The Magic City: 24 hours of glitz, glamour and sun on the American Riviera
Miami, on the southern tip of Florida, is much more than just a candy-colored beach resort. It’s an exciting, multifaceted mosaic of different cultures and lifestyles. Immigrants from the Caribbean and Latin America cross paths with American property developers and hoteliers, tourists mingle with tanned models and party animals. Miami has everything an ambitious traveler could wish for: turquoise water, palm trees, wonderful examples of Art Deco architecture, glittering celebrities and exciting party venues.
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Ocean Drive, Art Deco and "The Living Room"
Ocean Drive became famous in the ’80s when the cult TV series Miami Vice took the world by storm. It’s still spectacular today, and the first place visitors should stop in Miami Beach. The motto here is “see and be seen.” Chrome-plated cars cruising up and down the road and cafés and Art Deco hotels giving on to the Atlantic provide the perfect backdrop for the endless beach parties and the ultimate Miami experience. The air here is soft as silk, the atmosphere full of testosterone, and the sun and sand complete the picture. Welcome to Miami!
Ocean Drive, South Beach neighborhood
The Art Deco Historic District is the showpiece of South Beach and an architectural gem. City planners were wanting to tear down all the beautiful Art Deco hotels not long ago but luckily, the city decided to preserve its cultural legacy and had the buildings and their typical, former facades painstakingly restored. This gave the district a new lease on life and began drawing visitors again. The Miami Design Preservation League in the Art Deco Welcome Center offers interesting and informative tours.
Miami Design Preservation League, 1001 Ocean Drive, Tel.: +1-305/672 20 14, South Beach. Guided tours (US$15-20) daily except Thu at 10:30am, Thu at 6:30pm, www.mdpl.org
The Living Room Room is a giant, 30-meter-tall public art installation complete with sofa and lamps. It’s a popular photo motif and the landmark of the Design District. The Living Room is the work of the Argentinean architects Roberto Behar and Rosario Marquardt and was meant as a critique of the increased dwindling of public space. The Design District is an art district and a trendy neighborhood rolled into one. It’s still in the process of developing, but what draws design fans and night owls alike is precisely this sense of being unfinished. Here, you can wander from gallery to gallery in the evening, enjoying the art and free drinks as you go. They call them Art Walks in Miami.
The Living Room, North Miami Avenue, 40th Street, Design District
From Little Havana to stylish bars and hotels
Right in the middle of Downtown Miami is Little Havana, a colorful neighborhood and the spiritual center of the Cuban immigrant community. The main street and focus of activity is SW 8th Street, better known as Calle Ocho. Small art galleries, grocery stores, monuments to Cuban freedom fighters, juice bars and restaurants whose menus feature rice and beans are all part of the picture here. If you follow the heavy tobacco smell you’ll end up in Maximo Gomez Park, where the elderly gentlemen of Little Havana like to meet to play dominos and smoke a cigar.
Little Havanna, SW 8th Street, Downtown Miami
Time to put together an evening program: Before you go out into nighttime Miami you should decide what exactly you’re looking for. Good music and a place to dance? Then head straight for Downtown Miami. The hotel lobbies serve the best drinks around. If you’re desperate to spot a celebrity you should go to South Beach, but we aware that lots of wannabe starlets tend to gather where the real stars go. The Mynt Lounge is a trendy meeting place for the rich and beautiful, and this is how you get past the bouncer: Wear your sexiest outfit and pretend you know the owner personally.
Mynt Lounge, 1921 Collins Avenue, Tel.: +1-305/532 07 27, South Beach, www.myntlounge.com
The Shore Club, not far from the Mynt Lounge, is an elegant place to spend the night in South Beach. The rooms of this design hotel are tastefully decorated in a soothingly cool style and offer views of the Atlantic or the Art Deco District. The restaurant, spa und pool are also very nice but the hotel highlight is the Skybar, with its sensational panoramic view. The perfect place, perhaps, for the grand finale to an exhilarating day in the Magic City.
Shore Club, 1901 Collins Avenue, Tel.: +1-305/695 31 00, South Beach, www.shoreclub.com
Pictures: Imagestate, getty images (2), Look-foto (2), Cummins/Corbis, PR