Miami Beach is a party that never stops. The strip at Ocean Drive with its Art Deco beauties, the row of restaurants with music blaring from every single one of them, to the beautiful long and wide sandy beaches, and the warm breezes, you are immediately captivated. A kick of adrenalin when coming from the dark and cold of a Swedish winter.
The Miami Art Deco Centre by Lummus Park has tours given by the Miami Design Preservation League every morning at 10.30, lasting for 90 minutes. Most of the buildings were built in the 1930s, the pretty pastel facades, curved balconies, porthole windows, the rounded corners, glass block windows and central vertical elements are just some of the characteristics of Art Deco buildings. In the evenings Ocean Drive is lit up in neon colours, a stunning Art Deco fairy land.
I went to the Design District hoping to find great galleries and design stores, but it turned out to be more of a high end fashion area instead. There are a few private collections in the Wynwood Art District, which I would have to take the next time I am in Miami. The Opera Gallery had some very interesting pieces of art on display. From there you are able to walk to the graffiti filled neighbourhood of Wynwood to enjoy Street Art that the area is famous for.
We rented a car and headed to the Keys, Key largo is a very charming place popular with scuba divers. First stop was at Mandalay Island Grill for a drink and the most delicious Tuna Nachos while taking in the view. We had a memorable meal at Alabama Jack’s both for the fresh seafood, and the restaurant, a shack really, on the water with incredibly diverse patrons. Everything is served up on flimsy paper plates and plastic cutlery, with fast and super efficient wait staff. The conch fritters and coconut shrimp and crab cakes were just fabulous, no wonder the place was packed with people.
Vizcaya is a beautiful grand mansion built on 43 acres of land in 1916 as a Winter residence for businessman James Deering. Built in the Mediterranean Revival Style, it is filled with an assortment of furniture and antiquity from all different periods of European history, it ends up being quite a mish mash of Baroque, Renaissance, Empire, Neo Classical and Rococco. The gardens are also a mix of classical Italian and French styles with plants suitable for the local climate. The designer of the project Paul Chalfin seemed to have been given free rein to design and furnish Vizcaya, John Deering did not even have a hand in naming the rooms in the mansion.
Miami is a warm, vibrant, welcoming place. We ate very well, had the most delicious Mojitos, enjoyed the beach, visited friends in Miami Shores where they live in a stunning Mediterranean Revival Home built in the 1920s, and just relaxed and enjoyed the sun. As I return to the Nordic winter it remains a wonderful warm memory.