Greater Miami and the beaches offer something for everyone under the sun!
When the Paralyzed Veterans of America has its convention and annual meeting at the InterContinental Miami in Miami, Fla., on August 17–22, 2009, the organization’s delegates will gather there to conduct important business and set the course for the coming year. But they won’t always be in meetings, and if they’ve brought family members, this year’s convention city has plenty for all of them to do.
Although Miami reportedly is ranked No. 3 for violent crime in the United States, the city has myriad good points, too. The following information is provided by the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Playground in Paradise
The world’s premier playground, Greater Miami offers visitors the best of all worlds: a rare destination where the cutting edge of urban chic co-exists with the beauty and splendor of a tropical paradise. Great year-round weather, top-ranked beaches, and the sparkling waters of Biscayne Bay are the backdrops for a cosmopolitan metropolis. Boasting a vibrant arts and cultural landscape, renowned nightlife scene, and world-class dining and entertainment, Miami draws an eclectic mix of visitors.
Glorious weather has always been the main attraction, with yearly temperatures in Miami averaging 76° F.
Located a few degrees above the Tropic of Cancer, Miami comprises a network of barrier islands, coral rock, and mangrove swamps, connected by manmade additions of soaring bridges, stately causeways, and panoramic roads. Miles of white-sand beaches hug the coastline, while the waters of the mighty Atlantic Ocean and tranquil Biscayne Bay gently envelop the city.
To the south and west, Everglades National Park, the third largest in the U.S. National Park System, is a unique 1.5-million-acre ecosystem of sawgrass prairies, mangrove swamps, subtropical jungle, and the warm waters of Florida Bay.
With an unparalleled mix of ethnic and cultural groups spread throughout the sprawling city’s environs, Miami offers a new perspective on every corner. Visitors instantly pick up on the local laid-back mood, and stress melts away upon arrival at Miami International Airport, a short drive to most major destinations, hotels, and motels.
Just a few miles from downtown Miami, the Miami Seaquarium, in Key Biscayne, is where the popular television show Flipper was filmed in the 1960s.
A meandering collection of more than 35 municipalities spread out over 2,000 square miles, Greater Miami is home to more than 2.4 million people. Some areas, like South Beach’s Art Deco District, are internationally renowned, while other less-heralded burgs like South Miami and Hialeah are hidden treasures waiting to be uncovered by intrepid explorers.
Following is a snapshot of Greater Miami neighborhoods and towns at a glance:
– South Beach/Art Deco District/Ocean Drive: Located at the southern end of Miami Beach, South Beach’s Art Deco District is a collection of more than 800 architecturally protected buildings from the 1930s and 1940s—the largest concentration in the world. It has been called the “American Riviera” due to the unmistakable air of casual chic that permeates the district. An international symbol for Miami, this popular destination is home to a mix of luxury resorts, boutique hotels, inexpensive hostels, and moderately priced national chain hotels. Ocean Drive is known worldwide for its see-and-be-seen cafés, bikini-clad in-line skaters, and beaches packed with beautiful young sun seekers.
– Miami Beach: The rest of Miami Beach continues to thrive, reaping the benefits of its proximity to the Art Deco District’s plentiful entertainment and dining offerings.
– Bal Harbour: Bal Harbour and the Bay Harbor Islands are quiet upscale residential communities notable for the Bal Harbour Shops, continually ranked one of the top shopping destinations in the world for its concentration of designer boutiques.
– Sunny Isles Beach: This community is a favorite among French-Canadian and European tourists who are drawn to the laid-back casual vibe, sea grape studded-beaches, and affordable motel-style accommodations.
– Downtown Miami: The area is a hub for international business and finance, with soaring office towers and ultra-modern condominiums lining Brickell Avenue. The new Adriene Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami Dade County, American Airlines Arena (home to the Miami Heat), Bayside Marketplace (a waterfront shopping and dining destination), and Bayfront Park (an outdoor concert amphitheater) draw residents and visitors alike.
– Overtown: Just north of downtown, one of Miami’s oldest African-American neighborhoods, Overtown, is on the upswing. Revitalization is underway to restore the neighborhood’s historical legacy.
– Miami Design District: Also near downtown, Miami’s Design District has a dense concentration of design and furniture showrooms all within walking distance of one another. Unlike most other design centers, these are open to the public. Upscale restaurants, funky boutiques, and even a gourmet hot-dog shack are sprouting along Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard, also referred to as the Biscayne Corridor.
– Little Havana: Saturated with Cuban culture, Little Havana’s main thoroughfare, Calle Ocho (Eighth Street), is lined with restaurants featuring Latin specialties and cafés where men sip cafecitos and play dominos and argue about politics all day.
– Coconut Grove: South of downtown where the foliage becomes lush and tropical, Coconut Grove was legendary in its heyday as an arts colony. Today, the culturally diverse locality draws throngs of tourists and residents to its restaurants and cafés, art galleries, boutiques, movie theaters, farmers markets, and bookstores.
– Coral Gables: Designed and planned in the 1920s by early Miami developer George Merrick, Coral Gables features beautiful Mediterranean-style homes and winding waterways. Renowned for world-class dining and its flock of top galleries that present the crème de la crème of Latin American and Spanish art, Coral Gables is also home to the Village of Merrick Park, one of Miami’s most upscale shopping meccas; it is also the closest shopping destination to Miami International Airport. Merrick Park features more than 100 haute couture fashion and home décor shops and boutiques, as well as several gourmet restaurants in a lushly landscaped setting.
– Key Biscayne: This secluded paradise is just a few miles from downtown—yet worlds apart, with miles of hiking and biking trails, boating and water sports, beaches that continually rank in the top ten, topnotch tennis and golf facilities, and upscale resort properties. It is home to the Miami Seaquarium, where the popular television show Flipper was filmed in the 1960s.
– South of Miami: The agricultural bounty of Miami’s mild climate becomes apparent as visitors head south of Miami to Redland and Homestead, which offer vast fields of strawberries, tomatoes, and other fresh produce.
– North of Miami: Considered part of greater North Miami Beach, Opa Locka, designed in the 1920s as an Arabian Nights fantasy, has the largest concentration of Moorish architecture in the Western hemisphere.
Just 20 minutes from downtown, Dolphin Stadium, host to the Miami Dolphins football and Florida Marlins baseball team, straddles the county line.
Whether you’re heading to this year’s PVA convention or just planning a vacation, you can learn more about what Miami has to offer by checking out www.miamiandbeaches.com.
For a vacation guide, visit www.MiamiAndBeaches.com or call 888-76-MIAMI (U.S./Canada only) / 305-447-7777.
For information about public transportation on the Metrorail, Metromover, Metrobus, and Tri-Rail, check out www.go.miamidade.gov.