Occupying the southernmost three miles of Miami Beach is gorgeous South Beach, with its hundreds of dazzling pastel-coloured 1920s and 1930s Art Deco buildings. By day, the sun blares down on sizzling bodies on the sand, but it’s worth braving an early-morning wake-up call to catch the dawn glow, which bathes the Deco hotels in pure, crystalline white light. By night, ten blocks of Ocean Drive become one of the liveliest stretches in Miami, as terrace cafés spill across the specially widened sidewalk and crowds of tourists and locals saunter by the beach.
Loosely bordered north–south by 20th and 5th streets, and west–east by Lenox Avenue and the ocean, the area referred to as the Deco District actually incorporates a variety of styles: take one of the informative walking tours offered by the Miami Design Preservation League to learn the difference between Streamline, Moderne and Florida Deco, not to mention Mediterranean Revival.
If the tourist hordes get too much, head a block west of the beach to Collins Avenue, lined with more Deco hotels and fashion chains, or to Washington Avenue, which tends more toward funky thrift stores and cool coffee bars. For an extension of that aesthetic, head for the Lincoln Road Mall (between Alton Rd and Washington Ave), a sparkling pedestrianized zone of shops and cafés where the beautiful people stroll and graze.