Throughout the years, Miami's reputation as a city of decadence has played a number of starring roles. In the '80s, it was the setting for the sleek criminal drama, Miami Vice, where most episodes focused on combating drugs and prostitution on the streets of South Beach. In the '90s, Will Smith's summer anthem "Miami" described a never-ending spring break-like atmosphere, surpassing New York and Los Angeles as the place to "party in the city where the heat is on, all night on the beach 'til the break of dawn". And in the last year, the cast of the MTV show Jersey Shore took Miami Beach by storm, creating "situation" after "situation" in clubs across town.
This week, our writers will introduce you to a different side of the city's decadent nature; Miami has also become the place to sample cutting-edge art and food. In Uncovering treasures at Art Basel Miami Beach, Nicole Berry provides tips on navigating the more than 250 exhibits in this year's Art Basel, one of the biggest art events of the year. Plus, Suemedha Sood speaks with art historian Perri Roberts about how Miami's art scene has evolved over the last decade. This February also marks the 10-year anniversary of the Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival, and Amy Klein explains how the culinary arts in Miami have been elevated to a religion.
The last time I was in Miami, I did not have time to dine or dance on shore. Like many people that pass through Miami International Airport, I was about to embark on a cruise bound for Mexico. However, after one night at sea, we awoke to find the boat had not made it farther than Key West — a mere three and a half hours from where we had set sail nearly 24 hours before.
The Florida Keys, a 113-mile-long chain of islands, is one of the five suggestions in Lonely Planet's top five day trips from Miami, but the laid-back streets feel more like they belong in the Caribbean. Spend a day there (or three, as I did while we waited for the boat's engine to be fixed), and you will fall in love with the friendly, beach bum lifestyle. For more active travelers, Adam McCulloch's Kayaking the Florida Keys: A how-to guide explains which route to take, which kayak to choose and the best time of year to paddle through the miles of mangroves.
And when you are ready to start partying again, A guide to Miami nightlife will get you past the velvet ropes at some of the hottest clubs in town.