As one of the major tourist destinations in the continental United States for vacationing in a warm climate, Miami enjoys not only crowds of American visitors but also a nearly unmatched foreign tourist presence from as far away as Italy and China. Miami is perhaps the only city in the United States that seems uniquely removed from the catch-all phrase “All-American.” In this beautiful city of sparkling beaches and azul waters visitors spend a great deal of time at the beach working on a tan or working even harder on scouting out the hottest shopping.
What may surprise most visitors who spend the greater part of their time at the beach or on South Beach is that they are in fact not in the city of Miami and are missing the real heart of what it means to visit Miami. The minute you cross Biscayne Bay and venture to sizzling Miami Beach you have just left Miami proper and are now in another city to which Miami owes a great deal for its fame: Miami Beach. Don’t worry though you are not in Miami itself you are enjoying all the culture of Miami in a microcosm of art deco buildings, empanadas and all things Latin, with a rich Spanish soundtrack.
Nevertheless, don’t forget that “Miami” has much more to offer than cliché beaches and it will be to your advantage to venture back across the bay to truly explore the history and sights of this city. Miami has much to offer to the truly avid tourist. Visitors should check out Coconut Grove, a grotto of restaurants, unique clubs, an eclectic art scene and true Miami residents. In the “Grove” the tanning sun is replaced by a cool ocean breeze under a canopy of exotic trees and plants scenting the air with magnolia and perhaps Argentinean steak and a bustling crowd of people.
Miami has undergone significant changes in recent years due to the real estate boom. Condos dominate the skyline and whole neighborhoods have changed overnight. One such neighborhood is the up and coming Wynnwood/Design District area. Here, you can find creative art, sculpture and much more in an area dotted with premier and offbeat art studios. In the last decade Miami has become a focal point for contemporary art in the world. Each year Art Basel, sister event to the prestigious Art Basel Switzerland, is hosted in Miami and much of the art work, sculpture and design of the event is shown throughout the year in the Wynnwood/Design District area.
Coral Gables – This neighborhood is known for the beautiful Spanish style homes and is crowned by the classic Biltmore Hotel, a gorgeous building built in the 1920’s. Coral Gables is also home of The University of Miami and you can also find great biking trails here as well. Take a minute to enjoy some of the best shopping on Miracle Mile, a strip of boutiques, bookstores and restaurants that is one of greater Miami’s best areas to load up on shopping bags.
Whether you are visiting greater Miami to work on a tan, embark on a cruise or polish your Spanish, be sure to visit the heart of Miami. Miami is so much more than a strip of sand and a mojito.