First of all, when you are planning your day in South Beach and pondering Miami Beach attractions, you’ll want to factor in a lot of walking. From the minute you arrive in town, you’ll notice there are lots and lots of cars everywhere, and you’ll be hard-pressed to see even one empty parking space on the street. That’s because South Beach Miami is full of cars…very full for such a small area. Miami Beach attractions are packed into a small area of South Beach Miami, so you will be better off without a car if you can do some walking.
South Beach Miami Lummus Park
Lummus Park is a beach, but not just any beach. It’s the main stretch of beach that fronts the ocean in South Beach Miami. Extending from 5th Street to 15th Street, Lummus Park is the center of it all in South Beach Miami. With the trendiest and busiest nightclubs, cafes restaurants, and hotels facing Lummus Park, it’s the place to be, day or night, in South Beach Miami.
Lummus Park is where you’ll find the famous multi-colored lifeguard stations that for some are the symbol of South Beach Miami, and which are the subject of countless photographs. Palm trees offer shelter for the sun-weary, and a boardwalk offers an easy walkway for those who want to move from one part of South Beach Miami to another. Hotels facing Lummus Park often have their cafes or outdoor dining facing the beach, so guests can sip and dine and watch the world go by. Or, they can enjoy the view of Lummus Park from their private balconies, hundreds of which look out onto the beach and the ocean beyond.
There’s also a children’s play area in the center, and showers on the boardwalk so you can rinse off the salt and sand before you leave the park and enter the streets of South Beach Miami, or head back to your hotel. The wide sidewalk accommodates in-line skaters, the elderly population who come out to the beach mostly in the morning, posers, strutters, vacationers, and everyone else who makes Lummus Park their destination for the moment.
Lummus Park in South Beach Miami is named after John and James Lummes, who, believe it or not, ran a plantation here at the turn of the century (the last one). Today, it’s home to famous and ever-growing outdoor concerts with the likes of Luciano Pavorotti, video shoots, TV production, and you name it. This is South Beach Miami at its best!
South Beach Miami South of Fifth
South Beach Miami is one of the trendiest places in the country, but even South Beach has its ultra-trendy spots of the moment. Right now, South of Fifth, or the area of South Beach Miami that lies south of Fifth Street, the very southern tip of the island, is hot hot hot. There are some good reasons for this, not the least of which is the fact that there is more Art Deco per square inch here than anywhere else. That means developers and renovators alive love the area for its potential, and as you walk down the street you can see evidence of this. One by one, buildings in this part of South Beach Miami are sprouting new coats of paint, renovated lobbies, and some are becoming condos as well. There’s even new construction, which can be seen from anywhere in South Beach Miami, the high-rises going up near South Pointe Park overlooking Government Cut.
There are also new nightclubs and the Sanford L. Ziff Jewish Museum of Florida: Home of MOSAIC. This attraction is housed in a building that used to be a synagogue that was built in 1936. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The art deco chandeliers are wonderful to see, as are the stained glass windows. The exhibition is permanent and you can learn all about the history of the Florida Jewish community in here, which goes back more than 235 years. There are also changing exhibits and a museum store is you want to take something home with you aside from memories and a sense of history.
South Pointe Park
At the end of South Beach Miami is South Pointe Park, one of the best places in South Beach to hang out outdoors. There’s Sunshine Pier here, and a jetty made of boulders that you can walk out on if you trust your ankles. The end of the beach here at the mile-long jetty is sometimes quieter and makes for a more peaceful South Beach experience. If you curl around the sidewalk that parallels the beach, at the point where the beach ends, you can walk north along Government Cut.
The high-rise condos here at South Pointe Park must have the most interesting views in all of South Beach Miami because they overlook Government Cut. This is where all the ships come into the Port of Miami, the main thoroughfare for a very very busy port! At any given moment you might see a city-block-sized cruise ship heading out to sea, accompanied by the coast guard out of the channel, or giant freighters from all over the world carrying who knows what in large containers. For anyone interested in ships, this is mecca, since they pass by all day long. There are even restrooms here, and two observation towers, as volleyball nets. There’s a fountain area near the base of the condos, and the famous steak house Smith and Wollensky are right here facing Government Cut as well.
South Beach Miami Cardozo
This is another Art Deco attraction in South Beach Miami, but it stands out from the rest, which is to say it’s truly spectacular. It’s a 1939 Hohauser design, an immaculately restored hotel owned by Gloria Estefan. It was one of the first of the old Art Deco beauties to be renovated, and Ms. Estefan should be proud. She spared no expense nor overlooked any detail with this project because it’s museum-quality both inside and out. This explains why it’s one of the most-photographed hotels on the beach these days. Who can resist a picture, with the eyebrows over the windows, the wrought-iron furniture, and hardwood floors? The good news is that it’s a hotel, and you can stay here. It’s located at 1300 Ocean Drive, which is at 13th Street, on the ocean.
Miami Beach Botanical Garden
The Miami Beach Botanical Garden is a visible display of community action, and an ongoing effort of South Beach Miami residents to make their town even more beautiful than it already is. The site, located at the northern end of South Beach Miami, is nestled in between the Miami Beach Convention Center and the Holocaust Memorial, at 2000 Convention Center Drive, South Beach, and it’s been here for forty years. After decades of neglect, it’s now making a comeback and includes the following types of gardens and collections:
- Native Plant
- Display Garden
The site covers about five acres and offers visitors a calm spot of solitude to balance the frenetic and glitzy pace of South Beach Miami. It’s free admission, and there’s a gift shop. You can arrange for walking tours of the Botanical Garden or a walking tour of nearby Lincoln Road. If you happen to be in South Beach Miami on the second Thursday of any month, you can catch a cultural performance at the Miami Botanical Garden. Each Fall they also host the Herb Festival, and in early Spring the Palm Festival takes place.
South Beach Miami Holocaust Memorial
South Beach Miami is home to a diverse mix of cultures, and by that we mean not only Hispanic, Gay, Orthodox Jew, and Lesbian but also Holocaust Survivor. Miami Beach was once home to the second-largest community of Survivors in the country. This helps to explain why there’s a Holocaust Memorial in South Beach Miami, a seemingly otherwise glitzy, showy, and superficial place where people come to the party, show off and have fun.
Located at 1933 Meridian Ave, at Miami-Dade Blvd in South Beach, the Memorial consists of a courtyard containing a bronze sculpture and a memorial wall. The bronze sculpture depicts refugees holding onto a massive bronze arm coming from the earth and reaching 42 feet high. Artist Kenneth Triester has given the South beach Miami community a dramatic memorial, in which he depicts the refugees of Nazi Germany, who seem to be clinging for life on the giant bronze arm.
Bass Museum of Art
The Bass Museum of Art is an eclectic collection of European art mixed with special exhibits housed in an original 1930s Streamline building decorated with Mayan carvings. Housed on permanent display here are The Holy Family by Peter Paul Rubens, and works of art by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec and Albrecht Dürer. The Bass Museum of Art has recently been expanded to include a cafe and exterior sculpture gardens, as well as a whole new wing for collections. The expansion was designed by Arata Isozaki, a prominent Japanese architect. The original building was once the home of Miami Beach’s first library. Now, housed inside are more than 3,000 works, 500 of which were donated by John and Johanna Bass, who lived on Miami Beach.
The entire collection inside the Bass Museum of Art contains works dating back the 1400s, up to the present. The collection also represents works from all over the world, such as Asian, Caribbean, North American, Latin American art from the seventh century up to the present. There are tapestries, ecclesiastical vestments, textiles, and contemporary design artifacts. Of particular interest are architectural photographs and drawings depicting the history of design in South Beach Miami. Most of what’s in the newer Isozaki wing is temporary, contemporary exhibitions.
The Bass Museum of Art is part of an arts conglomerate in historic Collins Park. Here you’ll find the Miami Beach Culture Park, which houses not only the Bass but also other cultural organizations as well. Calling the cultural park home are the Miami City Ballet and the Miami Beach Regional Library. The Ballet’s facility is an Arquitectonica design. If you peek inside you might see the dancers practicing their steps.
South Beach Miami Islands
If you drove to South Beach Miami from Miami International Airport, you probably got to South Beach via the MacArthur Causeway. This is the stretch of road that takes drivers over the water from Miami to the strip of land known as Miami Beach. Jutting off the MacArthur Causeway are several small islands, which may have caught your eye because of the unbelievably fabulous luxury homes lining the shores.
You may not have seen the extravagant homes, however, because they may have been obscured by the even more fabulous yachts pulled up to the docks alongside the mansions. Yes, these islands off the MacArthur Causeway are homes to the rich and famous. You can actually take a left turn off the MacArthur Causeway and drive onto the islands for a look around if you want. There are three of them: Palm Island, Hibiscus Island, and Star Island. Al Capone lived here in the 1920s and this is where Gloria Estefan lives now.