South Beach Miami -Why do a day trip from Walt Disney World

South Beach Miami
South Beach Miami

We did a 1 day organised bus tour to Miami South Beach from Disney World in April 2018. Having made the trip to Florida from Australia, we thought we should see some of the other sights of Florida too outside of Walt Disney World. 

Before our trip I had read about the Art Deco buildings in the South Beach region of Miami. I read how one lady Barbara Baer Capitman, had formed a ‘Preservation League’ to stop the demolishing of all the 1930s Art Deco buildings in South Beach Miami. It is because of the determination of this one woman, that the Art Deco colour of Miami South Beach has been retained.  I love Art Deco buildings and I was intrigued by the ‘Cuban influences’ of the area. I also thought it would be good to go to the beach and see how some other people in America live. It was also an excuse to do some more last minute shopping. There was a Disney Store in the Bayside Marketplace. We were told before our trip – “theres Miami, and then theres the rest of America” so we were looking forward to finding out what was there!

How we got there
We stayed at the Disney All Star Music Hotel at Walt Disney World. The hotel was conveniently a pickup hotel base for ‘Take Tours/Grayline’ all day bus trips to Miami and Kennedy Space Centre (both trips I highly recommend). This was an added plus in staying at this hotel over the other two All Star Hotels. The tour bus picked us up at 6:45am and we returned to the hotel at 11pm. There was also no other collection depot or transfer of busses that happens with other tour companies. We arrived in Miami at 11am and left about 7pm.

The Bus trip
Breakfast was provided on the bus trip and the bus stopped once about 2 hours in so people could stretch their legs. The bus was fitted with rest rooms. It took about 4 hours to get to Miami from Orlando and went by quickly. We tend to book ‘escorted bus tours’ more so towards the end of a holiday – as its an opportunity to rest. 

First stop – Bayside Marketplace
We had a lunch stop here in front of the harbour. There were quite a few luxury boats and big brand shops – but the Marketplace (to us), looked a little run down and very quiet (some shops weren’t even open during the week). The Disney store there was quite good with lots of discounted Disney merchandise. Kids could also watch the Disney movies under a rotunda.

Icy Poles Disney Store Miami
Disney Store Miami

Disney Store Miami 101 Dalmations

Disney Store Miami Cheshire Cat

Bayside Marketpace Miami

Bayside Marketpace Miami
Miami South Beach
This was our main attraction to see. It was everything you have seen on the internet and T.V and more. It was very colourful, in respect to both buildings and the people, very affluent (in parts) and very ‘Cuban’ with old style cars and buildings. Art Deco buildings are known for their overall symmetry, stepped rooflines, curved edges and corners, elements of groups of three and neon.

South Beach Miami Art Deco building
South Beach Miami Art Deco building

South Beach Miami Art Deco building

South Beach Miami Art Deco building Waldorf Tower
Waldorf Tower (1937)

South Beach Miami Art Deco building

South Beach Miami Art Deco building

South Beach Miami Art Deco

South Beach Miami

There were dozens of open air bars serving all sorts of fancy drinks and there were spruikers offering you all sorts of meal deals out the front of every bar. Loud Hip Hop music gave off the vibe it was a party area 24/7. The streets were all lined with palm trees.

South Beach Miami Cocktails in Open Air Bar

I have also never seen so many fancy cars in all my life although most seemed to be ‘for rent’.

South Beach Miami Green Sports Car
South Beach Miami Black Sports Car
Our first stop was the Visitor centre to pick up a map. It was air conditioned! (Yes, its so hot in Miami – you need to find regular places that have the air conditioning). The map tells you what is Art Deco and what isn’t Art Deco and a bit of history about each of the heritage buildings. The Visitor centre has a small collection of Art Deco collectables and prints. Staff also run guided tours of the area.

The roads around South Beach are very easy to navigate. They are numbered 5th Street, 6th Street etc and my map went up to 88th Street. There were plenty of people around, which I suspect were mostly tourists. We felt safe walking around busy areas of Miami.

We made our way to Lincoln Shopping Mall on 17th Street for some food. The open air Mall is a very lively area with lots of the big name shops. One shop we must recommend is ‘Books & Books’, which was a fantastic book shop to discover- and it was air-conditioned. It is joined to an outdoor café and has a large assortment of books in different rooms of the heritage building. Very eclectic collection of books including some good limited edition books on South Beach Miami itself and books about Barbara Baer Capitman who saved the Art Deco buildings of Miami.

Books and books miami south Beach lincoln mall
Books and Books (1928)

Lincoln Mall South Beach
Lincoln Mall

The Beach
The life guard towers were very colourful indeed. There are dozens of these on the beachfront and they are different colours and even shapes. The sand was grainier and coarser then Australia’s beach sand, and I noticed that the water got very deep rather quickly. If you don’t want to sit on the sand, there are areas you can sit on the grass under the palm trees and watch the world walk by.

South Beach Miami

South Beach Miami

South Beach Miami

South Beach Miami boardwalk

South Beach Miami

For Kids?

Where we went to in South Beach, there wasn’t a lot of activities for young children, except for the beach. There were no playgrounds for instance that we saw. About 99% of the open air hotels and bars were not catering for children at all. You could hire bikes though. Asking my daughter (10 year old) what she thought of Miami afterwards she said the buildings were very colourful but Australian beaches are better! It certainly was different from the rest of America!

Recommend as a day trip?
Overall, Miami is so very different from the rest of America. The Art Deco colour and atmosphere, vintage and classic cars, combined with the open air bars, palm trees, loud hip hop music playing from the open air bars and the heat (!), make this place totally unique in the world and thus a ‘must do’. Yes, it’s a fair way to travel from Orlando, but at the tail end of a massive three week holiday to Walt Disney World the bus trip wasn’t an issue. As they do say, “Theres Miami, and then theres the rest of America”. Its definitely worth a look!!

I hope you enjoyed reading about our trip to South Beach Miami. If you would like to comment please do so in Comments.

Until next week,

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