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Whether you're looking for a glittering international metropolis or the quiet solitude and wilderness of the Everglades, Miami-Dade County, the last stop on the southeastern coast of the United States and Florida's most populous county, is a territory rich with both.
Across its nearly 2,000 miles of diverse terrain, Miami-Dade is a colorful mix of landscapes, cultures, lifestyles, and American history. Miami rises from its eastern shore, a bright central stone in the jewel-bed of beachside hotels and resorts that cluster around the emerald and turquoise waters and white sand beaches of the southeastern Florida coastline. Miami is also a world leader in finance, commerce and international trade, home to the country's largest concentration of international banks.
With a dazzling array of music, dining, dancing, and history within its borders, once you enter Miami-Dade County, the possibilities seem endless. Vibrant, youthful Miami offers sizzling nightlife and chic boutiques, while the county's urban core offers family-friendly summer activities like theatrical events at the Arsht Center, wine tastings at HistoryMiami, youth sports leagues, special parks programs, mountain biking and fishing in the Atlantic. Miami's beaches are among the most sought-after in North America, including Miami Beach, South Beach, and the stretch of lesser known treasures lining the eastern side of the Miami barrier island.
The city of Miami serves as a magnet for prestigious museums and art shows, including the annual Art Basel Miami Beach art fair that draws top dealers, artists and collectors from all over the world. Sports fans can catch a game when the Dolphins, Marlins, or Heat are in town; as home to some of the most difficult courses in the world, Miami hosts a great number of professional golf tournaments each year.
Beyond the bustle of the city and the calm of its suburbs options for exploration include the Everglades, Biscayne National Park and Big Cypress. In stark contrast to urban northern Miami-Dade County, the southern part of the county includes the Redland and Homestead areas which make up its agricultural economy. From wildlife-watching in the Glades to scuba diving in the nationally-recognized reefs of Biscayne to canoeing the high waters of Big Cypress, the variety and vitality of Miami-Dade County never cease to impress.
Models, film stars, moguls and a glittering roster of international high-rollers make the city of Miami one of the most exciting urban areas in the U.S. From pristine sand beaches to beachfront promenades and upscale shopping streets, the city is a magnet for the young, beautiful and moneyed. Bars and clubs are everywhere, with many concentrated on Lincoln Road, Ocean Drive and Washington Avenue in Miami Beach. Luxury hotels and resorts like the Fontainebleau and Eden Roc offer an opportunity to be pampered with spas and fine dining.
From making the scene in South Beach and Downtown Miami to living above it all in the luxury high-rise apartments and condos of Brickell, hanging out in funky, arty Coconut Grove or living a quiet suburban life behind manicured hedges in Coral Gables or among the peaceful streets of commuter-friendly suburbs like Kendall and West Kendall, Miami's neighborhoods offer a lifestyle for everyone.
Miami-Dade serves as a magnet for prestigious museums and art shows, including the annual Art Basel Miami Beach art fair that draws top dealers, artists and collectors from all over the world. Family-friendly summer activities like theatrical events at the Arsht Center and music at the Bayfront Park Amphitheater are non-stop in the county's many parks. Popular museums and galleries include the Bass Museum of Art in Miami Beach, the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami in Coral Gables, the Miami Art Museum, the Miami Children's Museum, Miami Cultural Center, the Museum of Contemporary Art, the Rubell Family Collection, ArtCenter/South Florida and many more. The new $51 million South Miami-Dade Cultural Arts Center is a world-class, multi-disciplinary performing arts center in Cutler Bay.
The area's wide range of music reflects its cultural variety. Cubans contributed the conga and rumba, Dominicans, bachata, and merengue, Colombians, vallenato and cumbia, Brazilians brought samba and West Indian and Caribbean people introduced reggae, soca, calypso, and steel pan. It's no surprise that Miami is considered a hot spot for dance music. The annual Winter Music Conference celebrates DJ and dance music culture and ups the city's fun quotient when it comes to town.
A world of international cuisines from fine dining to food carts and tiny cafes can be found among the thousands of Miami-Dade County restaurants. Local Cuban and seafood specialties take top billing in top-rated dining spots like Joe's Stone Crab and Versailles. For an eyeful of the celebrity-studded Miami lifestyle with your dining experience, try the sidewalk bistros of Lincoln Road or the glittering new 1500° at the exclusive Eden Roc hotel. Vegetarian and vegan options are many as well.
From some of the largest malls in the United States to high-end destination promenades with an international roster of designer names to cool boutique-lined side streets and outdoor shopping by the beach, you can spend many a day enjoying the benefits of retail therapy. Lincoln Road is packed with trendy shops, art galleries, restaurants and cafes and is the perfect spot for crowd-watching. Glittering Bal Harbor shops offer luxury retailers like Prada, Tiffany & Co. and Neiman Marcus. Bayside Marketplace is an open air market right on Biscayne Bay. The village of Coconut Grove is a great place to explore cool boutiques and trendy art galleries. Aventura Mall is the nation's fourth largest shopping mall and features department stores like Bloomingdales and Lord & Taylor in addition to over 250 others. There are also a number of outlet stores for the dedicated bargain hunter.
Miami's architectural styles range from the sleek corporate buildings that house a booming international banking center to the colorful and graceful styles of a rich Latin American and Spanish heritage. In the Art Deco district in Miami Beach, you'll find the world's largest concentration of 1920s and 1930s resort architecture, colorful reminders of an era when Miami was being heavily promoted as a popular tropical resort. Many of these eye-catching buildings have been restored to their former elegance.
Miami-Dade County's tropical weather makes it the perfect setting for outdoor activities, often centered around marinas, rivers, bays, canals, and the Atlantic Ocean. Miami is the only metropolitan area in the United States that borders two national parks, Biscayne National Park in Biscayne Bay and Everglades National Park. In the northwest part of the county is a small part of the Big Cypress National Preserve. Everglades National Park, a network of wetlands and forests covering 1,509,000 acres, is the country's largest subtropical wilderness and the third largest national park in the lower 48 states.
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