Ocean Drive, South Beach
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If you're looking for some excitement, head over to Ocean Drive! Walk along the ocean side of the road as the other side has aggressive restaurant hosts trying to get you to buy a meal. Here, on the ocean side of the road people rollerblade and bike ride on the wide boardwalk surrounded by hundreds of coconut trees. Volleyball courts are set up in the huge sandy area alongside the boardwalk. Homeless people sell coconuts with a straw, and restaurants blast Latin and hip hop music. The Art Deco buildings add a splash of color to the scene, as do the many fine sportscars that cruise by. You can't go wrong with a few hours spent on Ocean Drive! We came here on Christmas Day and saw all manner of people- it was crowded- including "Santas" in red bikinis, both female and gay male!
The beach, 7th Street Beach, that runs along here is gorgeous with a wide swath of fine, white-grey sand, perfectly clear, warm water, and large colorful lifeguard stands. A really cool feature of Miami Beach is that you can rent bikes at stations throughout the town- you just pay the machine with your credit card ($4 per half hour) and take the bike- you can drop it off at any of the other stations. It's super fun to bike ride south on the boardwalk all the way to South Pointe Pier and Park (one section of the path is sand because of construction but don't be deterred!).
Food on Ocean Drive isn't good, so check out the cafes a few blocks back from the beach, on Washington Ave. Charlotte's Bakery at 1499 Washington Ave has fresh empanadas stuffed full of delicious curried ingredients- heaven! We ate their both days of our recent visit.
Le Chic French Bakery at 1043 Washington Ave has decent baguette sandwiches and pain au chocolat.
Some guidebooks tell you to find the old post office on Washington Ave and take a look, but skip on that- it's ugly! Do pop into the Wolfsonian Museum after lunch (at Washington Ave and 10th Street), a beautifully-curated museum with objects from the years 1885-1945, including interesting propaganda posters. In contrast, the objects and paintings in the World Erotic Art Museum are curated in an amateur fashion, and while it's interesting to see the way different countries have created erotic art, the overall experience is not inspiring.
You can take 90 minute walking tours of the Art Deco architecture along Ocean Drive and Collins Ave. Tours start at the Art Deco Welcome Center, every day at 10:30am and also on Thursdays at 6:30pm for $25 per person, $20 for students or seniors. No reservations necessary.
Another tour is the two-hour Walking Tour of the South Beach Art Deco District booked through zerve.com. We took it and it was great! The man was very friendly and took us to the rooftops of many of the hotels. Cost was $30 per person.
Many of the art deco buildings are on Collins Ave, parallel to Ocean Dr so take a stroll and check them out!
A Spanish pedestrian arcade with a canopy of light-strung trees, Espanola Way, is romantic to stroll through at night, but beware the tourist-trap restaurants with bad food. It is between 14th St and 15th Street off Washington Ave.
Lincoln Rd Mall is a pedestrian-only mall between 16th St and 17th Street just west of Washington Ave.
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The main area of Ocean Drive is from 5th Street to 15th Street, where splashes of Art Deco color abound. Parallel to Ocean Drive, Collins Ave and then Washington Ave are also interesting from 5th Street to 15th Street.
Exit Highway 95 and take 395 East to Miami Beach. You cross over a causeway with great views. After five miles turn left on Washington Ave. Turn right on 7th Street and park in the public parking lot before you cross Collins Ave, then walk just two blocks to the beach. You can use your credit card in the machine to pay for parking when you return. Cost is $1 an hour on weekdays or $15 flat rate on weekends.
Other parking lots are at 16th and Collins, 13th and Collins, 12th and Drexel (one block west of Washington Ave), 10th and Collins, 10th and Washington, 9th and Washington, and 6th and Collins.
From Miami Airport, you can take Bus 150 for $2.35 each way (bring correct change). The trip takes about half an hour.
Charlotte's Bakery, 1499 Washington Ave, Miami Beach FL 33139, call (305) 535-0095.
Le Chic French Bakery, 1043 Washington Ave, call (305) 673-5522.
Art Deco Welcome Center, 1001 Ocean Dr (10th Street and Ocean Ave), Miami Beach FL 33139, call (305) 672-2014.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.