Thursday, February 3, 2011

Exploring America’s Riviera

We’re so quick to think of places outside of the U.S. as exotic, romantic, or fascinating that we often forget about the places under our noses, like the Miami area’s “Riviera.” Even if you live in Florida--or in Miami, for that matter--there are places to explore. Hop in a SoBe rickshaw, take an Art Deco tour, sit alongside Ocean Drive bathed in neon light... that’s just the start of the leisure options. America’s Riviera is one of the most inspiring destinations for boating and yacht enthusiasts, providing snaking canals and wide-open bay cruising for sailboats, yachts, dinghies, and even kayaks.

CNN’s been exploring the Miami area for some of the best places for boating enthusiasts, and these were their top choices.

Biscayne Bay
Planning on fishing from your boat? Biscayne Bay extends all the way to the Florida Keys and has been called a “sailing paradise.” You can fish in nearly any category when you take to Biscayne Bay, and then you can sail right on by the Vizcaya Museum, where you can easily pull in and anchor. The Tea Room Pergola sits at the shore at Vizcaya and would be a great resting spot on land.

Accommodation Suggestion:

Four Seasons Hotel Miami
This hotel sits a single block away from Biscayne Bay, and it’s been called a “sophisticated urban oasis” by reviewers. Just a drive across the bridge will take you to Miami Beach, and the view itself from the glittering hotel makes it worth looking into.

South Beach
Not just for the young set, South Beach is perfect for Art Deco touring and watching boats drift by on the beach. Joe’s Stone Crab restaurant, established in 1913, is a must-visit Miami eatery and first started out when Collins Avenue was a rutted dirt road. Today, South Beach is teeming with sights and shopping options, and it’s the perfect place to take the night off, too. Staying close by will allow you to make the most of your stay.

Accommodation Suggestions:

Hotel Victor South Beach
Want to see the Art Deco district up close? Hotel Victor in South Beach is in the perfect spot to give you views of passerby and those famed Miami Art Deco buildings. Vibrant and well-decorated, Hotel Victor South Beach also offers international dining and an al fresco terrace.

The Tides South Beach
All of the suites at The Tidal South Beach flaunt gorgeous ocean views, so you won’t need to worry about what room to book. The hotel offers personal assistants to assist in concierge requests and prides itself on its attractiveness to families, business travelers, and lone leisure-seekers.

Coconut Grove
Need to be closer to the boating action? Coconut Grove has a big harbor and is also the home of the Miami Yacht Club. The quiet neighborhood is a great destination for those who have “done” South Beach on a previous trip or who are just looking for another side of Miami. Be sure to stop by the Barnacle Historic State Park, which was planned in the 1800s by “Renaissance Man” Commodore Ralph Munroe.

Accommodation Suggestion:

The Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne
Located not far from Coconut Grove is the Ritz-Carlton, Key Biscayne, which provides every bit of adventure and relaxation expected from a Miami hotel. Tucked away from the urban Miami life, it provides a complement to daytime exploration of Coconut Grove. Restaurant Cioppino One’s hotel is ranked among Esquire Magazine’s “America’s Best New Restaurants” list.

Exploring Miami takes more than one trip, and if you want to explore it by boat? Get ready to become a Miami addict, because the fishing and boating opportunities are unparalleled.

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