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Miami Attractions

Bayside Marketplace

Bayside Marketplace
401 Biscayne Blvd., Miami FL; Tel. 305.577.3344
One can easily debate the wisdom of our city fathers having turned over a waterfront park to a mall developer who populated the place with chain restaurants and stores you can find most anywhere. But such concerns don't appear to trouble the brows of the hordes who routinely descend on Bayside every weekend and who look like they're having a whale of a good time. The worst offense associated with a tourist trap is the feeling you're being ripped off. In fact Bayside is home to some dining and drinking establishments that are not extortionately priced (there are even deals to be had at lunchtime) and have the advantage of decidedly pleasant views of the marina, the port, and the bay from the many outdoor terraces. Just be forewarned: Nights when a game or concert is on at the American Airlines Arena, parking rates skyrocket at Bayside's garage and nearby lots, and the resulting traffic jam on Biscayne Boulevard can make you question why you ever bothered to abandon the comfort of your couch. (Review: Miami New Times)

Gardens of Crandon Park

Gardens of Crandon Park
4000 Crandon Blvd., Key Biscayne FL; Tel. 305.361.5421
This is a park within a park, and it has an identity all its own. In 1980, when Metrozoo pulled out of its 30-acre facility at the south end of Crandon Park, it left behind cages, pathways, several large ponds, meandering lagoons, and a colony of iguanas. Years of neglect transformed the place into a wild jungle populated by a variety of waterfowl and a vastly larger colony of iguanas, some of which grew to enormous size. A group of devoted park advocates, led by the tireless Valerie Cassidy, took it upon themselves to transform the old zoo once again, but this time into a magnificent garden. They formed the Gardens of Crandon Park Foundation and went to work raising money and mucking around in the dirt. Slowly they redeemed the landscape and diversified the waterfowl population. The iguanas continued to thrive. Eventually the county, which owns the property, acknowledged its responsibility and joined the foundation's volunteers in refurbishing the grounds. The results have been nothing short of spectacular. Today it is a wonderful place for a stroll, a bike ride, or a picnic. The birds alone are worth a visit -- not to mention the iguanas. You'll recognize Valerie Cassidy by her trademark yellow BMW, always parked under a tree near the entrance. Take a moment to thank her. (Review: Miami New Times)

Museum of Contemporary Art

Museum of Contemporary Art
770 NE 125th St., North Miami FL; Tel. 305.893.6211
Last year MoCA featured a large exhibit of works by Jack Pierson, a midcareer American conceptualist in his early forties. While certainly grateful for the attention, Pierson expressed surprise, even embarrassment, at having a museum retrospective so early in his life. But that is exactly the sort of thing we've come to expect from MoCA. Museum director Bonnie Clearwater has made a commitment to show and acquire works by emerging artists such as Pierson, and in doing so has become a national trend-setter, not to mention creating the most dynamic art museum in South Florida. MoCA also has made a commitment to our local community of young artists, and has provided them with exposure and experience they couldn't hope to find in most large metropolitan areas. Not every MoCA venture has met with universal praise, but we applaud the willingness to take risks. (Review: Miami New Times)

North Shore Open Space Park

North Shore Open Space Park
79th to 86th streets and Collins Avenue, Miami Beach FL; Tel. 305.673.7720
With construction filling in virtually every inch of available waterfront property from Government Cut to the Broward County line, this seaside park is a rare jewel to be treasured. Seagrape trees not only form a shady buffer between Collins Avenue and the sands, they and the dunes are a much more pleasant backdrop than any high-rise condo or hotel as you splash in the ocean. The free-entry park, formerly state-run and now under the auspices of the City of Miami Beach, is open from sunrise to sundown. It attracts a mix of families as well as groups of teens and singles, many from the neighborhood arriving on foot or on bike (though there is metered parking along Collins and in lots across the street), and the vibe is decidedly mellow -- and commercial-free: no chair or umbrella rentals, no trucks selling food. You can set up your meal at one of the park's barbecue grills or roofed picnic pavilions. If you've forgotten to pack snacks, you can always stroll down the beach, past the southernmost point of the park, and cut right at the library to visit one of the delis, bakeries, and eateries on Collins for anything from an all-American burger to empanadas. (Review: Miami New Times)

The Everglades
Florida's wide and shallow "River of Grass" is home to the Everglades National Park, North America's only subtropical preserve, easily accessible, but a far cry from a neon Miami. The Wild East, Florida's Everglades National Park is a bird's paradise, home to both gators and crocs (a rare repitilian event) and a fresh water wonderland for bovine manatees. Canoe through dense foliage in the Mangrove mazes of South Florida's Ten Thousand Island or even take an airboat ride in working gator farms (off-preserve). With South Florida development competing for this grassy river's water, the time is ripe for seeing one of the world's most important, and lushly beautiful, wetlands.


Crowne Plaza Hotel Miami - International Airport
Crowne Plaza Hotel Miami - International Airport

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InterContinental Miami Hotel
InterContinental Miami
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Holiday Inn Miami FL International Airport
Holiday Inn Miami - International Airport

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