Things to do in Miami Beach - Tourism guide Miami Beach

Such range and so much possibility – for both spirit and appetite – ultimately impart to Miami a semblance of meaning that it neither needs nor demands. The city's allure remains independent of attempts to quantify it, and regardless of the effort, satisfaction comes with just experiencing it. After all, when sympathetic climate and abundant care give rise to a strong, vivid hybrid, it's not the parentage that draws attention but simply the beauty of the flower.

Sultry, seductive Miami entertains many identities: snowbird refuge, retiree haven, celebrity playground, immigrant stop-off and tourist mecca. All undeniably accurate, they're telling descriptors of everything this dazzling city embraces. They're also indicative of the melting-pot culture that has come to define South Florida, an area originally dismissed by developers. The region later found purpose as a resort destination for the wealthy and as farm land for Florida's first settlers (or "Crackers"). These initial roles ultimately led to today's Miami, a capital of commerce, recreation and self-assertive flamboyance.

But what else could you ask of a sub-tropical wonderland washed by brilliant southern light and kissed by enveloping seas? As recently as the early 20th century, America's Riviera was largely a backwater. Its potential was finally brought to fruition by the advent and arrival of the railroad, promise of a year-round growing season, and the emerging leisure class's disposable income. These days, easy access is a given, and agriculture flourishes, but Miami's natural beauty – and its world-class restaurants and nightlife – most strongly render it a fashionable escape for fun and freedom.

The primary locus for such hip activity is Miami Beach and, more specifically, South Beach (affectionately deemed SoBe). Artistic, self-aware and boasting some of the area's best beaches, it's an enclave that maintains its vibrancy no matter the moment, illuminated alternately by sunlight and neon. Here, Art Deco landmarks tie past and present together with pastel sleekness, and here, impossibly beautiful people lounge during the day and posture in the night's wee hours.

But Miami transcends the promoted glitz it's gained from association with movies, TV shows and magazine spreads. It encompasses Coconut Grove's residential beauty and superb shopping (CocoWalk and the Streets of Mayfair attract folks by droves) and Coral Gables' winding streets, Mediterranean architecture and refined lifestyle. It even reaches out to the quiet, suburban domesticity of South Dade with its malls, parks and wildlife attractions.

On the other end of the spectrum, Miami shines as a beacon of accessible liberty for immigrants from throughout the Caribbean and South and Central America. Escaping poverty and lack of opportunity, they come with a dearth of material goods but an inextinguishable hope and an abiding heritage that manifests itself in food, music, civic life and community richness.

Food and music, in fact, showcase Miami's zest for all things sensual. Cool jazz, spirited salsa rhythms, and a cuisine that unites fresh seafood, tropical fruits and tongue-tingling peppers provide evidence of a people and a city mesmerized by – and dedicated to – the spices of life. Give yourself over to its many incarnations in Miami's most sizzling neighborhoods: Little Havana, SoBe or the Design District. Each one boasts top-notch clubs and superlative restaurants, energized by the buzz of a style-conscious clientele.



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