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Get to know Miami Beach

You know Miami Beach even if you’ve never been to Miami Beach. It’s the picture postcard of a Florida vacation, and it accounts for more than half of all tourist visits to Miami-Dade County. They come for the ocean breezes and beautiful (and often topless) beaches, the legendary luxury lifestyle, the streets and clubs and stores and restaurants crowded with the world’s beautiful people. It’s set apart from Miami by Biscayne Bay, and set apart from the world by sheer attitude. But there are other parts of Miami Beach you may not know from ’80s TV and paparazzi magazines. It’s a refined life enjoyed in high-rises and lush, gated enclaves, a heaven-on-earth bound by museums and marinas, by trends in food and fashion and art that won’t make it to the rest of the world for years. It’s a vibrant kind of town — sun-kissed and figuratively clad in Caribbean pastels and crisp white linen.
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History & Culture

South Beach is the riotous all-hours party that has given Miami Beach its reputation, and it’s been that way since the 1950s — though the area was less stylish then, if no more savory. Led by a few architectural agitators, the city made efforts to preserve its iconic Art Deco architecture — including textbook examples of Miami Modern — and the grand hotels of that era still stand, though mostly remodeled and rebranded. This celebration of urbanism makes for a lively scene full of shops and cafés that spill onto the streets, with music everywhere. The gorgeous white sand beaches are still an attraction, though, and the locals tone their bodies (and show off said bodies) along boardwalks and bridges that line the beaches. This is not to say that all is hedonism here in Miami Beach. There are museums, concert venues, and art galleries everywhere you turn, and the area is a mecca of the art world during Art Basel each year. Though you will see Rolls-Royces and Lamborghinis on the narrow streets, Miami Beach isn’t a place you need to hop into a car to experience. You’ll have a better time experiencing this polyglot cultural wonder from a pair of flip-flops or some six-inch platform wedges.

Schools and Transportation

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Dine & Shop

In Miami Beach, a fashionable international crowd fills Art Deco buildings that house chic cafés and fashion-forward boutiques. There’s a buzz here — brought on by Cuban coffees and curated cocktail lists — unlike anyplace else in the world. South Beach is the most famous area of town, where pedestrian-centered Lincoln Road is a people-watching paradise bustling with cafés and shopping, and Collins and Washington avenues add world-famous shops and galleries to the mix. Ocean Drive, while it caters mostly to tourists, is the Miami Beach experience distilled. South Beach is full of fabulous places to dine, from ultra-chic restaurant-nightclubs to hole-in-the-wall cafés that seem to represent every corner of the culinary world. In Mid Beach areas, landmark hotels and more refined shopping are the order of the day, and the night hosts a glamorous throng that packs restaurants helmed by some of the great chefs of the Western Hemisphere. Things get quieter in North Beach, where a low-key vibe is centered on wide stretches of sand, lovely parks, and the massive Aventura Mall.