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Art Deco Tour in Miami (Self Guided), Miami

Take a tour to visit the most astounding constructions and places of interest in the Miami Beach Art Deco District. The buildings were built by famous architects and their design is worth to be admired. Aside from this, the tour will help you learn new things about the history of the city.
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Art Deco Tour in Miami Map

Guide Name: Art Deco Tour in Miami
Guide Location: USA » Miami (See other walking tours in Miami)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 15
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.3 Km or 1.4 Miles
Author: stacey
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Art Deco Welcome Center
  • Clevelander Hotel
  • Versace Mansion - The Villa Casa Casuarina
  • Tides Hotel
  • The Carlyle
  • Cardozo Hotel
  • Cavalier Hotel
  • McAlpin Hotel
  • 1450 Collins Avenue
  • Webster Hotel
  • Marlin Hotel
  • Essex House Hotel
  • Hotel of South Beach
  • Colony Hotel
  • Breakwater Hotel
1
Art Deco Welcome Center

1) Art Deco Welcome Center

The Art Deco Welcome Center located at Ocean Drive in Miami Beach is run by the Miami Design Preservation League and hosts tours, lectures, films and exhibitions about the Art Deco district of the city. The purpose of the center is to preserve the unique architecture found on the three streets that make up the district.

The Art Deco district of Miami consists of three parallel streets, Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue and Washington Avenue. In the 1920s and 30s art deco was regarded as an ultra modern style of architecture. Today, it has become retrograde. The art deco buildings in Miami are pastel colored with a uniqueness and intricacy in design. The structures were built in the 1920s and 1930s and today house hotels and restaurants. The original facades are preserved thanks to the efforts of the Miami Design Preservation League.

The center also has informational maps pamphlets and books about art deco, including the Art Deco Guide which describes all the buildings in the district. Guided group tours conducted by local historians are available at the Art Deco Welcome Center. There is also a shop selling gifts with an art deco theme.
2
Clevelander Hotel

2) Clevelander Hotel

Built in 1938 by the famous architect Albert Anis and restored in 2009, this beautiful hotel is an icon in the heart of Miami’s Art Deco district and is located right across the street from the Art Deco Welcome Center. It features a stylish patio bar and a nightly schedule of live entertainment including live DJs, fire shows, and go-go dancers, so please feel free to stop by for a drink.
3
Versace Mansion - The Villa Casa Casuarina

3) Versace Mansion - The Villa Casa Casuarina

Villa Casa Casuarina, also known as Versace Mansion for being the former home of the late Italian designer Gianni Versace, was built in 1930s. The original owner and designer, Alden Freeman, when visiting Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic, saw the Alcazar De Colon built by Diego Columbus (Christopher Columbus’s Son) during the early 16th century. Freeman was impressed by beauty of Alcazar De Colon so after he came back to Florida, he built his private mansion modeled after Alcazar De Colon.

Villa Casa Casuarina was later purchased by the Italian clothes designer Gianni Versace, hence the new name. Tragically, Gianni Versace was murdered in front of the building in 1997.

According to the legend, the name of the mansion came from the last tree that remaining on the lot where the mansion was built after a hurricane that hit Miami in 1926. It was the only tree remaining while all other trees were uprooted by the hurricane. The name of the tree was the Casuarina Equisetifolia, which is more commonly known as the Australian Pine Tree.
4
Tides Hotel

4) Tides Hotel

Often called as "The Diva of Ocean Drive", the Tides hotel is one of the tallest and most elegant Art Deco hotels in Miami Beach. It is very beautiful, done almost entirely in white linens and candles. It is considered a sophisticated, sedate and luxurious building in a contemporary atmosphere.

The hotel was designed by L. Murray Dixon who was one of the city’s most prolific architects of the Art Deco era. When it was completed in 1936, it was the tallest building in South Beach.
5
The Carlyle

5) The Carlyle

The Carlyle is another iconic landmark in South Beach. Its façade remains virtually unchanged since the original building was completed in 1941. The Carlyle frequently serves as a backdrop in Hollywood movies - you may have seen it in Scarface, The Birdcage, Random Hearts, Bad Boys and more.

The design of The Carlyle combines contemporary architecture with rounded edges and a stand-out paint scheme that catches everyone's attention. It was a natural fit for being the place of the gay nightclub in the movie The Birdcage.

A short walk from Gianni Versace’s former mansion, this historic building was designed by the late German architect Richard Kiehnel and opened its door as a hotel in 1941. The Carlyle is now a private residential building with condos available for vacation rental.
6
Cardozo Hotel

6) Cardozo Hotel

Designed by architect Henry Hohauser and completed in 1939, The Cardozo is another fine example of traditional art deco style, featuring rounded edges combined with the straight lines of the windows. The hotel was named after Benjamin Cardozo, one of the first Jewish jurors appointed to the US Supreme Court.

The Cardozo has also appeared in several Hollywood movies such as Any Given Sunday, There’s Something About Mary, Marley & Me, and The Birdcage. In There’s Something About Mary, it is in this hotel where Mary infamously borrows Ted’s “hair gel”.
7
Cavalier Hotel

7) Cavalier Hotel

Regarded as a masterpiece of the Art Deco movement, The Cavalier Hotel was designed by architect Roy F. France in 1936. Unlike most art deco buildings in this area using horizontal lines as a main feature in their design, The Cardozo Hotel bucks this trend by going for a more vertical style. The decorative stucco friezes outside the building draw your eyes upward. As a result, The Cardozo Hotel looks strikingly different from the nearby buildings. Much like The Carlyle and The Cardozo, The Cavalier also frequently serves as a filming spot in Hollywood movies.
8
McAlpin Hotel

8) McAlpin Hotel

The McAlpin is one of the finest examples of Art Deco architecture in Miami with its perfectly symmetrical design, eye catching Miami pastel hues of pink and turquoise, and the cute face formed in the center of the building by three windows and the dividing lines. It was designed in 1940 by Lawrence Murray Dixon who is considered as one of the great minds in the art deco movement and left behind several other buildings in South Beach.

Today The McAlpin is one of the most popular selfie spots in the art deco district. The hotel is now owned by Hilton and is available for reservations for your ultimate Miami Beach stay.
9
1450 Collins Avenue

9) 1450 Collins Avenue

Designed by Henry Hohauser in 1939, this art deco gem has a distinctive Streamline Moderne style with its sleek, splendidly curved facade and six decorative porthole windows. Hohauser is credited as one of the principal architects behind the art deco styling of South Beach.

It was originally opened business as Hoffman’s Cafeteria before hosting a few other tenants over the years, such as the China Club and Ovo, before became the Warsaw Ballroom, the famed gay bars that inspired the 1996 Hollywood movie, The Birdcase. Today, this iconic art deco building hosts probably the world’s most glamorous Senor Frogs, a Mexican-theme franchised "infamous party scene" bar and grill.
10
Webster Hotel

10) Webster Hotel

The Webster is another master piece of Henry Hohauser. The Webster perfectly captures the spirit of Miami with its straight lines, ornate carvings, and neon accents. Conforming to Hohauser’s "Law of Three", the building is sliced into thirds both horizontally and vertically, with a trio of windows running across its facade.

It was initially a hotel before became a high-end fashion boutique, with the luxury designer names you’d expect, from Acne to Lanvin. But fear not - you don’t have to be Bill Gates to enjoy it. You can simply order yourself a cup of coffee in the lobby and admire the original polished terrazzo floors, gleaming staircases and pastel-colored decor.
11
Marlin Hotel

11) Marlin Hotel

The Marlin was designed by another notable architect of the era, L Murray Dixon. The 1939 building bears Dixon's trademark design, "eyebrows" over the windows. Its style reminds one the sci-fi serials of the era such as Flash Gordon.

It was one of Miami’s first boutique hotels and sits in the very heart of the art-deco area of South Beach. In the 1990’s, the hotel was transposed into a tropical retreat for some of the world's most renowned recording artists and performers. Today the hotel is a member of a Miami-based hospitality group, the MRK Collection, and welcomes guests who want to combine their love of history, the beach, the ocean, and fantastic South Beach nightlife.
12
Essex House Hotel

12) Essex House Hotel

The Essex is another masterpiece by the Floridian architect Henry Hohauser. The 1938 gem features a style of Maritime deco which is also known as Nautical Moderne. The building resembles a cruise ship heading into the ocean. In Miami, the Art Deco movement wasn’t just about bright and rich colors, it was also about trying out various architectural design styles.

The Essex is rich with marine elements, from the rows of porthole-style windows and the natty racing stripes, to the towering smokestack-like sign. The natty racing stripes that wrap around the building even continue inside the lobby where you can also find a rare mural painted by the Floridian painter Earl LaPan above the fireplace. LaPan left behind more than 300 paintings across South Florida, but many of his works were sadly removed or painted over. This painting not only survived but also was restored by LaPan himself in the 1980s.
13
Hotel of South Beach

13) Hotel of South Beach

This beautifully restored hotel is another design by L. Murray Dixon. The Hotel was previously caled The Tiffany, and it changed to the current name after fashion designer Todd Oldham bought the building in late 1990s.

When the building was erected in 1939, neon was still a novelty. The hotel's original, Tiffiny, was spelled vertically in eye-catching neon on the building’s iconic aluminum spire. The use of neon and the spire’s rocket-like shape create a futuristic look influenced by the sci-fi themes then pervasive in popular culture. Although the hotel has been renamed, the new owner elected to keep the Tiffany sign and it is still in use to this day.
14
Colony Hotel

14) Colony Hotel

Built in 1935, The Colony was another design of the Floridian architect Henry Hohauser. The Colony was one of the first art deco buildings in South Beach after the horrific hurricane of 1926 practically wiped out the city of Miami. The building's facade underscores the Art Deco style - simple and symmetrical. The bold geometric elements like the inverted "T" in the front of the building bears the hotel's name and the horizontal eyebrows above the windows give a little extra shade to the guests as they looking into the ocean.

Beautiful during the day, the Colony truly comes alive at night when the glowing neon lights up, illuminating in electric blues and bright purples. The Colony's iconic blue glow has been a symbol of South Beach since it was born in 1935.
15
Breakwater Hotel

15) Breakwater Hotel

Designed in 1936 by Yugoslavian architect Anton Skiskewicz, The Breakwater remains one of Miami’s most iconic Art Deco buildings. The building features a perfect symmetry which is emblematic of the Art Deco movement during that period. The art deco style is also reflected in its use of bright yellow and blue colors against its cream base. The tower in the middle rises above the neighborhood and can be seen almost anywhere in Lummus Park when the electric-blue sign lights up at night.

The Breakwater was extensively renovated in 2011, restoring the 99-room boutique hotel to its former glory.

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