April 16, 2024 The Best Source of News, Culture, Lifestyle for Culver City, Mar Vista, Del Rey, Palms and West Los Angeles

South Beach gems: Miami’s best kept secrets

With its great year-round weather, eclectic mix of visitors, and sparkling warm waters, this cosmopolitan metropolis is pulsing with non-stop energy and positive vibes. Pictured is Ocean Drive at night.
South Beach is always pulsing with non-stop energy and positive vibes, especially along Ocean Drive at night.

The Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau may have one of the easiest jobs in the world: promote a top-notch city that’s already famous around the world with so much to offer.

Once touching down at Miami International Airport and making your way to South Beach, which even the most cynical can agree is magical, you can follow the MacArthur Causeway like the yellow brick road from the mainland to Miami Beach’s southern tip.

Along the way you will pass the eye-popping Cruise Capital of the World – the Port of Miami – with its diverse collection of sparkling white megaships carrying travelers to the Caribbean and back for more play time in Miami.

You will also pass great attractions, such as Jungle Island on the left, with their wildlife shows, adorable penguins, monkeys, private encounters with the lemurs – and of course a rainbow of exotic birds.

Star Island with downtown Miami on the horizon.
Marvel at mansions on Star Island that are home to super stars.

Just beyond this family attraction are a series of inhabited upscale islands, including Star Island, called home by the likes of Gloria Estefan, Jennifer Lopez, Julio Iglesias, and Sean Combs.

On the right you will see the high-design 56,500-square-foot Miami Children’s Museum, recognizable as the work of the award-winning Miami architectural firm, Arquitectonica.

Once in South Beach, the Art Deco District pulls you in with an imaginative collection of more than 800 architecturally protected buildings from the 1930s and 1940s – the largest concentration of Art Deco architecture in the world.

Anointed the “American Riviera,” South Beach is crowned by Ocean Drive, a worldwide catwalk of see-and-be-seen boutique hotels with models, alfresco cafés, bikini-clad in-line skaters, and beaches packed with beautiful young sun seekers.

Across this pedestrian-friendly town, which features the beach chic of St. Tropez with a rebellious spirit, is trendy Lincoln Road. This lively magnet for culture, entertainment, and shopping is another great place to people watch, especially if you want to mingle with the locals. Across the street on the corner of Lincoln and Washington is the New World Symphony Center, the new home to the New World Symphony and world-class performing arts.

The neighborhood has drawn global events, such as the cool Art Basel Miami Beach, the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, Miami Beach International Fashion Week, and the Miami International Boat Show.

For the best visitor guide information, visit miamiandbeaches.com.

Revisit The Miami Glory Years At The Cadillac

The Cadillac Hotel.
Relax in trendy beachfront accommodations when you stay at this Courtyard Marriott, the historic home of the famous Cadillac Hotel.

Hotels that put Miami Beach on the map during the early- to mid-1900s are still going strong, many undergoing renovations in recent years.

One of those is The Cadillac Hotel, which was built in 1940 and added to the U.S. National Register of Historic Places in 2005.

A $25 million restoration endeavor was completed at the property in December 2013, which is now the Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach Oceanfront hotel.

It offers a total of 356 guest rooms, including 19 oversized suites with ocean views, a new oceanfront salt-water pool, a state of the art gym, an updated lobby and indoor/outdoor meeting space, the renovated Tiki Bar, and new poolside cabanas.

General manager Joseph LaFleur said the hotel had many unique qualities that made it stand out from the other hotels.

“Our beachfront Tiki Bar is one of the only ocean side bars in South Beach offering great food and drinks daily with an amazing happy hour,” LaFleur said. “The new expansion to the property is absolutely stunning, giving guests a true luxury hotel experience while our prices are still much more affordable than the competition.”

The Ocean View Suite at the Cadillac.
The hotel offers a number of select balcony guestrooms that open up to spectacular beach views.

LaFleur said guests had appreciated the attention to detail during its expansion, adding he had heard amazing feedback about its new tower and infinity pool area.

“We also make sure to hire top notch staff to ensure that our guests receive the best service while staying at our property,” LaFleur said.

He said the hotel was historically protected featuring a historic pool that had the only deep water end (8 1/2 foot) in Miami Beach.

“The property also has a storied history with movies filmed and various Hollywood celebrities having spent time at the hotel during the 1950s and 1960s,” he said.

LaFleur said the exterior look was mid-century modern with many features still existing in the interior, so when guests arrive (today) they experience the same feel as a guest did during the glory years of Miami.

“The Cadillac is very different than other Courtyards in its category as the expansion has truly changed the entire landscape of the property making it much more upscale,” LaFleur said. “Everything from the new color palette, furnishings, and other stylish details separate this property from any other Courtyard nationwide. The property is not uniform to the chain and because of that we were able to keep our originality and uniqueness.”

Courtyard Cadillac Miami Beach Oceanfront is located at 3925 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, Florida 33140.

For reservations or more information, call 305.538.3373 or visit www.courtyardmiamibeach.com.

Canyon Ranch Dedicates Itself To Wellness

Canyon Ranch.
Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach offers inspiring healthy living opportunities with stunning ocean views.

Just a few minutes drive from the heart of South Beach, Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa in Miami Beach has been the nation’s first luxury boutique hotel dedicated to wellness since opening in November 2008.

The project is built on a six-acre oceanfront site, formerly the historic Carillon Hotel, which has been restored and preserved as part of the development.

The property features luxury hotel suites and condominium residences, and a 70,000-square-foot Spa and Wellness facility.

General manager Bernard Agache said Canyon Ranch was a flagship hotel for the “new Miami.”

“We are an all-suite luxury boutique hotel located on one of the world’s most beautiful beaches,” Agache said. “Our hotel is like no other, where you can immerse your body, mind, and spirit in all aspects of health and wellness.”

Agache said Canyon Ranch was a world renowned brand where wellness is the heart of the operation.

“Here we have South Florida’s largest spa, a team of experts specializing in integrative medicine, life management, healing energy, massage, exercise physiology, nutrition, acupuncture, fitness, and physical therapies,” Agache said.

Canyon Ranch Miami Beach.
Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa (pictured far right) is located at 6801 Collins Ave., Miami Beach.

Guests not only have luxurious accommodations within the hotel, they also have access to more than 40 fitness classes every day, lectures, pools, a rock climbing wall, free Wi-Fi, and access to Aquavana, the most luxurious collection of European-style healing aquatic environments in North America.

Agache said he invited guests to clear out the toxins of daily life that can cause fatigue, weight gain, lack of clarity, and other unwanted effects through detoxification.

“For those looking to detox we have a thorough program called our Mini Detox Experience,” Agache said. “With this, guests will consult with a physician and a nutritionist, luxuriate with our 140 minute Ayurveda Herbal Purification followed by a soothing, therapeutic, and effective Detox Body Wrap, and receive two personalized detoxifying drinks per day.”

Canyon Ranch Hotel & Spa is located at 6801 Collins Ave., Miami Beach, Florida 33141.

For reservations or more information, call 800.742.9000 or visit www.canyonranch.com.

Discover the history of erotic art in South Beach

Naomi Wilzig with Leda and the Swan.
Naomi Wilzig with Leda and the Swan.

Did you know there is only one museum devoted exclusively to fine erotic art in the United States?

The World Erotic Art Museum located in South Beach is the creation of founder Naomi Wilzig (it just celebrated its ninth anniversary on Oct. 16).

Wilzig said she started the collection in her home and it quickly outgrew itself, adding many visitors to her home all commented that the collection was too unique and rare to not be seen by the public.

Today the collection includes more than 4,000 works of international art, ranging from 300 BCE to the immediate present.

She said she first searched for erotic art at the behest of her son, who heard erotic art was found in the antique world.

Knowing that antiquing was her favorite past time, her son asked her to find him some erotic pieces for a new apartment he was moving into.

“I discovered it was generally hidden away by dealers and it was a challenge to find each piece,” Wilzig said. “I realized erotic art pieces were beautiful, extolled the human body and sexuality and love. Finding each new artwork was a coup and it became an obsession and fascination  to find out what else was hidden away.”

The museum is set up as an historic trip of the various countries and their cultures.
The museum is set up as an historic trip of the various countries and their cultures.

Among the most unique items on display include the original phallic weapon from “The Clockwork Orange” film, a bed with phallic posts carved with 138 Kama Sutra carvings, a replica of a chair owned by Catherine the Great, Empress of Russia, and hundreds of original artworks.

The museum is set up as an historic trip of the various countries and their cultures, showing that the creation of erotic artworks was inherent in each society and revealed in all art mediums and all lifestyles.

Wilzig said her slogan was that the art was “ageless and timeless and worldwide and wonderful.”

“Most people do not know that all civilizations have created erotic art,” Wilzig said. “It shows that sexuality and eroticism is universal and critical to our existence. It differentiates the difference between erotic art and pornography.”

The museum is located at 1205 Washington Ave., Miami Beach, Florida 33139.

For more information, call 305.532.9336 or visit weam.com.

Flavors Collide On Miami Culinary Tours

The South Beach tour features plenty of seated restaurant breaks and stops
The South Beach tour features plenty of seated restaurant breaks and stops

With so many flavors colliding in Miami, Grace Della decided to start a restaurant walking tour in 2010 to highlight South Beach’s hidden culinary gems. Within a short period of time, her company Miami Culinary Tours was such a success that she grew her team of guides and quickly expanded to four different Miami neighborhoods.

“I came up with the idea of Miami Culinary Tour’s first tour called the Cuban-Inspired Food Tour back when nobody had ever heard of food tours in Miami,” Della said. “I was lucky to have some of the most passionate people joining my team and believed in my idea. Together we introduce the different flavors that make up Miami with those who share our passion for food.”

Della said the tours were crafted for foodies so that they got to discover where to eat great food and not pay the Ocean Drive prices.

“For $59, guests get a full meal and a guided tour of the area,” Della said. “This is a bargain when you think about the prices in South Beach.”

Experience some of Miami's best Latin cuisine.
Experience some of Miami’s best Latin cuisine.

The South Beach tour is one mile of leisurely strolling with plenty of seated restaurant breaks and stops covering the unique history and fun local facts.

Guests savor tasty treasures inside the beating heart of Miami Beach during a fun and engaging architectural, historical and walking tour of the Art Deco Historic District, with a culinary twist. There are delicious tastings at hole-in-the-wall and mom and pop type of restaurants.

Tours are generally kept to no more than 12 people. Tours depart daily at 12 pm and 5 pm (approximately two-and-a-half hours long).

The other food tours are offered in the neighborhoods of Little Havana, Wynwood, and Coral Gables.


For reservations or more information, call 786.942.8856 or visit miamiculinarytours.com.

Explore Miami hot spots on hop-on hop-off bus tour

See all of Miami's top spot aboard an open roof bus tour.
See all of Miami’s top spot aboard an open roof bus tour.

Caught a cab from Miami International Airport to Miami’s beaches to have a trip without having to drive, leaving you without an easy and affordable way to see the sights of Little Havana, Downtown, and other parts of mainland Miami?

Consider buying a 24-hour (or 48-hour!) Big Bus Hop-On Hop-Off ticket that features 33 stops with plenty of attractions, monuments, and places of interest to explore.

The Big Bus sightseeing tour of Miami has been designed to show visitors the best that Miami has to offer through two loops that both run 90 minutes: the Beach Loop and the City Loop.

The Beach Loop runs from Central Station on the mainland along the scenic Macarthur Causeway and all the way around the island of Miami Beach.

Enjoy the stunning views across to the islands and towards the imposing skyline of Downtown from the causeway. Marvel at Washington Ave., Collins Ave., and Ocean Dr. as the bus cruises alongside the palm trees and shows off the best that South Beach has to offer, including the Versace Mansion and the vibrant colors of the Art Deco District.

The City Loop also departs from Central Station and takes visitors to see all the most alluring districts of mainland Miami: Coconut Grove, Coral Gables, Little Havana, and the grandeur of Downtown Miami.

Highlights along this route include Millionaires’ Row, Venetian Pool, the Biltmore Hotel, Freedom Tower, the County Courthouse, and Vizcaya Museum.

A 24-hour loop tour starts at $40.50 for adults and $27 for children.

For tickets or more information, call 800 336 8233 or visit bigbustours.com/Miami.

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