Miami has a reputation for glitz, glamour and grit, but lately it’s shaken off some of its rougher edges to embrace all things new. From South Beach to Brickell, there have never been more distinct areas to explore.
By Pat Riddell
Something’s happened in Miami. In the past decade, the city has reinvented itself with huge investment revamping its neighbourhoods, skyline and waterfront. Construction continues apace, and the likes of Wynwood, Mid-Beach, Brickell and the Design District have changed almost beyond recognition. Cultural attractions have flourished and Miami has become a modern, confident, international metropolis with annual events making it a year-round destination. Enormous cruise ships begin their journeys here to the Caribbean and beyond, but take time to stay ashore and explore its neighbourhoods, and you’ll soon get the measure of just how much fun Miami is.
If anywhere in Miami reflects its recent renaissance, it’s the onward march of Brickell. A neighbourhood transformed over the past decade, the occasional low-rise still exists, but construction continues ever upwards — in an area that’s just over a square mile, the only way is up. Glass, steel and concrete abound, but there’s more to it than its glossy financial district heart.
The luxury Brickell City Centre shopping mall looms large here, a $1bn development that’s also home to East Miami, the first overseas property from Hong Kong’s Swire Group. The plush decor and clever interiors belie the hotel’s workaday exterior, its 352 rooms far removed from any of the city’s stuffier business hotels; but its drinking and dining options are perhaps the main draw. There’s the sleek Tea Room, home of the Asian Night Brunch (a five-course menu alongside all the Champagne, sake, wine or beer you can drink), and Uruguayan surf-and-turf Quinto La Huella restaurant, but Sugar is the icing on the cake. Situated on the 40th floor, cocktails and views cement Sugar’s reputation as one of Miami’s best bars, towering over the rest of Brickell and Downtown. Its Balinese-inspired decor and foliage lend it an almost garden party vibe, and those bird’s-eye views over the skyscrapers to South Beach and beyond are, arguably, the city’s most spectacular.
The quintessential Miami district. Take a pew on Ocean Drive and watch the world go by — towering palm trees sway while joggers work up a sweat, battling for boardwalk space with cyclists and rollerbladers. Volleyball is ever-present and there’s even yoga if you get up early enough. However, it’s the fun once the sun’s gone down that’s synonymous with South Beach.
That and the art deco architecture, which prompts Melissa from the Miami Design Preservation League to call it: “an outdoor living museum”. The rows of starry hotels along Ocean Drive — Breakwater, Colony, Carlyle — need no introduction, thanks to the photography of the neon signage that’s disseminated worldwide, but there are hundreds of other buildings in the style. The fascinating MDPL walking tour introduces a wealth of distinct variations (Mediterranean Revival, Streamline, Miami Modern), as well as the opportunity to learn more about what lies behind the art deco facades.
South Beach’s 1980s renaissance, after decades of decline, saw a growing campaign for the preservation of its buildings, alongside an economic revival that restored its reputation as a glitzy playground.
Read it all HERE >>>> Source: National Geographic A neighbourhood guide to Miami | National Geographic