Miami Beach dazzles in the sunlight as the palm trees sway slightly in the whisper of the breeze. It’s a lovely scene especially by the gorgeous South Beach, affectionately known as SoBe.
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 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 remodelled. 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 in the 1950s.
To explore, start at 728 Ocean Drive where now stands the 1950s 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 in the Scarface took place.
If you make it to Ocean Drive you will see the retro-futuristic façade 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 unmissable black and gold tipped gates. The eminent fashion designer was shot in front of it in at point blank range while returning from buying a newspaper.
The property has since been turned into a luxury 10-bedroom boutique and called The Villa by Barton G. Inside is a spa and glamorous mosaic-tiled swimming pool designed by Versace with much Italian flare.
You may find that when walking the length of Ocean Drive the buzzy and are too much of a to keep walking.
SoFi – South of Fifth
For a change of scene and for a much quieter ambience head for 5th Street. You will find a lovely triangular enclave called SoFi (South of Fifth) – it starts at Fifth to the end of the island at the 17-acre beautifully landscaped South Pointe Park.
You may find a photo shoot happening or at least glamourous people milling around. If you want more of that you could go to Nikki Beach for brunch. There is no doubting the sumptuous and appetising food served, yet it’s hard to eat when toned, tanned bodies pass you on their way to nearby sunbeds.
If you are with the kids try breakfast at The Big Pink, very retro, very pink, family-style with hefty portions that are easy on the pocket.
Wynwood and the Miami Design District
Once a rundown area the walls of Wynwood is very much the haunt of hipsters thanks to property developer Tony Goldman who had a vision of “museum of the streets”. More than 50 artists have transformed 80,000 square feet of walls into artworks and words like “edgy” and “artsy” are often thrown at it. There are plenty of art galleries too (70 at the last count) but don’t miss the contemporary art of the Rubell Family collection with works by Andy Warhol and Keith Haring.
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 hotspot 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.