Miami - Attractions
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area, at the southern end of Key Biscayne, offers acres of exotic plants and nature trails bordered by white-sand beaches. At the park's southern tip is the Cape Florida Lighthouse, built in 1845. Key Biscayne is 5 miles (8km) southeast of mainland Miami.
After the Mariel Boatlift, the section of town to which Cuban exiles had been gravitating for years blossomed into a distinctly Cuban neighbourhood, now known as Little Havana. Spanish is the predominant language here, and you'll run into plenty of people who speak no English. The heart of Little Havana is Calle Ocho (KAH-yeh AW-cho), Spanish for SW 8th St (actually it's Spanish just for 8th St, but what the hell). The entire length of Calle Ocho is lined with Cuban shops, cafes, record stores, pharmacies, and clothing and (most amusing) bridal shops.
But while the wall-of-sound-style speakers set up outside places such as Power Records are blasting salsa and other Latin music into the street, Little Havana as a tourist attraction is elusive. It's not concentrated like a Chinatown; it's actually not really a tourist attraction at all. It's just a Cuban neighbourhood, so except during the occasional street fair or celebration, you shouldn't expect Tito Puente and Celia Cruz to be leading colourfully attired, tight-trousered men and scantily-clad women in a Carnaval parade. You're more likely to see old men playing dominoes in Máximo Gómez Park.
Little Havana occupies 10 square blocks, centred on Calle Ocho, southwest of downtown Miami.
Most people come to Miami Beach for its beaches, clubs and bars, and to witness one of the most spectacular redesigns in modern architectural history. The Art Deco Historic District, a collection of bright pink, lavender and turquoise buildings dating from the 1920s, is one of the largest areas on the US National Register of Historic Places. Its protection and renovation has been one of the major reasons for the rebirth of Miami as a top-notch tourist destination. The Deco district is in the heart of funky South Beach (SoBe), the southwestern section of Miami Beach.
For a city beach, Miami Beach is one of the best around. The water is clear and warm, the sand relatively white and, best of all, it's wide enough and long enough to accommodate the throngs. The Promenade is a Deco-ish, wavy ribbon of concrete at the Beach's westernmost edge. If you've ever looked at a fashion magazine, you've seen it: it's the photo shoot site. If you show up early in the morning, you're likely to see shoots in progress. This is also the hot spot for in-line skaters, bicyclists, skateboarders, dog walkers and people watchers to mill about bumping into each other.
Miami Beach has a strong Jewish culture mixed with a dash of Latin flair: there's even a Cuban-Jewish Congregation. The city's Holocaust Memorial, in the middle of Miami Beach, was created through the efforts of Miami Beach Holocaust survivors. It's an elaborate, exquisitely detailed and moving memorial. Like the Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead that does not once mention death but rather speaks only of life, the Memorial is a testament to humanity's perseverance and the hope for a better world.
Miami Beach is attached to the city of Miami, 6km (4mi) to its west, by a series of causeways.