, and almost everyone thinks beaches, sunshine, and palm trees -
an old image that rests on essential truth. The name
comes from Mayaimi
(a lake - now referred to as Lake Okeechobee), which means "very large."
In the midst of a tropical paradise, one of America's most dynamic
cities is greeting the 21st century with a burst of passion, creativity,
and international flair.
is at a vibrant cultural crossroads, and for the last 20 years,
cultural community has grown more
rapidly than any other American city.
Much of the area's success is due to its diverse neighborhoods,
whose residents contribute in their own singular way to making
Greater Miami and the Beaches
one of the best - and most fascinating - places to live in the world.
Low buildings, shopping arcades and storefronts tightly packed
with merchandise evoke Miami's origins as a trading town.
On West Flagler Street the original 1920s Olympia Theater has become the
Gusman Center for the Performing Arts,
a worthy venue for concerts and performances.
A few blocks away, a broad Mediterranean piazza is at the heart of the
Miami-Dade Cultural Center,
bordered by the graceful arches,
barrel tile roofs and cream-colored stucco of the main public library.
Also on the piazza, the
Miami Art Museum
showcases changing exhibits of international art, while the
Historical Museum of Southern Florida
interweaves the tapestry of local and regional history
through permanent and special exhibits.
On Biscayne Boulevard, the
built in1925 as Miami's first skyscraper,
recorded city events when it housed the offices of the Miami Daily News.
It then played a starring role as the gateway to freedom
for thousands of Cuban refugees.
Across the Boulevard, the modern sculpted curves of the
American Airlines Arena mark the home of the
NBA's Miami Heat.
Football is played in the
Orange Bowl, home of the
University of Miami Hurricanes team.
Downtown Miami offers big city shopping with an urban flair.
Department stores and emporiums that sell clothes, electronics,
sporting goods and more, fill the historic Downtown Miami Shopping
District (from SE 1st Street to NE 3rd Street).
Spanish and Portuguese are routinely overheard, and the aroma of
Cuban coffee wafts through the air.
Downtown is also the place for jewelry, with dazzling
displays in the stores and workshops that comprise one of
the largest jewelry districts in the U.S.
On Biscayne Boulevard, next to Bayfront Park,
borrows from the past as it looks towards the future.
The open-air shopping and entertainment complex was
built on the site of the former Pier 5 fishing pier
(one of Miami's most popular tourist spots in the 1950s),
and is now a waterfront destination for shopping, dining
and outdoor performances.
Here you can browse through shops and vendors' pushcarts,
where everything from T-shirts to one-of-a-kind souvenirs is sold.
Just a few minutes north of downtown, the city's historic
Buena Vista Village, is the charming setting for the
Miami Design District,
which overflows with interior design
showrooms and stores; art studios and galleries; movie production
and theatrical costume companies and much more.
Distinctive furniture, rugs, lighting, fabric and cutting-edge
design accessories are all presented in a stylish shopping environment.
Don't miss the unique opportunity to explore the area's vast galleries during
Gallery Night at the
Miami Design District,
which is held the second Friday of each month.
A Coral Gables walking tour will take you past some of the meticulously
preserved landmarks that grace this old "city within a city ".
Coral Gables City Hall,
the city's most important publicly owned building,
is decorated with interesting interior murals and a distinctive portico.
Not far away, two fountains mark the ornate entrance to the
Country Club of
Coral Gables Historic District,
typical of the master-planned city.
Just beyond, residential areas featuring well-appointed houses can be viewed.
The Venetian Pool,
carved out of a spring-fed coral rock quarry,
is a local landmark and popular attraction.
Other Coral Gables landmarks include the
University of Miami;
the oldest university in the Greater Miami area, which dates back to 1925.
The University of Miami
enhances Coral Gables' cultural amenities with
Lowe Art Museum,
The Gusman Concert Hall, the
Bill Cosford Cinema and the
waterfront parks offer the best vantage
points for observing manatees, wildlife and sailboats in Biscayne Bay.
originally the base for Pan American World Airways'
seaplane flights from Greater Miami in the 1930s, now houses
Miami City Hall,
which was converted from the original hangar.
Earlier Grove history is also evident at
the 110-year-old home of pioneer Commodore Ralph Munroe.
The grandest home of them all is now the
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens,
an Italian Renaissance-style villa built by millionaire
James Deering in 1916.
Set on 10 acres of formal gardens and fountains -
with Biscayne Bay as backdrop - the 70-room estate is
filled with fabulous furnishings and antiques. In 1952, Vizcaya was purchased
by Miami-Dade County
and opened to the public as museum.
Miami Museum of Science & Space Transit Planetarium
features hands-on exhibits of everything from robotic dinosaurs to
virtual reality basketball, as well as star and space shows.
Festivals and street fairs such as the extraordinary
Coconut Grove Arts Festival; the
Coconut Grove Food and Music Festival (formerly Taste of the Grove); the
Miami/Bahamas Goombay Festival and the
Banyan Arts Festival, add to Coconut Grove's excitement.
may be one of the smallest municipalities in
but it is also one of the best known.
Covering a third of a square mile, the village has long been
the favored hideaway of the rich and famous (including a recent
American president), and celebrity spotting here is easy.
In Bal Harbour,
Collins Avenue becomes a wide boulevard graced
by stately palm trees and greenery.
Heading north out of
the road rises to a crest over the
Haulover Bridge and the park beyond.
Bal Harbour Shops
is the village's crown jewel. This upscale mall
is open to the sky, but designed to protect shoppers from the elements
in a tropical garden setting swathed in scarlet and purple bougainvillea.
Be sure to browse amongst a unique collection of internationally renowned
boutiques and stores evoking the style centers of New York, Paris, Milan and London.
The latest designer fashions and accessories, precious gems, and fine decorative
objects may be found in
Neiman Marcus and
Saks Fifth Avenue,
as well as in stores such as
Tiffany & Co.,