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Miami
 
  To Airline   Fare  
  Miami British Airways fr £229
  Miami Delta Airlines fr £209
  Miami United Airlines fr £229
  Miami

Continental Airlines

fr £289
  Miami Virgin Atlantic fr £249
 

A febrile, glamorous melting pot with a hint of danger.

It used to be called 'God's Waiting Room' because of the many octogenarians eking out their last moments by the pool. Today the old folks mingle with fashion designers, bikini models and Cuban émigrés, and the city that once had the highest murder rate in the US attracts millions of tourists.

Greater Miami is a melting pot that would make America's founders swell with pride. Half the population is Hispanic, giving the city an international outlook that feels rare in the USA. For the casual visitor this means a city spiced with Latin American food, language, music, politics and spirit.

Weather

South Florida's warm weather was the only reason anyone ever thought of inhabiting the area in the first place. Ideal conditions on Miami Beach exist between December and May, when temperatures average between 15°C (60°F) and 30°C (85°F), and rainfall is scant. Summer is very hot and humid, with thunderstorms rolling in during the late afternoon. June is the rainiest month, August the hottest, and hurricanes hit from July through September. Because of the humidity, Miami heat can often feel a lot hotter than the temperature reading suggests, but ocean breezes help clear the sultry air.

You can't get much further south in the US than Miami, so when it gets hot, it's searing; consequently winter is the peak season. The city bulges at this time: most of the US squeezes in while the rest of the country freezes their Fanny-Maes off. The 'in-between' months, especially August through to November, see a range of enticing festivals so reservations come in handy at this time. The Calle Ocho Festival in March and the White Party in November especially draws the crowds.

A Top Day in Miami

Miami is renowned for its Deco architecture so, for the next few hours, prise yourself away from the beaches and soak up some of the prettiest concrete around. The best place to start is at the Art Deco Welcome Center, at Ocean and 10th Street. This stretch is named Barbara Capitman Way after the preservationist who founded the Miami Design Preservation League in 1976. Step inside for a permanent exhibit on Deco style, then head outside and go north along colourful Ocean Ave; between 12th and 14th Streets you'll see three classic examples of Deco hotels: the Leslie, a typically boxy shape; the Carlyle, more modernistic and featured in the film The Birdcage ; and the elegant Cardozo, built by Henry Hohauser and featuring sleek, rounded edges.

Best get some caffeine to stave off the hangover, and fresh Florida orange juice to wash off the tongue, at Puerto Sagua in South Beach. Then I believe I'll sleep on the beach...What? Oh, you want a full top day. Well, assuming my head is clear, after a swim I might stroll past some Deco hotels and visit the Wolfsonian-FIU to put their design in cultural context.

I'll sip a coffee and browse the shelves in Books and Books on Lincoln Road, and then roll up Collins Ave in my station wagon, listening to '80s music and imagining I'm in Grand Theft Auto: Vice City.

 
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