While some that seek out Florida actively court it as a getaway from the stresses of everyday life and thus seek out a lonely strip of sand of which this state has plenty, many others thrive on the energy that an urban environment can provide.
In the Sunshine State, this role is ably filled by Miami, a cosmopolitan city enlivened by the presence of many cultures (Cuban and Haitian specifically), a glamorous and consistently throbbing nightlife, and picture perfect beaches that are filled with beautiful people all year round.
While prices can be a bit on the high side due to the presence of an enviable environment and a sizable population of well-heeled residents fully willing to pay the prices set by the market, a trip here is well worth the expense, as the silky white sands, flashy art museums, and night time jams grooved to underneath a starlit sky will generate an amazing return per dollar spent.
While you might want to hit the beach straight away upon your arrival to Miami, hold off for a day or so and take in a bit of culture first (besides, it will make that first dip in the Atlantic that much sweeter).
Begin your cultural tour of Miami by visiting Little Havana, a neighborhood that has long been the home of the Cuban expat community in this diverse metropolis. Wander among shops and traditional Latin American restaurants while locals converse in their native Spanish along Calle Ocho (8th Street). Be sure not to miss Sedanos Market, watching old men play dominoes and chess in Gomez Park, and the Cuban Memorial, where monuments to the Bay of Pigs invasion can be observed.
The art scene in Miami, a city where many successful people make their home in the winter (or year-round), is heads and shoulders above their competition in the Southeast. Of the multiple galleries in the Miami area, the Perez Art Museum is the best of the bunch, as it focuses on the best art that can be found in the Atlantic Rim (that is, the Americas, Western Europe and Africa). In particular, be sure to check out art from Cuban artist Jorge Perez, as there are no less than 110 pieces from this accomplished painter.
As alluded to earlier, the Miami area has drawn more than it share of rich and successful people over the years, leading to some extravagant estates being built over the years. Those looking for a peek into how the wealthier half live should visit the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, which was the former estate of James Deering, agricultural machinery magnate. Of note here are the immaculately kept Italian Renaissance gardens, and seventy rooms worth of antiques and centuries old European original art, all of which will make your head swim at the way the uber-wealthy live.
OK, so by now you’re probably dripping with sweat from all the running around town that you have been doing … time to do a sprinting dive into the ocean! Those that crave the scene will love South Beach, as all the amenities of Miami Beach sit behind you, as the jade green Atlantic Ocean that lays out before you will practically beg you to jump in and never come out again.
If the crowds at South Beach are making you a bit claustrophobic, then taking your beach towel to Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park on Key Biscayne will grant you the peace and serenity you seek. Before you enjoy the less crowded and commercialized beach here, take a few photos of the Cape Florida Light, a structure that is actually the oldest building in the Miami area.
If the thought of swimming at a beach anywhere close to a city isn’t your cup of tea, then maybe the pristine waters of the glamorous Venetian Pool will be more to your liking. Created in 1924 from a disused limestone rock quarry, the vast amount of space and the master touch of a baller artificial waterfall with make you feel like a millionaire, despite the fact that the Venetian Pool is public … just pretend that everyone else are your privileged guests!
Those with little ones may want an alternate activity for days when the weather doesn’t permit time at the beach. At these times, the Miami Seaquarium makes for an excellent diversion, as this park is the oldest of its kind in the USA. Being open since 1955, this aquarium focuses on the sea life that is resident in the waters around Miami; as such, expect to see manatees, sea turtles and sharks in this well-patronized local institution.