscayne. Both have great views, warm water, and plenty of sun, but come with less bustle and no resorts. You can also check out some of the local dog beaches to let your pooch in on the fun. Key Biscayne's Biscayne National Park is perfect for those who love nature.
    Photo courtesy of Chris Garcia/GMCVB
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    Outdoor Oases for Social Gathering
    Thanks to gorgeous year-round weather, locals and visitors are always gathering at outdoor plazas for socializing, eating, drinking, and shopping. One such outdoor oasis is South Miami's Sunset Place, a shopping and dining venue popular among locals as the go-to place to socialize and have a casual night out at bars and movie theaters. Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road have plenty of outdoor spaces, perfect for people-watching. Mary Brickell Village is a more urban, downtown setting, filled with a mix of locals and visitors. The Village of Merrick Park is located in Coral Gables, where you can find plenty of luxury shopping and well-to-do locals. Coconut Grove is a college town, with numerous outdoor bars and restaurants.
    Photo by Angelo Cavalli/age fotostock
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    Get Your Cardio On in Miami
    Miami is a city of beautiful people, and they didn't get that way without work. If you want to experience the city like a local, visit Coconut Grove Dog Park for a cardio workout along the water. If you work out in the evening, you'll have a scenic sunset view as you jog from one fitness station to another. Another way to fit exercise into your visit is to rent a bike on Miami Beach. You’ll get an up close view of historic art deco buildings and avoid car traffic. Still another option is taking a Zumba class; the Latin dance-inspired cardio workout started in Miami.
    Photo by Jacques Alexandre/age fotostock
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    The Performing Arts
    On any given night in Miami, there's always some sort of live entertainment. For big production shows, visit the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami to sing along to your favorite Broadway musicals and plays. Miami City Ballet and other world-famous performers regularly take to the city's stages. Another option is Miracle Theater in Coral Gables, an intimate venue where you can watch local actors perform classic plays. In Bayside Marketplace, head to a local bar and watch some cultural performances along the bay. In South Beach, check out Palace Bar for brunch and stay for the drag show—it's worth the wait!
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Play Ball!
    Another side of Miami's cultural life is its sports teams, and the venues they play in are as impressive as many of the city's arts institutions. There's Marlins Park, right in the heart of downtown, complete with its own nightclub. If kids are tagging along, be sure to stop by the park's fish tanks for a photo op. Another venue is Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins and the Miami Hurricanes. Tickets to games are affordable and tailgates are always a good time. A few times a year, the W Hotel hosts beach polo matches that are entertaining and great for socializing.
    Photo courtesy of GMCVB
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    South Florida Nature
    Before South Florida was filled with luxury hotels, shopping boutiques, and nightclubs, it was a lush landscape with diverse marshes and swampland. Today, you can still check out some great Florida wildlife in national parks around the southern part of the state. To begin, take an airboat ride through the Everglades, where you'll see turtles, fish, and alligators. Key Biscayne, an untouched beach, offers nature trails and views of impressive rock formations. Dry Tortugas National Park features historic Fort Jefferson, which was used to defend South Florida from pirates. You'll need to arrive by boat or seaplane. For something a bit more structured, Zoo Miami is the only tropical zoo in the United States, or visit interactive Jungle Island.
    Photo courtesy of GMCVB
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    Experience the Local Farmers' Markets
    Miami's warm climate provides locals with a variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, and herbs; shopping for food can be an experience rather than a chore. As a totally local and sustainable option, shop at one of the many farmers' markets. In Coconut Grove, sample homemade vegan and Indian dips from local producers. Purchase original art by residents of Miami and Dade County, or head to Lincoln Road for a more cosmopolitan farmers' market. Sit along the grassy medians and enjoy street performers while browsing the local fare. Also on South Beach, try the Wednesday night market at the Botanical Garden across from the convention center.
    Photo courtesy of GMCVB