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Art deco area/ South Beach Miami - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Other Florida

Imagine a cold, wet, wintry day in February in England and then being transported to this beautiful, hot, sunny, palm tree fringed paradise. That was my experience when I visited South Beach Miami one year. It was like dying and going to heaven. The beach was almost deserted, no families vying for space to lay a towel- just beauty, peace and calm-no wonder it is fashionable with model shoots. Hard to believe that it was once a sandbar in the midst of the bay, that was dredged to become a paradise for funloving snowbirds from the northern states and anyone just wanting to get away from it all.

We took a walk along the boardwalk that conveniently runs alongside the beach and that was a little haven of activity –with early morning strollers, joggers and roller bladders. Miami is totally different to Orlando –people are a lot more image conscious here than up in Orlando-but don’t worry you can still kick back and chill out just the same.

I love the art deco that you see in central and southern Florida so South Beach with it’s whole art deco area was a must for me. Considering that most of these Art Deco hotels that are situated along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue were built in the 20’s and 30’s –there’s no surprise that some of them had begun to decay-especially with the storms that you can get along the gulf coast. Originally the whole area had been under threat of demolition in the late 70’s and early 80’s so much so that the Miami Design Preservation League was formed to preserve and protect the area as we know it today. In fact when we made our visit 7 years ago there was an awful lot of restoration work going on to preserve these lovely, historic buildings with their fabulous pastel colours-I felt like I had landed in a hugest ice-cream parlour ever! Sadly Gianni Versace was successful in his application to demolish a hotel to make way for his new swimming pool and garage-despite 6 months of protest from the MDPL.

Hotels are very expensive in this area –especially the beach ones. We stayed in the Days Inn, which was fine then, but does not get such good reviews now. If you do intend to go for a couple of days I would recommend doing your homework and looking for a best deal. We just arrivedand we were quite shocked at some of the prices and the tourist information helpfully suggested the one we stayed in. It would be a shame to stay in South Beach and not get a beach hotel but I can understand it if budget does not allow that.

There is so much to do in this wonderful vibrant beach area – there’s literally something to suit every taste. We loved just wandering around the area, eating in the restaurants and bars and browsing the shops and art galleries. If it is clubbing that’s your thing-well I’ve counted well over 40. We ate in ‘Wolfie’s’ the world famous Jewish deli. I heard it has since closed. Shame it used to be open 24 hours a day-even in hurricane season.

There are lots of museums and art galleries(. We never had time to go to the Jewish museum) and the MDPL do an organised art deco tour, which I would love to do one day.

Really it’s all up to the individual. Just get into your car and head south on the turnpike –allow about 3-4 hours for your journey. Have fun!

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Page added on: 21 March 2007
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