Sunny Florida skies, a tropical breeze, a buzzing nightlife and the insistent rhythm of Cuban culture have electrified this sultry polyglot of a city fronting the Atlantic Ocean. Celebrity-drenched South Beach attracts people-watchers, but beyond the glitz, the iconic Art Deco architecture on Miami''s popular Ocean Drive is a colourful attraction. Its symmetry with nature is reflected in the dolphins that play at Miami Sequarium and the tropical birds that flutter at Parrot Jungle Island. For each Pan-Mediterranean-Asian haute dining room is a down-home, no-nonsense Cuban bodega serving hearty food at ridiculously cheap prices.
From water sports and sunbathing on Miami Beach to alligators in the Everglades, Miami lives outdoors. Play golf at Crandon Park, watch manatees on Coconut Grove''s waterfront, scuba dive off Jupiter Beach or simply soak up the sun. On rainy days, you can school yourself in Dutch and Italian tapestries at the upstanding Bass Museum of Art or learn about the city''s humble beginnings at the Historical Museum of Southern Florida.
Nightlife & Party with Locals
Nightclubs change quicker than stoplights in trendy South Beach, where beautiful people groove to thumping beats in velvet-roped hotspots until dawn. Follow Latin grooves to tiny Española Way and toast with creative cocktails on Lincoln Road. Sip martinis in the swanky bars and lounges in the Design District, or watch live, jazz, flamenco, and national bands at the Carnival Performing Arts Centre. On Sunday, join the locals at Alabama Jack''s for cheap beer and crispy conch fritters.
Gourmet Cuisine & Dining Out
Greater Miami is the birthplace of New World cuisine, and without a doubt, dining out here is like entering a new world of tastes, sights, aromas, seasonings and sensations. It''s a place where everyone brings something to the table, as the flavours of countless cultures are showcased on dining tables everywhere, from Aventura to Little Havana. Miami''s international flavour is showcased by the wide variety of cuisines found in its restaurants, including Cuban, Haitian, Peruvian, Colombian, Indian, Thai, Japanese, Argentinean and many more.
Traditional Cuban meets spicy Caribbean and an ocean of seafood to create Floribbean cuisine, which permeates many Miami restaurants. Eat deliciously sloppy tacos at 24-hour joints, plus Thai, Japanese, and five-star sensations in South Beach and along Lincoln Road. Try Cuban along Calle Ocho, Haitian in Overtown, and casual comfort food at the Grove. Dine at an open-air café in Coral Gables, while enjoying stone crab claws and a mojito, the city''s signature drink.
Joe''s Stone Crab Restaurant in South Beach is open only during stone-crab season (October-May) - this always-packed Miami institution knows how to reel in the crowds with the freshest, meatiest stone crabs and the side dishes to go with them, from creamed spinach to excellent sweet-potato French fries.
World''s Best Scuba Dive Sites
In 1981, the U.S. government began a wide-scale project designed to increase the number of habitats available to marine organisms. One of the programme''s major accomplishments has been the creation of nearby artificial reefs, which have attracted all kinds of tropical plants, fish, and animals. In addition, Biscayne National Park offers a protected marine environment just south of downtown Miami. Several dive shops around the city offer organised weekend outings, either to the reefs or to one of more than a dozen old shipwrecks around Miami''s shores.
World Class Golf Courses
There are more than 50 private and public golf courses in the Miami area.The best hotel courses in Miami are found at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa, home of the legendary Blue Monster course, as well as the Gold Course, designed by Raymond Floyd; the Great White Shark Course; and the Silver Course, perfected by Jerry Pate.
Other hotels with excellent golf courses include the Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort & Club, with two Robert Trent Jones, Sr.-designed courses for guests and members, and the Biltmore Hotel, which is one of the best public golf courses because of its modest greens fees and an 18-hole par-71 course located on the hotel''s spectacular grounds. It must be good - despite his penchant for privacy, former president Bill Clinton prefers teeing off at this course more than any other in Miami!
Otherwise, the following represent some of the area''s best public courses. Crandon Park Golf Course, formerly known as The Links, Key Biscayne, is the number-one-ranked municipal course in the state and one of the top five in the country. The park is situated on 200 bay front acres and offers a pro shop, rentals, lessons, carts, and a lighted driving range. The course is open daily from dawn to dusk; greens fees are approximately $56.50 for non-residents, including cart. Special twilight rates are also available.
One of the most popular courses among real enthusiasts is the Doral Park Golf and Country Club, West Miami; it''s not related to the Doral Hotel or spa. Call to book in advance, since this challenging, semi-private course is extremely popular with locals.
Known as one of the best in the city, the Country Club of Miami, North Miami, has three 18-hole courses of varying degrees of difficulty. You''ll encounter lush fairways, rolling greens, and some history, to boot. The west course, designed in 1961 by Robert Trent Jones, Sr., and updated in the 1990s by the PGA, was where Jack Nicklaus played his first professional tournament and Lee Trevino won his first professional championship. Special twilight rates are also available.
The recently renovated Miami Beach Golf Club, South Beach, is a gorgeous, 79-year-old course that received a $10-million face-lift. Miami Heat players and Matt Damon have been known to tee off here.
With a year-round mild climate and unrivalled water access, Miami is the perfect holiday destination for families that like to go to the beach. Active families can choose from locations throughout the city to sail, dive, and snorkel or windsurf. Vacationing families will find that there''s a whole lot more to do in Miami than go to the beach on their Miami family vacation. With so many family-friendly attractions located in Greater Miami, they may not even make it to the beach.