Metropolitan Miami

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Downtown Miami

Downtown Miami: Downtown Miami is a hub for international business and finance, with soaring office towers and ultra-modern condominiums lining Brickell Avenue. Culture vultures young and young-at-heart flock to the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami Dade County, Florida’s largest performing arts center, a symbol that Miami has firmly established itself as a sophisticated arts destination. The center houses the Florida Grand Opera and the Miami City Ballet and many world class events, and in terms of size is second in the U.S. only to New York’s Lincoln Center. Since we’re unofficially called the “sixth borough” of New York, we consider this distinction high praise indeed!

Other echoes of Miami’s “sisterhood” with New York is the city’s cutting edge urban evolution, led by Miami real-estate visionaries like Craig Robins in theDesign District and Tony Goldman in the Wynwood districts on the northern fringes of downtown . The Design District, dotted with the leading home designer brand stores but open to the public, is redefining how fashion is merchandised, according to Robins, who announced in January 2012 a deal to soon bring other fashion icon brands such as Christian Dior, Fendi, Bulgari, Pucci, De Beers, Celine and Marc by Marc Jacobs. Recently opened is Cartier, Tom Ford, Zegna and Burberry.

Adjacent to the Design District and carrying on the tropical SoHo vibe is Wynwood, home to more than 100 galleries and the astonishing Wynwood Walls, an open air par dedicated to cutting-edge museum quality contemporary urban murals. Began in 2009 as a collaboration between arts guru Jeffrey Deitch and Tony Goldman, it now encompasses 40 cutting edge murals created by innovative artists from around the world, including Wynwood Doors, a collection of artwork inscribed on 176 feet of rolling storefront steel doors. The walls are open to the public free of charge, and can be enjoyed close up from the outdoor terrace of Goldman’s Wynwood Kitchen & Bar, which also features Miami cuisine and intensely colorful panoramic canvases by Berlin artist Christian Awe and an 11 foot sculpture by David Benjamin Sherry in the dining room. The latest way to explore the district is through Roam Ride’s Vespa Tours, featuring gallery and street art tours. Roam Rides also offers a Little Haiti Studio Tour, South Beach Art & Architecture Tour and eco-tours of the Redland.

Both neighborhoods host gallery nights on the second Saturday of the month, with locals and visitors passing back and forth between the adjacent neighborhoods to explore the latest art trends. Nearby in Midtown is a popular pop up restaurant The Federal Miami on Biscayne Boulevard – formerly Phuc Yeah which launched the pop up restaurant craze in Miami in recent years. New hotels are opening up in Midtown, such as the New Yorker Boutique Hotel, the first boutique hotel in the area – known for its 1950s Miami Modernism Architecture (MiMo). Fans of MiMo architecture can take guided tours in South Beach run by the Miami Design Preservation League.

Miami’s renaissance continues to the south of these districts, where Museum Park is under construction, a state-of-the-art, environmentally friendly bayfront facility that is future home of the renowned Miami Science Museum, the Historical Museum of Southern Florida and the new Miami Art Museum. The 29-acre grounds, located at what is now Bicentennial Park, will include gardens and sculpture installations that the public can enjoy for free. This location is also where Cirque du Soleil comes each year with their latest jaw-dropping shows. Just to the south is the neon-accented American Airlines Arena, home to the popular Miami Heat basketball team, and Bayside Marketplace, a festive waterfront shopping and dining destination with fun cruises of celebrity homes and gambling excursions.

Just south of Bayside Marketplace is Bayfront Park Ampitheater, a popular concert venue near a growing number of luxury downtown properties such as the Viceroy, Epic, JW Marriott Marquis, Hotel Beaux Arts, Conrad Miami, Casa Moderna Miami and the Mandarin Oriental, Miami. Near these luxury properties is the oldest bar in Miami, Tobacco Road, featuring great local rock and blues bands. Tobacco Road is one of the most popular sites for Miami Food Trucks, held every first Saturday of the month and serving up great gourmet, street and ethnic dishes (held at Wynwood Art Walk every second Saturday). Nearby isMary Brickell Village, a thriving outdoor center for entertainment, shopping and dining hotspots. Those looking for a more hands-on culinary experience can take a day cooking class at Miami Dade Community College’s Miami Culinary Institute.

Downtown Miami

Overtown: Just north of downtown, one of Miami’s oldest African-American neighborhoods, Overtown, is on the upswing. In its heyday in the 1920s through 1940s, Overtown was Florida’s version of Harlem – a thriving black community where businesses and community life prospered, including an entertainment district anchored by the historic Lyric Theater. Today, revitalization is underway to restore the neighborhood’s historical legacy with renovations of the Lyric, the Greater Bethel AME Church and the D.A. Dorsey House (home of Miami’s first black millionaire.)

Little Havana, Miami

Little Havana: It is rumored that one could spend a whole day in Little Havana without hearing a word of English spoken. Saturated with Cuban culture, Little Havana’s main thoroughfare, Calle Ocho (Eighth Street) is lined with comfort food restaurants featuring Latin specialties and cafes where men sip cafecitos and play dominos and argue about politics all day. Here, artisans still hand-roll cigars, and tailors create custom guayaberas (traditional linen shirts), while the sounds of salsa and merengue fill the air. For those who want to dive deeper into the flavors of the Latin Quarter, Miami Culinary Tours offers Little Havana Food Tours (and other neighborhoods such as South Beach). Although Little Havana remains Cuban to the core, the area reflects the neighborhood’s reputation as the “Ellis Island of Miami,” with many other Spanish-speaking immigrant groups from all over South and Central America coming to start their American dream. On the outskirts of this rich cultural neighborhood is the historic Miami River Inn, Miami’s only B&B.

Despite rumors, you can hear English here, and Anglos and Latinos mingle more and more on Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays), an open house on the first Friday of the month where people can check out Latin American gallery art and live artistic performances. Those who’d rather spend their day watching sports can check out the sleek new Miami Marlins Park(Opened April 2012) featuring a state-of-the-art retractable roof and an operable wall in left field providing fans with spectacular views of downtown Miami.

Coconut Grove, Miami

Coconut Grove: South of downtown where the foliage becomes lush and tropical, Coconut Grove was legendary in its heyday as an arts colony. Today, the culturally diverse locality draws throngs of tourists and residents to its restaurants and cafés, art galleries, boutiques, movie theaters, farmers markets, and bookstores. The galleries open up for parties on the first Saturday of the month, inviting locals and visitors to soak up the local culture. Home to popular attractions like Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, (an Italian Renaissance mansion), and the Barnacle, historic home of Miami pioneer Ralph Monroe, the Grove honors its artistic roots each February with the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, the nation’s largest annual outdoor celebration of visual arts and crafts. It also nods to its Bahamian roots each June with the Miami Goombay Festival, and its beatnik past on New Year’s weekend with the low-budget but hilarious King Mango Strut, a political spoof parade.

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