Oprah Winfrey, Boris Becker, Mel Brooks and "Cagney and Lacey" star Sharon Gless own terra cotta-roofed condominiums on the island. Frequent guests include Demi Moore, Meg Ryan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jack Nicholson, Paul Newman and Sharon Stone. I didn't see ANY of them, but I am impressed. No-view studio apartments start at $550,000, while split-level panoramic villas go for $6 million.
Walk to South Pointe Park
1 Washington Ave.
"Start at South Pointe Park, the southernmost tip of Miami Beach, for a close-up view of ships heading through the deep water channel known as Government Cut to the Port of Miami. Across the channel rise the Mediterranean-style buildings of Fisher Island, accessible only by ferry. "
We were able to see this beautiful cruisse ship walking through South Pointe Park.
A big attraction of Florida is the BEACHES.
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
Fort Clinch State Park
New Smyrna Beach
Riviera Beach and
The nicest beaches are on the east coast and in the Florida Panhandle.
Cool Places to stop as you go through RI and CT
Traveling on the Interstate or secondary roads in RI and Eastern Ct? Let me suggest a few places that are short side trips off the interstate in RI and nearby CT. In RI, I would suggest stopping at Federal Hill in Providence for lunch at the really great Itallian restaurants like Al Forno.
From there, maybe Newport. See the old army fort called Ft Adams. Have a drink and watch the boats in the bay. Go back across the Newport and Jamestown bridges on Rt 138. From there you can follow the coast to Connecticut on Rt 1 and not encounter any real traffic, or go back out to I95 on Rt138
When You cross into Connecticut, go into the small town of Stonington and have lunch at Skipers dock. From here, you can see Fisher's Island NY one mile offshore, and Sonington Harbor. If you drive the one way street through Stonington to the point, you can see RI, Watch Hill and Fishers Island while standing in Ct. Stonington is full of colonial houses and homes of the Portuguese fishermen who sailed out of Stonington harbor.
Mystic Connecticut is a great place to stop and see the old whaling town of Mystic. There is a very accurate recreation of the original town, with trades people and square rig sailing ships. Look for Mystic Seaport when you get off I95
At Groton Ct. it is just a few miles up Rt 12 north to the submarine base where the USS Nautalis is docked next to the submarine museum.
South Pointe Park
South Pointe Park
Located at the southernmost tip of South Beach, South Pointe Park is still one of Miami's best-kept secrets. Not so much a park as a shoreline, South Pointe features extraordinary views of downtown and of exclusive Fisher Island. And as it's situated directly on the channel that connects Biscayne Bay with the Atlantic Ocean, it has a perfect vantage point for watching pleasure and commercial ships entering and leaving the Port of Miami. Meanwhile, surfers all agree that the waves here are the best in the city. But a great day at South Pointe can simply entail sitting on the pier or the rocks, catching some sun, lazily observing the sea birds chasing their dinner, and then heading over to Smith & Wollensky (located in the park) for a cocktail and stone crabs.
Free admission. Located at One Washington Avenue.
THE BEST BEACH
Although Miami Beach certainly has some beautiful spots for sunning, true Miamians head across the splendid Rickenbacker Causeway to Key Biscayne, where Crandon Park offers unrelieved loveliness on the most northerly of the Florida Keys. The 492-acre park acts as a gateway to the island's exclusive residential area and is suffused with holiday-makers enjoying the crystal-clear water and views of the downtown skyline in the near distance. Meanwhile, soccer and softball fields, a public 18-hole golf course, and numerous outdoor eating areas add to the luster of an entire day spent outdoors in the Miami sun.
Admission: $2 per vehicle
Long before the high-Mediterranean and art deco excesses of the 20th century hit South Florida, the early pioneers brought their New England stolidness—both personally and architecturally—to these subtropical shores. One sublime extant example is The Barnacle, a residence built by yachtsman Commodore Ralph Munroe in the late-19th-century jungles of Coconut Grove. Visitors now enter from the congested Main Highway into a sprawling landscape suffused with overarching trees, brilliant flowering bushes and other flora. Finally, the house itself—built with native materials and raised eight feet off the ground to prevent flooding and improve air circulation—appears, with Biscayne Bay sparkling in the background. Knowledgeable guides conduct tours of the property, which still contains many of its original furnishings. It's a perfect afternoon, with a restful historical balm.
Admission: $1. 3485 Main Highway, 305/448-9445
MIAMI'S PREMIER ZOO
Eight years ago, when Hurricane Andrew blew through South Florida, Metrozoo was rather nastily hit; the storm destroyed the habitats of all sorts of creatures and sent monkeys, birds and other animals out onto the streets of southern Dade County. Happily, we now have a new and better facility, the finest of its kind south of Orlando. More than 1,000 animals—from rare white Bengal tigers to flamingos and koalas—fill the 290-acre park. Best of all, the zoo is completely cageless and features authentic recreations of natural settings with moats that separate the animals from the crowd. A fun children's petting zoo offers daily educational shows.
Admission: $5 adults; $2.50 children ages three–12; free for children under three
SW 152nd St. and SW 124th Ave.; tel. 305/251-0403
THE LONG, STRANGE ARM OF THE LAW
The American Police Hall of Fame and Museum
This is one of Miami's strangest attractions. It's one of the most ironic, too, considering the city's somewhat overblown reputation for crime. Situated on dicey Biscayne Boulevard (another irony), The American Police Hall of Fame and Museum features a slew of bizarre and eclectic exhibits relating to law enforcement, including mock prison cells, guillotines, and drug paraphernalia that is straight from the Dragnet era. I like to take friends who appreciate gallows humor.
Admission: $6 adults, $3 children under 12; free to police officers
3801 Biscayne Blvd.; tel. 305/573-0070
This spectacular Mediterranean Revival palazzo, built by International Harvester heir James Deering in 1916, is arguably the best house to see in Miami. Gape, of course, at the luxe interiors and furnishings, like the loggia facing the bay and the carved Italianate bedroom suite—but be sure to stroll the grounds as well. My favorite spots are the outdoor teahouse, tucked away in a remote corner of the elaborate formal gardens, and an amazing grotto sculpted of coral at the property's south end.
Admission: adults $8; children 6 to 12 $4; children under 6 free
3251 South Miami Ave.; tel. 305/250-9133
A JAZZ-AGE FAMILY PLAYGOUND
Considered by many the most beautiful pool in America, this enormous public facility-the size of a city block-was built in the '20s by Coral Gables founder George Merrick. It resembles a Jazz Age stage set, with bridges, gondolier poles, a viewing tower, and cascading waterfalls. The sense I have here of stepping back in time is only enhanced by the prominently displayed photos of noted past guests, from Johnny Weissmuller to band leader Paul Whiteman. Families splash about with noisy abandon, but I always try to seek out the coral nooks for a little privacy.
Admission: adults $4; teens 13 to 17, $3.50; children under 13, $1.60
2701 DeSoto Blvd., tel. 305/460-5356
DECO SCULPTURE AND POLITICAL PROPAGANDA
The Wolfsonian is the most comprehensive collection of late 19th- and early 20th-century artifacts-furniture, appliances, posters, books, artworks, and decorative details like friezes and grills from demolished buildings)-in the world. Though its immense deco sculpture (created for the 1932 Olympics) is justifiably famous, I adore the collection of propaganda materials on the second floor, which show how the promotion of everything from political ideologies (Communism) to personalities (Ginger Rogers) to everyday consumer products (soap) can be elevated to an art form.
Admission, adults $7; seniors, students, and children 6 to 1, $5; children under 6 free.
1001 Washington Ave.; tel. 305/531-1001
BEAUTIFUL BOTANICAL RESERVE
Fairchild Tropical Gardens
More a botanical reserve than a traditional park, the Fairchild Tropical Gardens is breathtaking. Three separate paths wind through 83 acres of wild palms, flowers, and tropical plants. Perhaps the best-and longest-of the three routes is the Lowland Trail, my personal favorite, which snakes through a rain forest along peaceful streams and ponds before ending up at Hammock Lake, an ideal spot for a civilized picnic.
Admission: adults $8; children under 12 free
10901 Old Cutler Rd.; tel. 305/667-1651 children
CRUISING TOWARD THE END OF THE EARTH
Keys Drive along U.S. 1
Nothing beats the end-of-the-earth sensation of driving down through the Keys. On par with the Pacific Coast Highway or the breathless bends of Monte Carlo for gorgeous, expansive vistas, this stretch of U.S. 1 takes you through charming-though rustic-towns and over scenic causeways. After about three hours you'll reach the famous Seven-Mile Bridge, bounded by the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, where the brilliantly blue and clear views extend for miles (Key West is only another hour away). Along the way, I always stop at The Shell Man in Marathon for Florida curios (such as miniature mice made of mollusks.)
ARCHITECTURE OF SOUTH BEACH
Art Deco District Tour History
Every weekend the Miami Design Preservation League hosts expert-guided walking tours through the Art Deco District, showcasing the pastel-hued, streamlined '30s buildings that are so identified with Miami. (The buildings' design is what originally made interest in South Beach rekindle in the mid '80s.) Along Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, the tour stops at classics of tropical deco, including Chris Blackwell's Tides Hotel, with its authentic terrazzo floors, wide columns, and observation balcony. Two of my favorite sights along the route are The Hotel's soaring steel spire and the porthole windows of the Essex House, which show the hotel's resident flamingos parading through an idyllic tropical courtyard.
Tours Saturday 10:30 a.m.; Cost: $6
1001 Ocean Dr.; tel. 305/672-2014
THE HOTTEST, COOLEST SPOT
When most people think of Miami, the first thing that comes to mind is South Beach. This relatively small enclave-famous for its Art Deco structures arranged and colored like overgrown ice-cream cakes; its supremely fashionable hotels, boutiques, and restaurants; its Latin heat from Cuba and South America; and its riotous population of drag queens, models, and celebs-is always hopping. I tell my friends to check it out at night, though, when the action hits fever pitch. Here's one of my favorite tours: Stroll down Lincoln Road from Alton to Collins, pop up one block to take in the Delano, then proceed back down Collins to Fifth Street for maximum viewing potential.
South Beach is bounded by Alton Rd., Dade Blvd., Ocean Dr., and Fifth St.
The marshy Everglades is a place of rare beauty. It is impossible to gain a full appreciation of the park in a short time; at least a day should be spent there to soak up its calm, primordial aura. Tours by boat offer the most direct viewing of such species as alligators, turtles, and egrets; my favorite, the Majestic Everglades Excursion, is a four-hour cruise narrated by naturalists on a covered-deck boat, which glides along past islands and through canals. For a shorter glimpse, walk along the half-mile-long Anhinga Trail, where you have a chance of seeing many of the same sights from a greater distance.
Tours: Adults $60; children under 12 $30
West Dade County; tel. 941/242-7700
AN ALL-NATURAL BEACH
Although some prefer the island-outpost feel of Key Biscayne or the shameless exhibitionism of South Beach, true Miami sun-worshipping cognoscenti prefer the pristine beauty of Haulover Park. Just north of Bal Harbour, Haulover Park's mile-long beach is away from the throngs of tourists, and features a fishing pier and marina that locals of all ages adore. The natural sand dunes provide a measure of rustic charm rarely encountered in Miami. On the north side of the stretch is the city's only official nude beach.
No admission fee
10800 Collins Ave.
ONLY IN SOUTH FLORIDA
When people ask me what sights they should see in Miami, I always recommend Coral Castle-an entire house made out of coral-which for pure wackiness can't be beat. It's creator, a Latvian immigrant, devoted 25 years to the construction of this quirky palace, which was a tribute to a love that remained, despite the grand gesture, unrequited. The house was completed in the '40s, and the story of its creation would have the dimensions of a romantic tragedy if it weren't so absurdly comic. Large 'seats' made of native coral have a Flintstones appeal, and the tour itself is recited by a man pretending to be the builder himself, complete with a peculiar 'Latvian' accent. Pick up a typically corny souvenir-key chain, T-shirt, or piece of coral-on your way out as proof that you've visited this oddity.
Admission: adults $7.75; children 7 to 12 $5
28655 S. Dixie Highway; tel. 305/248-6344
Fisher Island auto ferry
Bob looking over at the Fisher Island auto ferry
we had a nice table on the patio
Slightly sober with a chance of inebriation
stay in miami beach or key west?
hello! we're flying into fort myers bc we have a place to stay there. we thought of renting a car and driving to miami and then down to the keys. we were going to leave ft myers early saturday morning and try to get to the keys by early afternoon. should we stay there that night or drive back up to miami and stay a night there? which is better? we dont want to spend too much money...maybe a hotel room for 150-170 per night USD max. (king bed preferred but qn is okay too). any hotel suggestions in either key west or miami? we prefer beach front or very close to beach with pool.
thanks for your help.
Re: stay in miami beach or key west?
If you are driving from Ft Myers to Key West that is a 6-7 hour drive with no traffic problems or stopping for fun.
If it were me, I would enjoy the drive to Key West. Then take in the world famous sunset celebration at Mallory Sqare. Then enjoy the uniqueness of nightlife in Key West. Then (try to) find my hotel room, sleep, wake up the next morning and try to digest what had just happened to me.
Ft. Myers-Key West- Miami in one day sound like work to me.
There is no beach to speak of in KW, but your day will be full anyway. A nice place to stay would be a guest house in old town. There are lots to choose from. I can't recommend any.
But make reservations before you go down there.
Re: stay in miami beach or key west?
the other response is true, but the keys are more of a day trip for me. I would drive from ft.meyers to miami beach and spend the night there. there is so much to do you'll never want to leave. Then you relax for a bit before you take a day trip to the keys (where you are going to want to stop at every key along the way!) Key West is small and there isn't all that much to do, the mallory square sunset is great though! Miami beach hotels can be pricey, but you are never that far from the beach, and the bus costs 25 cents! ("south beach local" bus- but you don't have to be a local!)
Re: stay in miami beach or key west?
If I read this correctly we are talking about a two day one night trip or at most three days two nights. Including the attractins of Miami Beach, Miami, the Grove and the Key Biscayne with the incredible beach there I would just skip the long and not infrequently heavily trafficked trip down to Key West and stay in the Miami area the entire time you have.