Art Deco Historic District

South Beach

The world-famous art-deco district of Miami Beach is pure exuberance: an architecture of bold lines, whimsical tropical motifs and a color palette that evokes all the beauty of the Miami landscape. Among the 800 deco buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Buildings, each design is different, and strolling among these restored beauties from a bygone era is utterly enthralling. Classic art-deco structures are positioned beautifully between 11th and 14th Sts – each bursting with individuality.

Close to 11th St, the Congress Hotel shows perfect symmetry in its three-story facade, with window-shading eyebrows and a long marquee down the middle that's reminiscent of the grand movie palaces of the 1930s. About a block north, the Tides is one of the finest of the nautical-themed hotels, with porthole windows over the entryway, a reception desk of Key limestone (itself imprinted with fossilized sea creatures), and curious arrows on the floor, meant to denote the ebb and flow of the tide. Near 13th St, the Cavalier plays with the seahorse theme, in stylized depictions of the sea creature and also has palm-tree-like iconography.

Note that it's best to go early in the day when the crowds are thinnest, and the light is best for picture-taking. For deeper insight into the architecture, take a guided walking tour of the area offered daily by the Miami Design Preservation League.