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Activities

 South Beach and the Art Deco District 
In 1979, the generally seedy and rundown South Beach district of Miami Beach was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places in recognition of its remarkable inventory of urban resort architecture from the 1920s and ‘30s. At the time, many of the historic hotels and apartment buildings had been converted into low-cost housing for elderly retirees, but over the past quarter-century the area has undergone a dramatic renaissance. Developers and private homeowners have meticulously restored hundreds of classic examples of Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco and Streamline Moderne architecture in the area, and "SoBe" has become a magnet for Miami tourism and night life.

Many of the city's hottest restaurants, bars and dance clubs are here, and the lineup of ultra-luxurious boutique hotels makes South Beach a choice destination for high-budget travelers. If you can't afford the steep room rates, cheaper accommodations can be found in the more northerly sections of Miami Beach, or if you're staying on the mainland, it's easy enough to drive over one of the causeways that cross Biscayne Bay (bear in mind, however, that parking can be difficult and expensive at times).

The Miami Design Preservation League's Art Deco Welcome Center at 10th Street and Ocean Drive (http://www.mdpl.org, 305-531-3484) offers a choice of guided walking tours and self-guided audio tours, or you can sign up for a two-wheel excursion with South Beach Bike Tours (http://www.southbeachbiketours.com, 305-673-2002).

Information: Miami Design Preservation League , 305-531-3484
 Beaches and Ocean Sports 
The Miami area is blessed with some of the best urban beaches in the United States, ranging from relatively tranquil parklands to busy waterfront strands lined with hotels, condos and restaurants. Crandon Park Beach in Key Biscayne (http://www.miamidade.gov/parks/parks/crandon_beach.asp) is one of the more popular choices, with about 2 miles of soft, white sand, abundant parking and a seaside amusement center. At the southern end of Key Biscayne, the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area (http://www.abfla.com/parks/BillBaggs/billbaggs.html) offers a more secluded environment, and the opportunity to tour a working lighthouse built in 1825.

For people-watching, there's no better destination than South Beach, particularly along Lummus Park between 5th and 15th streets. From South Beach, the sand extends for miles up the east side of Miami Beach and along the string of barrier islands to the north. At Haulover Park (http://www.miamidade.gov/parks/parks/haulover_park.asp), an attractive county park north of Bal Harbour, public nudity is permitted in a segregated area at the northern end of the 1.5-mile stretch of beach.

Beyond the beaches, the Miami area offers abundant opportunities for boating and fishing, diving and snorkeling, windsurfing, jet skiing and sea kayaking, with some particularly appealing aquatic wilderness accessible among the offshore islands of nearby Biscayne National Park (http://www.nps.gov/bisc).
 Dade County Golf Courses 
Miami has its share of exclusive private country clubs, but fortunately for visitors there are a number of excellent public and resort courses where no membership is required. Topping the list is the famous Blue Monster Course at the Doral Golf Resort and Spa (http://www.doralresort.com), a challenging 7,125-yard layout that hosts the annual WGC-CA Championship in March. This expansive property a few miles west of Miami International Airport has a total of five championship courses that are open to the general public.

Other good options include the Crandon Park Golf Course at Key Biscayne (www.miamidade.gov/Parks/Parks/crandon_golf.asp); the Biltmore Golf Course at the Biltmore Hotel in Coral Gables (http://www.biltmorehotel.com/golf/); the Senator Course at Don Shula's Golf Club in Miami Lakes (www.clubshula.com); and the Country Club of Miami (http://www.miamidade.gov/parks/Parks/country_club.asp), a county-owned public facility with a very respectable pair of 18-hole courses (one of which was laid out in 1961 by Robert Trent Jones).

The Fairmont Turnberry Isle Resort (http://www.turnberryisle.com) has recently overhauled its golf facilities and added a second 18-hold course, but you must be a guest of the resort or a club member to play
 Museums and Monuments 
If the weather is not good or you need to get out of the sun for a while, consider investigating the Miami area's eclectic inventory of museums and unique local tourist attractions.

Leading art museums include the highly regarded Miami Art Museum, which displays international works from the 20th century to the present (http://www.miamiartmuseum.org); the dynamic Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami (http://www.mocanomi.org); the Rubell Family Art Collection, an impressive private contemporary gallery located in Miami's Design District (http://www.rubellfamilycollection.com); the Bass Museum of Art at Collins Park in Miami Beach (http://www.bassmuseum.org); the Lowe Art Museum on the campus of the University of Miami (http://www.lowemuseum.org); and the the Diaspora Vibe Gallery, focusing on emerging Latin American and Caribbean artists (http://www.diasporavibe.com).

Rather more unusual exhibits can be seen at the World Erotic Museum in South Beach (http://www.weam.com) and at the nearby Wolfsonian (www.wolfsonian.org), which houses an eccentric collection of industrial products, furniture, decorative items, rare books and other objects bequeathed to Florida International University by a private collector.

At the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Coconut Grove (http://www.vizcayamuseum.com), visitors can tour the fascinating Gilded Age mansion of early-20th-century industrialist James Deering. And in Coral Gables, visitors can literally dive into a National Historic Landmark with a visit to the Venetian Pool, a fanciful Mediterranean-revival aquatic center built in the 1920s and still open to the public (http://www.venetianpool.com).