The city of Miami Beach offers a bevy of activities whether your passion be water activities, dance, music, or visual arts. Separated from Miami by Biscayne Bay, this resort town sits right on the ocean. Movie buffs might recognize this picturesque city from movies like The Bird Cage and Scarface. It also provided the backdrop for the popular 1980s television show Miami Vice. The New World Symphony is based in this part of the city, performing at the New World Center, a building designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. The Miami City Ballet also resides here, near the Bass Museum of Art. Miami Beach is the warmest city in the mainland United States, and its inviting waters beckon tourists particularly in the winter months.
South Beach, the southern end of Miami Beach, has the distinction of being the oldest section of town. It rests between Biscayne Bay and the the Atlantic Ocean. Since its beginning in the early 20th century, it has changed in appearance due to increased development and the everpresent danger posed by hurricanes. Its vast array of Streamline Moderne art deco architecture landed it on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979. The beach features a variety of parks and cultural destinations, including the Miami Holocaust Museum and the World Erotic Art Museum Miami.
Begun in 1948 with three monkeys, two black bears, and a goat, Zoo Miami has survived two hurricanes since then and remains one of America's favorite zoos. In fact, it is the only tropical zoo in the United States. Visitors can experience the animals of Asia, Africa, Amazon and Beyond, and Australia. An air conditioned monorail connects the vast park and makes it easier to move between exhibits, while providing unparalleled views. There are also narrated tram tours which allow patrons to get an in-depth knowledge of the zoo and its animals.
This national park is the third largest in the country, after Yellowstone and Death Valley. The park was established in 1934 when development of the South Florida sealine threatened the vitality of the area. More than just a wildlife refuge, the park was the first of its kind to protect an entire ecosystem. Many of the animals inhabiting the park are endangered or threatened, like the American crocodile, the Florida panther, and the West Indian manatee.
This sprawling estate rests in what is now the Coconut Grove neighborhood of Miami. Designed in the Mediterranean Revival style, the estate features Italian Renaissance gardens and various outbuildings that are aesthetically well suited to Florida's tropical environment. Although the property has withstood extensive hurricane damage since it began in 1922, grant money from Miami Dade County and several relief organizations has enabled it to maintain its pristine appearance. The exterior of several buildings have been featured in movies like Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Bad Boys II.
The oldest oceanarium in the United States features sharks, sea turtles, birds, and marine mammals. The popular 1960s TV show "Flipper" filmed 88 episodes and two feature films here. One of the park's main attractions is Lolita, the oldest orca in captivity and the only orca at the seaquarium. Shows featuring Lolita, as well as the park's dolphins, happen daily, and the park also welcomes Boy Scout groups and overnight camps.
This unique interactive zoo was created when a feed store owner became enamored of the idea of a park where birds could fly freely around the trees. Although it's moved from its original location, it remains a beloved tourist destination. Birds that are featured here include the only trained Cassowary in the world, the Andean Condor, and the King Vulture, as well as the Florida favorite, the American Flamingo. Besides birds, the park also presents a liger, a cross between a lion and a tiger, and a list of animals ranging from boa constrictors and snapping turtles to lemurs and penguins.
Fanciful, vibrant colors interlaced with palm trees make this historic neighborhood a must see for any tourist. This area was the first 20th century neighborhood to be inducted into the National Register of Historic Places, due to its abundance of art deco architecture. Chrome and glass combine with swooping arches and smooth curves to create a feast for the eyes. Retro theatre marquees and facades draped in neon lights complete the scene. Constructed between 1923-1943, over 800 structures make up this most unique neighborhood.
As one might imagine, Little Havana takes its name from the large Cuban population that resides there. Calle Ocho, or 8th Street, is a popular destination and the site of many festivals. The Walk of Fame honors prominent Latin figures in the arts, including Celia Cruz and Gloria Estefan. On the last Friday of the month, Viernes Culturales takes place on Calle Ocho and visitors can expect to experience music, art exhibits, and various types of Latin cuisine.
Children and adults can explore the curiosities of the world around them at this top of the line museum located just outside downtown Miami. The exhibits are interactive, encouraging attendees to work and play together. A two story sand castle, a six foot piggy bank that allows you to design your own currency, and exhibits underlining the importance of health and nutrition, public safety, and caring for pets are all permanently on display. There are also displays portraying different Miami neighborhoods at different periods of time, giving contextual understanding to this most unique city.