A weekend around Miami
Miami Beach is filled with Art Deco-style hotels. Photo credit: Getty
By Linda Perney
Special to amNewYork
All you need is one night, when the air is soft and the neon is bright and the palm trees sway and the martinis go down easy.
Never mind that there may be a few too many cars on Ocean Drive in Miami Beach, never mind that the clubs are crowded, never mind that theres a bit too much hype about the place. It's still a cool place.Cooler even by day, when you can wander around among the pastel deco beauties in South Beach, all 800 or so of them, restored to perfection.
The walking tour offered by the Art Deco Welcome Center is a fine way to get your bearings, but after that, take a little time on your own to soak up the atmosphere, say, over an iced drink on a sunny hotel terrace.
Miamis glamorous past can be seen through the first great house, built in 1916, for James Deering, who had made his money selling tractors in the Midwest. His mansion a free-form interpretation of an Italian palazzo called Vizcaya Museum and Garden holds an eclectic collection of fragments and furniture from all over Europe, a mixture of stuff from the 15th to the 19th century. The gardens, though, are the main draw chock a block with fountains, statuary, archways, columns, stonework, even a maze garden a spectacular example of gilded age excess.
It isnt, of course, just the history that brings you to the city. Theres also the ocean. Admire the undersea architecture of the coral reef at nearby Biscayne National Park, 170,000 acres of watery wilderness where you can snorkel, dive, or take a glass-bottom boat.
Art Deco Walking Tours
1001 Ocean Drive
Vizcaya Museum and Garden
3251 South Miami Avenue
Admission: Adults, $15; kids, $6
Biscayne National Underwater Park
9710 Southwest 328th Street
WHERE TO STAY
808 Collins Ave.; 305-398-7000, www.whitelawhotel.com
The Whitelaw, in the Art Deco District, has Barbie pink walls in every room, plus crystal chandeliers, elaborate mirrors, and a white-on-white lobby with even more chandeliers, plus free drinks starting at 7 p.m. and an outdoor patio with great people watching. (Rates range from $150-$375 per night, but check for special deals.)
1701 James Ave., 305-672-6688, www.cadethotel.com
A nicely refurbished hotel in the Art Deco district. The place was built in the 40s and retains some of its original detail. (Rates range from $130-$300 per night; www.cadethotel.com)
4441 Collins Ave., 800-548-8886, Fontainebleau.com)
In its day, Fontainebleau was the greatest of resort hotels, swankiest of the swank, with its stairway to nowhere (you took the elevator to the second floor coat-check, left your stuff behind, then came swanning down the stairs); its swooping architecture; its movie stars everyone from Elvis to Marilyn to The Rat Pack; they even filmed part of Goldfinger out by the pool. After a three-year, billion-dollar makeover, the hotel is back, its stairway intact. You might make a pilgrimage over to the place and have a drink at Bleau Bar in the lobby.
WHERE TO EAT
Joes Stone Crab
11 Washington Ave., Miami Beach; 305- 673-0365; www.joesstonecrab.com
For almost a century, Joes has been serving its signature stone crabs, and theyre still packing them in, which is worth something. (Expect to pay about $75 per person for a three-course meal.)