Exploring the rest of Miami Beach
Surely, by now, you've heard of Ocean Drive.
That candy-colored stretch of Miami Beach is home to fabulous art deco architecture, sumptuous streetside cafes, sandy beaches, beautiful people, and dizzying night life.
A hip magazine even takes its name from the less-than-two-dozen blocks of South Beach pavement along the sun-drenched Atlantic Ocean.
But with popularity come crowds, noise, steep hotel prices, and other ills visited on a hotter-than-hot destination.
To be sure, we still love Ocean Drive, but there's much more to Miami Beach.
In the dozen times we've visited the billion-dollar sandbar in the past four years, we've found the best weekend getaway is located in neighborhoods away from Ocean Drive.
Here's our list of things to do that aren't on Ocean Drive, but are still fun in the Miami Beach sun.
Bask in the Miami humidity, the south Florida cafe-society ambience, and the architectural splendor of Lincoln Road, a pedestrian mall that has kept reinventing itself through the decades.
Once a mangrove swamp, Lincoln Road was turned into "the Fifth Avenue of the South" by Midwestern developer Carl Fisher, who is usually referred to as Mr. Miami Beach.
Named after Mr. Fisher's favorite president, Lincoln Road became a four-lane highway with 20-foot-wide sidewalks in front of stores that stretched for blocks.
Legendary Miami Beach architect Morris Lapidus, the father of the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc resorts, turned Lincoln Road into a landscaped and modern sculpture-filled pedestrian mall.
After becoming downright seedy in the 1980s, Lincoln Road has rebounded as a home for unique design shops, colorful art galleries, cutting-edge performing arts, and countless sidewalk cafes.
Lincoln Road is now so popular that chain stores are beginning to crowd mom-and-pop shops out of its cozy confines - but you'll still find much to attract you. It's easy to spend an entire day just in this area.
One of the most moving monuments in the world is located just a few blocks from the heart of Lincoln Road.
The Holocaust Memorial, at 1933-45 Meridian Avenue, provides a dramatic tribute to the 6 million Jewish victims of Nazi terrorism during World War II.
Around the monument, a photographic history chronicles the infamous death camps.
Visitors may move at their own pace through the various exhibits. Admission to the memorial, designed by acclaimed sculptor Kenneth Treister, is free.
Another free attraction is a walk along the boardwalk, which also offers access to several dozen blocks along Miami Beach north of Lincoln Road.
This elevated walkway provides terrific views of the sand. The wooden walkway can be entered from various ramps, scattered along its run between 21st and 45th streets.
Wolfie's, at 2038 Collins Avenue (305-538-6626), has been the Miami Beach delicatessen for decades. Breakfast time means corned-beef hash, bagels, and famous baked-on-the-premises pastries.
For lunch, we go for the can't-miss corned beef as a sandwich on grilled challah bread. A potato pancake on the side, some kosher pickles, and Dr. Brown's black-cherry soda round out the perfect deli lunch.
David's Cafe II, at 1654 Meridian Avenue (305-672-8707), has reasonably priced Cuban food. We feasted on media noches (sandwiches with ham, pork, cheese, pickles, and mustard on grilled Cuban bread), fried plantains, and cafe con leche (rich Cuban coffee with lots of milk). This gem is very close to the Lincoln Road mall.
Osteria del Teatro, 1443 Washington Avenue (305-538-7850), is home to one of the top-10 dining experiences we've had. Think Italian and think lots of choices, with many sumptuous seafood options and some of the most tender and tasty veal on the planet.
The Caesar salad was divine, and dessert was otherworldly. Osteria del Teatro is located in a streamlined wing of the Art Deco Cameo Theater, which adds to its appeal.
The 24 Collection, 744 Lincoln Road (305-673-2455), has a little bit of everything, from designer clothing and one-of-a-kind jewelry to eye-catching furnishings not found elsewhere. And it's just as fun to wander and gawk as it is to buy - not to mention easier on your budget.
Helium, on Seventh Street just east of Collins Avenue (305-538-4111), is the perfect place to find a delightful trinket to take home or a unique gift for a friend. This small shop holds such treasures as funky picture frames, delicate night lights decorated with South Beach scenes, and colorful luxury soaps sold by the slice.
The Shop, 1121 Washington Avenue (305-538-1999), is not for the faint of heart. This clothing store features wild duds guaranteed to get the wearer noticed. Find all the latest trends here - and then some.
Ocean Terrace Beach is less crowded than South Beach, but it has the same spirit-enriching surf, sun, and sand.
The Beach Patrol station at Collins Avenue and 72nd Street is a good place to access the sands for your every sunbathing need.