Florida Guide > Other Florida
When most people refer to Miami, they are in all probability actually talking about Miami Beach. Downtown Miami is on the west bank of Biscayne Bay while Miami Beach sits on a long spit of land bordered to the west by the bay and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean.
While Miami Beach and Miami itself were mainly developed during the early part of the 20th century, and so unlike many European cities do not have a great wealth of history, a visit there can be extremely interesting and rewarding.
A good way to start the day in Miami Beach is to take a leisurely breakfast at one of the cafes on Ocean Drive. Probably the most renowned of these is the Front Porch Café at the Penguin Hotel, where you can people watch while enjoying good food, especially their weekend brunch.
If you can tear yourself away from the lure of the beach, which is just across the road from the Front Porch, you will find that it is a good starting point for a walking tour of the world famous art deco buildings that still survive from the 1930’s. Just walk half a block south and turn right onto 14th Street to begin you trip into Miami Beach’s past. The route takes you 3 blocks along 14th Street to Washington Avenue, then left onto Washington and south to 8th Street. Here you take a left and return to Ocean Drive. The rout is about a mile long and depending on how long you stop to admire the buildings will probably take you an hour to complete. Along the way you will see the Carlyle Hotel, which featured in the film ‘The Birdcage’, the Leslie, a boxy building whose cantilevered sun shades look like huge eyebrows, The Cardoza Hotel with sleek rounded contours and recently owned by Gloria Estefan. If you need a rest or refreshment the 11th Street Diner, an aluminium Pullman car, gives you great views of the beautifully restored Astor Hotel.
To take in some of the natural beauty of the area you can do no better than head over to Key Biscayne. The Bill Baggs Cape Florida Recreation Park, where you can stroll along boardwalks and paths, or cycle along bike trails, to secluded beaches and covered picnic areas, occupies the southern half of the key.
If you have children, or just enjoy visiting aquariums, the Miami Seaquarium, also on Key Biscayne, is well worth a visit also. The 38-acre aquarium features killer whales, dolphins, manatees and sea lions and for an additional charge you can interact with the dolphins.
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