Miami Vice with actor Don Johnson became a hit television show, and around the same time a photographer ventured onto the top of one of Ocean Drive’s Art Deco hotels for a Calvin Klein « Obsession » photo shoot. More recent hit TV series Miami CSI and Burn Notice were primarily filmed on the Beach. These events helped renew interest in South Beach and it soon became the destination of choice for fashion shoots and films.

Sharon Stone, Sylvester Stallone, Wesley Snipes, Marisa Tomei, Angelica Houston, Arnold Schwarzenegger, James Woods, Jamie Lee Curtis, Whitney Houston, Kevin Costner and Sean Connery have all appeared in films shot in Miami in recent years. Fashion and commercial photo shoots are commonplace throughout South Beach. During the day, models, vintage cars, Harleys, and roller-bladers of all ages parade past tourists who are relaxing and people watching from one of Ocean Drive’s many outdoor cafes. By night, the clubs sizzle.

Miami Beach has some superb restaurants, so many in fact, that we won’t even begin to cover them all here. Everything’s pretty pricey on “the Beach” and the restaurants and night-clubs, good bad or indifferent, are charging you just for being there..!! So hold on to your purse-strings, sit back and enjoy. After all the person next to you is probably a celebrity. That’s what you’re paying for.

Miami Beach’s Ocean Drive and the surrounding area is an architectural landmark. Its Art Deco district is unique in the world and is on the American Registry of Historic places. If you’re in total shopping mode and like to people-watch, Lincoln Road is the place to go. Dodge the skate-boarders and just take a table at any watering hole along Lincoln, sit-back and watch. You’ll be amazed at the sheer and diverse humanity parading in front of you. Ditto for Ocean Drive.

The main players in the development of Miami Beach were John Collins (think Collins Ave) who originally invested in an Avocado plantation on the island. Later he was joined by Carl Fisher an Indianapolis businessman and developer. Fisher Island was named after Carl Fisher. The city of Miami Beach was officially incorporated in 1915.

Miami Beach became the place to “winter” in for wealthy New Yorkers. It is also known as the night Club capital of the world. Hibiscus Island that adjoins Palm Island and Star Island next to the “Beach” was home to the famous Latin Quarter nightclub that regularly starred Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack and also featured Tony Bennett and many other famous acts and singers from the 1940’s and 1950’s. The notorious gangster Al Capone had a permanent residence on Hibiscus Island as did Lou Walters (journalist Barbara Walters father) who owned the Latin Quarter nightclub.

Home to Oprah Winfrey, until recently Jennifer Lopez, and of course Miami’s own Gloria Estefan all have houses on Star Island, as do Dwayne Wade and other Marlins, Miami Heat, and Dolphins athletes.

Miami Beach is separated from the mainland by the upper reaches of Biscayne Bay, however there are numerous Causeways and access roads for motor traffic between Miami Center and the “Beach” as it is called. The McArthur Causeway takes you right into downtown South Beach.

There are several excellent Marinas on Miami Beach including the large Miami Beach Marina on Alton Road and Sunset Harbor marina on Purdy Ave. There is dockage on Indian Creek opposite the famous Fontainebleau and Eden Roc hotels. However arrangements must be made privately for these spaces. Haul-over marina is North of Miami Beach but has good facilities, and Fisher Island marina on Fisher Island just South of Miami Beach is very upscale and mostly for the use of Fisher Island residents.

In spite of it’s somewhat “racy” past, Miami Beach is home to an important population of Orthodox, Modern Orthodox, Haredi and Hasidic Jews. There are numerous synagogues, Temples, Universities and Yeshivas. Many important New York Rabbis, take up residence in Miami Beach to escape the harsh Northern winters.

More recently, from the late 50’s and 60’s and forwards, the “Beach” became home to numerous displaced Cuban families who began to prosper and exert a strong influence on local customs, and politics.

To round off this melting-pot of races and religions, in the 80’s and 90’s Miami Beach become home to a large contingent of LGBT individuals who have contributed greatly to the re-vitalization of the city and its current prosperity.

Whether it be from the water or if you choose to tour Miami Beach by land (bicycle or scooter maybe?), you will find it an interesting stop-off, sometimes disconcerting and ALWAYS fascinating. The beaches are fabulous, the shopping is excellent and the people… well, you have to be there to believe it.

You can tour the Miami Beach hot-spots from the water, MiamiCharters.com has a superb selection of large or small watercraft that can give you a “sea-gull’s view” of the beach and its environs. Give us a call and we’ll make the arrangements.

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