written by
Joe Boone

Miami, Florida! Just saying its name conjures up images of sun-drenched beaches, crystal-clear waters, swaying palm trees, laughing dolphins, Art Deco buildings, celebrity nightlife and bikini-clad models. It’s no wonder more than 6 million visitors soaked up Miami’s sun last year, placing The Magic City at number 22, right behind Las Vegas as one of the world’s top destinations.

Founded in 1896, Miami grew from just a few hundred residents to more than 5.5 million today. Such rapid growth left returning winter visitors to exclaim early on that the city was “growing like magic.”

Most of Miami’s visitors choose to stay on Miami Beach, a collection of part natural/part manmade barrier islands just off the coast, separating Biscayne Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. Miami Beach is known for miles of world renownedbeaches, luxurious waterside homes, plush hotels, premier shopping venues and famed nightlife. It’s also known for its South Beach area, one of the most exclusive destinations in Florida. World-famous for people watching, celebrity chef restaurants and jazz bars, its legendary Lincoln Road is home to beautiful Art Deco architecture, every imaginable designer boutique, and highenergy nightlife. The Art Deco District is the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the world and comprises hundreds of hotels and other structures erected between 1923 and 1943.

No other place on the planet exemplifies, nor intertwines ultra-rich and pure bohemian lifestyles as well as Miami. For a true taste of all it has to offer, one must visit its diverse neighborhoods and walk with its people.

Coconut Grove for example, is a charming community with historic old homes that line narrow winding streets under a heavy tree canopy. Known for its many nightclubs, bars, restaurants and bohemian shops, Coconut Grove is a popular hangout for the college scene. A number of great parks and gardens are in Coconut Grove including the Kampong, a stunning, seven-acre botanical garden with an Indonesian-inspired house set by a lagoon. In its storied past, it has been visited by the likes of Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, and Dwight Eisenhower.

Coral Gables earned the name “The City Beautiful” for its tree-lined boulevards, ivycovered mansions and historical landmarks, including the world-famous Biltmore Hotel and the Venetian Pool, both built in the 1920s. Carved out of coral rock, the Venetian Pool is one of the most stunning swimming pools in the world, featuring lush tropical foliage, stone bridges, waterfalls and underground caves. This huge pool’s freshwater is replenished nightly in summer months from an underground aquifer. With 150 or so dining establishments and gourmet shops at the ready and many notable international retail shops, Coral Gables is a popular destination for those in the know.

Miami’s Design District is 18-square blocks of pure creative genius packed full of glamour and luxury. Once made up primarily of old low-rise warehouses, the Design District is now home to more than 70 flagship luxury stores including Hermes, Tom Ford, Louis Vuitton, Christian Louboutin, Celine, and Prada, and that number is expected to double by the end of the decade. Dozens of restaurants, cafes and art galleries also line the streets, making for an enjoyable shopping experience for those with deep pockets.

Nothing exemplifies the Latin influence on Miami more than its Little Havana neighborhood. One stroll down Calle Ocho and you’re hooked! Salsa music from vintage record shops fill the air, along with the fresh aroma of Cuban coffee, tapas, fried empanadas, and red beans and rice. Hand-rolled cigar shops, open-air markets, and window cafes with their colorful facades gleam in the sunlight. Maximo Gomez Park is a popular local’s gathering place for a game of dominos or chess. For nighttime entertainment, the Ball & Chain is the place to be for live jazz, salsa music and dancing. Established in 1935, their mojitos are quite simply the best. For an authentic taste of Latin American flavor, grab a bite at Versailles, “The World’s Most Famous Cuban Restaurant.” It’s been a Miami landmark since 1971. Afterwards, head over to Azucar, Little Havana’s resident Cuban artisanal ice cream parlor for an Abuela Maria, one of their signature ice cream concoctions. It’s a Cuban classic!

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