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Miami

miami vizcaya museum The Art Deco-styled waterfront district of South Beach has it all -- beautifully restored historic buildings, funky shops and boutiques, elegant restaurants and casual cafes, fabulous people-watching, and a wide, clean beach. The Art Deco district runs from 6th to 23rd Streets between Ocean and Lenox avenues, and it's a great spot for a self-guided walking tour (the Art Deco District Welcome Center, 1001 Ocean Drive, has maps).

Rent a car and head to Key Biscayne, an island connected to Miami via two bridges and the Rickenbacker Causeway. Nature, beach and marine enthusiasts can choose between the Miami Seaquarium and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park.

Explore Miami history via the neighborhoods of Coral Gables and Coconut Grove (renting a car is advised). Coral Gables was developed in the 1920's and is best known as home to the Biltmore Hotel, noted for its resemblance to Seville's Giralda Tower. Bring a swimsuit and head to the Venetian Pool, a fantasy-themed public pool created out of a rock quarry.

Coconut Grove is Miami's oldest section, with construction beginning in the 1870's. It's also a place of fashionable boutiques and restaurants. Worth a detour: Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, an early 20th-century Renaissance-style -- and quite grandiose -- estate built for a Chicago industrialist who wanted to recreate a 16th-century Italian estate.

Little Havana is the famous 3.5-square-mile site where many Cubans fled after escaping their country. "Calle Ocho," or 8th Street, is the main drag and central point (particularly between 11th and 17th avenues) and it's best as a walking-around destination. One popular diversion here is watching cigars being rolled at El Credito Cigar Factory.

Serenity seekers should head to Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, where manmade lakes wind around one of the world's largest palm tree collections -- not to mention other verdant examples of flora and fauna.

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