Popular Miami Shore Excursions
Miami's South Beach: This Art Deco-styled waterfront district has it all -- beautifully restored historic buildings, funky shops and boutiques, elegant restaurants and casual cafes, fabulous people-watching, and an awesome, wide and clean beach. Technically, the art deco district runs from 6th to 23rd streets between Ocean and Lenox avenues and you can take a self-guided walking tour (the Art Deco District Welcome Center, 1001 Ocean Drive, has maps). For serious shopping, head a few blocks west to Lincoln Road (at 17th Street), a four-block-long outdoor shopping promenade with unique boutiques and restaurants.
Rent a car and head to Key Biscayne, an island connected to Miami via two bridges and the Rickenbacker Causeway; nature, beach and marine enthusiasts can choose between the Miami Seaquarium (4400 Rickenbacker Causeway) and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area (1200 S. Crandon Boulevard).
Explore Miami history via the neighborhoods of Coral Gables and Coconut Grove (renting a car is advised). Coral Gables was developed in the 1920s and is best known as home to the Biltmore Hotel, noted for its resemblance to Seville's Giralda Tower); its Miracle Mile (Douglas Road/37th Avenue to LeJeune Road/42nd Avenue) has a mixture of fashionable boutiques and eateries. Bring a swimsuit and head to the Venetian Pool (2701 De Soto Blvd), a fantasy-themed public pool created out of a rock quarry.
Coconut Grove is Miami's oldest section with construction beginning in the 1870s. It's also a place of fashionable boutiques and restaurants. Worth a detour: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (3251 S. Miami Avenue), an early 20th-century Renaissance style -- and quite grandiose -- estate built for a Chicago industrialist who wanted to recreate a 16th-century Italian estate.
Serious shoppers should head to north Miami Beach's upscale Bal Harbour (9700 Collins Avenue). Shops include the chicest of the chic -- Neiman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue, Prada, Cartier, Louis Vuitton, to name just a few. Alas, prices are not of the duty-free variety.
Serenity-seekers should head to the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (10901 Old Cutler Road) where a mix of man-made lakes winds around one of the world's largest palm tree collections -- not to mention verdant examples of flora and fauna.
Best Beach for a Half-Day Visit: Miami's South Beach, about a 20-minute cab ride from the port.
Best Beach for the Dedicated Beach Bum: The beach at Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area (1200 S. Crandon Boulevard), on Key Biscayne where you can find everything from kayak rentals to food stalls.