The southern part of the Miami Beach peninsula, South Beach receives more attention globally than any other neighborhood in Miami. That's due only in part to the long, wide beaches rimming smooth, aquamarine Atlantic waters, and the hot, bathing suit-clad bodies that dot them.
Only about one square mile wide, South Beach proper is also known as the Art Deco District. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the 960 buildings comprising it, mainly hotels, cafes and apartment buildings, share characteristics including symmetrical decorative façades, pastel hues and unique accents, such as sunburst and chevrons, that attest to the graphic geometry of nature.
Ocean Drive presents the biggest collection of restored Art Deco buildings, and visitors can take a self-directed or guided walking tour beginning here. Collins and Washington avenues, one and two blocks west respectively, also offer some excellent examples of the style, but they may be more known for the DJ-driven nightclubs and famed dining establishments—including The Bazaar by José Andrés and Katsuya in the Philippe Starck-designed SLS Hotel—that line them.
For more design history, visit The Wolfsonian-FIU, a museum dedicated to art, design, technology and modernity, located on Washington Avenue. Some additional thought-provoking stuff is just a few blocks south at the Jewish Museum of Florida, which has artifacts from the 1700s, and at the northern tip of the Art Deco District, the Bass Museum of Art offers an education in antiquities as well as Baroque and Renaissance pieces.
Perpendicular to the avenues, Lincoln Road, a pedestrian-only walking mall, is a haven for people-watchers. Wherever you go on South Beach, keep your eyes set to spot stars, as movie and modeling shoots abound here, and music personalities including Flo Rida, Enrique Iglesias and Gloria Estefan, to name only a few, live here. For fans of cooking shows, The South Beach Wine & Food Festival in February is an excellent time to secure images and autographs of your fave celebrity chefs.
Should cruising for the cognoscenti ever lose your interest, boutiques and art galleries display cutting-edge goods ranging from Britto to Armani, and the locals promenade with an endless array of animals—mostly dogs, but an occasional ferret, parrot or snake. South Beach is, indeed, an eclectic place.© NileGuide