Tag Archives: Art Deco District

Miami Beach Art Deco Walking Tour, Part Two

Two things we really like about Miami Beach: It’s a very walkable city, and there is Art Deco and Modern architecture pretty much everywhere! Ocean Drive is the epicenter of the Art Deco District, but there’s more to see within walking distance.

Our Miami Beach Art Deco Walking Tour Continues!

If you are joining us from Part One of our Miami Beach Art Deco Walking Tour, you’ve walked down Ocean Drive and across to Washington Avenue. Maybe you’ve even taken the time to visit the Miami Beach Jewish Museum, or discovered Espanola Way. We’ll pick up at the busy corner of Washington and Lincoln Road. (If you missed Part One, you might want to read that for a primer on Art Deco and Ocean Drive.)

Enjoying Lincoln Road

Anybody who’s not super impressed with the beautiful “art-itecture” might humor you by walking along, but they’d probably prefer something else. If you just walked Ocean Drive, by now they may be rolling their eyes every time you stop to take a selfie at another hotel. They are probably ready to do anything besides look at buildings. Maybe some shopping or a movie. They might even volunteer to chill with a nice espresso while you hunt down more Art Deco coolness.

Conveniently, we’re at the Lincoln Road pedestrian mall where we can do all of the above! The open air mall is filled with Art Deco sculptures, fountains and green spaces. There are indoor/outdoor cafes, street performers, and some really great restaurants!

But we’re here for those buildings! Look for the historic the Lincoln Theatre, once owned by the New World Symphony, and the Colony Theatre, which has been restored and is still a performing arts venue. Neither hosts movies anymore, but you may spot the large modern Regal Cinemas South Beach. It’s the big building at Alton Road that looks like a giant Mondrian painting.

Back on the Art Deco Trail

When you’ve had your fill of Lincoln Road, head west to Collins Avenue for more Art Deco landmarks, starting with the stark white Sagamore. It’s the only hotel in South Beach with a subtitle – the Art Hotel. So named because the owners are collectors, and their hotel is home to the Cricket Taplin Collection of contemporary art, on display throughout the hotel.

Two doors down is the gorgeous Delano, which was the tallest building in Miami Beach when it was built in 1947. The iconic Surfcomber is just past 17th street. It has gained fame recently for much-anticipated annual pool parties, and was the scene of the 2005 MTV Music Awards and Pool Party.

The Raleigh Hotel at 18th and Collins is also known for its popular pool parties, but maybe better known for its pool. The ornate beachfront pool is an Art Deco masterpiece itself; In 1947, LIFE Magazine called it “the most beautiful pool in America.” Fashion icon Tommy Hilfiger purchased the hotel in 2015, and it was closed for renovations in 2017 after being hit by Hurricane Irma. (Hilfiger sold the hotel in 2019, with renovations still being completed.) The pool has been largely unchanged from the original 1940 design by prodigious Miami Beach architect L. Murray Dixon.


Into North Beach

There are three more landmark hotels on Collins Avenue in the North Beach neighborhood, which is outside of the Art Deco District. If you venture north past 41st Street, you’ll find the historic Cadillac and Ocean Spray hotels, which stand out as the first two Miami Beach hotels added to the National Register of Historic Places. Both are examples of the Art Deco style in an area known more for the MiMo and Resort Modern styles.

The Cadillac Hotel (now a Marriott Autograph Collection hotel) is right on the Miami Beach Boardwalk, and includes a wonderful lobby gallery detailing the hotel’s role in the 1957 movie Pal Joey. Meanwhile, the Ocean Spray is one of the city’s more unique hotels: Art Deco on the outside, Louis XIV on the inside.

That brings us back to Morris Lapidus’ masterpiece we mentioned in Part One, the fabulous Fontainebleau Miami Beach at 44th Street. While loosely fitting in the Art Deco genre, it is a pioneering example of the Miami Modern (MiMo) style. More than 50 years after its 1954 opening, the venerable Fontainebleau was listed in the American Institute of Architects list of America’s Favorite Architecture.

Photo: Fontainebleau Hotel

The epic Fontainebleau Hotel in North Beach marks the transition from Art Deco to Miami Modern architecture and modern mega resort hotels. (Photo: Wiki Commons)

Depending on far you ventured down Lincoln Road, the walking tour to the Raleigh is just about a mile. Venturing down Collins Avenue to the Fontainebleau is roughly 1.5 miles further. Put together with the Ocean Drive walk in Part One, you could hit almost six miles of easy, level walking (map below).

We took these routes both day and night, and felt safe at all times. If you’d like to break things up, we recommend exploring Lincoln Drive and Espanola Way separately, and save North Beach for a walk along the Miami Beach Boardwalk. However you plan it, you’ll have a great time exploring Miami Beach on foot.

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A Captivating Miami Beach Art Deco Walking Tour

Around 1915, a few blocks of buildings on a barrier island in Florida’s Biscayne Bay were incorporated as the City of Miami Beach. The rest, as they say, is history. Glamorous Art Deco history, to be exact. read more