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Favorite experiences in South Florida

Frommer's picks for the best things to see and do in Miami.
Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
Vizcaya Museum and
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Driving Along Florida A1A: This oceanfront route, which runs north up Miami Beach, through Sunny Isles and Hollywood, and into Fort Lauderdale (starting at Ocean Dr. and First St. in Miami and merging onto Collins Ave. before running north), embodies the essence that is South Florida. From time-warped hotels steeped in Art Deco kitsch to multimillion-dollar modern high-rises, A1A is one of the most scenic, albeit heavily trafficked, roads in all of Florida.

South Beach Nightlife: If you can handle it, you can boogie down until the sun comes up in cavernous, pulsating dance clubs, which are considered amongst the best in the world. Lounges aren't too shabby either. There's Rumi, a swank resto-lounge in which the likes of Jennifer Lopez and members of Mötley Crüe mix with a colorful crowd of local and international hipsters and then there's Skybar at The Shore Club, Mynt, Opium, and, well the list goes on. Where else can us ordinary folk brush elbows with -- or spill Cosmopolitans on -- Hollywood starlets, entertainment moguls, and living legends but in South Beach's hot clubs, bars, and restaurants, many of which don't get going until the crack of dawn?

Airboat Ride Through the Outskirts of the Everglades: Unfettered by jet skis, cruise ships, and neon bikinis, the Everglades are Florida's outback, resplendent in their swampy nature. The Everglades are best explored either by slow-moving canoes that really get you acquainted with your surroundings or via an airboat that can quickly navigate its way through the most stubborn of saw grass while providing you with an up-close and personal (as well as fun) view of the land's inhabitants, from alligators and manatees to raccoons and Florida panthers.

Dining at Big Fish Restaurant on the Miami River: Some consider dining on the Miami River to be industrial chic; others consider it seedy in a Miami Vice sort of way. However you choose to look at it, by all means do look at it; the sleepy Miami River is nestled below the sweeping downtown Miami skyline, reminding you that even though you're in a major metropolis, things in this often-frenetic city are capable of slowing down to a more soothing pace.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: Built in 1916, this Italian Renaissance-style manse on Biscayne Bay in Miami features 34 rooms of antiques, art, and tapestries; 10 acres of Italian gardens, statues, and fountains; a new orchid display; and a picture-perfect view of the skyline and Key Biscayne.

Wolfie Cohen's Rascal House: You will wait on line at Miami Beach's landmark diner, but it's never dull, as the cacophony of mostly Northeastern U.S. accents will keep you entertained until you are seated in what seems to be an ancient vinyl booth. The octogenarian waitress will serve you corned-beef sandwiches, brisket, or potato pancakes, and, if you're lucky, she may tell you about the time Sinatra and his Rat Pack came in way back when.

Moonlight Concerts at the Barnacle State Historic Site: Once a month, on or near the full moon (except during July and August), the Barnacle State Historic Site hosts a concert in the backyard of their charming 1908 Coconut Grove bungalow built on 5 acres of waterfront property. Listeners are welcome to picnic and bask in this sublime setting for a mere $5.

Midnight Snacking at Versailles: This iconoclastic, gaudy Cuban diner in the heart of Miami's Little Havana is humming with the buzz of old-timers reminiscing about pre-Castro Cuba, local politicos trying to appease them, and a slew of detached people only there for the fantastically cheap and authentic Cuban fare. Much like its French namesake in whose image it's been literally mirrored, Miami's Versailles provides a palatial view of Miami's ever-changing Cuban landscape.

Watching the Cruise Ships Set Sail from South Pointe Park: Unless you're already on a boat, you can't get a better view of the monstrous cruise ships leaving the Port of Miami than from South Pointe Park, located at the southern tip of South Beach. If you stare long enough, you will feel like you're moving, which is almost as much fun as being on board.

Lunch at News Café on Ocean Drive: The quintessential South Beach experience, lunching at News Café is more of a spectator sport than a dining experience. What the Big Mac is to McDonald's, people-watching is to News Café, whose Ocean Drive location is one of the best sidewalk spots from which to observe the wacky, colorful mix of pedestrians on parade.

Relishing the View from Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area: You haven't truly seen South Florida until you've checked out the view from the southern point of Key Biscayne. Whether it's the turquoise water or the sight of Stiltsville -- seven still-inhabited aquatic cabins dating back to the 1930s, perched smack in the middle of the Biscayne Channel -- it may take a little coercing to get you to leave.

Scuba Diving off Jupiter Beach: In 1988, Jupiter Beach lifeguard Peter Leo spotted an anchor and a cannon while on his routine morning swim. Turns out, they belonged to what is believed to be the shipwreck of a Spanish galleon dating back to the 16th or 17th century. Giving literal meaning to South Florida's Treasure and Gold coasts, this wreck is worth holding your breath for.

Happy Hour at Mai Kai: Polynesia meets Fort Lauderdale at Mai Kai, the trippiest Tiki hut this side of Tahiti, with its sarong-clad bartenders, a fiery hula show, and an exhaustive menu of frozen concoctions.

Discovering Your Inner Flipper at the Dolphin Research Center: Learn to communicate with and touch, swim, or play with the mammals at the nonprofit Dolphin Research Center in Marathon Key, home to a school of approximately 15 dolphins.

Eyeing the Estates on Palm Beach: The winter playground for the Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous set, Palm Beach is lined with jaw-dropping palatial estates. While many of them are hidden behind towering shrubbery, head south on South County Road, from Brazilian Avenue, where you will see some of the most opulent homes ever built. Make sure someone holds the steering wheel if you're driving, because you will do a double take.

Lounging Poolside at The Shore Club: In addition to tanning, the scene here is about striking a pose and pretending not to notice the others doing the same thing. If you're staying at Miami's The Shore Club hotel, and if you're savvy enough to score one of the luxe lounges, prepare to overhear some interesting conversations between the movers and shakers who bake here.

Boating Through the Intracoastal Waterway: The waterway that connects the natural bays, lagoons, and rivers along Florida's East Coast snakes around from the Florida-Georgia border all the way to the port of Miami. A ride through the Fort Lauderdale Intracoastal provides a sublime view of million-dollar waterfront houses.

Salsa Lessons at Bongo's Cuban Café: If the only salsa you're familiar with is the kind you put on your tacos, get over to Bongo's, the hottest salsa club north of Havana, where Miami's most talented salsa dancers will teach you how to move your two left feet in the right direction.

Exploring the Design District After Dark: After waiting patiently for this arty, funky area to hit its comeuppance, Miami's hipsters have finally been rewarded with cool bars, lounges, and restaurants that exude that New York City SoHo meets Meatpacking District vibe.

Sundays at Alabama Jack's: There is nothing like hanging out, chugging a cheap beer, chowing down on amazing conch fritters, and watching a bunch of sauced octogenarians dressed like extras from Hee Haw line dancing to incredible live country music, all in a Sunday's afternoon. Even better is the spectacular waterfront setting that makes you truly appreciate why you're in Florida in the first place.

Star Stalking at the Skybar: If you can get past the doorman here, you'll enter an oasis of fabulousness, where the likes of Britney Spears, Jay Z, Beyonce, and just about every other A-lister bask in their own self important glow while the rest of us just sip $12 cocktails and hope we can pay the rent next month.

For a complete listing of what to see and do in Miami, visit the at

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