This week in Postcard, Kate Ginn recommends Miami, USA
Welcome to the sun-drenched city of Miami in the state of Florida, a peninsula in the southeast of America, where the temperature rarely dips below 72F during the year. Nestled on the Atlantic coast, Miami is truly one of those holiday locations that can offer something for everyone: plush hotels, historic hideaways, glorious beaches, sprawling malls, wonderful food and a rocking nightlife. Nicknamed the “Capital of Latin America”, Miami is the second-largest US city with a Spanish-speaking majority (after El Paso, Texas) and the largest city with a Cuban-American plurality, largely due to its proximity to Cuba. Those of you who have grown up with Miami Vice, the 1980s television series with Detectives Tubbs and Crockett (starring Philip Thomas and Don Johnson), which showed Miami oozing style and glamour with a touch of danger, won’t be disappointed. The reality is that the city is all of this and more.
My favourite place:
So many to choose from but I’m going for the coastal resort Miami Beach, not as you might imagine for the beaches, as good as they are, but for the wonderful Art Deco District. I’m a huge fan of that period and was captivated by the stunning 1920s and 1930s architecture featuring classic designs such as pastel buildings with porthole windows, sleek curves, shiny chrome and glass blocks. The most popular street is Ocean Drive, where you can stroll along and check out places like The Park Central Hotel – built in 1937 and once a hangout for Hollywood stars like Clark Gable – and the wedding-cake like Beacon Hotel. You’ll be snapping selfies all day. As the sun goes down, head to Lummus Park for a great view of the Art Deco skyline, particularly spectacular at night.
I couldn’t cover Miami without mentioning the beaches, the most famous of which is South Beach. Further along on 12th Street, you’ll find the muscle beach area, where you can check out some very impressive pecs and abs while soaking up the sun. Miami’s nightlife is legendary, as the saying goes “If you’ve come to Miami to party, you’ve come to the right place.” From Latin-inspired dance clubs to high-end restaurants and nightclubs like the ultra hip Mynt Lounge where the beautiful people go to be seen, the city comes to life at night. For something more sedate, take in a show at the 1950s Coconut Grove Playhouse. Or head to Little Havana, the Cuban district of Miami, to immerse yourself in a rich cultural flavour. Bayside Marketplace is a great outdoor-style mall from where you can take tour boats to explore the Biscayne Bay area. If you have children, Zoo Miami will keep them entertained and the Everglades National Park, home to alligators, crocodiles and snakes, which can be viewed from a high-speed airboat, is only a short drive away.
Local driving can be a bit hairy at times – but hey, we’re used to that coming from Muscat – and you’ll need to take a big, fat wallet or a couple of credit cards as partying Miami-style doesn’t come cheap. It can also be a bit too brash for some tastes.
No one should leave Miami without at least one tacky and kitsch memento. South Beach’s Pink Palm Company has plenty of stuff from notebooks to novelty soaps. If you want to be a bit cooler, go to Lincoln Road Mall where you can buy anything from books to funky kitchenware.
Where to stay:
As I was only visiting Miami for a few days before heading to Orlando (and the delights of Walt Disney World), we opted for a cheapish hotel, close to downtown Miami, the New Yorker Boutique Hotel, which has a pool. Book in advance and stay at one of the Art Deco wonders for around RO90 a night. On a budget? Go for one of the motels or cheap hostels.
Top five things to do: