Unplanned by us, our trip to Miami coincided with the annual Art Deco weekend - which is a celebration of art deco architecture unique to Miami Beach. The main strip, Ocean Drive turned into a pedestrian-only street fair - with stalls on either side selling a variety of vintage/ art deco items and small eats and $5 mojitos - the latter I had plenty of!
There was also a parade of classic cars including a DMC Delorean complete with a young Marty McFly.
Art Deco architecture is the only other main draw of South Beach besides the beach itself. We took advantage of the festive weekend by taking a walking tour run by the Miami Design Preservation League.
We discovered that Art Deco became popular after the Paris Exposition in the 1920s and is identified by the presence of ziggurat (stepped) rooflines, overall symmetry, decorative sculptural panels, concrete "eyebrow" panels over windows, round porthole windows, terrazzo floors, curved edges and corners.
Since Miami planning rules required buildings over three-floors install elevators, Art Deco built in that heyday rarely went above that limit.
No new Art Deco buildings can be built in Miami so what you see is what was erected decades ago. Also any expansion to existing buildings can not alter any design elements of the original facade - add-ons can only take inspiration from the original but is forbidden from being identical to it entirely!
|These arrows are in the Essex - which was a not-so-discreet way to direct guests back in the day to the clandestine gambling den in the hotel|
We stayed at Prime, a boutique hotel in the southern end of Miami Beach known as SoFi (short for south of fifth). The location was perfect, we were a block from the ocean and a 15 minute walk from the main art deco strip - a great way to build up our appetite or burn off the indulging we partook those four days. There was also a roofdeck with a pool - a great spot to laze and take outfit photos - when we weren't on the beach that is!
|H&M Dress (sim), Zara stretch belt (sim and sim), Vincci Malaysia sandals (sim)|
Lastly, here are my dining notes from the weekend - all of which are located on the island. Skip the mediocre offerings on Ocean Drive and head to these instead:
Prime 112 - scene-y Miami steakhouse which was part of our hotel. This place seemed to be the hottest place in town. The people-watching was priceless, so were the gratis smoked bacon served at the bar while waiting for a table. It's not cheap but the gigantic portions make up for it. Order the sesame-crusted tuna if you don't eat steak like me.
Yardbird - hearty, casual southern food. Must orders: the chicken and friend green tomatoes. The cocktails here skew towards rye-based liqours that even a gin-drinker like me had great appreciation for. Very excited for their potential expansion into New York!
Khong River House - part of the Yardbird empire. We dined at brunch and had their to-die-for coconut pancakes served with an unusual but tasty thai-style syrup.
My Ceviche - hole-in-wall place that serves tacos and really fresh ceviche. There is a singular bench to sit on so we took it away to eat on the balcony attached to our hotel room.
Florida Cookery - I chose this based on the desire to have local Floridian dishes. While I couldn't tell how authentic the food was, I really liked how fresh and light most of the dishes were. Plus it is housed in the swanky James Hotel and has a lush view of the Atlantic.
Las Olas - a local Cuban cafe. The Cuban coffee was so yum, albeit heavy-handed on the sugar. Skip the cuban sandwiches for the empanadas instead - and don't leave without some sugarcane juice to-go.
I had a great time in Miami and look forward to coming back!