Get ready history and architecture buffs because Miami is brimming with some of the best preserved art deco in the country. After you’ve gotten the sun, sand, and beach out of your system, a good place to start your tour is Lincoln Road, then head east on Collins, and finally Ocean Drive and the iconic strip, an exciting example of the unique architectural style only found in South Beach. Experience the facades covered in neon lights, the flamingos, and palm frond detailing from the 30s and 40s. For art deco enthusiasts, there is no other place like it in the world.
10. Colony Theatre
A few blocks west of the beach and Ocean Drive is the popular shopping and dining area of Lincoln Road, a good spot for starting an art deco walking tour. Located at 1040 Lincoln Road, check out the Colony Theatre, a 430-seat performing arts space featuring international art films and talent from around the world. Built in 1935, the building stands out with its perfectly maintained marquee and façade, restored ticket box, and classic art deco standards of bold lines and geometric patterns. Originally commissioned by Paramount for its expanding theater chain, the theater is a prominent fixture of South Beach and the shopping district of Lincoln Road.
9. The Fillmore
After you’ve had your fill of the designer jeans and dining hotspots of Lincoln Road, head a few blocks north to Washington Avenue and check out The Fillmore Miami Beach at the Jackie Gleason Theater. When Jackie Gleason moved his television show to the Fillmore in 1964, the legendary comedian literally put Miami on the map. Since then, the performance space has been so highly regarded by locals and history aficionados that the demolition proposal to make way for a new hotel has been met with an uproar in the thousands. Although it is not considered historic because of its substantial modifications to the interior, the façade has been well preserved in all its original glory.
8. The Webster
After exploring Washington Avenue and Lincoln Road, head east just one block to Collins Avenue and check out The Webster, a striking art deco building with its perfectly symmetrical design and neon geometric signage. Built in 1939 by the renowned architect Henry Hohauser, one of the original Miami Beach visionaries, the former hotel is now a high-end luxury boutique featuring the latest designer clothing and accessories. After admiring its beautiful façade, stop in to browse the couture designs or enjoy a cold cocktail in the swanky lobby. Located at 1220 Collins Avenue, The Webster is a good spot to start exploring the other historic art deco buildings along the famous avenue.
7. Cadillac Hotel
Continue along Collins Avenue and you’ll find the glorious Cadillac Hotel, one of the tallest structures on the avenue. Built in 1940, it stands out among the art deco hotels with its unique car-like design that resembles a Cadillac, including its chrome center detailing and shimmering hood ornament decorating the façade. Although it is slightly less flamboyant than other art deco structures in South Beach, it is a perfect place to reminisce of the days of Jackie Gleason, the Rat Pack, and the original visionaries of Miami. After taking in the grand exterior, grab a cocktail or Cuban coffee in the lobby for a quick respite and view of the sleek interior. It’s like traveling back in time to a long ago era. As the Miamians say, only in South Beach.
6. The Delano
Another striking art deco icon on Collins Avenue is The Delano. If the McAlpin is the flamboyant cousin, The Delano is its elegant counterpart. Inspired by the modernist trend of 1947, this oceanfront hotel has art deco elements but also crosses into the Miami Modern style with its brilliant white frontage and beautiful angles. Make sure to check out the rooftop lounge, which will give you a refreshing perspective of South Beach. Stop in for a midday snack at their upscale bistro or enjoy a cocktail at sunset in the swanky lobby. Get ready to feel like a rock star in a building that is both unostentatious but breathtakingly grand.
5. The Breakwater
Walk further south down Ocean Drive and you’ll find The Breakwater, another classic example of South Beach art deco with its emphasis on symmetry, strong lines, and copious amounts of pastel neon. With its towered central façade, the 1936 beachfront hotel is a breathtaking sight along the strip with its neon signage lighting up Ocean Drive. You can brave the tourist gauntlet on the famous Ocean Drive sidewalk or view the art deco glory from afar at Lummus Park across the street, the perfect place to rest tired feet, people watch, and take in the iconic strip that has made South Beach world famous.
4. Boulevard Hotel
From Lummus Park, it’s just a five-minute walk to the Boulevard Hotel at 740 Ocean Drive. Like its contemporaries that line the iconic strip, the hotel emits a wonderfully retro vibe both inside and out. With its sparkling neon façade and symmetrical lines, the Boulevard Hotel fits right in with the historic buildings of the Art Deco District. After taking in the classic art deco design, stop in for a drink in the retro lobby and travel back in time to a place where classic style made its mark as a permanent fixture of Miami Beach. Keep walking along Ocean Drive and you’ll discover even more historic architectural marvels.
3. The Clevelander
In the center of the Art Deco District is The Clevelander, a boutique hotel at 12th Street and Ocean Drive. With its neon lights, sleek white façade, and outside bar, it’s more than just party central. Built in 1938 by famed architect Albert Anis, one of the visionaries in Miami’s early days, the trendy, sleek architectural design is truly timeless and a fine example of South Beach art deco. You can either brave the Ocean Drive gauntlet of hosts and hostesses hawking menus at you or view it from across the street at Lummus Park. Cool off with a drink and take in the glorious skyline of Ocean Drive and the world famous Clevelander, where every night is a party.
2. McAlpin Hotel
The beauty of Ocean Drive is that the best examples of art deco are all in one place. If you still haven’t had your fill of architectural glory after checking out the Clevelander, the McAlpin Hotel is just a few steps away at 1424 Ocean Drive. Built in 1940 and designed by L. Murray Dixon, it is one of the most widely photographed buildings in South Beach. This boutique hotel is considered one of the best examples of art deco with its perfect symmetry, pastel hues of pink and turquoise, and detailed façade. Get your cameras ready because this is one beautiful and striking building.
1. The Carlyle
Built in 1941, the Carlyle is one the finest examples of art deco architecture and features key design standards, including the rule of thirds and its dividing vertical sections. In other words, it’s easy on the eyes. Its sparse color palette of white and sea foam green makes it slightly more understated than its bright pastel neighbors like the Pelican or McAlpin. It’s also one of the most recognized buildings in South Beach. You might remember it from classics like Scarface and The Birdcage where it is featured in all its neon, art deco glory. Located at 1250 Ocean Drive, its central location marks a great ending to an exciting art deco walking tour.