South Beach – Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.A.

Art Deco Darling on the American Riviera

As Miami continues to nurture its role as an international crossroads, the hot-spot neighborhood of South Beach remains its vibrant, glamorous, multicultural core, open 24/7. Much of the neighborhood’s visual allure derives from palm-lined Ocean Drive, along whose length (from 5th to 21st Streets and east to Alton Road) lies the largest concentra­tion of tropical Art Deco architecture in the world, some 800 pastel treasures from the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

Now listed on the National Register of Historic Places, this electric concoction of teal, lavender, pink, and peach buildings houses outdoor cafes, shops, nightspots, condominium apartments, chic hotels, and world-class restaurants, but the real artwork here is the parade of people.

If all the world is a stage, Ocean Drive is its casting couch, its sidewalks and eating places fairly choked with alarmingly good-looking people. It’s all best appreciated from Ocean Drive’s Cafe Cardozo (in the Cardozo Hotel at 13th and Ocean Drive), a kind of 24-hour review­ing stand that allows you to step out of the path of the year-round tourist crush and take in the sights.

To really escape the rollerbladers, buffer-then-thou poseurs, and Euro invaders, retreat to the cool oasis of the ultra-hip but classy Tides Hotel, a Deco queen from 1936. All of its oversized seaward-facing rooms are done in a quiet, good-taste style and have tele­scopes for “beach combing.” The Tides’s small but excellent lobby-level restaurant, 1220 at the Tides (the hotel’s address) is a total scene-and-cuisine experience.

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