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Beyond its reputation as one of the most popular nightlife destinations in the country, South Beach is a modern mecca of Art Deco architecture, oceanfront views, and colorful culture. Following the 1913 completion of a vehicular bridge over Biscayne Bay, South Beach was the first area of greater Miami Beach to be developed. Shortly thereafter, its land boom began, adopting the Art Deco style to its swiftly growing skyline. A renaissance began in the late 1980s as fashion icons and celebrities began building and restoring homes with prime ocean views. Now South Beach is known as one of the trendiest places in the country, with all of the boutiques, clubs, restaurants, and culture to show for it.
Miami International Airport (MIA) is an easy 20-minute drive west of South Beach; it’s also accessible via the local Airport-Beach Express bus, which runs every 30 minutes. The efficient bus system coupled with its Metrorail, free trolleys, taxis, and ride shares make it possible to navigate this pedestrian-friendly neighborhood without renting a car. Especially given the amount of traffic running up and down the major north-south strips of Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue, many locals and visitors opt out of car travel altogether. Walking the strip is safe day and night, and recent bicycling-friendly initiatives promoting citywide bike parking and bike lanes have made many key points in South Beach accessible via two wheels.
South Beach’s humid air is apparent from the moment you arrive. Technically a tropical monsoon climate, the area’s temperatures hardly vary year-round, averaging a high of 83 degrees Fahrenheit and a low of 69 degrees. In the peak of summer, temperatures might reach 90 degrees, dropping only to the high 70s at night. In winter, that range is closer to 75 during the day and low 60s at night. Typical of monsoon climates, rainy days are common in the summer months, with an average of 12 to 14 rainy days during July and August. The winter is much drier, but rain still plays into the forecast several times a month. Given its location in southeastern Florida, South Beach is in a prime hurricane zone, and travelers should be on high alert during hurricane season in late summer and early fall.
The southernmost point of South Beach, South Pointe is a beautiful park with a 522-foot boardwalk stretching across the city’s last natural sand dune. It’s far enough from the skyline to yield panoramic views of Biscayne Bay to the north, Downtown Miami to the northwest, nearby Fisher Island, and of course the sweeping Atlantic Ocean. A charming children’s playground and outdoor showers round out the amenities for beachcombers and surfers alike.
Just an hour’s drive from South Beach is one of the largest offshore reefs in the world. Biscayne National Park is a wonder for visitors on sea and land. From snorkeling the reef to birding along the trail, it’s well worth a day trip.
In the heart of South Beach is the nation’s largest concentration of iconic Art Deco architecture: more than 800 historic buildings. Even if you don’t visit the Art Deco Museum, you can join one of its walking tours between 5th and 23rd Streets along Ocean Drive, or go at your own pace with a self-guided audio tour.