Sun, sea, sand - Miami has it all and with a stunning art deco backdrop to boot.
If you are looking for a little Latin flavour during a trip to the United States, then there is no better destination than the city of Miami on the southernmost tip of Florida.
Half of the cities' population are Hispanic and of these, the majority are Cuban. This gives Miami a distinctly international feel, offering more than a smattering of Latin American cuisine, dance, language and spirit.
When all this culture is combined with Miami's world famous beaches, hot climate and reputation as a hedonist's getaway it is no wonder that this city has moved from its status as a retirement hangout and now attracts millions of visitors from the world over every year.
The city is also home to a host of television studios, banks and company headquarters and is known as an international centre for popular entertainment in television, fashion, music, film and the performing arts.
History, Tradition And Culture
Miami has a mixed and interesting history with a strong pattern of growth in the 1920s thanks to the city authorities adopting a lax attitude to regulating prohibition and also their legalisation of gambling in the city.
The Great Depression hit the city hard in the 1930s, but it rallied during the 1950s largely in part to the migration of thousands of Cubans who fled Fidel Castro's regime for safer shores.
Although Miami Beach became a celebrity filled resort area during the 1950s, more decline was seen during the 1960s and 1970s culminating in the 1980s when drugs and crime were rife in the city.
The 80s were immortalised in TV drama Miami Vice and motion pictures such as Scarface. Throughout this period drug smuggling was endemic in the city and Miami had the highest murder rate in the US.
Nowadays, potential visitors need not worry as the metropolis has changed for two reasons. Firstly the influx of Latin Americans brought much investment into the city and secondly the gentrification of South Beach in the 1990s has meant that tourism is now the lifeblood of Miami.
Cubans have also influenced the music in Miami, introducing the conga and the rumba and popularising it in American culture. Dominicans are responsible for bringing in bachata and merengue, while Colombians introduced vallenato to American shores.
To complete this heady mix, West Indians and Caribbean people have brought in reggae, soca, kompa, calypso and steel pan music into Miami.
Things To Do And See
The beaches are a major pull for any visitor to Miami and South Beach located at the tip of Miami Beach is a great starting point. Bordered by hundreds of attractive pastel coloured twenties and thirties buildings, there are an array of interesting shops and cafes for visitors to enjoy here.
South Beach is also home to the poignant Holocaust Memorial, dedicated to the six million Jews persecuted during the Second World War and particularly significant to Miami's large resident Jewish population.
The nearby Miami Beach is home to an equally enticing white sand beach and also the prestigious Bass Museum, a delightful Art Deco building that houses a collection of fine European paintings.
Miami Metrozoo is great for some light entertainment and boasts more than 200 species of animals including Bengal tigers, koalas, black rhinos and even a pair of Komodo dragons.
If you fancy some evening entertainment, no venue comes more highly recommended that Hoy Como Ayer nightclub playing Cuban music. A live band plays to a small dance floor and there is a café playing vintage Cuban music videos and film clips for those wishing to chill out.
The International Hispanic Theater Festival from late May to mid-June is one of the largest Hispanic theatre events in the US and is well worth a visit. It features US, Latin American, Caribbean and European theatre companies all performing at the El Carrusel Theater in Coral Gables.
In the second week of November, the Miami Book Fair is held in the city and is among the most well attended international book fairs in the country. Hundreds of well-known writers convene at the event along with hundreds of publishers and book lovers alike.
Miami is a sizzling city with a vibrant and eclectic population and with some of the world's best beaches and liveliest nightlife; the only thing you might be missing during a trip to this city is a good night's sleep.
Weather In Miami
Even during its coldest months – December to February – average daytime temperatures hover around 24 degrees C and don’t drop much lower than the teens at night. Summer months can be scorching and you might encounter a storm or even a hurricane at this time.
Destination Checklist For Miami
- Miami has a population of around 420,000.
- The currency in use is the US Dollar.
- English is the official language and Spanish is widely spoken.
- The city is five hours behind GMT.
- Miami's international dialling code is +1.