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The Americas & Caribbean

About Miami

Miami was an obscure swampland before visionary Julia Tuttle inherited land in the southern Florida backwater and took up residence here in 1891. As she acquired more property, she envisioned a great trade city here. Fate lent Tuttle a hand a few years later when her corner of the fledgling South was spared a winter storm that destroyed crops most everywhere else. Tuttle persuaded the railroad tycoon Henry Flagler to visit. He found a sunny tropical paradise and agreed to extend his Florida railway to Miami in exchange for prime real estate.

In 1896, the train service began, the city was incorporated and its foundations were laid. Flagler’s magnificent Royal Palm Hotel opened in 1897, the city’s first showpiece. Canals were built to drain the surrounding Everglades.

In the early 1900s, the “Magic City” blossomed and became an instant tourist destination and magnet for the rich and famous. During the Prohibition era of the 1920s, loose enforcement of the law here drew real estate tycoons. Later, as the country recovered from the Great Depression, Miami’s iconic Art Deco District was born.

During World War II, Miami experienced economic stability as a military training base. After the war, many veterans returned as residents. The 1960s brought waves of cultural immigration as Cubans fled their communist country and Haitians and Nicaraguans sought out a fresh start.

Today, with a rich cultural diversity and block after block of stunning oceanfront property, Miami is one of America’s most vibrant and colorful cities.

Miami Lifestyle and Culture

A beloved leisure destination, sun-soaked Miami embodies the carefree attitude of southern Florida’s coast. Sea-kissed breezes, lively cultures and fresh cuisine define this leading city of style and design.

Miami offers an eclectic feast for the senses. Gleaming white high-rises preside over seaside streets. Chic boutiques and trendy restaurants line palm-lined sidewalks. And a dreamlike, white-sand beach is never far away for sunbathing, swimming and shell seeking with the sand between your toes. Real estate investors still shape the city’s skyline, part of a culture that seems constantly in search of the latest trends in beauty and fitness.

In Little Havana, it’s Cuban-American culture that permeates the senses. In this lively enclave, the rich aroma of coffee wafts through the air as you snack on an authentic Cuban sandwich. You’ll hear the beats of merengue and salsa as you admire colorful murals that pay tribute to cultural figures. In Maximo Gomez Park, old-timers in short-sleeve cotton shirts smoke cigars over heated domino matches.

Miami holds spirited annual festivals. South Beach draws flocks of architecture lovers for its Art Deco Weekend. In Coconut Grove, the Goombay Festival celebrates Miami’s rich Bahamian-American heritage, with Bahamian cuisine, music, a parade and dance performances. At the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, hundreds of artists create masterpieces on lively streets.

Miami Sights and Landmarks

In South Beach, or SoBe, the historic Art Deco District boasts some of the country’s richest and most picturesque architecture, including the stunning Versace mansion, home to the celebrated fashion icon. It is pure pleasure to stroll Ocean Drive and its surrounding streets, admiring the exuberant pastels and neons, bold shapes, and floral and aquatic embellishments that have defined the city’s iconic aesthetic since the 1920s. Today it is the backdrop for world-class shopping, creative dining, and legendary nightlife. Just a few steps away, the powdery sand and sapphire waters of Miami’s most popular beach beckon.

Amid the relaxed charm of Coconut Grove on scenic Biscayne Bay, the majestic Vizcaya Museum & Gardens stands as Miami’s grandest residence. Over 1,000 people built this lavish Italian Renaissance villa in the 1910s. Explore 34 rooms adorned with furnishings, antiques, and tapestries from the 15th to the 19th centuries. Its European-inspired garden, one of America’s most elaborate, boasts more than 2,000 orchids.

Miami’s splendid Ancient Spanish Monastery recalls the city’s past as a Spanish territory. It was built in Spain in the 12th century, disassembled and brought to Miami by newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst.

Miami Entertainment and Activities

If you can pull yourself away from the magnificent beauty of Miami’s beaches and historic buildings, the city holds rich rewards for art and design lovers too.

Perched on Biscayne Bay, the new world-class Pérez Art Museum Miami, a stunning indoor/outdoor gallery, is an architectural masterpiece. Peruse its multicultural art from the 20th and 21st centuries amid hanging gardens, large sculptures and an Asian-inspired botanical oasis.

In the heart of the Art Deco District, delve behind the scenes of culture at the Wolfsonian–Florida International University. An unrivaled collection of 180,000 material objects from the 1850s to 1950s illustrates the persuasive power of art and design on culture. Have your curiosity piqued by 8,000 matchbooks collected by Egypt’s King Farouk.

During your stay, you might also venture to nearby Coral Gables, the “City Beautiful,” where banyan trees, expansive streets and impressive estates mark one of the first planned communities in the United States. Take a dip in the beautiful Venetian swimming pools, a historic landmark. This free-form lagoon was carved from coral rock, complete with waterfalls and stone bridges.

Miami Restaurants and Shopping

With a thriving restaurant scene and inspired Californian, Asian, and Caribbean fare, the Miami dining scene is rich in sophistication and variety.

For breathtaking views over Biscayne Bay, visit the rooftop terrace at 15th & Vine Kitchen and Bar. Indulge in eclectic American cuisine, served tapas-style, in an engaging, intimate ambiance. In the city’s Design District, find out why locals are lining up at Mandolin, an Aegean bistro located in a 1940s house and garden where Greek and Turkish meze are spiced with herbs from the garden. In Little Havana, enjoy Cuban cuisine at Versailles, where you can order lechon asado (roast pork loin) with rice, beans and fried plantains, followed by a café cubano.

Miami is a premier shopping destination that caters to all tastes, whether you’re seeking open air markets, boutiques, or air-conditioned malls.

Head to the posh Bal Harbor Shops for Florida’s version of Rodeo Drive, where many designers have signature stores. Browse the latest from Gucci and Valentino amid tropical gardens, limestone walkways, and koi ponds. Miami Beach’s trendiest shopping area is the outdoor Lincoln Road Mall, where you’ll find major fashion retailers, an 18-screen movie theater, and an endless fashion parade. Along Biscayne Bay, the tree-lined streets of bohemian Coconut Grove invite endless browsing in chic shops. If scouting antique furniture intrigues you, head to Biscayne Corridor.