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Greater Miami and The Beaches: Where The World Comes To Play

Greater Miami and Miami Beach lovers will tell you, there’s no place on Earth like Miami. We’re on bucket lists. We’re the runways of Europe mixed with South American Samba. We’re the Fountain of Youth realized 500 years later. Just when you think you’ve figured us out, we reinvent ourselves again (and invite you to do the same).

Made legendary during the whimsical Art Deco era, and again when Crockett and Tubbs of “Miami Vice” thrilled us as they raced across our mysterious streets, Miami has evolved into the world’s premier playground – so much more than it ever was before. Officially called Greater Miami and Miami Beach, our destination offers a fascinating blend of cutting-edge urban chic and Old-World Florida.

Great year-round weather, top-ranked beaches and the sparkling waters of Biscayne Bay are the backdrops for a cosmopolitan metropolis, pulsing with the rhythms of its diverse population. Boasting a “grown up” yet playful arts and cultural landscape, renowned nightlife scene and world-class dining and entertainment, Miami invites an eclectic mix of visitors to come out and play - from celebrities to families seeking memorable moments. Because there are so many ways to play, the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau hosts Miami Temptations, a series of ongoing monthly promotions by theme (www.MiamiTemptations.com), such as Miami Arts & Heritage (December-January), Miami Spa Months (July-August) and Miami Spice Restaurant Months (August-September).

Glorious weather has always been the main attraction, with yearly temperatures in Miami averaging 78°F. Sun-kissed days feature blue skies, dotted with surreal cotton candy clouds. Gentle breezes keep things cool throughout the day, while sultry temperatures heat up clear "Moon over Miami" evenings.

Geographically and culturally at the crossroads of Latin America, it is easy to see why Miami is an attractive destination for travelers from South America. The destination is equally popular with Europeans, Canadians and domestic travelers, thanks to direct flights, great highways and a range of stylish accommodations and attractions for all budgets and lifestyles.

Located a few degrees above the Tropic of Cancer, Miami comprises a network of barrier islands, coral rock and mangrove swamps, connected by manmade additions of soaring bridges and causeways with panoramic views of Biscayne Bay. Miles and miles of white sand beaches with sultry Caribbean blue ocean waves hug the coastline. To the south and west, Everglades National Park, the third largest in the U.S. National Park System, is a unique 1.5 million-acre eco-system of sawgrass prairies, mangrove swamps, subtropical jungle and the warm waters of Florida Bay. Nearby, the primarily underwater Biscayne National Park is teeming with sea life and plants, and features living coral reefs as well as the longest stretch of mangrove forest left on Florida's east coast within its 173,000 acres (70011 hectares).

With an unparalleled mix of ethnic and cultural groups spread throughout the sprawling city (more than 100 languages are spoken here), Miami offers a “live and let live” philosophy - an essential attitude in a large city with so many different points of view. Visitors instantly pick up on the local laid-back mood; and stress melts away upon arrival at the Miami International Airport, a short drive to most major destinations and an inspiring collection of hotels, from casual and chic boutiques to the world’s leading luxury properties.

A meandering collection of more than 35 distinct municipalities spread out over 2,000 square miles, Miami is home to over 2.8 million people, many of whom came here to play and never went home. Some areas, like South Beach's Art Deco District, are internationally renowned, while other less-heralded burgs like Little Haiti, Morningside and Homestead are hidden treasures waiting to be uncovered by intrepid explorers. The following is a snapshot of Greater Miami neighborhoods at a glance, many of which can be explored on double-decker buses, on bike or walking tours:

Beaches

South Beach/Art Deco District/Ocean Drive: To get to South Beach, which even the most cynical can agree is magical, you can follow the MacArthur Causeway like the yellow brick road from the mainland to Miami Beach’s southern tip. Along the way you will pass the eye-popping Cruise Capital of the World – PortMiami – with its diverse collection of sparkling megaships carrying travelers to the Caribbean and back for more play time in Miami. You will also pass great attractions, such as the high-design 56,500-square-foot Miami Children’s Museum, recognizable as the work of the award-winning Miami architectural firm, Arquitectonica.

Once in South Beach, the Art Deco District pulls you in with an imaginative collection of more than 800 architecturally protected buildings from the 1930s and 1940s - the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the world.

South Beach is crowned by Ocean Drive, a worldwide catwalk of see-and-be-seen boutique hotels with alfresco cafés and beaches packed with beautiful sun seekers. Across this pedestrian-friendly town, which features the beach chic of St. Tropez with a rebellious spirit, is trendy Lincoln Road. This lively magnet for culture, entertainment and shopping is another great place to people watch, especially if you want to mingle with the locals. Across the street on the corner of Lincoln and Washington is the New World Symphony Center, the home to the New World Symphony and world-class performing arts. The neighborhood has drawn global events, such as the über cool Art Basel Miami Beach, the South Beach Wine & Food Festival and Miami Beach International Fashion Week.

Miami Beach: The rest of Miami Beach continues to thrive, reaping the benefits of its proximity to the Art Deco District's plentiful entertainment and dining offerings. Hotels that put Miami Beach on the map during the swinging 60s, including the Eden Roc and Fontainebleau are still going strong, completely updated, while neighborhoods like family-friendly Surfside and a revitalized North Beach draw many with unpretentious charms, great local restaurants and easy beach access. North Beach (a.k.a. NoBe) is a thriving but less crowded beach area just south of expansive North Shore Park. It is fast becoming a smaller version of South Beach with its inviting oceanfront cafés. Hotels, restaurants, quaint shops, and an uninterrupted concentration of MiMo (Miami Modern) 50s and 60s era apartment buildings give the entire neighborhood a unique character, as does an influx of South American immigrants who have added character and flavor to the neighborhood with numerous shops and eateries.

Located on Collins Avenue from 32nd to 36th Street, Faena District Miami Beach is a cultural neighborhood in the heart of Miami Beach. The Faena District was one of the destination’s most ambitious development projects created in 2015. It was unveiled by Faena founder Alan Faena, starting with the debut of Faena Hotel Miami Beach. The luxurious resort features 169 guestrooms and suites designed by award-winning film director/producer Baz Luhrmann and four-time Academy Award® winning production and costume designer Catherine Martin. The innovative and immersive entertainment venue, Faena Forum, is a 50,000 square-foot cultural institution designed to “transcend disciplines and encourages collaborations across artistic, intellectual, and geographic boundaries.

Bal Harbour: Bal Harbour and the Bay Harbor Islands are quiet upscale residential communities notable for the famous Bal Harbour Shops, continually ranked one of the top shopping destinations in the world. This playground for socialites, fashionistas and celebrities feature luxury brands such as Chanel, Gucci, and Tory Burch. The 100+ shops are close to the ultra-luxurious St. Regis, Bal Harbour Resort and Ritz-Carlton, Bal Harbour.

Sunny Isles Beach: This community is a favorite among French-Canadian and European tourists who are drawn to the laid-back casual vibe, sea grape studded-beaches and range of accommodations from affordable motel-style to a growing mix of luxurious hotels and condos -- including Trump International Beach Resort and Acqualina Resort & Spa. The destination is also a great base for diving the area’s large collection of artificial reefs (Miami Dade County Artificial Reef Program), where divers can explore a wide array of objects ranging from steel hulled ships and army tanks to commercial aircraft.

Surfside is just south of Bal Harbour, offering a family-friendly environment with lots of local restaurants to satisfy your cravings. It is home to a variety of hotels such as the Grand Beach Hotel Surfside and The Surf Club, a Four Seasons Hotel and Residences complex. South of Surfside is North Beach, often called a “mini South Beach” for its robust collection of Art Deco architecture. Hotels include the Carillon Wellness Resort and Hilton Cabana Miami Beach.

Mainland

Downtown Miami: Downtown Miami is a hub for international business and finance, with soaring office towers and ultra-modern condominiums lining Brickell Avenue. Culture vultures young and young-at-heart flock to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami Dade County, Florida’s largest performing arts center, a symbol that Miami has firmly established itself as a sophisticated arts destination. The center houses the Florida Grand Opera and the Miami City Ballet and many world class events, and in terms of size is second in the U.S. only to New York’s Lincoln Center. Since we’re unofficially called the “sixth borough” of New York, we consider this distinction high praise indeed! The Center also has a farm-to-table concept restaurant – Brava by Brad Kilgore.

Just down the street is Museum Park, located on Biscayne Bay, and home to the Perez Art Museum Miami PAMM). This contemporary art museum is sustainably designed by Herzog & De Meuron and features 200,000-square-feet of contemporary art, as well as educational tours and Verde, a waterfront restaurant and bar with locally inspired seasonal menus. Museum Park is also home of The Patricia and Phillip Frost Museum of Science (Frost Science), designed by Grimshaw Architects. Structured around a lushly landscaped indoor and outdoor ‘living core’ of terrestrial and aquatic exhibits, featuring one-of-a-kind aquarium components, an innovative digital dome, hands-on exhibits and interactive digital technology, Frost Science offers 250,000-square-feet of exhibits designed to inspire the mind, engage the senses and stimulate the imagination.

Nearby is the neon-accented American Airlines Arena, home to the popular Miami Heat basketball team, and Bayside Marketplace, a festive waterfront shopping and dining destination with fun cruises of celebrity homes and dancing excursions. It’s also home to the new Skyviews Miami attraction. This unique observation wheel towers 200 feet above Bayside Marketplace! It offers unparalleled views of Biscayne Bay, Bayfront Park, and the iconic Downtown Miami skyline. There are 42 completely enclosed and climate-controlled Gondolas, including one VIP Gondola featuring leather bucket seats, a custom LED light show, and a glass bottom floor.

Downtown Miami has a plethora of luxury hotels like the EPIC, JW Marriott Marquis and Hotel Beaux Arts to standouts like Conrad Miami, and the Mandarin Oriental, Miami.

A luxury destination shopping mecca, Brickell City Centre, Swire Properties Inc.’s $1 billion mixed use development project brings a vibrant feel to the downtown area. The highlight of the project is the EAST, Miami hotel, which connects directly to dozens of vibrant Brickell restaurants and shops and offer 255 contemporary rooms, eight modern suites and 89 serviced apartments. Nearby is The Shops at Mary Brickell Village, a thriving outdoor center for entertainment, shopping and dining, offering nearly 40 upscale boutiques and more than 10 hip eateries offering tastes from around the world.

Speaking of eateries, Miami has some amazing food truck options. Many visitors and locals go out of their way to track these trucks’ locations online, much like they would the hottest restaurants. Those looking for a more hands-on culinary experience can take a day cooking class at Tastebuds Kitchen in West Kendall.

Design Districts: Other echoes of Miami’s “sisterhood” with New York is the destination’s cutting-edge urban evolution, started by Miami real-estate visionaries like Craig Robins in the Design District and the late Tony Goldman in the Wynwood Arts District on the northern fringes of downtown. The Design District, dotted with the leading home designer brand stores but open to the public, has redefined how fashion is merchandised. The district over the years has grown to include art galleries and design showrooms, fashion stores and dozens of restaurants and lounges. Luxury fashion brands range from Miu Miu, Tom Ford, Burberry to Fendi, Tiffany and Cartier.

Adjacent to the Design District and carrying on the tropical SoHo vibe is Wynwood, home to more than 100 galleries and the astonishing Wynwood Walls, an open air par dedicated to cutting-edge museum quality contemporary urban murals. The Walls began in 2009 as a collaboration between arts guru Jeffrey Deitch and the late Tony Goldman – and now run by the Goldman family -- it encompasses more than 40 cutting edge murals created by innovative artists from around the world. The walls are open to the public free of charge, and can be enjoyed close up from the outdoor terrace of Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, which also features Miami cuisine and intensely colorful panoramic canvases in the dining room. The district also offers several cafes and lounges, as well as boutiques and shops. Both neighborhoods host gallery nights on the second Saturday of the month, with locals and visitors passing back and forth between the adjacent neighborhoods to explore the latest art trends.

Midtown: Nearby is Midtown Miami, featuring sidewalks filled with trendy cafes, lounges and restaurants. Shoppers can enjoy special installations and exhibits adorning the streets, as well as a mix of eateries and specialty food shops from SugarCane, Salumeria and Sakaya Kitchen. The New Yorker Boutique Hotel also in Midtown is the first boutique hotel in the area – known for its 1950s Miami Modernism Architecture (MiMo). Fans of MiMo architecture can take guided tours in South Beach run by the Miami Design Preservation League.

Overtown: Just north of downtown, one of Miami's oldest African American neighborhoods, Historic Overtown, is on the upswing. In its heyday in the 1920s through 1940s, Historic Overtown was Florida's version of Harlem – a thriving Black community where businesses and community life prospered, including an entertainment district anchored by the historic Lyric Theater which features the Historic Overtown Visitor Center highlighting the neighborhood’s sights and sounds. Today the neighborhood continues to be revitalized to restore the historical legacy including renovations of the Lyric Theater, the Greater Bethel AME Church and the D.A. Dorsey House (home of Miami's first Black millionaire.)

Little Havana: It is rumored that one could spend a whole day in Little Havana without hearing a word of English spoken. Saturated with Latin culture, Little Havana's main thoroughfare, Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) is lined with comfort food restaurants featuring Latin specialties. A common sight is cafes where people sip cafecitos (Cuban coffee) and passionately argue about everything from love to politics, while the sounds of salsa and merengue fill the air. Domino Park is a classic stop to watch Cuban elders play dominos, which is close to The Little Havana Cigar Factory, where artisans still hand-roll cigars. Several local tailors create custom Guayaberas (traditional linen shirts), while various nightclubs host amazing Latin entertainers and dancing. Ball & Chain is an iconic restaurant and nightclub after hours offering Latin beats and live bands. During the day the café serves Cuban-style cuisine and offers a full bar. A few local favorites in the Little Havana area include El Exquisito, El Pub, Union Beer Store, Casa Panza, Taquerias El Mexicano and Velvet Crème Doughnuts.

For those who want to dive deeper into the flavors of the Latin Quarter, Miami Culinary Tours offers Little Havana Food Tours (and other neighborhoods such as South Beach and Wynwood Arts District). Another great activity is to take part in Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays), an open house on the last Friday of the month where people can check out Latin American gallery art and live artistic performances. Those who’d rather spend their day watching sports can check out the sleek Miami Marlins Park, featuring a state-of-the-art retractable roof and an operable wall in left field providing fans with spectacular views of downtown Miami.

Coconut Grove: South of downtown where the foliage becomes lush and tropical, Coconut Grove was legendary in its heyday as an arts colony. Coconut Grove is the oldest community in Miami, with a total population that pre-dates the incorporation of the City of Miami. Situated on Biscayne Bay, this 4.17 square mile community includes the Village West neighborhood, which is the present-day historic enclave of the Bahamian and African-American descendants of the early settlers of Coconut Grove. Their presence as the first black community on the South Florida mainland began here in the late 1870s when Blacks primarily from the Bahamas came via Key West to work at the Peacock Inn. Their first-hand experience with tropical plants, agriculture and building materials proved invaluable to the development of Coconut Grove.

Today, the culturally diverse locality draws throngs of tourists and residents to its restaurants and cafés, art galleries, boutiques, and farmers markets. Home to popular attractions like Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, (an Italian Renaissance mansion), and the Barnacle, historic home of Miami pioneer Ralph Monroe, the Grove honors its artistic roots each February with the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, an annual outdoor celebration of visual arts and crafts. It also nods to its Bahamian roots each June with the Miami/Bahamas Goombay Festival, and its beatnik past on New Year’s weekend with the low-budget but hilarious King Mango Strut, a political spoof parade.

World-Class Ports

Miami International Airport (MIA) is the largest gateway between the United States and Latin America and is one of the largest airline hubs in the United States. It is among the busiest airports in the world. There are over 80 airlines serving MIA to approximately 150 destinations around the globe. More than 40.5 million passengers travel through the airport annually. Centrally located just seven miles from Downtown Miami, MIA has a free mobile app to help navigate the 7.5 million square-feet of terminal space, retail outlets, food and beverage concessions and ground transportation options.

With extensive renovations constantly underway – including new concourses featuring soaring ceilings, unique local art collections, as well as more shops and restaurants, the airport reflects Miami’s status as a world-class destination. The convenient sky train is a joy to all who travel in Terminal D, extending one mile from baggage claim to the end of the terminal. One of the biggest improvements in recent years was the Rental Car Center (RCC), known as the Grand Central Station of Miami. All of the 16 rental car agencies are located under one roof and public transportation by Tri-Rail, bus and taxi depart from the terminal.

The airport modernization continued with its Miami Intermodal Center (MIC) that connects the Rental Car Center with the Metrorail, allowing passengers to arrive at the airport and get to downtown Miami without ever leaving the airport. Metrorail’s Orange Line also connects downtown Miami travelers to M.I.A for just a few dollars.

Many travelers coming into M.I.A come to play in the destination before or after a cruise. If you haven’t been to this jaw dropping PortMiami, chances are you probably will one day. No other port in the world beats Miami in terms of cruise passengers, making it truly the “Cruise Capital of the World.” More than 4.8 million passengers come to cruise to the Caribbean, Mexico and beyond, and many of the world’s biggest cruise companies are headquartered here.

With $1 billion in major ongoing infrastructure improvements, PortMiami’s cruise facilities are among the most modern in the world, attracting new-generation cruise ships that travelers demand. Visitors driving down the MacArthur Causeway will see towering ships with logos such as Carnival Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean International, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Disney Cruise Line and Norwegian Cruise Lines.

The PortMiami tunnel, a free dedicated roadway linking the Port with the MacArthur Causeway and I-395, allows travelers from South Beach and the airport to bypass most downtown traffic, reducing travel time and emissions. The latter is a major goal of PortMiami's sustainability initiative – a series of energy conservation and contained cargo programs that have earned its designation as a “clean port.”

Sophisticated Suburbs

Coral Gables: Designed and planned in the 1920 by early Miami developer George Merrick, Coral Gables features beautiful Mediterranean-style homes and winding waterways. “The Gables” is renowned for world-class dining as well as its flock of top galleries that present the crème de la crème of Latin American art.

Coral Gables is also home to Merrick Park, one of Miami's most upscale shopping Mecca’s, with haute couture fashion and home décor shops and boutiques, as well as several gourmet restaurants in a lushly landscaped setting. Across town is another shopping hotspot Miracle Mile, also known as “Bridal Row” where brides-to-be can find an astounding collection of gowns, invitations, cake designs, rings and accessories in one walkable area. Not only is Miracle Mile a bride’s one-stop-shop for everything bridal, but the variety of restaurants are incredible. From Seasons 52 to The Local Craft Food & Drink to Bulla Gastrobar, they cater to all tastes.

The neighborhood is also home to the National Historic Landmark Biltmore Hotel, with the largest hotel pool in the United States and the Venetian Pool, a local swimming hole straight out of Venice. The Gables is also famous for the University of Miami, as well as Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, a premier tropical botanic garden with the largest selection of tropical plants, flowering trees and palms in the world.

Key Biscayne: This secluded paradise is just a few miles from downtown yet worlds apart, with miles of hiking and biking trails, boating and water sports, beaches that continually rank in the top ten, top-notch tennis and golf facilities and an upscale resort property. It is home to Miami Seaquarium, which features the Dolphin Harbour which includes the Dolphin Odyssey and Dolphin Encounter programs. The park offers aquatic shows with the dolphins, killer whales and adorable seals and is known as the former setting of the popular 1960s television show Flipper. The park also has the Sea Trek Reef Encounters, where you don’t need a scuba certification to take an underwater walking journey through a 300,000-gallon tropical reef filled with colorful fish, sting rays and a variety of unique sea creatures.

Nearby is the landmark restaurant Rusty Pelican, offering one of the best bay views of Downtown Miami in town. This upscale beach community is also where you can find Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, with its historic lighthouse built in 1825 and reconstructed in 1846 -- the oldest standing structure in Miami-Dade County. Visitors come to the park to sunbathe, swim and picnic on more than one mile of sandy Atlantic beachfront.

If you’re a tennis fan, you’ll want to make your way over the Rickenbacker Causeway to Crandon Park Tennis Center and Stadium, former home to the Miami Open, where some of the world’s best tennis icons played. If golf is more your game, the center is adjacent to the Crandon Park Golf Course, rated among the top 75 municipal golf courses in the country.

North of Miami: Considered part of greater North Miami Beach, Opa Locka, designed in the 1920s as an Arabian Nights fantasy, features the largest concentration of Moorish architecture in the Western hemisphere. In addition to North Miami, North Miami Beach (home to the Ancient Spanish Monastery) and other primarily residential areas, the northern part of the destination is home to Aventura, known for towering luxury condos, JW Marriott Miami Turnberry Resort & Spa with its great golf courses and wonderful shopping at the mammoth Aventura Mall. Just 20 minutes from downtown, Hard Rock Stadium, host to the Miami Dolphins football. The Stadium is also the new home to the Miami Open presented by Itaú. This is the premier tennis event featuring the best players from around the world. The event brings an unparalleled fan experience featuring 30 courts, a tennis campus with the largest video screen of any tennis event and the Stadium Court within Hard Rock Stadium.

Rural Miami

South of Miami: The agricultural bounty of Miami's mild climate becomes apparent as visitors head south of Miami to Redland and Homestead, with vast fields of strawberries, tomatoes and other fresh produce, en route to Miami’s two unique national parks (the only city to boast two). One of the most famous farm stands is Robert Is Here, a popular stop on the way to the parks. The roadside stand has garnered international acclaim for fresh fruit shakes and unusual produce. Everglades National Park, a World Heritage site, features an untamed ecosystem unlike any other on earth with an astounding collection of creatures, from alligators to tropical birds. You can drive to many sites in the park at the Florida City entrance, and you can kayak, canoe, or take a naturalist-led boat tour of the back country and Florida Bay. At the northern entrance of the park, along the Tamiami Trail (near the native tribe’s Miccosukee Resort & Gaming), there are guided tram tours and self-guided bike tours of Shark Valley. Airboat rides are not allowed inside the park, but can be found at local vendors nearby.

Biscayne National Park (90 percent of which is underwater and features the only living tropical reef in the continental U.S.), a stone’s throw from Homestead-Miami Speedway (hosts the final races of the season in all three of NASCAR's series), is a great place for diving, glass bottom boat riding or snorkeling. Many of the area's tourist attractions are also located here, including Zoo Miami, Monkey Jungle, Schnebly’s Winery & Brewery (wines made from tropical fruits), Everglades Alligator Farm (with cool airboat rides) and the Fruit and Spice Park (tropical agricultural paradise). It is also home to Coral Castle Museum, featured on many mystery TV shows. This impressive stone sculpture garden, carved secretly by one man, Edward Leedskalnin from 1923 to 1951, is made from over 1,100 tons of coral rock – an accomplishment that remains a mystery today.

Throughout this region, and up near the urban areas to the north, you can take advantage of Miami-Dade Parks EcoAdventures -- a wide variety of exciting naturalist-guided excursions for nature lovers and outdoor sports enthusiasts that combine adventure, recreation, and natural history. Discover South Florida’s natural treasures as you kayak, snorkel, bike, or hike in this remarkable sub-tropical environment.

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau (GMCVB) is an independent not-for-profit sales and marketing organization whose mission is to attract visitors to Greater Miami and the Beaches for leisure, business and conventions. For a vacation guide, visit our website at www.MiamiAndBeaches.com or call 1-888-76-Miami (US/Canada only) or 305-447-7777. To reach the GMCVB offices dial 305-539-3000.  Meeting Planners may call 1-800-933-8448 (US/Canada only) or 305-539-3071 or visit www.MiamiMeetings.com.