Miami could be considered the capital of the Americas – plural, as in North and South. No other city in the Western Hemisphere has Miami’s blend of Latin American, North American and Caribbean peoples and cultures – not to mention flavors! Joining longtime Cuban residents are recent arrivals from Colombia, Brazil and Argentina.
Don't confuse Miami with its glam sister, Miami Beach. While Miami has posh and pretty sides – the luxury boutiques and fine dining of Coral Gables spring to mind – it is also working-class, artsy and intellectual. South Florida's bohemian spirit thrives in Wynwood, home to the vivid public art murals known as Wynwood Walls. Classical music, opera and dance grace the Adrienne Arsht Center in gentrifying downtown, which can easily be seen from the sky along the free Metromover train.
Eighth Street, more popularly known as Calle Ocho, is the official heart of Little Havana, while the University of Miami Campus adjoins trendy Coconut Grove. The magnificent Everglades, a wonderland of reptiles, birdlife and wetlands, is within easy day-tripping distance.
Life in the Sunshine State's capital city is largely an outdoor one. While you might need to venture inside to enjoy sights like the Miami Art Museum or the Seaquarium, getting around is easiest in a convertible or by bike, so you can enjoy the sun while you travel. One of the most efficient ways to see the city and its attractions is to opt for a Miami Card, which includes admission to the best-known museums and attractions as well as the open-topped 'Duck' tours.
Buenvenido a Miami
Miami truly is a city of immigrants with a rich cultural diversity. The US Census Bureau estimates that around two-thirds of the population is of Hispanic or Latino origin. Many came to Miami after Fidel Castro rose to power in Cuba in 1959, settling in a Western neighborhood now simply known as Little Havana. Today, tourists come to Little Havana for the annual Carnival Miami, a festival of food, fun, and salsa, with Latin showbiz personalities such as Celia Cruz, Willy Chirino, and Gloria Estefan honored on the Walkway of the Stars.
Art by the sea
Miami's art scene delves into history as well as looking to more modern works. The Museum of Contemporary Art presents playful creations within a building whose stylistic space brilliantly offsets its exhibits. In contrast, the Lowe Art Museum houses collections of Greco-Roman exhibits and antiquities, and 17th century European art, while the Bass Museum located in Miami Beach covers art from around the world from the Renaissance to the present day. The hip and historic Biscayne Corridor is where boulevard meets bay, murals replace blank walls, and property prices head towards the famous clear blue sky.
Popular with US college students during spring break, the non-stop party scene in South Beach is not for the faint-hearted. The area is one of the country's major entertainment destinations with hundreds of nightclubs, restaurants, boutiques, and hotels. Its tolerance of topless sunbathing, unusual in the United States, just adds to its reputation as a place where anything goes.
Only about 70 miles from the city lies the unique and spectacular ecosystem of the Everglades, home to alligators, snakes, egrets, and exotic birds. An airboat tour of the national park will give you a first hand experience of this spectacular natural world. Hide