Miami South Beach Art Deco architecture is world famous. I had the chance to spend one day in Miami South Beach on a family visit to the Gulf Coast of Florida in February. I always say that a short trip is better than no trip at all so I definitely made the most of my time in the Miami Beach Art Deco Historic District before my flight out of Miami Airport. It's easy to fill 24 hours in Miami South Beach with fun things to do and places to eat. Read on for my recommendations for a one day visit to South Florida.
Arrive in Miami South Beach at Night and Stay in an Art Deco HotelHotel La Flora which was situated centrally on Collins Avenue in the heart of South Beach. The lobby featured a sparkly statue in a blue jumpsuit and Art Deco accents in the lobby including chrome chandeliers and a geometric mirror. The hotel really set the stage for my 24 hours in the Miami South Beach Art Deco Historic District.
Admire Art Deco Architecture on the Way to Breakfast at Shepherd Artisan Coffee
Start the day with a light breakfast at Shepherd Artisan Coffee. An iced coffee and a bagel will hit the spot. Admire that awesome Miami South Beach Art Deco architecture on your walk to the cafe. You may even spot a classic car or two to add to the ambiance.
Take the Miami South Beach Art Deco Historic District Walking Tour
Miami South Beach Art Deco Walking Tour Price and LogisticsThe Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL) leads a daily Art Deco walking tour departing from Miami South Beach's Art Deco Welcome Center and focusing on an area of a few blocks between Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. Tours of Miami's Art Deco District deep dive on famous architects like Albert Anis, Henry Hohauser, and Murray Dixon. Tickets cost $25 USD at the time of writing for a 90 minute guided tour.
SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking for ideas for other fab American cities to visit with great architecture? Head north to see the mind blowing historic skyscrapers on a day out in Chicago.
Meet Joel, our Knowledgeable GuideOur tour guide, Joel, was incredibly knowledgeable. In fact, his collection of Art Deco televisions are on display at the Art Deco Museum in Miami South Beach. Joel retired to Miami from Brooklyn, New York and was a fount of information about South Beach, its history, and its evolving architectural style.
What is the Art Deco style, really?
Barbara Baer Capitman
A Stylish Turnaround Thanks to Versace and Miami Vice
After years of decline, Miami South Beach eventually achieved a cool resurgence. Miami Vice hit TV screens across the U.S. in the 1980s, airing from 1984 - 1990. Joel told us that Miami Vice had one of the highest costs to produce of any TV show in history but the sleek image that the show served up, thanks in part to designers like Versace, influenced what the region has become today. Did you know that Miami Vice had a color scheme and that color scheme is now prevalent all around South Beach? Bleached whites, pinks, peaches, and yellows feel right at home in the Miami South Beach Art Deco Historic District.
Modern Miami South Beach Architecture: Compatible But Not A Copy
Today, there are rules that govern what can and can't be built in Miami South Beach. The guiding principle is "compatible but not a copy". Any new buildings in the Miami South Beach Art Deco Historic District must blend in with the period originals but should not replicate the historic buildings. In this way, the architecture blends and evolves toward the future. I found this principle fascinating.
Cuban Lunch in South Beach at Puerto Sagua
I recommend trying Cuban food for lunch. There are plenty of great Cuban places to eat in Miami South Beach often run by Cuban immigrations or their descendents. I opted to try Puerto Sagua, an unassuming family-owned placed tucked away at the far end of Collins Ave. I love plantains and so ordered up roast chicken with maduras (sweet plantains) and rice. I also couldn't resist ordering a side of tostones (savory plantains that taste a bit like potatoes) washed down with a glass of sangria. Definitely go hungry.
Check out the Funky Lifeguard Stations along the Miami South Beach Promenade
Cuban Dinner at Havana 1957 on Española Way
Finish your one day in Miami South Beach with dinner on Española Way. Española Way runs for a full block and is pedestrian-only. Browse restaurants serving cuisine from all over the world. I absolutely love Cuban food so decided to do a reprise over dinner. I had a small meal of appetizers, fried plantains, and sangria at the bar at Havana 1957. Española Way is really popular. Expect to wait for a table at the more popular restaurants. Havana 1957 had a long wait but I was able to short circuit most of it by agreeing to sit at the bar.
Map of Points of Interest in the Miami South Beach Art Deco Historic District
I hope you've enjoyed this 24 hour tour of Miami South Beach. Whether you are an architecture buff, a foodie, or a beach person, there is something for everyone on a short trip to Miami.