Information for visitors to Miami Beach, Florida. See also our Miami Travel Guide.
Most travellers do not visit Miami itself, but rather Miami Beach, an entirely separate municipality. Miami is on the mainland, while the city of Miami Beach is on a thin barrier island about 6 km (4 mi) to its east, across Biscayne Bay – locals call it the Billion Dollar Sandbar. Miami Beach is connected to Miami by several causeways.
Called the American Riviera, Miami Beach is known for its year-round sun and fun. But Miami Beach is more than just sandy beaches and sparkling ocean. It is a cosmopolitan city, which is home to many world-class restaurants, modeling, film and recording industries and pulsating nightlife.
Miami Beach was once a coconut plantation. In 1909, John S. Collins, known as the Father of Miami Beach, set sights on the failing plantation, bought out the property, and helped build it into a beachfront town.
Between the ’20s and ’50s Miami Beach became known as a gambling center. During World War II, the city became more of a military base.
In the ’70s, parts of Miami Beach also became a veritable retirement center, especially among the country’s Jewish community. But by the early ’80s, other portions, including the Art Deco District, turned into slum areas, as Miami Beach became a main port for drug smuggling.
Miami Beach of the present is a hub for the film industry and its biggest stars; houses more than 35 modeling agencies; and has become a prime vacation spot for travelers, young and old.
Miami Beach – Art Deco District
One of the main Miami Beach’s attractions is the Art Deco Historic District. This district encompasses one square mile of South Beach. It is a collection of bright pink, lavender and turquoise buildings dating from the 1920s.
These buildings are soaring examples of pre-war modernism with characteristic rounded corners and geometric ornamentation. Some of the most fascinating of these buildings are the hotels, many of them restored and decorated to fit their original look. The highlight of the district is the strip of hotels along Ocean Drive between 5th and 15th street.
The Art Deco Historic District is in the heart of funky South Beach (SoBe), the southwestern section of Miami Beach. Aside from the fact that South Beach attracts a growing number of visitors each year, it is also a well-known hot spot for gay and lesbian travel.
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