South Beach

Five miles of fabulous


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The story of South Beach is as colorful as its iconic lifeguard huts. The most famous stretch of shoreline in Florida has burned hard and fast since its transformation from mangrove-covered sandbar to coconut farm in 1870. In the 1920s, Miami Beach became a vacation hot spot for the wealthy, from Harvey Firestone to Al Capone and starlets posed on the beach. Candy-colored Art Deco buildings began to pop up -- and they’re still one of South Beach’s most enduring assets.

Jackie Gleason shot his show here in the ‘60s, Gianni Versace was shot here in the ‘90s and today the glitz and glamour lives on in the form of high-end hotels and nightclubs that line the Atlantic coastline (that resembles a more built-up Bahamas). The beach itself stretches from South Pointe Pier -- the sleepier end, which is great for families (and on the rare occasion there’s a swell, surfers) -- up to 21st Street and beyond. The gay beach is located at 12th Street, adjacent to Ocean Drive and this area, up to around 19th Street, is also home to festivals year-round. Here’s a tip: Hit the beach before 9 a.m. and, aside from a handful of tanned joggers and yogis, it'll be all yours.

Photos: Felix Mizioznikov/ Shutterstock, Ramunas Bruzas/ Shutterstock, Shutterstock, Shutterstock

Did you know?

A greasy lotion invented in the 1940s by Miami pharmacist Benjamin Green became the best-selling Coppertone sunscreen.


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