South Beach in Florida started off as a coconut farm back in 1870 when two brothers, Henry and Charles Lum, bought it and then built a house there in 1886. By 1915, it was incorporated into the town of Miami Beach and by 1920 big names had decided to call it home such as founders of the JC Penny department store, and even former US President Warren G. Harding often stayed there at the Flamingo Hotel.
Even a big hurricane in 1926 didn’t cause the town to lose its popularity, and it was soon rebuilt and by 1940 there were more than 28,000 residents. It got famous in 1966 when comedian Jackie Gleason started having his weekly show in South Beach, and in the 1980s the TV show Miami Vice was filmed there.
Today, the town of South Beach has grown expidentially and shines brightly. It is well known for its trendy nightlife, great restaurants, oceanfront hotels and beautiful beaches, making it a very popular tourist spot. Thousands of visitors from all over the world come here to eat, drink, play and have fun. There is everything from viewing the great Art Deco style of the buildings to endless sunbathers.
There are a variety of things to do in South Beach and one of the most popular is to flock to the beachfront. Lummus Beach, located along Ocean Drive, is one of the state’s most visited with its beautiful white sands and fine quality of the water. Lots of people come here to swim, surf, sunbathe, and more. There are also grassy places and a park where you can play volleyball or walk along the pedestrian walkway, which separates the beach areas from the grassy areas.
South Pointe Park was redesigned back in 2009 and is now a 17.5 acre area where people can stroll along a 20 foot wide walkway, from which they can watch ships and freighters come through the channel and get a great panoramic view of the ocean, let their children play on a playground, choose to have a picnic or even visit the snack bar for some cold drinks. Dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash and it’s open every day from sunrise to 10 PM.
The Art Deco feel of the area is for a reason. After the hurricane in 1926, much of the South Beach area was rebuild in an Art Deco Style, which is a modern style using geometrical and odd shapes. Sometimes things like stainless steel, aluminum, inlaid wood and lacquer is used to create the effect. The effect is evident in much of the area hotels and other buildings like the Congress, Clevelander, and the Colony hotels. It is said to have the most Art Deco architectural examples on the planet.
If outdoor cafe’s and restaurants are what you enjoy, with its nice warm weather, there are lots of sidewalk restaurants available. Many famous chefs have come to the area to cook delicious meals. Some of the famous and popular places to try are seafood at the Nemo and Grillfish Restaurants, or perhaps you’d prefer French or Italian food or even a vegetarian meal. All can be found here so there is something for every pallet.
There’s an abundant amount of entertainment and shoppers too will enjoy coming to the area to buy everything from the usual souvenirs like t-shirts or beach towels alongside more trendy items from big names like Guess, Ralph Lauren, Benetton or Kenneth Cole. One of the best places to go is Lincoln Road, the premier shopping place in the area. It is lined with boutiques, retail stores, sidewalk cafes, little shops and bars. You can even go to the cinema, or see a concert at the concert hall or go to the Colony Theater performing arts center.
If you like visiting museums, there are several in the South Beach area, including:
Bass Museum of Art
The Bass Museum of Art is the home for European artwork from the 15th through the 200th centuries. There are more than 3,000 pieces of art. Plus, it hosts a touring exhibit and has a computer lab for visitors to make their own art.
The Holocaust Memorial
The Holocaust Memorial was developed via aid from local Holocaust survivors and opened up in 1990. It’s next to the Botanical Garden and some of its features include a statue of a giant arm with Holocaust victims climbing all over it and having a tattoo of Auschwitz, a reflecting pool, and a memorial wall with victims’ names.
The Miami Botanical Garden and Center is a place for people to see a mix of subtropical palms, orchids, a Japanese garden and other types of exotic plants. This lush landscape will transport you into the beautiful world of nature.
If you prefer the nightlife, there is also a lot to offer such as clubs that stay open until early morning, music like Latin or Reggae bands, and plenty of places to dance and have fun all night long. Miami’s South Beach is definitely full of excitement no matter what time of day or night.
(images:ocean drive south beach, Ocean Drive Miami Beach, Fl., Sunset in Miami, Lincoln Road Mall, Art Basel 2013 Bass Museum, Holocaust Memorial, Ocean Drive)