Spend a Day or Two in Key West
There are one day and overnight trips available to Key West from Miami Beach. It really is a great place . I took the day trip, but once I was there,I really wished I had booked the overnight. This beautiful ride is about 3 and half hours from Miami Beach , but if you take the tour it will be 4 hours., because there is a 30 minute stop each way for refreshments in Islamorada and on the return in Key Largo.Once you arrive in Key West, you are free to spend your time as you like.
There really is alot to see and do on this tiny island surrounded by clear blue water It is really pretty with its cute, little white houses and many nice shops with unique artsy gifts. You can visit the Southernmost point of the USA which is only 90 miles from Cuba, see the cats at Hemingway's House,visit the Audobon House and Tropical Gardens, climb the stairs of the lighthouse for some beautiful views, take the Conch tour train for an interesting overview of the island and try of piece of the famous Key Lime pie.
A trip to the Key West cemetery is interesting as there are some tombstones with very unique epitaphs, but it takes awhile to find these stones.
There are also many other things to see here such as an aquarium .more museums, small beaches and boat tours to other islands in the Keys, which I unfortunately did not have time to see.
Take a side trip to the Everglades.
If you don't have a car, one of the many excursions available from Miami Beach is a half day trip to the Everglades for an airboat ride. It is very touristy, but I did enjoy it. The drive is about 45 minutes from Miami Beach. At first when you are on the boat, it will go very slowly and you will see all kinds of beautiful birds and lots of alligators. Some of the alligators will swim right up to the boat and you are literally inches away from them! Scary! Afterwards, you will take a higher speed ride through the swamp and the boat will dip side to side a little until you arrive to a less inhabitated area of the swamp. Here you may step out of the boat and into the swamp , if you like. The man driving the boat said it was safe to step out since the alligators are usually not in this area and any poisenous snakes will be spotted by birds ,but I didn't chance it! About half the people stepped out of the boat and said that the mud on the bottom of the swamp was very mushy and slippery and you feel like you are sinking in it..
This is a very popular place to visit , but I am including it on this page under this category because it is in Miami and not Miami Beach. Even if you have no intention of going into the city of Miami, you really should try to make the effort to visit here. It is gorgeous.
This Italian Renaissance-style villa was built between 1914 and 1916 as a winter home of International Harvester vice president James Deering. At the time, Vizcaya employed 10% of Miami's population. It is surrounded by picturesque fountain- filled gardens and while I was , at three different times I saw brides having their pictures taken.
If you visit here and just visit the villa and gardens on your own, you will enjoy it, but I highly recommend taking the 45 minute tour of the first floor of the villa which is included in the $10 admission.. There are many interesting stories and lots of history to Vizcaya and if you spend some of your time taking the tour, you will enjoy it even more.I plan to build a travelogue about it on my Miami page.
It is open daily from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 a.m. You are not allowed to take pictures or video inside the villa,but can take pictures of the gardens.
To get there from Miami Beach, take bus C or K to the downtown terminal and then transfer to bus 48 to Vizcaya. This will cost $1.50
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Historical Travel
This Italian style renaissance villa built in 1916 was once the winter home for the famous American Industrialist James Deering. During his life Deering used this beautiful house as a sort of collection point for the many amazing artefacts that he accumulated during his travels.
Location: 3251 South Miami Avenue,
- Family Travel
If you get tired of Art Deco architecture, or interminable sun baths in the beach, a good alternative is a visit to the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Placed near the Convention Center and the Holocaust monument, the garden it’s a peaceful and relaxing place, that hides some interesting surprises, such as the Japanese garden. Admission it’s free.
2000 Convention Center Dr. Miami Beach
Halover beach, which is just north of Bal Harbor along Collins Avenue, is a spot for nude sunbathing. Another nude beach is located at 23rd and Collins. The 23rd and Collins beach is predominantly a gay beach. Haulover is more tourists and an older crowd.
- School Holidays
See Miami from the water
As you all know, Miami is built by the Ocean. But unless you have been here, you might not know that it has a beautiful bay, rivers and canals. Seeing Miami from the water, on a boat is truly different and beautiful, with its many islands, mansions, skyline, etc...
In order to do this, you have several options:
1. knowing someone who owns a boat and who will take you around. Obvioulsy the best way but also the most difficult one...
2. Renting a boat at one of the many marinas (South Beach, Coconut Grove, etc..) but it is expensive and it requires you to know how to drive a boat (even if the only requirement is a regular driver's license... no comment!!!!) and last but not least find your way around.
3. Last option and obvioulsy the least interesting one, taking one of those tourist boat rides that leave Bayside....
- Family Travel
- Sailing and Boating
EVERGLADES NATIONAL PARK
Gator-spotting is one of the main attractions of the Everglades National Park, the second largest national park in the USA, with its 6070 sq kilometres of marshes, mangrove forests, freshwater and saltwater areas and open grass prairies. This vast subtropical wilderness is home to an abundance of rare plants, birds and animals, including wild orchids, Florida panthers, ospreys, manatees, giant loggerhead turtles, the Everglades mink, the Florida black bear and the only saltwater crocodiles in America.
There are several entry points each with visitor centres that organise ranger-led walks and talks, boat and tram tours, and canoe trails. The main Visitor Center is just southwest of Homestead
Unfortunately, we were not so lucky to see this great alligators, the day we were there, there was not much to see at all. Actually we were very disappointed. I guess it wasn't the right season. This is why I cannot show you a beautiful picture.
- Adventure Travel
For some authentic café cubano
This place isn't so much "off the beaten path" as "on a main drag but hardly noticed." It's not fancy, it's authentic. If you want a real cuban coffee, go to El Restaurante Viajante. The place is the real deal. For any coffee lover out there - this is the place for you! You can get a small cup for $1.25 or a larger cup for $2.00. And to make it even more authentic, order in Spanish! "Quería un café cubano, por favor." If you want it with milk, ask for a "cafe cubano con leche." (You do not have to order in Spanish, but it is fun!)
This place is directly across the street from the Delano. Order through the window. It is open 24 hours. The empañadas are pretty good too, for a late night snack.
- Food and Dining
- Budget Travel
- Arts and Culture
The resulting mix of people from diverse backgrounds adds energy and excitement to this small community. During the tourist season, one is as likely to hear German, French, Italian or Spanish, as one is to hear English.
Nicer & "hipper" beach
Going to the beach during your stay is obvioulsy a must. It does get very crowded during the weekend and some holidays, but you need to see it at least once: it is a fun spectacle and a worthwhile experience, not to say unforgettable....
However, it is not really a relaxing, quiet experience. So, if you want less crowded, join the locals and come to south point: south of 5th street -and the more south you go the better- you will find much less people and a hipper crowd, such as surfers and South Beach locals....
PS: Parents beware: if you don't want your kids to see topless women, go to another beach, such as Key Biscayne for example!
If you want to include some culture in your SoBe experience, the Wolfsonian Foundation will not disappoint you. Apart from the attractive permanent collection (mainly industrial design from the early 20th century), it usually holds interesting temporal exhibitions. During my visit, for example, there was an exposition about propaganda posters during the Spanish civil war.
By the way, if you happen to be a gadget fan (like myself) you will find very interesting the museum shop. ;-)
Old Tavern w/ live music
Bougainvillea is an old tavern in South Miami, near Sunset Place. Small, cozy, charming and a very laidback hang-out, it also has great live jazz bands. Latin jazz, brazilian jazz, ALL types of jazz. Check their music schedule on their website....
You won't find more local than this!
Friday Happy Hour
Whereas popular bars such as Gordon Birsch, The Globe, Houston's and etc. draw most of the crowd for Friday happy hour, I much prefer going to Big Fish. Located on the Miami river in a beautiful romantic setting, and primarily a restaurant (although I would not recommend the food) the ambiance is extremely nice, and the crowd not your typical Miami Friday Happy Hour crowd....
Friday Happy Hour 5-8pm. From Brickell avenue, turn on SE 5th street going west. It will be on your right after the curve.
If in the mood to play pool?
There are many places to play pool in Miami and South Beach, but most tables tend to be pretty crappy (small and old) which you usually pay with quarters, meaning any one comes and challenges the winner for the next game.
So if you're in the mood to play with your friend alone on a nice regulation-size table head to Felt on Washington and 12th street. You'll be able to play as long as you want paying by the hour and order drinks at the bar.
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