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Pleasures and Pastimes
Greater Miami has numerous free beaches to fit every oceanfront mood. A sandy 300-ft wide beach with several distinct sections extends for 10 mi from the foot of Miami Beach north to Haulover Beach Park. Amazingly, it's all man-made. Seriously eroded during the mid-1970s, the beach was restored between 1977 and 1981, and restoration remains an ongoing project for environmental engineers, who spiff up the sands every few years. Between 23rd and 44th streets, the city of Miami Beach built
boardwalks and protective walkways atop a dune landscaped with sea oats, sea grapes and other native plants whose roots keep the sand from blowing away. Key Biscayne adds more great strands to Miami's collection. Even if the Art Deco District didn't exist, the area's beaches would be enough to satisfy tourists.
It's not uncommon for traffic to jam at boat ramps, especially on weekend mornings, but the waters are worth the wait. If you have the opportunity to sail, do so. Blue skies, calm seas, and a view of the city skyline make for a pleasurable outing -- especially at twilight, when the fabled "moon over Miami" casts a soft glow on the water. Key Biscayne's calm waves and strong breezes are perfect for sailing and windsurfing, and though Dinner Key and the Coconut Grove waterfront remain the center of sailing in Greater Miami, sailboat moorings and rental firms are located all along the bay and up the Miami River.
Miami cuisine is what mouths were made for. The city serves up a veritable United Nations of dining experiences, including dishes native to Spain,Cuba, and Nicaragua as well as China, India, Thailand, Vietnam, and other Asian cultures. Chefs from the tropics combine fresh, natural ingredients -- especially seafood -- with classic island flavors, creating a new American cuisine that is sometimes called Floribbean. The Miami-born New World Cuisine blends culinary influences from throughout the Americas.
Miami has more clubs than a deck of cards. The nightspots that command the most attention are those where cocktail-sipping patrons in black pose beneath mirrored disco balls that spin as fast as the CDs. The densest concentration of clubs is on South Beach along Washington Avenue, Lincoln Road Mall, and Ocean Drive. Other nightlife centers on Little Havana, Coconut Grove, and on the fringes of Downtown Miami. Miami's nightspots offer jazz, reggae, salsa, various form of rock, disco, and Top 40 sounds, most played at a body-thumping, ear-throbbing volume. Some clubs refuse entrance to anyone under 21, others to those under 25, so if that is a concern, call ahead. If you prefer to hear what people are saying, try the many lobby bars at South Beach's Art Deco hotels. Throughout Greater Miami, bars and cocktail lounges in larger, newer hotels operate nightly dicos with live weekend entertainment. Many
hotels extend their bars into open-air courtyards, where patrons dine and dance under the stars throughout the year.
Greater Miami has franchises in basketball, football, and baseball. Thanks to Dan Marino's record-breaking accomplishments, fans still turn out en masse for the Dolphins, as they do for basketball's Heat and the 1997 World Series champion Marlins. Miami also hosts top-rated events in boat racing, jai alai, and tennis. Each winter, the Federal Express/Orange Bowl Football Classic highlights college football.