MIAMI is intoxicatingly beautiful, with palm trees swaying in the breeze and South Beach’s famous Art Deco buildings glowing in the warm sunlight. Even so, it’s the people – not the climate, the landscape or the cash – that make it so noteworthy. Two-thirds of the two-million-plus population are Hispanic, the majority of them Cuban, and Spanish is spoken here almost as often as English.
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Miami has a range of districts that mirror its variegated cultural, economic and social divisions. Separated from the mainland by Biscayne Bay – and actually, a separate city – the most popular is Miami Beach, which is defined largely by the bacchanalian pursuits along South Beach. In addition to an enticing stretch of sand, this is home to much of the city’s Art Deco architecture.
Back on the mainland, the towers of downtown herald Miami’s proud status as the headquarters of many US corporations’ Latin American operations. To the north, the art galleries and showrooms of Wynwood and the Design District are gradually starting to attract more visitors. Meanwhile, southwest of downtown, there’s nowhere better for a Cuban lunch than Little Havana, which spreads out along 8th Street (also known as Calle Ocho). Immediately south, the spacious boulevards and ornate public buildings of Coral Gables are as impressive now as they were in the 1920s, when the district set new standards in town planning. Lastly, sun-worshippers should make time for Key Biscayne, a smart, secluded island community with some beautiful beaches, an easy five miles off the mainland. The Key had a “coloured-only” beach in the pre-civil rights era, and it is still significant in terms of local African American history.
What to do in Miami
1. Marvel at the Art Deco
The pastel-shaded Art Deco architecture of South Beach provides a gorgeous setting for Miami's most glamorous hotels and bars. For a fun way to take it all in, book onto a Segway Tour.
2. Glide along in the Everglades
Florida has numerous creeks and swamps to exploring by boat. The most beautiful of these are in the Everglades.
3. Have your adrenaline pumped in Biscayne Bay
Go sailing around the celebrity mansions of Biscayne Bay, or soak up the stellar views from a kayak. Better still, get your heart pumping with a parasailing or flyboarding adventure.
4. Go on an Art Walk
Miami is one of the most dynamic art centres in the world, best experienced on a walking tour through the graffiti-wrapped galleries of Wynwood.
5. Eat your way through Little Havana
A true slice of Latin America, this lively neighbourhood is the place to come for gut-busting Cuban far and heady café con leche. To really immerse yourself in the area's culinary delights, book onto a walking and food tour.
6. Take the kids to Jungle Island
A wildlife park that features a flamingo lake, serpentarium, parrot area and even a tiger compound, all hidden within a lushly landscaped jungle habitat.
7. Visit the Pérez Art Museum
Spectacularly sited, this world-class art museum is the jewel in downtown's crown and a symbol of the city's resurgence.
8. Sip afternoon tea at the Biltmore Hotel, Coral Gables
As Coral Gables' premier attraction, this hotel is both grand and intimate – sit for an afternoon tea, play a round of golf or just take in the atmosphere.
This feature contains affiliate links; all recommendations are editorially independent.