Miami South Beach Walking Tour, Miami

Miami South Beach Walking Tour (Self Guided), Miami

Visiting Miami you are very likely, at some point, to end up in South Beach. One of America's preeminent resorts known for its beaches and the glamorous scene around its happening nightspots and celebrity-chef eateries, this trendy and quirky neighborhood, nicknamed colloquially as SoBe, attracts the rich, famous, and youthful for almost a century, and is generally a fun place to be. Apart from enjoying the beach itself, there is no shortage of things that you can do in South Beach.

Lincoln Road, Ocean Drive, and Collins Avenue are the most popular local destinations. The former of them is an open-air pedestrian mall, considered South Beach's premier retail area lined with chain stores and indie fashion shops. The easternmost street in the neighborhood, Ocean Drive, is responsible for the South Beach aesthetic that most out-of-town visitors expect; it is renowned for its well-preserved Art Deco architecture and outdoor cafes. Parallel to Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue is a home to many historic Art Deco hotels and several nightclubs to the north.

Running west from Collins Avenue is Española Way. Conceived in 1925 as "The Historic Spanish Village", this street is filled with all sorts of restaurants, bars, art galleries, and shops.

At Lummus Park you can soak in some sun whilst also gazing at the impressive Art Deco skyline.

And if it's the fine oceanside dining that you're after, then Joe’s Stone Crab is your place. Established 100 years ago, this is one of the most beloved and widely recognized restaurants in the world, famous for its Florida Stone Crab, signature sides and Key Lime Pie.

To experience Miami's South Beach for yourself the right way, take this self-guided walk and explore some of the area's most notable attractions.
How it works: Download the app "GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities" from iTunes App Store or Google Play to your mobile phone or tablet. The app turns your mobile device into a personal tour guide and its built-in GPS navigation functions guide you from one tour stop to next. The app works offline, so no data plan is needed when traveling abroad.

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Miami South Beach Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Miami South Beach Walking Tour
Guide Location: USA » Miami (See other walking tours in Miami)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 8
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 4.0 Km or 2.5 Miles
Author: stacey
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Lincoln Road
  • Espanola Way
  • World Erotic Art Museum
  • Lummus Park Beach
  • Art Deco Gift Shop
  • Ocean Drive
  • Collins Avenue
  • Joe’s Stone Crab
1
Lincoln Road

1) Lincoln Road (must see)

Lincoln Road, the popular name for Lincoln Road Mall, is a pedestrian walk in Miami, located between Washington Avenue and Alton Road.

Lincoln Road was developed by real estate magnate, Carl Fisher, as Miami’s equivalent to Fifth Avenue in New York. Back in the 1920s and 30s, it was the most fashionable shopping street in the South. The area suffered neglect after World War II. In 1960, architect Morris Lapidus was commissioned by Miami Beach to rejuvenate Lincoln Road and thus the present mall was created. When opened to the public, it was one of the first outdoor pedestrian walkways in the country. Lincoln Road Mall was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2011.

Today, the past glory of Lincoln Road has returned, featuring some of the best shopping and restaurants in Miami. The abundance of Art Deco and Mediterranean architecture is lavishly complemented by green spaces and water gardens to enhance the appearance of the mall. The local amenities include a multiplex cinema hall, a concert hall for the New World Symphony Orchestra and the 1111, Lincoln Road, parking installation designed by the Swiss design firm, Herzog and De Mueron. Visitors can also enjoy performances by street musicians while shopping or eating at one of Lincoln Road’s numerous cafes or restaurants.

Why You Should Visit:
This place is like an open-air mall. Part of it is closed off to traffic. Dining outside is plentiful.
Tours can be booked for many sites and attractions. The beach is nearby.
Even dogs are welcome to dine with you and are given water by the waiters.
2
Espanola Way

2) Espanola Way

Española Way is a charming pedestrian area between 14th and 15th Street in Miami Beach, stretching from Washington Avenue to the western corners of Drexel Avenue. Designed in Mediterranean Revival style, featuring Spanish colonial architecture, Española Way lives up to its name and, in essence, represents a quaint, picturesque Spanish-inspired village with open-air streets lined with restaurants and cafes that you can walk along and enjoy people-watching, or just sit and grab a cup of coffee or a glass of wine, or have some lunch with your friends or dinner with your partner in a romantic setting. The area is absolutely beautiful during the day and would make a lovely place for a stroll under the warm Miami sunshine or at night when the streets resemble little twinkling strings of cafe lights.

In May 2017, Española Way underwent a $2.5 million revitalization, turning into a pedestrian-only zone. Now that its renaissance is in full swing, Española Way lives out the intentions of those who built it almost a century ago as a festive street where the locals and travelers can congregate and mingle.

Why you should visit:
Since the turn of the century, Española has been the home to one of South Beach's most iconic cafes, A La Folie. Among other homey delights of French cuisine locally hard-to-find, this bohemian hideaway serves tartiflette, a gooey potato-and-onion gratin dotted with cubes of fatty bacon and layered with deliciously pungent Reblochon cheese from the Alps.
If you're in for some other forms of passing time away than drinking and dining, feel free to check out Española for free yoga or salsa classes on Saturday mornings and Thursday nights respectively, or come to enjoy the outdoor flamenco shows on Friday nights.
3
World Erotic Art Museum

3) World Erotic Art Museum

While the words “erotic” and “museum” do not usually rub shoulders, in lexical terms that is, in Miami Beach everything is possible. One such instance is the World Erotic Art Museum (WEAM). Established in 2005, this fornication fortress explores thousands of years of sexuality through classical art, ancient artifacts and a trove of sex toys, from a Kama Sutra-carved bed to dominatrix Barbie dolls, totaling more than 4,000 items, ranging from 300 BCE to the immediate present.

Amid an array of sex-related paintings, tapestries, sculptures, jewelry and art objects coming from all the four corners of the world, mostly one of a kind, this quirky museum features a sizable collection of antique penises of every imaginable shape and size. In addition to numerous artifacts that fill up more than 20 rooms and 12,000 square feet of space, the WEAM offers tonnes of information about ancient sexual practices, explaining the role of sex in different cultures, art mediums and lifestyles in a tasteful historic time line.

Why you should visit:
If you need to kill some time before heading out to dinner, consider grabbing your friend and checking out this cornucopia of coitus, where you can both enjoy the historic information about sex throughout human history while also giggling at penis-shaped things.
Seeing this fascinating and captivating collection of erotic art, the largest in America, is a can't miss South Beach experience – thrilling, sensual, erotic and educational!

Opening hours:
Monday-Thursday from 11am to 10pm, Friday-Sunday from 11am to midnight.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
4
Lummus Park Beach

4) Lummus Park Beach (must see)

Tucked between the Atlantic and Ocean Drive in the Art Deco Historic District of South Beach, Lummus Park is the mother of all beaches in Miami-Dade. Reveling in all of its quirky pastel glory, over the years, this stretch of sand has been the backdrop for many television and film scenes.

Most of the buildings surrounding the beachfront area predate 1926 and feature a range of styles, including Mediterranean revival, vernacular frame and masonry. The simple frame and masonry styles came about due to the warm subtropical climate of the city, while the Mediterranean Revival was inspired by Southern European architecture. Somewhat contrasting these are the old Scottish Rite Temple and the Trinity CME Church.

A good number of structures within the area are of historic importance and date back to the days of the Pioneers. In particular, two important landmarks were shifted here in a bid to prevent their demolition, namely: Fort Dallas – the earliest example of a native limestone architecture – a memorial to the military history of Miami; and the other landmark – William Wagner House – built between 1855 and 1858 by a well-known pioneer citizen, who also established the first church in Miami Dade County. This house is the oldest braced frame and masonry Pioneer house in Miami.

One of the first recreational spaces in the city, established in 1909, Lummus Park is fitted with public restrooms and paved promenade for cycling, walking and jogging. But its main amenity, undoubtedly, is the beach itself with clear turquoise water and tall beautiful palm trees. With Brazilian bikinis and fluorescent tans dotting the place as far as the eye can see, you may tire your neck from spinning around doing a double-take at colorful locals. Right in front of the beach entrance there is a mini playground for kids aged 2 to 5, in case they are not tired enough playing in the water all day, plus beach volleyball and basketball courts. And once you've soaked up all of the sun you can possibly fit into one day, you may wish to explore the abundance of shopping, restaurants, bars and sidewalk cafes lining Ocean Drive just a walking distance away.

Why You Should Visit:
The all-encompassing South Beach experience. A combination of retro buildings, palm tree-lined streets and cerulean water makes it a location for that postcard-perfect shot. Always crowded, it is ideal for people watching, too, or just for sitting and feeling the ocean breeze.
Also great for a boardwalk stroll, working out, running, surfing, or cycling with rental bikes.
The gay beach at 12th Street is the everlasting heartbeat of Lummus Park.
5
Art Deco Gift Shop

5) Art Deco Gift Shop

The Art Deco style of architecture and Miami Beach are an inseparable combination, much like Miamians and their café con leche. Walk through the historical Art Deco district of the city and you will see exquisitely restored buildings, painted in various hues of peach, periwinkle, purple, and turquoise, and adorned with intricately crafted motifs. Defining the character of Miami Beach, this extravagant style of architecture inspires a sense of decadent leisure. If you want to replicate a similar sense of relaxation at home or present a slice of Miami’s easy repose to a loved one, pick up a couple of vibrant Art Deco posters from the many stores lining Collins Avenue or Ocean Drive.

Alternatively, you can head to the Official Art Deco Welcome Center and Gift Shop, which is part of the oldest Art Deco Society in the world, and is located right on Ocean Drive in the heart of the Art Deco area. This little gift shop contains an incredible variety of historical items and quaint, vintage merchandise reflecting the style of the 1920/30s. A great place to pick something up from the good old days, as well as some cold water if you are super heated from the Miami sun.

Why you should visit:
Lots of unique items and very helpful and friendly staff! Plenty of wonderful souvenirs to bring home for yourself or another lover of Art Deco memorabilia. NOTE: 50% of your purchase goes to the preservation of historical architecture here in the Art Deco district.

What to buy here:
Original Art Deco posters, t-shirts, clothing, accessories, books, cards, bakelite jewelry, chrome cocktail shakers, coasters, memorabilia, and one-of-a-kind art and vintage items.

Business hours: Monday-Sunday: 9:30 am - 7:30 pm.
6
Ocean Drive

6) Ocean Drive (must see)

With more than 900 Art Deco, 1930s/50s-style buildings gathered in one place, including marvels of architecture like the Colony Hotel, a South Beach landmark built in 1939, Ocean Drive is an iconic place located in the heart of South Beach. A mere walk here is an irreplaceable Miami experience, and it's true not only for lovers of sleek lines standard in the Art Deco movement, but also for the average Joe craving to visit the scenic thoroughfare and get a sense of its history and culture.

While many of the local hotels, sidewalk cafes and restaurants are disgracefully expensive (how about a $65 margarita for size), this is still a perfect spot for weird people watching, taking photos and soaking up the nightlife atmosphere of Miami. This said, however, it doesn't mean that you won't be able to find a few affordable and relatively hidden gems along the way either.

Aside from a mix of restaurants, nightclubs, retailers, Art Deco hotels and galleries, there are more than 30 designer boutiques in Ocean Drive, including Guess, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger, and Kenneth Cole, making it the linchpin street in setting up fashion trends of the city. With a clothing store practically around every corner, Ocean Drive is rightfully regarded to be the “Capital of Cool” whose youthful outfits, like Zara, Uggs, Free People and H&M, appeal to a younger and not so younger crowd anxious to stay ahead of the curve.

Why you should visit:
If there's any street synonymous with South Beach – central to the story of Miami's evolution as an arts, fashion, cultural, celebrity and entertainment hub – it is Ocean Drive. Walking down this avenue is like passing through a time capsule, where the past and present of Miami intersect harmoniously.
7
Collins Avenue

7) Collins Avenue

Lined with palm trees and styled like a “millionaires' thoroughfare,” just a block away from Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue is a major artery of Miami Beach, running parallel to the beachfront. It was named after John S. Collins (1837–1928), who built the first bridge over Biscayne Bay, connecting Miami Beach to the mainland, with the financial assistance of Carl Graham Fisher.

The avenue houses a unique variety of retailers, luxury resorts and famous historic boutique hotels like The Wyndham Miami Beach Resort, the Eden Roc and the Fontainebleau Hotel. The latter, designed by Morris Lapidus in the curvy, flamboyant Neo-baroque fashion that defined the 1950s "Miami Beach" resort style, provided setting for some of the scenes from the Hollywood blockbuster movie “The BodyGuard” starring Kevin Costner and Whitney Houston.

Along with the hotels, Collins is also home to a number of nightclubs to the north, including Rokbar (est. 1905) and Mynt (est. 1921).

If you're a shopping addict, Collins Avenue may keep you going for hours, especially early in the morning, when you can leisurely call the line of local outlets, such as Steve Madden, Victoria’s Secret, Guess, Urban Outfitters, Surf Style, Arden B, Walgreens and many other US brands, to have some really good deals along with the wonderfully friendly service. The stretch of Collins Avenue between 5th and 9th Street is occupied by the likes of Barney’s New York, Armani Exchange and the new location of the Kardashian-owned Dash Boutique.

Many of these stores are conveniently located inside historic Art Deco buildings, which makes shopping here twice as fun. And with the traffic crawling at the maximum speed of 25 mph, you can see without effort all the posers and fancy cars along the way, while strolling with a cool shopping bag in your hand, or just chilling on the sidewalk with a coffee or beer.
8
Joe’s Stone Crab

8) Joe’s Stone Crab

Steeped in tradition and reputed as South Florida’s most famous restaurant, the legendary Joe’s Stone Crab has been around since 1913. It started off as a small lunch counter (seven/eight tables) set up on the front porch of the house overlooking the beach, before Miami Beach was even a city.

Initially, they served snapper, pompano, mackerel, and some meat dishes, and it wasn't until 1921 that the stone crabs came into play. Prior to that, no one even knew that this local crustacean was edible. The bay was full of them, so when they started serving the crabs chilled and cracked with hash brown potatoes, cole slaw, and mayonnaise, they were an instant success.

Right from its inception, the place established itself as an iconic part of Miami’s culinary landscape, delivering the now famous seasonal stone crabs with a “secret” garlic sauce. Complemented by dedication of Joe’s owners and top-notch staff, some of whom have worked here for decades, the place ensures a welcoming, warm atmosphere that has kept locals, tourists, and celebrities alike coming back again and again in their numbers.

In fact, anyone who is well known and ever set foot in Miami Beach, regardless of where they come from, would stop in at Joe's. The list of Joe's guests, several of whom became lifelong close friends, forms a veritable Who's Who of the 20th century. Among them are the likes of The Duke and Duchess of Windsor, and J. Edgar Hoover. Al Capone, too, under the alias of Al Brown, used to come here regularly, whilst in town.

Joe’s is currently owned and run by the 3rd and 4th generations of the original family. The restaurant has its own fisheries, full-time butcher and commitment to consistent, premium ingredients, ensuring all their dishes are prepared and served with the utmost in quality and freshness. In order to get in, you might have to wait a bit, but rest assured that it is well worth your while.

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