111 Places in Miami and the Keys that you must not miss - Gordon Streisand - ebook

111 Places in Miami and the Keys that you must not miss ebook

Gordon Streisand



Miami and the Keys are the cultural and geographical gateways to the United States; where Latin American culture gracefully blends into North America, and land embraces the sea. This unusual guide leads you along the fulcrum that is Miami and the Keys, laden with world-class architecture, sandy beaches, pristine waters, nightclubs, and trendy hotels. Beneath the well polished surface lies a history and culture that strays far from the conventional, bubbling up through unexpected places like a coral fortress built for a spurned lover, a divey laundromat that serves the sweetest café con leche you've ever had, or an enclave of houses built on stilts in the midst of the ocean. Lose yourself in a glass rainforest. Glide over the mysterious waters of the Everglades. Visit your own desert island. Drink the sweet nectar of the Cuban coffee gods. Venture into the "other” Miami, beyond the glitz and glamour, steeped in natural beauty and deep-seeded tradition. See why Ernest Hemingway called the Keys his home. Though teeming with tourists, there are still plenty of hidden gems to be unearthed, you just have to know where to look…

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111 Places in Miami and the Keys That You Must Not Miss

Gordon Streisand

emons: Verlag


© Emons Verlag GmbH // 2016 All rights reserved Text: Gordon Streisand Photographs © Gordon Streisand, except: page 21, photo courtesy of Area 31; page 75, photo courtesy of Rob O’Neal; page 115, photo courtesy of Coral Reef Park Company Design: Emons Verlag Maps based on data by Openstreetmap, © Openstreet Map-participants, ODbL ISBN 978-3-96041-228-1 eBook of the original print edition published by Emons Verlag

Did you enjoy it? Do you want more? Join us in uncovering new places around the world on: www.111places.com

Table of contents


1_African Queen | Rickety cinema royalty

2_Alabama Jack’s | Low key in the Keys

3_Amertec Building | Hialeah’s abandoned alien

4_Ancient Spanish Monastery | Medieval Spain in Miami

5_Anne’s Beach | Florida’s best rest stop

6_Area 31 | Happy hour with a view

7_Atlantis Condominiums | Miami Vice lives on

8_Bahia Honda | Sleep with the fishes

9_Bay of Pigs Museum | A tragedy remembered

10_Betsy the Giant Lobster | If only she was on the menu …

11_Big Cypress Gallery | Ansel Adams of the Everglades

12_Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park | Solitude by the city

13_Black Point Marina | Sea cow sanctuary

14_Blue Hole | Freshwater oasis in a saltwater desert

15_Boca Chita Key | Paradise found

16_Brickell Soccer Rooftop | Fútbol in the financial district

17_The Calle Ocho Walk of Fame | Looking down at the stars

18_Cat Man | Not a dog-and-pony show

19_Cauley Square | All aboard the kitsch caboose

20_CIFO Tile Facade | Downtown’s bamboo forest

21_City Hall | Seaplanes and city managers

22_Clevelander at Marlins Park | Poolside in left field

23_Club Nautico | See Miami in its element

24_Coconut Grove Playhouse | Part cinema, all history

25_Coppertone Girl | 7300 Biscayne Boulevard, Miami, FL 33138Moon over Miami

26_Coral Castle | A fortress built to mend a broken heart

27_Crandon Park Zoo | Free-range peacocks and iguanas

28_Cuba Tobacco Cigar Co. | Up in smoke on Calle Ocho

29_Deering Estate | Poor man’s Vizcaya

30_Domino Park | Playing by the numbers

31_El-Carajo | Stop for the gas, stay for the food, take home the wine

32_El Palacio de los Jugos | Cold drink hot spot

33_Ernest Hemingway’s Cats | For whom the cat meows

34_Española Way | Pedestrian paradise

35_Fireman Derek’s Key Lime Pie | Set your taste buds ablaze

36_Florida Keys Brewing Company | Ice cold in Islamorada

37_Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center | Wings on the mend

38_Fruit & Spice Park | Fruit, spice, and everything nice

39_Los Gallos of Calle Ocho | Cuban humility

40_Green Turtle Inn | Sid and Roxie’s Islamorada institution

41_Greynolds Park | Miami’s Mount Everest

42_Hanging Gardens at Perez Art Museum | Babylon by the bay

43_Haulover Cut | The gateway to Miami’s watershed

44_Hialeah Park | The sport of kings for those who aren’t

45_History of Diving Museum | 20,000 leagues into the Keys

46_HM69 Nike Missile Base | On the brink of world destruction

47_Holocaust Memorial | Hand of God

48_I-95 Express Lanes | You get what you pay for

49_Ichimura Japanese Garden | Secret sanctuary on Watson Island

50_InterContinental’s Dancer | Hold me closer light-up dancer

51_Jackie Gleason’s Mausoleum | Ralph Kramden’s last stop

52_The Jewel Box | Elevator to heaven

53_John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park | Underwater playground

54_Key West Cemetery | Laugh to death

55_Knaus Berry Farm | All buns go to heaven

56_Lincoln Road Garage | Miami’s parking chateau

57_Lock & Load | Say hello to my little friend

58_Locust Projects | A young artist’s nursery

59_Lou La Vie | Cruise Miami like a celebrity

60_Mack’s Fish Camp | The last of the Gladesmen

61_Mary’s Coin Laundry | Wash, fold, drink, repeat

62_Matheson Hammock | A beginner’s beach

63_McAlpin Hotel | Quintessential Art Deco

64_Mel Fisher Maritime Museum | Today’s the day

65_Metromover | Miami’s monorail

66_Miami Auto Museum | The city’s grandest carport

67_Miami Catamarans | Sailing solace

68_Miami Circle | Ancient ruins in a modern jungle

69_Miami Club Rum | South Beach’s sustenance

70_Miami Jai-Alai | The “world’s fastest game”

71_Miami Marine Stadium | Beautiful urban blight

72_Mitzi’s Memorial | R.I.P. Flipper

73_Monkey Jungle | Catching up with your ancestors

74_National Key Deer Refuge | Bambi’s baby brothers and sisters

75_News Cafe | People-watching paradise

76_O Cinema | Popcorn and circumstance

77_Ochopee Post Office | Littlest house on the prairie

78_Old Cutler Road | Banyan-covered bliss

79_Old Planetarium | Retro planetary retrograde

80_Oleta River State Park | Row into the city

81_Orion Herbs | Miami’s medicine man

82_Panther Coffee | You’re not in Starbucks anymore

83_Perky’s Bat Tower | Mosquito mishap

84_Pinecrest Gardens | Bye bye birdies

85_Rickenbacker Causeway | Feel the burn

86_Robbie’s | Fish feeding frenzy

87_Robert is Here | The little farm stand that could

88_Robert the Doll | Before there was Chucky, there was Robert

89_Schnebly Redland’s Winery | No grapes necessary

90_Shark Valley | Everglades from above

91_Shell World | They sell seashells by the seashore

92_Skunk Ape Research Headquarters | Return of the Yeti

93_Skyline from Watson Island | A city on the rise

94_Skyward Kites | Go fly a kite

95_South Pointe Park | Sittin’ on the dock of Biscayne Bay

96_Southernmost Point | So they say …

97_Staircase to Nowhere | The Fontainebleau’s folly

98_Stiltsville | Square feet or square fathoms?

99_Stone Barge at Vizcaya | Party on a pirate ship

100_Sunken Garden | Hidden beauty at Fairchild Tropical Gardens

101_Sunrise at Crandon Park | Good morning, South Florida

102_Sweat Records | Vinyl and vegan

103_Theater of the Sea | Sea-life spectacle

104_Venetian Pool | The emerald of Coral Gables

105_Versailles | A tale of two restaurants

106_Virginia Key Beach Park | The long arm of Jim Crow

107_Wallcast | An orchestra for the everyman

108_Wat Buddharangsi | Serenity now

109_Wolfsonian | Mediterranean marshmallow

110_Wood Tavern’s Bathrooms | Art surrounds the throne

111_World Erotic Art Museum | The Smithsonian of kink




In a city where not many people have deep roots, I’m proud to say my family’s called Miami home since 1950, when my great-grandfather moved his wife and kids from Pittsburgh to a sleepy beach town in South Florida that offered sun, fun, and beautiful scenery. Growing up less than an hour north of Miami, I made the city and its environs my stomping grounds from the moment I was old enough to stomp. My grandmother showed me the Venetian Pool, a frequent hangout when she was young, in Coral Gables. She told me about her parents’ home in Lower Matecumbe, the popular weekend getaway where she and her family would buy stone crabs from their neighbor for a dollar a pound. My mother often took me to the Parrot Jungle, now known as Pinecrest Gardens, where she used to work and eventually got married, just minutes from her childhood home. My father introduced me to the splendor of Biscayne Bay on his old Hobie Cat, sometimes tipping the boat for a thrill. My friends and I still peruse records at Sweat before we head to a Marlins game, having a drink or three at their Clevelander before first pitch.

The journeys to Miami and the Keys were an adventure, a pilgrimage, and a homecoming, all wrapped up into one. From stumbling upon the technicolor interior of the Bacardi Building to having vivid flashbacks of frolicking on Crandon Park beach as a little kid, I was continuously reminded of how Miami has both stayed the same and transformed dramatically over the past few decades. Handfuls of skyscrapers appear to pop up weekly on the skyline. The Keys used to be a quirky cluster of islands predominantly inhabited by fishermen. Today, multimillion-dollar homes line the shores from Key Largo to Key West. Amid the old and the new are an untold number of hidden treasures and pleasures – places and stories that reveal Miami’s true character, spirit, and above all, moxie. I hope you’ll enjoy visiting them as much I have enjoyed rediscovering them.

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1_African Queen

Rickety cinema royalty


One of the most treasured pieces of American movie history sits docked in the canals of Key Largo. In the shadows of a Holiday Inn, a few steps below a gravel parking lot on the side of US1, the small, rickety wooden African Queen – the same vessel that Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn navigated through the leech-infested waterways of German East Africa – sits idly tied to a couple of wood posts. Other than a small brown sign on the main road that points to its location and a friendly man at the dock who greets you, no fanfare surrounds the boat.

Unlike most movies of its time, The African Queen wasn’t shot in front of a painted background in a Hollywood studio. Instead, it was filmed on location in the Belgian Congo, an extremely rare feat for 1951. The production was also one of the few instances revered film critic and author James Agee collaborated on a script, helping craft the perfect climax for The African Queen – for which Bogart won his only Academy Award, beating out Marlon Brando’s iconic performance in A Streetcar Named Desire.


Address 99701 Overseas Highway, Key Largo, 33037 FL, +1 305.451.8080, www.africanqueenflkeys.com | Hours Daily 10am-6pm| Tip Visit the Caribbean Club (104080 Overseas Hwy), the inspiration for another famous cinema classic, Key Largo. Its exterior was featured in the film, which starred Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall.

The boat itself was built in turn-of-the-century England for the East Africa British Railways company, crafted to shuttle cargo, missionaries, and hunting parties across the Victoria Nile and Lake Albert, around the border of Uganda and the Belgian Congo. After making her famous silver-screen debut in 1951, the boat remained in Africa until 1968, eventually making her way to the States to work for charter operations on the West Coast and in Florida. In 1982, attorney and film buff Jim Hendricks found the African Queen decaying in a cow pasture near Gainesville, bought it for $65,000, and made it seaworthy. Today, the storied boat takes people from the heart of Key Largo out to the Atlantic Ocean and back every two hours, from ten in the morning until six at night, allowing fans to live out their fantasies of Hollywood’s Golden Age.


Shell World (2.15 mi)

John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (2.871 mi)

Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center (7.55 mi)

Betsy the Giant Lobster (12.577 mi)

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2_Alabama Jack’s

Low key in the Keys



In the middle of brackish wetlands, where the Everglades gets its pinch of salt, lies Card Sound Road, a small two-lane thoroughfare that runs from Florida City to the northern end of Key Largo. Only an experienced traveler or someone very skilled with Google Maps would opt to take this narrow, scenic route, off the beaten path of US1. The surroundings alone make it the worth the drive, but another reward awaits. Halfway between the mainland and Key Largo, floating among the mangrove-covered islands, is Alabama Jack’s, serving “Downtown Card Sound’s” most delicious morsels since the early 1950s.

Just before arriving at the bridge to North Key Largo, a roadside bar with a row of parked Harleys out front welcomes one and all. A mix of bikers, locals, families, and adventurous visitors flocks to this open-air outpost complete with wooden floors, metal tables, and plastic cutlery. The sun bounces off the murky waters on the south side of Alabama Jack’s as small fishing boats pass by throughout the day. Keep your eyes peeled for a glimpse of an alligator or crocodile in the water, as the bar is in the middle of their breeding grounds.


Address 58000 Card Sound Road, Homestead, FL 33030, +1 305.248.8741, www.alabamajacks.com | Hours Daily 11am–6:30pm| Tip Another great biker bar is Scully’s Tavern (9809 SW 72nd St) in Miami. Although Scully’s doesn’t have Alabama Jack’s famous fritters, the atmosphere is on par and the food isn’t too shabby either.

Old, battered license plates adorn the beams that run across the ceiling, over the bar serving up old-fashioneds, and into the kitchen, where the best conch fritters in the state are deep-fried and plated. Settle in at a table while the Jimmy Buffett cover band rocks out a rendition of “Margaritaville,” and enjoy a heaping golden-brown basket of conch. Tartar and cocktail sauces accompany the crispy and fluffy fritters, topped with a fresh slice of Florida lime. Bell peppers, sweet onions, and Old Bay seasoning bring the batter and conch to life, rather than overwhelm the flavor as many fish shacks tend to do. Wash it down with a frosty mug of domestic beer and watch the sun set into the thickets from the county line.


John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park (11.545 mi)

Robert is Here (13.217 mi)

African Queen (13.95 mi)

Coral Castle (14.987 mi)

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3_Amertec Building

Hialeah’s abandoned alien



In 1967, architect Chayo Frank was asked by his father to design a building to house his architectural woodworking and store-fixture manufacturing business. The resulting cluster of organically shaped structures falls somewhere between the imaginary worlds of Dr. Seuss and Jules Verne. Either an urban eyesore or an architectural masterpiece, depending on your taste and perspective, the old Amertec building has unwittingly come to simultaneously represent the struggle of Miami’s impoverished and the city’s affinity for innovation and artistic self-expression.

Made possible through the use of sprayed concrete, Frank’s vision of tubes, bars, and curves materialized into the explosion of contours, colors and textures that still sits along an industrial stretch of road in Hialeah. The unconventional building might best be described as a beautiful mess: a bright orange two-story mollusk shell, decorated by a strip of bacon, forms the entry facade to what looks like a giant twisting vent hose with a one-story mushroom dome at its southeast corner.


Address 149 W 21 Street, Hialeah, FL 33010 | Tip Check out the fledgling Leah Arts District in Hialeah (from E 9th St to E 17th St, and E 10th Ave to the railroad tracks). This area features warehouse facades adorned in graffiti like its counterpart in Wynwood.

Stricken with some of the highest crime rates in the country, Hialeah has been a community perpetually on the mend. Falling victim to the area’s deterioration over the years, the building, once coated in pearlescent blues and oranges (to give the “exterior more of a lifelike quality,” according to Frank), was painted completely white upon Amertec-Granada Inc’s sale in 2002. A calcified mummy of the amorphous blob – empty and abandoned – was all that remained on W 21st Street until a produce company took it over, repainted it, and turned it into a storage facility.

Sandwiched between faded warehouse facades, the green tubes, orange spirals, and beige domes are as hard to make any sense of today as they were when first constructed; not only on the streets of Hialeah nestled under the Metrorail, but anywhere on planet Earth.


Hialeah Park (0.652 mi)

Miami Jai-Alai (2.896 mi)

El Palacio de los Jugos (4.822 mi)

I-95 Express Lanes (5.17 mi)

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4_Ancient Spanish Monastery

Medieval Spain in Miami



Just off the Intercoastal Waterway, across the street from a modest apartment complex in North Miami Beach, sits a religious fortre­ss nearly 800 years older than the city itself. Built in a.d. 1141 in Sacramenia, Spain, the Ancient Spanish Monastery is now tucked away on a sleepy stretch of Dixie Highway, a stone’s throw from the ocean it had to cross to get here.

A gravel walkway leads visitors on a stroll through the Segovian iron gate, flush with palms, ferns, and other tropical flora. The well-kept geometric gardens are like a poor man’s Versailles, featuring plush squares of grass delicately bordered by flowering shrubs. These gardens are the grand entrance into cavernous, Romanesque hallways beneath the bell tower that lead into an earlier place and time.


Address 16711 W Dixie Highway, North Miami Beach, FL 33160, +1 305.945.1461, www.spanishmonastery.com | Hours Mon–Sat 10am–4:30pm, Sun 11am–4:30pm; call ahead in case of special closures| Tip Though the Ancient Spanish Monastery dates from the 12th century, it has only been in Miami since the 1960s. The city’s oldest church is the beautiful Gesu Church (118 NE 2nd St, Miami), constructed in 1896.

Cistercian monks had been the cloisters’ only inhabitants for nearly 700 years in Spain. In the early 19th century, the buildings were seized and sold off. Fast-forward to 1925, when William Randolph Hearst bought the structure, had it dismantled stone by stone, and had it all shipped to the United States in 11,000 hay-packed wooden crates. Hoof-and-mouth disease had become an epidemic in Segovia, so upon their arrival in America, the crates were quarantined and remained in storage for 26 years. Falling on hard times, Hearst auctioned off the displaced stones, which fell into the hands of two Ohio businessmen. They decided to rebuild the structure in Miami, finishing it in 1964.

A palpable quiet emanating from the courtyard, draped in the hanging fruits of a kigelia tree, lingers in the halls of the original cloisters. Small, ornate stained-glass windows featuring gold crosses embedded in a mosaic of purples, yellows, reds, and blues shimmer in a dark room above the flickering novena candles at the base of the four-foot Christ the King statue. Come for a day of peace among the ghosts of ancient Spanish monastics.


Greynolds Park (0.839 mi)

Oleta River State Park (1.137 mi)

Miami Auto Museum (1.429 mi)

Skyward Kites (2.597 mi)

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5_Anne’s Beach

Florida’s best rest stop



A drive through the Keys, as beautiful as the surroundings are, can become monotonous. Roadside souvenir shops, lime-colored storefronts, and motels blur into one another along the 100-mile journey down US-1 from Key Largo to Key West. God forbid there happens to be traffic. If you are stuck, your car will idle over some of the country’s most pristine waters. Looking out to sea, you’ll see mangrove islands sprouting randomly from beneath the surface, and the temptation to jump out of your car and meander up to them in crystal clear shin-deep water is almost irresistible. Fortunately, there’s a parking lot at mile marker 73.5 on the east side of Overseas Highway that allows you to do just that. Here you’ll discover a small picturesque stretch of sand at the southern tip of Lower Matecumbe that beckons you to indulge.

Named after Anne Eaton, an environmentalist committed to preserving the natural beauty of this slice of subtropical heaven in Islamorada, Anne’s Beach, with its pavilions and boardwalk, offers unparalleled views. Despite being stricken with polio when she was 24 years old and left bound to a wheelchair, Eaton spent much of her life making a global effort as a conservationist.  


Address Mile Marker 73.5, Lower Matecumbe, Islamorada, FL 33036, +1 305.664.6400 | Tip If you’re leisurely making your way down to Key West, there are many interesting roadside stops along the way. The Turtle Hospital (2396 Overseas Hwy) offers a touching opportunity to learn about and get up close and personal with injured and rehabilitated sea turtles.

Today, the massive expanse of uninterrupted blue water reaches past the horizon, blending into the sky. Even at high tide, you can wade out a few hundred feet without the water rising above your knees. At low tide, the sand crabs come out of their burrows and scurry among the tide pools, and a vast field of shells is exposed, offering one of the best beachcombing spots in all of the Keys.

You won’t find a gas station at this rest stop, but you will be able to refuel your body and mind, which is probably just as Eaton intended it. You can park your car, kick your shoes off, and sprint into the warm shallow waters – the ones you’ve been itching to frolic in for the past 50 miles.


Robbie’s (3.927 mi)

Green Turtle Inn (7.637 mi)

Florida Keys Brewing Company (7.947 mi)

History of Diving Museum (9.439 mi)

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6_Area 31

Happy hour with a view



At around five o’clock, when the workday is done, half-off drafts and BOGO deals run wild at every watering hole in Miami-Dade County. But perched 16 stories above the boozy melee below is where you’ll find the happiest of all happy hours, in the Epic Hotel’s bar/restaurant, Area 31.

The futuristic bar, whose bottles glow in front of an illuminated glass wall, welcomes you to Area 31’s interior, fit with sleek, white leather seats and minimalist wood tables. Head bartender Dean Feddaoui and his team toil away, pouring some of the best cocktails in Downtown, featuring modern interpretations of traditional classics like the Royal Collins, with acai liqueur, local honey, lemon, egg whites, lavender bitters, and tonic. For something more adventurous, try one of Feddaoui’s newfangled creations like the Simple Truth, with Wild Turkey rye, Luxardo maraschino, Aztec chocolate bitters, and lemon peel.


Address Epic Hotel, 70 Biscayne Boulevard Way, 16th Floor, Miami, FL 33131, +1 305.424.5234, www.area31restaurant.com | Hours Happy Hour: Mon–Thu 5pm–8pm, Fri 5pm–midnight.| Tip Another restaurant with a view is Tuyo (415 NE 2nd Ave), also in Downtown. Tuyo is affiliated with the Miami-Dade College Culinary Institute, and features high-end contemporary American fare with an incredible view of the Freedom Tower.

But the real draw is the dramatic view from the terrace. Just like its elevation, Area 31 gracefully straddles the line between high-society grandiloquence and down-to-earth sensibilities. Amid the towering skyscrapers of ritzy Downtown, with the giant ring in between the two towers of 500 Brickell looming overhead, a mixed crowd of locals and visitors mingles and imbibes. The happy-hour prices are as stellar as the location. From 5pm to 8pm during the week and from 5pm to midnight on Fridays, cocktails are served on the cheap in one of the city’s most expensive neighborhoods. Premium wells, house wine, beer, and champagne all cost seven bucks. There’s a $7 bar menu too, with cosmopolitan finger foods like ceviche tostadas and truffle fries.

As the sun begins to set, Miami Vice is revived on the terrace, with men sporting aviators and untucked pastel button-downs, and women wearing short, tight black dresses. Stiff as the drinks may be, Miami’s illuminated skyline is the perfect chaser. 


Brickell Soccer Rooftop (0.093 mi)

Miami Circle (0.099 mi)

Metromover (0.162 mi)

InterContinental’s Dancer (0.261 mi)

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7_Atlantis Condominiums

Miami Vice lives on



With the drug trade in full swing, the television crime drama Miami Vice was the perfect medium to show the world what Miami had become since its formative years as a sleepy beach town. For five seasons, Crockett and Tubbs policed the city’s mean streets and waters during the eighties. And in the opening credits of every episode stood this rare architectural bird that gets lost today among the glass and concrete wilderness on Brickell Avenue.

Completed in 1982, the Atlantis Condominiums personify the archetypical building style of Miami’s salad days. Much like a pubescent teen, the city experienced unpleasant growing pains throughout the latter part of the 20th century. With a deeper voice and taller stature came drastic mood swings and regular distress. Drug violence was rampant, with mall shootings and drive-bys making local headlines almost every night. Throngs of Cuban refugees, many of whom had been prisoners under Fidel Castro, flooded makeshift camps underneath the highways. The old Miamians were moving up the coast, leaving behind a city they’d come to see as hopeless.


Address 2025 Brickell Avenue, Miami, FL 33129 | Tip Drive around and look at the old houses on the north side of Brickell by Atlantis Condominiums. Many are built atop elevated coral shelves, a reminder that the waters of Biscayne Bay once extended much farther inland.

Despite all the adversity that consumed Miami, so too did a zeal to create a better future, at least aesthetically. When Miami Vice was at its peak, the city had become a pretty face with loose moral foundations. High-rises, many founded on dirty money, started growing explosively across town. The architecture firm Arquitectonica spearheaded the shift toward relative decency, with nearly 30 of its bold buildings still accenting the jagged skyline from the mainland to Miami Beach.  

In Miami Vice, this achromatic giant is seen with a hollow square palm court cut out of the middle, complete with its iconic red spiral staircase cranked through it like a corkscrew. More than 30 years later, the Atlantis Condominiums are still as slick and open-shirted as the iconic cops played by Don Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas.


Old Planetarium (0.913 mi)

Stone Barge at Vizcaya (0.951 mi)

Rickenbacker Causeway (0.957 mi)

Brickell Soccer Rooftop (1.224 mi)

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8_Bahia Honda

Sleep with the fishes



In Florida, camping is a sticky, mosquito-laden experience. Stagnant 80-degree nights, only made hotter by the intense burn of citronella candles, are what greet the South Floridian camper most of the year. Many campgrounds in the urban sprawl are within earshot of the nearest thoroughfare, so even seclusion is hard to come by when pitching a tent in the “wilderness.” But less than an hour away from Key West, one of the most beautiful, remote camping spots in South Florida awaits you, at Bahia Honda.

Nearly all of South Florida’s waterfront land is overdeveloped. Condominiums, mansions, hotels, and restaurants dominate the shoreline from Palm Beach to Miami. Sure, there are some parks, but they are perpetually filled with humanity. The average public green space has a handful of picnic pavilions, the stray charcoal grill, weathered dunes, and a beach that’s been dredged many times over. On the other hand, there’s Bahia Honda, the sparkling emerald of the Keys; it’s not only one of the few undisturbed beachfronts in the region, but also one of the only beaches on which you can spend the night.


Address 36850 Overseas Highway, Big Pine Key, FL 33043, +1 305.872.3210, www.bahiahondapark.com | Hours Daily 8am–sunset| Tip Forty minutes west of the park, on Big Pine Key, sits an unusual drinking establishment for locals and tourists alike. From the outside, No Name Pub (30813 Watson Blvd) looks like a standard bar, but its interior is completely blanketed in dollar bills, either stuck to or hanging from all the walls and ceilings.

For the outdoorsy types, there are traditional campgrounds perfect for setting up a tent and roughing it for a few days. But for those not as inclined to forgo creature comforts, there are six cabins situated along a cove on the southern half of the Key. For less than $200 a night, you can drive your car into the carport and stay in your own beach house, complete with central air-conditioning, hot water, bedrooms (with beds!), and bathrooms (with toilets!). From this convenient home base, you can explore the island’s pristine beaches and diverse flora and fauna. If you’re lucky, you’ll even catch a glimpse of the magnificent Miami blue butterfly.

The only hitch is that the cabins are in such high demand they’re generally booked at least one year in advance; sometimes paradise requires a little planning.


Blue Hole (7.432 mi)

National Key Deer Refuge (9.029 mi)

Perky’s Bat Tower (18.815 mi)

Mitzi’s Memorial (21.897 mi)

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9_Bay of Pigs Museum

A tragedy remembered



Nearly all of Miami’s Cuban residents came to Florida when dictator Fidel Castro, who assumed power in Cuba in 1959, squeezed them out. Cuba’s wealthiest were the first to arrive, their assets having been seized, their relatives jailed. In 1960, the Brigada Asalto 2506 was formed, a group of Cuban exiles in Miami whose goal was to overthrow Castro with assistance from the CIA. A block south of Calle Ocho in Little Havana, on Ninth Street, the legend and legacy of Brigade 2506 lives on.