One of my favorite things about Miami is the Art Deco style. Certain parts of the city feel like you are stepping back in time with the colorful, funky architecture. On my recent visit, I wanted to see as much of this district as possible, so we decided to do our own Miami Art Deco Tour!
A lot of companies have paid Miami Art Deco tours you can take, but I think it’s easy and more fun to go on your own. I made this guide for you to use on your trip to Miami and ensure you see all the sights. We took an Uber from our hotel, The Confidante, to 15th Street and Collins to start our tour.
Start With A Snack on Collins
If you are starting your Miami Art Deco Tour in the morning like we did, then you might want some breakfast! If not, you can skip this part, or grab a coffee for the walk. On this visit, we went to Andrix Cafe, an Italian spot with pastries, breakfast sandwiches and coffee and tea.
Another favorite of mine is Taquiza, which has amazing tacos and some tasty drinks, but it doesn’t open until noon now. If you want to start it off in a very Miami way, you can eat at Havana 1957. This Cuban restaurant is a sit down though, so it might be a while.
With our tasty croissant sandwiches finished and iced coffees in hand, we were ready for the sights! I recommend walking down Collins Ave (AKA Florida A1A) to start. The first site you will see is Hoffman’s Cafeteria. It is unfortunately now a Señor Frogs, but this building has been there since World War II was was used as a mess hall for pilots training in Miami Beach.
Hotel Sightings on Ocean Drive
Next walk two blocks down and head towards the beach to Ocean Drive. Here you’ll find a strip of legendary hotels. This includes the funky looking Cavalier hotel, the stately Cardozo hotel and the iconic Carlyle and Leslie hotels. All of these were built between 1936 and 1939 and have stood the test of time, as well as many hurricanes! The architecture is pretty impressive and I can only imagine how fun it would be to stay in one!
If you walk down a little farther, you can find Lummus Park, which is probably the most popular beach in Miami. I don’t recommend this one for a public beach, but it is fun for people watching! If you keep walking down, you can find the Cleavlander, which is a famous nightlife spot. We actually went here for a pool party a few years ago and had a fun time listening to a DJ battle there! They were charging $15 just for a Corona though, so enter at your own risk! There’s a few more retro hotels to see, like the Boulevard, Starlite and Colony as well.
Miami Art Deco District on Collins Ave
You’ll want to cross back over to Collins on 10th Ave to see the Essex House. This was a hotel designed by Henry Hohauser in 1948 and is said to be one of his best designs. His other works include both the Cardozo and the Colony mentioned above, and I think this is definitely the most unique.
A couple blocks later, there is the Hotel of South Beach, which has a lot of similarities to Essex House. This opened in 1939 as the Tiffany Hotel and was said to be the peak of luxury. Right around here is where Collins turns into more of a shopping area. You can either stop and check out some stores or cross over to Washington Ave for more sights!
Washington Ave Sights
On the corner of 5th and A1A is the most unique building I saw, designed by Taylor and Mathis. It’s now a lobster restaurant, but it was built in the 1990’s and it shows. This building seems likes it’s trying to fit into the Art Deco style, but had a distinct nineties feel. I still found it to be a fun and colorful sight!
This is kind of the end of this unofficial Miami Art Deco Tour, because the style gets more modern from here, but there still is some cool stuff to see. The Jewish Museum of Florida is a block down and a popular spot to learn about Florida Jewish history. There’s free admission on Saturday and you can spend an hour learning about the immigration experience of many Jewish people to the state.
If you like art, there’s are a bunch of galleries to check out around here. The Williams McCall gallery is one of the most popular. You may need to make an appoint to visit, but it features some of the finest art in Miami Beach.
Lunch Time in South Beach
If you are feeling hungry, there are a lot of great lunch options here. We actually went down to South Point and than came back here for bowls from My Ceviche. This is a surprisingly affordable food stand that sells rice bowls, burritos, tacos and salads topped with fresh fish! It was so delicious and a very refreshing lunch.
Joe’s Stone Crab is another popular spot in this area, although it’s a pretty fancy restaurant that doesn’t open until 6 PM. However, they do have a takeaway spot that opens at 11 AM. You can try and get one of the few tables here, or take it to the nearby park for a picnic!
If you aren’t feeling seafood during your Miami Art Deco Tour, there’s Pure Vida nearby. They have açaí bowls, salads and sandwiches. Lastly, there’s Primo Pizza, if you can’t resist a slice of New York style pizza!
South Pointe Beach and Park Pier
This last part is my favorite because of the views! You can go all the way down to the end of Miami Beach to South Pointe and stand on a pier surrounded by water. There’s a free beach here and a park with some sculptures and things to see. The highlight is going on the pier though, and it’s so cool to see Fisher Island and Virginia Key from afar.
This is also where a lot of the high rises and hotels have sprung up from. I would love to see some of the views from up there! It was cool walking by Nikki Beach and Continuum, but I love seeing the Portofino Tower from afar. There’s just so much to see in this South Pointe area, so bring a camera and a picnic if you can, to fully take in south beach.
Seeing Miami Beach by Bicycle
When we got to the end, we noticed a rack of Citi bikes that you could take for a small price. There are a bunch of different bike racks all over the city and you can pay by the half hour. It’s kind of like those Bird scooters, but less flexible on where you can leave them.
We decided to take one and rode it to My Ceviche for lunch and then back up to Collins Ave. It ended up being a lot of fun and was a quick way to get back to the hotel. The traffic wasn’t too difficult to deal with and it cost less than $10. I recommend walking for an Miami Art Deco Tour because you can stop more and take pictures. However, biking gives a fun perspective on the way back! That is until the city gets some Bird scooters, at least!
Know Before You Go: Miami Art Deco Tour
I hope this guide was helpful in planning your own Miami Art Deco Tour! Guided tours can be convenient, but I find with the help of Google, you can learn just as much exploring on your own and tailor the day to your preferences. We did this tour on a sunny day in January, but you could do it anytime of the year, although it may be very hot in the summer. Here’s some other things to keep in mind with exploring the Miami Art Deco District.
- Art Deco style started in Paris is the 1920’s, and made it’s way over to the United States in the 1930’s. Because of the Great Depression, the style was more subdued here.
- The style of Art Deco is described as a representation of luxury, glamour and technological progress. Geometric forms, bright colors, and chrome plating are key features.
- Many of the original Art Deco buildings in Miami were destroyed in the 1970’s. Many of the remaining buildings are now kept up by the Preservation League.
- There are hundreds of buildings of this style in Miami. Even if you don’t see many of the buildings mentioned here, there are plenty of other sights to see in this area.
- Technically, the Art Deco District is located between 23rd Street and Fifth Street. This is a 1.8 mile stretch, but if you follow this guide, it will be a little less than 1.5 miles of walking.
- South Beach is a pretty safe area, especially during the day. However, you should still take normal precautions to avoid pickpocketers in crowded areas.
- If you are driving to South Beach, parking is very expensive. I recommend taking an Uber from your hotel. If you need to park though, the 1675 James Avenue Parking is a lot in a good location.
- Don’t come to Miami unprepared! Check out my Miami Packing List and find out the essentials I recommend for a Miami vacation.
That covers everything for your own self-guided Miami Art Deco Tour! I hope you enjoy seeing this architecture as much as I did. If you are looking for another cool neighborhood to check out, you can read my Four Things to do in Wynwood guide. You do not want to miss visiting Wynwood on your Miami trip!