VOL. 132 | NO. 69 | Thursday, April 6, 2017
The Daily Traveler
Uncovering Beautiful Miami Beach
BY LANCE WIEDOWER, Special to The Daily News
When LeBron James joined the Miami Heat in 2010, he made it fashionable for us all to take our talents to South Beach.
All the cool kids go to South Beach. I visited once before when I was 7, just before “Miami Vice” made the city cool while exploring the dark side of what it had become under the stranglehold of the drug trade.
So of course, while the ideal Miami Beach experience is in South Beach, we spent much of our recent spring break trip in North Beach. And if I’m being completely honest, we stayed in a hotel in North Bay Village, a little island in Biscayne Bay adjacent to North Beach that provided easier access to Interstate 95 for our daily drives north of the city for spring training baseball games.
But we still focused plenty of time on Miami Beach, eating delicious Cuban food at a North Beach dive as well as a South Beach tourist trap. I’ll admit it was pretty cool driving south along Collins Avenue with the massive yachts docked along Indian Creek just across from the famed Fontainebleau Miami Beach as we drove toward South Beach.
The ’80s kid in me wanted to jam Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight,” just like Crockett and Tubbs in the pilot episode of “Miami Vice.” I did, in fact, play the song as we drove over the causeway to downtown Miami. Only I wasn’t speeding in a black Ferrari Daytona Spyder. I was inching along in mid-afternoon traffic in a nondescript Hyundai rental.
Miami generally and South Beach specifically have a reputation for beautiful people walking Ocean Drive and partying late into the night. We were there during spring break, and while there was an abundance of college kids lounging on the beach, I didn’t get a crazy party vibe. I’m sure it’s there; we didn’t look for it and it didn’t find us.
What did find us? Beautiful beaches, with the turquoise water that belongs in the Caribbean instead of the rolling waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The sand and water create the landscape for the rest of Miami’s beauty, specifically South Beach.
Thankfully in the 1970s a group of preservationists saved much of the South Beach art deco skyline from the wrecking ball, keeping those condo high rises for other parts of the coastline. What remains is the highest concentration of art deco buildings in the world.
The Miami Design Preservation League – the organization that formed in 1976 to save the structures – gives 90-minute walking tours of the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District. My wife took that tour on a visit several years ago. This time around we just checked out some of the highlights, which can be found along Collins Avenue and Ocean Drive.
I know Miami is more than just South Beach. Next visit I want to check out Little Havana. But with great food, amazing beaches, beautiful architecture, shopping and people-watching, why would I want to venture outside Miami Beach?
Lance Wiedower can be reached at tripsbylance.com.