Miami Vacations Guide

By: Terry Hely

Copyright (c) 2008 Terry Hely

Once referred to as Gods waiting room, a reference to the mostly retiree population, the modern Miami is actually a bustling metropolis, a melting pot of diverse cultures, languages, cuisines and entertainment. Miami is a cosmopolitan, sub-tropical city that attracts more visitors than any other US destination.

A feature of Miami Beach is the clear ocean waters and excellent sandy beaches of a quality that attract returning holiday makers year after year. With Miami and Miami Beach sitting astride the Intracoastal Waterway, the city is a renowned favorite with the boating and yachting fraternity, a fact confirmed by row after row of cruisers and yachts moored in the numerous Miami marinas.

Miami is a perfect base for holidays in the south and south east of Florida. The Everglades is just a few miles away to the north west, the northern most part of the Florida Keys starts just offshore and the upmarket enclaves of Palm Beach are just a short trip along the coast.

** Miami Central Attractions

The Miami Beach Promenade, or South Beach as it is often referred to, is the favorite spot for skaters, skateboarders, joggers and cyclists. It has served as a photo shoot background, and appeared in more films, than any other beach front location anywhere in the world. A walking tour is highly recommended to fully appreciate the rejuvenation of the Art Deco Historic District. This is one of the largest areas on the National Register of Historic Places and represents the heart of South Beach.

Miami is home to several unique buildings that stand out from the crowd. The magnificent architectural features of Versace Mansion (aka Amsterdam Palace) make this house a genuine attraction in its own right, although morbid curiosity draws many visitors to see where the famous fashion designer was murdered on the front steps. The Estefan Enterprises' building is hard to miss with its whimsical style and facade of fanciful shapes and colored waves.

The ornate Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is a magnificent villa completed in 1916 after 1,000 artisans took 5 years to build it. The winter retreat for the industrialist James Deering (of tractor fame), the villa stands as a reminder of the extravagance displayed by the business czars of the period. The villa is crammed with valuable antiques, relics and works of art dating from the 16th century. Most of the original furnishings and paintings are still intact. The gardens are a highlight of this visit.

The historic, post depression Miami Beach Post Office building dates from 1937 and features a fabulous rotunda, intricate sun motif, coral steps up to the entrance and a mural depicting local history.

The unique Venetian Pool is a truly magnificent feature of Miami's history. Dating from 1924 and listed in the National Register of Historic Places, it is Miami's most beautiful swimming pool. Underground artesian waters feed the lagoon pool which is shaded by three-story high Spanish porticos, complete with fountains and waterfalls. The pool is drained and refilled nightly from an underground aquifer during the summer season.

** Miami Surrounds

The popular Miami Metrozoo, occupying over 290 acres (130 ha), transports visitors on a mono-rail. One of the feature of this zoo, located about 45 minutes from central Miami, is the absence of animal enclosures. The animals are contained by carefully designed moats. The petting zoo and play area makes this a popular attraction for younger children.

The Parrot Jungle and Gardens is a favorite with Miami visitors. Roller-skating cockatoos, card-playing macaws and parrots performing stunts provide the entertainment. The gardens are home to hundreds of parrots, macaws, peacocks, cockatoos and flamingos and features an Everglades exhibit, a petting zoo, several theaters, jungle trails, and aviaries.

Located at the southern end of Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park provides some of the most secluded beaches in Miami. The oldest lighthouse in South Florida, dating back to 1825, is located in the park. The 1.25 miles of wide, sandy beaches in the reserve are consistently rated in the top 10 beaches in the USA.

The largest rainforest environment of its kind anywhere in the continental USA is situated in Fairchild Tropical Garden. The 83 acres of rare and exotic plants are the attraction, and over 100 species of birds have been recorded at the gardens. The 11 lakes and numerous meadows are home to palmettos, vine pergola, palm glades, and other unique species of flora.

North America Destinations
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