Monday, September 14, 2015

The Florida Riviera

I've never been to the French Riviera, but Miami Beach's South Beach area touts itself as the Florida Riviera. The reason I wanted to visit was because I love anything and everything Art Deco.  And the Art Deco District is the country's first 20th century neighborhood to be recognized by the National Register of Historic Places.

We first drove down Ocean Ave (Hwy A1A) to get a feel for the area and find a place to park.  All the hotels and buildings had either retail shops or restaurants on the ground floor.

Ocean Ave looking south

Ocean Ave looking north

On the eastern side of Ocean Ave, the park has access to the beach, volleyball courts, bathrooms and lots of shade.

We finally found a place to park a couple of blocks away and started walking and gawking at all the Art Deco buildings on the west side.

I liked the tower on this one.

Curved walls made appearances frequently.

The detail is hard to see in pictures, but spectacular in person.

This looks pretty plain in the daylight, but if  you look closely, you'll see the neon tubes on the front.  I imagine the whole street is breathtaking at night!

This hotel has been  renting rooms since 1935.

Another building with a "lighthouse" look.

These hotel rooms have all the modern amenities.

 Park Central hotel was the first hotel to be returned to its original splendor.  The hotel was a hangout for Clark Gable, Carole Lombard and Rita Hayworth, to name a few.

More rounded corners

Once the home of Versace and the location of his death on its front steps, Casa Casaurina is now an upscale restaurant.

It was crazy hot on the boardwalk (it's actually a brick lined sidewalk, but they call it a boardwalk) and way past lunch time, so I told Sid he had to chose where to have lunch.  This place looked happy from the outside and had great salsa music wafting out...


Imagine our surprise when these guys hopped up on the bar and started their routine!

A feast for the female eye!

A little later, the guys got their desserts.  The girl on the left could really shake her booty!

We had a great lunch, but Sid will never live down his choice!  Then it was back out to check out the beach itself.

The beach was very deep and the sand is getting whiter and softer the further south we go.

The lifeguard shacks were colorful.

Beach Patrol headquarters and, more importantly, bathrooms!

Vendors on the beach

Driving through the rest of the area, there were plenty of unusual architecture everywhere.  I don't know where they come up with all the designs, because every single building was different in some way.

Loved the "wings" on top.

Oval shaped buildings

Hotels, condos must have amazing views

I wonder if there are rooms at the top?

Reminds me of a 50s type of building

Great street art

All four corners of this street had differently painted turtles.

Even Walgreen's is into the Deco look!

Home of the first tattoo reality show...

Miami Ink!

Just a fraction of some of the smaller yachts on the intracoastal.

Of course, I can't just show the good - there's also the bad and the ugly...

The bad - homeless sleeping in the park.  We saw quite a few.

The ugly - even South Beach has alleys.

The day was a total feast for our eyes.  Everywhere we looked was something interesting, beautiful or unusual to see.  What a great day!

Tomorrow, we pick up stakes and head to Key West!  I'm so excited, I know I'll have a hard time sleeping tonight!

Until next time...

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