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Miami Beach is a small island city eight miles off the glittering metropolis of Miami. Just as cosmopolitan and diverse as its neighbor, Miami Beach is more laid back, and life here is anchored around the miles of fine white-sand shoreline. There are three distinct neighborhoods: trendy South Beach, known for swanky clubs, hotels, fusion restaurants, and some of the city’s best Art Deco architecture; Mid-Beach, which overlaps South Beach and is marked by the retro glamour of hotspot hotels and landmark museums built in the 1950s; and quieter, residential North Beach, an ideal spot to linger through the heat of the day in shady plazas, Argentinian bakeries, and Cuban cafes. Other great places to stay or visit include the barrier islands north of Miami Beach, including upscale Bal Harbour; the quaint town of Surfside Beach; and Sunny Isles, known as Florida’s Riviera.
The easiest and most straightforward way to get to Miami Beach is to fly into Miami International Airport (MIA), which is about 12 miles west of the city center. If you can’t find the right flight into MIA, consider Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International (FLL), about 40 minutes north, which is served by a larger selection of airlines.
Rent a car at either airport if you plan on visiting some of South Florida’s natural wonders, but otherwise, you won’t need a vehicle. Driving here can be overwhelming, and parking is notoriously difficult. Luckily, the bustling streets of Miami Beach are best explored on foot. You can also rent a bicycle to pedal along the beachfront boardwalks. Grab a rideshare if you want to head to a different neighborhood, or at night if you’re bar- or club-hopping.
With year-round average temperatures in the 80s Fahrenheit, Miami Beach’s consistently gorgeous weather is one of its biggest draws. Like other subtropical destinations, South Florida experiences two main seasons: a slightly cooler dry season between November and March, and a hotter, more humid summer for the rest of the year. Whenever you come, pack sunscreen and lightweight, warm-weather clothes — even in the middle of winter, the temperature here rarely dips below 60 degrees. In summer, the temperatures can break into the 90s, and passing thunderstorms are common. Check the forecast and plan to be inside when the rain hits, or find a café or bar to wait it out. You may also want to bring a small, packable umbrella just in case.
There are more than 800 beautifully preserved examples of Art Deco architecture from the 1920s through the 1940s in Miami Beach. Join an Art Deco walking tour, or stroll along Ocean Drive on your own in search of porthole windows, curved lines, and triangular shapes, and sunburst or whimsical floral design motifs.
More than just an outdoor mall, Lincoln Road is a wide, 10-block pedestrian promenade lined with fashion boutiques and restaurants with sidewalk dining. Go window shopping, or grab an ice cream and sprawl on palm-tree-dotted green space in the middle of the boulevard to take in the scene.
Admire the stunning Miami skyline on a cruise of Biscayne Bay. Nature lovers can also make the hour-long drive to the bay’s south end to Biscayne National Park, where you can snorkel a coral reef or kayak past mangrove forests.
Miami Beach is an arts and culture mecca in its own right, but it’s worth heading into Miami for that city’s renowned museums. Visit interior design stores and art galleries in the sleek Miami Design District, and stop by the hip Wynwood neighborhood for some stunning street art installations and public art.