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South Beach is a mecca for the young, beautiful and trendy

© Creative Commons / egvvnd

South Beach

South Beach, at the south end of the narrow island known as Miami Beach, is a mecca for the young and beautiful who have claimed this stretch of the American Riviera as their own centre of trendy fashion and open lifestyles. Known commonly as SoBe, the district is a 23-block long stretch lined with restored art deco buildings, shops, museums, boutique hotels, many of Miami's best restaurants - and of, course, pristine beaches.


Wide, white sandy beaches and clear sparkling blue waters are popular with locals and vacationers, who enjoy swimming, sunning, people watching, volleyball and windsurfing. Topless bathers, supermodels, and celebrities are common sights. Cyclists, skaters and joggers enjoy the palm-fringed boardwalk, which runs alongside the beach.

Beyond the beach

Guided walking tours of the Art Deco Historic District begin at the Art Deco District Welcome Centre, 100 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach. Duck Tours Miami depart South Beach for an amphibious adventure, splashing into Biscayne Bay to cruise past homes of the rich and famous.

Miami is a boater's paradise, offering pleasure cruising, sailing, kayaking, fishing, surfing, snorkelling and scuba diving. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, an Italian Renaissance-style estate built for agricultural industrialist James Deering, is a memorable step back in time.

Family fun

Miami Beach offers much for the family, with beaches patrolled by lifeguards in colourful stands, beach volleyball, cycling, fishing, golf, and family entertainment at major malls and marketplaces. Family attractions are a short drive from most hotels in South Beach. Parrot Jungle Island, 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, MacArthur Causeway, Miami, is popular with kids, where they can encounter exotic animals like the liger and the 907kg (2,000 pound) crocosaurus, splash down a 51m (168ft) water slide, and enjoy spectacular animal shows. At the cageless Miami Metrozoo, 12400 SW 152nd Street, Miami, animals roam in native habitats, protected from visitors.

Exploring further

South Beach is ideally positioned on South Florida's Gold Coast. Airboat tours of the Everglades swamps are a family favourite, searching for alligators, crocodiles, and a variety of bird and wildlife. A glass bottom boat reef tour is the way to explore Biscayne National Park. Close to downtown, the Port of Miami is the largest cruise ship port in the world, and starting point for cruising adventures to the Caribbean, South and Central America.

A side trip to the Florida Keys for a taste of island spice should end in the charming, laid back, Jimmy Buffet-style town of Key West, where conch chowder, fresh seafood and key lime pie are accompanied by a perfect tropical sunset.

Splashing out

The DiLido Restaurant at the Ritz Carlton, One Lincoln Avenue, Miami Beach, is the only beachfront restaurant in South Beach. A flamenco guitarist plays by torchlight on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. Dinner in bed takes on a whole new meaning at sizzling hot spot BED, 929 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach, where the lounge culture nibbles on French cuisine behind gauzy curtains and parties the night away in bed (literally!). It's a favourite of the beautiful people and sports and entertainment celebs. Mynt, 1920 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach, space-aged and cool, draws the ultra hip crowd of actors and the rich and famous. The tempo really picks up after 0100.

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