South Beach's 'Magical History Tour'
Most people think there is more culture to be found in a cup of yogurt than in South Beach -- they are (sort of) misinformed. Visitors to the sunny shores of the Magic City who find themselves bored by the fantastic shopping, the dizzying variety of restaurants, and the endlessly beautiful beach days can discover quite a bit about the history of our little stretch of sand without ever straying too far from a frozen drink purveyor. Set aside your rum runners for an hour or so and you can learn a little bit about our past...
Art Deco Walking Tour: On any given morning after a groaning platter of whole grain banana pancakes at the Front Porch Cafe, curious tourists can wander across Ocean Drive to the Art Deco Welcome Center to sign up for a walking tour of the landmark buildings that comprise the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District. Arrive about 10 or 15 minutes prior to the 10:30 a.m. start time to join a 90-minute guided walk through the local pastel properties or rent iPods that narrate self-guided tours in English, Spanish, German, and French anytime from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. 1001 Ocean Drive, South Beach
The Art Deco Welcome Center is just across the street from the Clevelander, the Victor, and The Strand Ocean Drive hotels.
Wolfsonian Museum: Just two streets west of Ocean Drive you'll find a wonderful collection of elegant objects that once belonged to Miami resident Mitchell Wolfson, Jr. He traveled the world collecting vast treasures much like William Randoph Hearst of the famed castle in San Simeon, California. Mr. Wolfson's objects span the late 1800s to the 1950s and include furniture, toys, art, books, and industrial objects that highlight the evolution of machine age design. While your kids might balk at a traditional art museum, the range of interesting items on display at the Wolfsonian will captivate everyone's imagination. It's open daily from noon until 6 p.m., Thursdays and Fridays until 9 p.m. Closed Wednesdays. Free admission Fridays 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. 1001 Washington Avenue, South Beach
The Wolfsonian Museum is just steps away from the Essex House Hotel, the Clinton Hotel & Spa, and the Hotel Nash.
Joe's Stone Crab: As lunchtime approaches, history buffs should consider dining at the oldest and best seafood restaurant in the city, dating back to 1913. Back before South Beach had paved streets, Joe Weiss opened a small lunch counter that went on to become a landmark stone crab restaurant serving the hard-shell crab claws that are an "Only in Miami" delicacy. Dine in the same restaurant where gangster Al Capone, the Duke and Duchess of Windsor, Will Rogers, Gloria Swanson, most of our recent Presidents, star athletes, and even Bobby Flay discovered how delicious a cracked crab claw can be! Best of all, the hours-long wait for a table at dinnertime is not an issue at lunch. Open for lunch October through May 11:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. 11 Washington Avenue
Hotels near Joe's Stone Crab include the Savoy Hotel, The Angler's Boutique Resort, and the Hilton Bentley Miami. - AdvisorGirl