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Miami Beach Tourist Information from Fodor's

With more than half of its population Hispanic in origin, it's no wonder Miami is called the capital of Latin America. This growing metropolis boasts the largest cruise-ship port and one of the largest airports in the world. More than 100 companies base their international operations in the city, and major-league sports are big news here. Undergirding all of this energy and prosperity is a flourishing drug culture that fuels get-rich-quick lifestyles. Today South Beach is the deco darling of the world, its main thoroughfare (Lincoln Road) rivaling the pedestrian malls of Cambridge, Lyons, and Munich for crowds and festivities. Don't miss the bistros, galleries, and cafés of chic Coconut Grove.

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A denotes those restaurants and hotels that we highly recommend.


We found 24 restaurants that match your criteria. You selected: All Price Ranges and All Cuisines.


Alexander Hotel, 5225 Collins Ave.
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/865-6500 or 800/327-6121
Over $50
Woodwork and mirrors from a Vanderbilt home and other demolished New York mansions create an intimate setting for a unique nouvelle-cuisine experience in either of two enclosed patios, both glass-sided for views of the ocean. Specialties include exotic appetizers such as buffalo sausage, sautéed alligator tail, and rattlesnake-meat salad; entrées such as rack of lamb (which accounts for 35% of the restaurant's total sales) and fresh seafood; and an extensive wine list. The restaurant also serves brunch on Sunday. AE, DC, MC, V. Reservations advised.

1661 Meridian Ave.
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/538-0997
In the change sweeping up from South Beach across Lincoln Road, art, style, and "being there" make the difference. This re-creation of a once-famed local restaurant has gotten it all right. The Embers was a landmark steak-and- potatoes house on 21st Street when cholesterol was still unpronounceable and gay meant frivolous. A bunch of Beach High kids grew up eating dinner there with their families. Cut to 30 years later, and "kids" Sid Lewis, Steven Polisar, and Larry Schwartz, wealthy from Ocean Drive investments, have put their money where their memories are. The new Embers is five blocks south (a gay club occupies the original site), around the corner from Lincoln Road. Nostalgia hits you right inside the door of this rerun of a place that's high impact without glitz. Saucer lights dangle an amber glow from the ceiling, collections of early Beach photos hang on the walls, and black, white, and sepia mute the scene. The steaks are still here, as are the original apple fritters, New York-style basket of bread, double-baked Embers potato mashed with scallions and baked crisp on top, the duck, ribs, and chicken. Pastas and à la carte veggies have been added, and there's Key lime pie, apple pie, cheesecake, and a few other desserts. Come by and add 30 years to your Beach trip. AE, MC, V. Reservations accepted. No lunch.

432 Arthur Godfrey Rd.
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/538-8533
A new courtyard with outdoor seating for 70 has opened as part of the slow rebuilding of this landmark, which suffered a disastrous fire in 1991. Often compared to a museum, the Forge still stands behind a facade of 19th-century Parisian mansions, where an authentic forge once stood. Each of the intimate dining salons has its own historical artifacts, including a 250-year-old chandelier that hung in James Madison's White House. A fully stocked wine cellar contains an inventory of 380,000 bottles--including more than 500 dating from 1822 (and costing as much as $35,000) and recorked in 1989 by experts from Domaines Barons de Rothschild. Specialties include Norwegian salmon served over fresh garden vegetables with spinach vinaigrette, veal tenderloin roasted Tuscan-style over oak wood and marinated with fresh blackberries, and free-range Wisconsin duck roasted with black currants. Desserts are extravagant; try the famous blacksmith pie. AE, DC, MC, V. Reservations advised. No lunch.

Osteria del Teatro
1443 Washington Ave.
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/538-7850
This 20-table dining room is the culinary equivalent of Pavarotti. Thanks to word of mouth of knowledgeable diner-outers, this Northern Italian restaurant is consistently full, and despite a tiny kitchen, the preparations are just as consistent. Orchids grace the tables in the intimate, low-ceilinged, gray, gray, and gray room with a laced canvas ceiling, deco lamps, and the most refined clink and clatter along this remarkable restaurant row. Everything comes carefully detailed, starting with large, unevenly sliced hunks of homemade bread lightly toasted. Specialties included an appetizer of grilled portobello mushroom topped with fontina cheese and served over a bed of arugula with a green peppercorn-brandy sauce, and among entrées, linguine sautéed with chunks of jumbo shrimp, roasted peppers, capers, black olives, fresh diced tomato, and equally fresh herbs in a tangy garlic-olive oil sauce. Make room for dessert and coffee so you don't feel guilty lingering in this tiny but special room. AE, DC, MC, V. Reservations required. Closed Tues., Dec. 25, Jan. 1. No lunch.

Pacific Time
915 Lincoln Rd.
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/534-5979
Three times has proved the charm at this cool California-style restaurant on Lincoln Road, where both the highly rated Johnny's and then B.C. Chong tried to make a go, too early in the neighborhood's revival. By 1993, the place was packed even on nights something special wasn't happening; nowadays it's rare that you can get in without either a reservation or a 45-minute wait. And the superb 100-seat eatery co-owned by chef Jonathan Eismann, previously of China Grill in Manhattan, shows staying power. The room is pale with a high blue ceiling and banquettes, accents of mahogany and brass, recessed lights, paddle fans, plank floors, a bar just inside the entry, and white covers on tables that fill the space to an open-windowed kitchen. Entrées include a cedar-roasted salmon, rosemary-roasted chicken, and shiitake mushroom-grilled, dry-aged Colorado beef. Rices, potatoes, and vegetables are à la carte; however, a pre-theater (6-7) prix fixe dinner (a noodle dish, Szechuan mixed grill, grilled ginger chicken) is more affordable ($20). Desserts (mostly around $7) include baked apricots and fresh blackberries in phyllo pastry and a warm bittersweet-chocolate bombe. There's a big California wine list. AE, DC, MC, V. Reservations advised.

Max's South Beach
764 Washington Ave.
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/532-0070
This place has a warmer style of deco than Ocean Drive and more affordable gourmet cuisine than Chef Allen's and Mark's Place. Famed south Florida restaurateur Dennis Max has extended his bijou collection of eateries to South Beach with celebrity chef Kerry Simon in charge of the kitchen. The result is an immensely popular seen-and-be-seen addition to Deco District dining. Packed with locals nightly, the 110-seat restaurant is woody, glass, and bistrolike, with a seating mix of high-top tables, booths, starched white linen, and seats of black leather. Photo displays are from Rolling Stone, which helped make a star of Simon, formerly of the Edwardian Room of Ivana Trump's Plaza Hotel, by naming him one of 1991's 100 hottest personalities. He dares turn out an authentic meat loaf and mashed potatoes; grilled and roasted veggies with organic grains; orrecchiette pasta with broccoli rabe, sausage, and sun-dried tomatoes; and pot roast with garlic, fresh herbs, and slow-cooked veggies. But there's also a salmon tandoori with black beans and cayenne onion rings, a big choice of grills, and baked sea bass with basil, carrots, and a carrot-orange vinaigrette. Desserts include a Butterfinger chocolate cake with banana ice cream and Jack Daniel caramel, old-fashioned strawberry shortcake, and banana cream pie. Come out and feel like a native. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Reservations advised. No lunch.

Thai Toni
890 Washington Ave.
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/538-8424
Since 1989, Thai silks, bronze Buddhas, dramatic ceiling drapes, private dining alcoves, and two raised platforms for those who want to dine seated on cushions have set this exceptional Thai restaurant apart from everything trendy in the neighborhood. The mellow Thai Singha beer sets you up for the spicy jumping squid appetizer prepared with chili paste and hot pepper or the hot hot pork. Choose from a large variety of inexpensive noodle, fried-rice, and vegetarian dishes or such traditional entrées as beef and broccoli, basil duck, or hot-and-spicy deep-fried whole snapper garnished with basil leaves and mixed vegetables. Desserts are routine, but the homemade lemonade is distinctly tart. AE, MC, V. Reservations accepted. Closed Thanksgiving, Dec. 25. No lunch.

Norma's on the Beach
646 Lincoln Rd. Mall,
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/532-2809
Put this wonderful reggae-style hole-in-the-wall near the top of your list. The interior is small, but a wall of mirrors makes it look larger, and tables outside on the mall add seating. Color bursts from seat cushions and cut-tin Haitian tap taps (jitneys) on the walls (all the art is for sale). Instead of bud vases on tables, there are entire palm trees in pots on the floor. Adding to the mood is Thursday evening's Brazilian music, Friday's anything-goes group, and Saturday's jazz duo. The cuisine melds French finesse with Caribbean seasonings. Dishes might include Red Stripe-beer baby-back ribs with Appleton rum glaze; Rasta chicken breast with callaloo (West Indian spinach), cream cheese, and roasted sweet peppers in a white-wine sauce; or pan-sautéed pompano with tropical rum banana sauce. Hey! This is fun. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Reservations accepted. Closed Mon., Thanksgiving, Dec. 25.

530 Arthur Godfrey Rd.
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/532-9731
Health Food
Art-filled, tropical pink-and-green café seating occupies half of this popular mid-Beach neighborhood emporium; on the other side of the wall is a retail health foods store. Daily seafood, chicken, and vegetarian specials add variety to longtime favorites lasagna filled with tofu and mushrooms, spinach fettuccine with feta cheese, and a good variety of salads. Organic wine and beer are newly added. No smoking. AE, MC, V. No reservations.

Da Leo
819 Lincoln Rd. Mall
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/674-0350
Tables from this little restaurant spill all over the mall, staying full thanks to consistently good food at prices only half what the trendy places charge. The volume keeps the mood festive and the standards high. Inside you won't find youthful in-line skaters, but you will be amazed by the art, which so completely covers the walls you might think the canvasses provide structural support. The look is ancient Roman town house (though owner Leonardo Marchini hails from Lucca), with high ceiling fans, banquettes along one wall, and wainscoting along the other. Pastas, a few fish, a couple of veal, and a fowl choice make up most of the entrées. The house salad is shiny with olive oil lavished over fresh garden veggies served in a big bowl. AE, DC, MC, V. No reservations. Closed some holidays. No lunch weekends.

1200 Washington Ave.
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/673-4343
Sometime between 6 and 10 each night, the big square room with the square bar in the middle transforms from an empty catering hall to a New Year's Eve party. Trendoids call for their capellini with fresh tomato and basil; calamari in clam juice, garlic, and red wine; or scaloppine with mushroom, pepper, and white wine---everything a gift from tomato heaven---and then top it off with their dolci: fresh napoleon, chocolate mousse, or tiramisù. Chic but not intimate, Mezzanotte has been known since 1988 for fine food at moderate prices, but watch out for the coffee at $2.25 a pop! AE, DC, MC, V. Reservations accepted for parties of 5 or more. Closed Thanksgiving. No lunch.

Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant
227 Biscayne St.
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/673-0365, 305/673-4611 for take-out orders
"Before SoBe, Joe Be," touts this fourth-generation family restaurant, which reopened for the 1996 season with a chest-puffing facade on Washington Avenue, replacing the entrance on Biscayne Street, on which it had fronted since 1913. You go to wait, people-watch, and finally settle down to an ample à la carte menu. About a ton of stone-crab claws is served daily, with drawn butter, lemon wedges, and piquant mustard sauce (recipe available). Popular side orders include salad with a brisk vinaigrette house dressing, creamed garlic spinach, french-fried onions, fried green tomatoes, and hash browns. Save room for dessert--a slice of Key lime pie with graham-cracker crust and real whipped cream or apple pie with a crumb-pecan topping. To minimize the wait, come for lunch at 11:30, for dinner at 5 or after 9. For overnight shipping, call 800/780-2722. AE, D, DC, MC, V. No reservations. Closed May 15--Oct. 15.

11th Street Diner
11th St. and Washington Ave.,
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/534-6373
A poor man's News Cafe, this is another place to see and be seen while chowing down affordably. There's a big line for Sunday breakfast, when half the tables seem to be filled by models working their cellular phones. Still, it retains the folksiness of its origins as a 1948 stainless-steel diner, trucked down from Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, and set on the site of a former gas station. Sit at the counter, in one of the vintage leatherette booths, or on white wicker seats on the patio. At the full bar under a big '30s-style mural, you can order food and an Anchor Steam. Down-home cooking--hot turkey sandwiches drenched in thick gravy, meat loaf, baby-back ribs, honey-baked ham--is joined by some new-age dishes, such as marinated dolphin, tofu, and veggies. From 11 to 4, you can get a cup of soup and either a half sandwich or house salad for $3.95. Breakfasts and nightly main course specials, served 5 to midnight, are also great buys. And there are lots of sugar shocks for dessert (pecan pie, a brownie hot-fudge sundae, cheesecake, cinnamon buns). The place is open 24 hours, and the divine smell of fresh-brewed hazelnut decaf coffee is always in the air. Note: 15% is added to bills. AE, D, DC, MC, V. No reservations.

826 Lincoln Rd. Mall,
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/538-6929
If a great cup of coffee is what you crave, this will be your high. What you get with it is a high-ceilinged coffeehouse atmosphere with arty walls and a guaranteed freshly ground bean bouquet. There are some 20 tables inside, 20 out on the mall. Before your coffee, try a soup, salad, or sandwich (turkey breast on sourdough, garden burger with trimmings, grilled chicken with tarragon mayo on herb rye). Desserts include outrageous chocolate cakes, berry tarts, and pies--many choices either fat-free or sugar-free--and there's a good selection of affordable wines by the bottle or glass. Coffees--Kona, mocha java, Hawaiian coconut, and macadamia nut to name but a few of the 20 or so choices, many also in decaf--are ground on the spot and individually brewed in your cup. Espresso, cappuccino, and tea are also offered. AE, DC, MC, V. No reservations. Closed Dec. 25.

1053 Washington Ave.,
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/532-6147
The logo features a fat beribboned pig eyeing a steaming platter, a hint of the pig paraphernalia and secondhand-store trash--old-time Coke signs and discarded license plates--that decorate this hip, colorful, sophomoric spot. Come here if you want to pig out on southern fried cooking: barbecued pork, BLTs, pork chops, and authentic lumpy mashed potatoes. For non-pig eaters, there are salads, all kinds of sandwiches (crab cake, fried catfish, smoked marlin salad, plus an Elvis fried peanut butter 'n' banana), and such main courses as boneless chicken breast, chicken-fried steak, and strip steak. You sit at cafeteria-style tables with red-and-white-check tablecloths downstairs and on the mezzanine; the upstairs room, favored by the T-shirt crowd, is overwhelmed with Elvis memorabilia. January 18 and August 16--the King's birth and death days--are big events at Lulu's, and everybody dresses up Elvis-style. Though the place is zany, the food's good. MC, V. No reservations.

13th Street Cafe
227 13th St.,
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/532-8336
This little Caribbean neighborhood café adds sparkle to a side street with colorful fruit sculptures, a colored-chalk blackboard, and ceiling drops with world-beat drawings. A few sidewalk stools and pass-throughs make it easy for locals to nosh without missing the action on the street. The menu has mostly sandwiches, pita pizzas, and pasta salads, though there's always a fixed-price dinner special--maybe a spinach fettuccine Alfredo or a baked turkey dish, plus salad and dessert--for $6.95. There are lots of juices, coolers, and revitalizers, and bagels, brownies, and monster cookies stare back at anybody seated at the counter. Breakfast is served all day. No credit cards. No reservations.

Puerto Sagua Restaurant
700 Collins Ave.,
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/673-1115
On the back wall, a 3-D mural shows the original Puerto Sagua, in old Havana on the Number 43 bus route. The owners jumped the chaos there in '62 and headed for South Beach, where they now serve the same delicious black beans and rice 365 days a year. If you're looking for atmosphere, the best place to sit is at the counter, where the gab's as quick as the service. Also on the menu are fried red snapper, pork fillet, and pickled kingfish, along with a cafecito (small coffee) for $1, sangria, and Spanish wines and cider. Don't miss it (or the convenience of the new artsy parking lot across the street). AE, DC, MC, V. No reservations.

World Cafe
719 Lincoln Rd. Mall,
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/534-9095
If there's another way to do something, South Beach will find it. Here on the Lincoln Road Mall, food gets combined with furniture and crafts from around the globe. The displays and menus are mostly Third World, and live nightly world-beat music adds to the global village ideal. Guests sit surrounded by Indian wood vases, Nigerian drums, and Indonesian batiks and dine on cuisine that's mainly Thai but with a natural-foods touch. So there's beef basil, green-curry chicken, and Thai stir-fry with shrimp and chicken as well as vegetarian spring rolls, vegetable panang curry (with coconut milk and peanuts), and vegetable stir-fry with tofu. Brown rice, available at all meals, is $1 extra. Desserts range from tiramisù and a Middle Eastern walnut roll to fruit crisp and home-baked cookies. It's a wonderful change of pace. MC, V. No reservations. Closed Thanksgiving, Dec. 25, Jan. 1.

Titi's Tacos
900 Ocean Dr.,
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/672-8484
Next door to the very affordable Mango's hotel is this convivial spot for quality fajitas, tacos, enchiladas, and pollo mole (chicken cooked in poblano sauce) with rice and beans. Or try the shrimp sautéed with peppers and onions and served with tons of melted cheese, sour cream, and rice, and finish the meal off with flan or tres leches (a puddinglike concoction of whipped cream and evaporated and condensed milk). The owner, who is from Vera Cruz, has put together a very Caribbean-Mexican look--terra-cotta tiles, ceramic-tile tabletops, and lots of Mexican wall murals. Though Titi's has no liquor license, waitresses come in from Mango's, the Cuban café next door, to take drink orders. Breakfast is also offered. AE, D, DC, MC, V. No reservations.

WPA Restaurant & Bar
685 Washington Ave.,
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/534-1684
"We think it's time again for WPA" is this restaurant's motto, and it has already done plenty for the public good just by reviving food service in this choice Deco building. Once Friedman's Bakery, it was one of the first restorations in South Beach and helped to ignite the Deco District comeback. The decor is didactically 1930s--high open-beam ceilings, a big labor mural in the Mexican socialist style, and a signature display case of ketchup, mustard, and a dozen varieties of spicy sauces. The menu features lots of grazing food: Tex-Mex dishes, egg rolls, potato skins, a few stir-fries and grills, plus sandwiches, salads (Greek, fruit, tostada), burgers, ribs, wings, pizzas, and pastas. AE, D, DC, MC, V. Reservations accepted. No lunch weekends.

News Cafe
800 Ocean Dr.
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/538-6397
Under $20
This is the hippest joint on Ocean Drive. Owners Mark Soyka, who trained on the cosmopolitan beach scene in Tel Aviv, and Jeffrey Dispenzieri, from New York, are right on the money. Quick, friendly servers don't hurry guests who have come to schmooze or intellects deep in a Tolstoy novel picked out of the book rack. A raw bar has been added in back with 15 stools, but most visitors prefer sitting outside to feel the salt breeze and look at whom they're not with. Offering a little of this and a little of that---bagels, pâtés, chocolate fondue---the café attracts a big all-the-time crowd, with people coming in for a snack, a light meal, or an aperitif and, invariably, to indulge in the people parade. AE, DC, MC, V. No reservations. Open 24 hrs.

Van Dyke Cafe
846 Lincoln Rd.
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/534-3600
Under $20
Mark Soyka's second restaurant has quickly attracted the artsy crowd, just as his News Cafe draws the fashion crowd. Of course, tourists like it, too. It features the same style menu, but instead of facing south, this place, in the restored, 1924 Van Dyke Hotel, faces north and is shadier. Save the News Cafe for winter, the Van Dyke for summer. Three meals are served, and a 15% gratuity is included. AE, DC, MC, V. No reservations.

Muff'n Man
234 12th St.,
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/538-6833
Under $12
Although 8 or 10 kinds of tasty sandwiches and homemade soups are served here, most people come for the baked goods. Multiberry, apple, and cinnamon-raisin muffins, among others (all $1.50); brownies; and cookies are baked here daily. The interior is filled with Deco District photos and silk pillows, and it's next door to the laundromat with the out-of-town papers, the racing sheet, and Variety. No credit cards. No reservations. No dinner.

Beehive Diner
630 Lincoln Rd. Mall,
Miami, Florida
Phone: 305/538-7484
Under $12
Though seating extends onto Lincoln Road Mall, the real pleasure here is to be found behind the ornamental iron gates that lead to the fountain and ceramic pond in front of the Courtyard 630 Shops. Cross the big bee pavement mural, like crossing the Yellow Brick Road to reach the Emerald City. You'll find a place that's as much an art gallery as a restaurant, filled with work by local artists as well as plants. Take your pick of inside or courtyard tables, and enjoy some of the most affordable food around, including a big variety of specialties (chicken breast six different ways, meat loaf, catfish, pizzas, pastas) starting at $6 and most well under $10. Wednesday evening features a gay show, magic, and fire eating. AE, D, DC, MC, V. No reservations. Closed Dec. 24, Dec. 31. No lunch Sun.



Before you depart, check your portable computer's battery, because you may be asked at security to turn on the computer to prove that it is what it appears to be. At the airport, you may prefer to request a manual inspection, although security X-rays do not harm hard-disk or floppy-disk storage.


If your camera is new or if you haven't used it for a while, shoot and develop a few rolls of film before you leave. Always store film in a cool, dry place---never in the car's glove compartment or on the shelf under the rear window.

Every pass through an X-ray machine increases film's chance of clouding. To protect it, carry it in a clear plastic bag and ask for hand inspection at security. Such requests are virtually always honored at U.S. airports. Don't depend on a lead-lined bag to protect film in checked luggage---the airline may increase the radiation to see what's inside.


Before your trip, test your camcorder, invest in a skylight filter to protect the lens, and charge the batteries. (Airport security personnel may ask you to turn on the camcorder to prove that it's what it appears to be).

Videotape is not damaged by X-rays, but it may be harmed by the magnetic field of a walk-through metal detector, so ask that videotapes be hand-checked.


Florida is a car renter's bazaar, with more discount companies offering more bargains---and more fine print---than any other state in the nation. For the best deal, look for the best combination rate for car and airfare.


In the United States you must be 21 to rent a car; rates may be higher for those under 25. Extra costs cover child seats, compulsory for children under five (about $3 per day), and additional drivers (about $1.50 per day). To pick up your reserved car you will need the reservation voucher, a passport, a U.K. driver's license, and a travel policy covering each driver.



Safety Seats
If you choose not to buy a seat for your child, many airlines will allow you to use a vacant seat (if there is one) free of charge and will often rearrange seating to accommodate you. When reserving seat assignments, ask to have an empty seat in the middle of your traveling party. Often it will remain vacant, and you can use it for your child, so bring your safety seat just in case. If the flight is full, you can check the safety seat at the gate.


Periodicals for parents that are filled with listings of events, resources, and advice are available free at such places as libraries, supermarkets, and museums.


To get the best deal on a cruise, consult a cruise-only travel agency.



Visitors aged 21 or over may import the following into the United States: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigars or 2 kilograms of tobacco; 1 U.S. liter of alcohol; gifts to the value of $100. Restricted items include meat products, seeds, plants, and fruits. Never carry illegal drugs.


In Canada
If you've been out of Canada for at least seven days, you may bring in C$500 worth of goods duty-free. If you've been away for fewer than seven days but for more than 48 hours, the duty-free allowance drops to C$200; if your trip lasts between 24 and 48 hours, the allowance is C$50. You cannot pool allowances with family members. Goods claimed under the C$500 exemption may follow you by mail; those claimed under the lesser exemptions must accompany you.

Alcohol and tobacco products may be included in the seven-day and 48-hour exemptions but not in the 24-hour exemption. If you meet the age requirements of the province or territory through which you reenter Canada, you may bring in, duty-free, 1.14 liters (40 imperial ounces) of wine or liquor or 24 12-ounce cans or bottles of beer or ale. If you are 16 or older, you may bring in, duty-free, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or cigarillos, and 400 tobacco sticks or 400 grams of manufactured tobacco. Alcohol and tobacco must accompany you on your return.

An unlimited number of gifts valued up to C$60 each may be mailed to Canada duty-free. These do not count as part of your exemption. Label the package "Unsolicited Gift---Value under $60." Alcohol and tobacco are excluded.

In the U.K.
From countries outside the EU, including the United States, you may import duty-free 200 cigarettes, 100 cigarillos, 50 cigars or 250 grams of tobacco; 1 liter of spirits or 2 liters of fortified or sparkling wine; 2 liters of still table wine; 60 milliliters of perfume; 250 milliliters of toilet water; plus £136 worth of other goods, including gifts and souvenirs.


One cautionary word: Raw oysters have been identified as a problem for people with chronic illness of the liver, stomach, or blood, or who have immune disorders. Since 1993, all Florida restaurants serving raw oysters are required to post a notice in plain view of all patrons warning of the risks associated with consuming them.


Three major interstates lead to Florida from various parts of the country. I--95 begins in Maine, runs south through New England and the Mid-Atlantic states, and enters Florida just north of Jacksonville. It continues south past Daytona Beach, the Space Coast, Vero Beach, Palm Beach, and Fort Lauderdale, eventually ending in Miami.

I--75 begins at the Canadian border in Michigan and runs south through Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Georgia before entering Florida. The interstate moves through the center of the state before veering west into Tampa. It follows the west coast south to Naples, then crosses the state, and ends in Fort Lauderdale.

California and all the most southern states are connected to Florida by I--10. This interstate originates in Los Angeles and moves east through Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama before entering Florida at Pensacola on the west coast. I--10 continues straight across the northern part of the state until it terminates in Jacksonville.

Travelers heading from the Midwest or other points west for the lower east coast of Florida will want to use Florida's Turnpike from Wildwood, which crosses the state for 304 miles and terminates in Florida City. Coin service plazas have replaced the use of toll cards through the urban southern sections of the turnpike.


In Florida the speed limits are 55 mph on the state highways, 30 mph within city limits and residential areas, and 55--65 mph on the interstates and on Florida's Turnpike. These limits may vary, so be sure to watch road signs for any changes.



Winterfest Boat Parade is on the Intracoastal Waterway, Fort Lauderdale (tel. 305/767--0686).

Late Dec.
Coconut Grove King Mango Strut is a parody of the Orange Bowl Parade (tel. 305/858--6253).

Early Jan.
Polo Season opens at the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club (tel. 407/793--1440).

Art Deco Weekend spotlights Miami Beach's historic district with an Art Deco street fair, a 1930s-style Moon Over Miami Ball, and live entertainment (tel. 305/672--2014).

Taste of the Grove Food and Music Festival is a popular fund-raiser put on in Coconut Grove's Peacock Park by area restaurants (tel. 305/444--7270).

Late Jan.
Miami Rivers Blues Festival takes place on the south bank of the river next to Tobacco Road (tel. 305/374--1198).

Winter Equestrian Festival includes more than 1,000 horses and three grand-prix equestrian events at the Palm Beach Polo and Country Club in West Palm Beach (tel. 407/798--7000).

Miami Film Festival is 10 days of international, domestic, and local films sponsored by the Film Society of America (tel. 305/377--3456).

Coconut Grove Art Festival is the state's largest (tel. 305/447--0401).


Early Mar.
Carnaval Miami is a carnival celebration staged by the Little Havana Tourist Authority (tel. 305/644--8888).

Late Apr.
River Cities Festival is a three-day event in Miami Springs and Hialeah that focuses attention on the Miami River and the need to keep it clean (tel. 305/887--1515).

Late Apr.--early May
Conch Republic Celebration in Key West honors the founding fathers of the Conch Republic, "the small island nation of Key West" (tel. 305/296--0123).

First weekend in May
Sunfest includes a wide variety of cultural and sporting events in West Palm Beach (tel. 407/659--5980 or 800/833--5733).


First weekend in June
Miami-Bahamas Goombay Festival, in Miami's Coconut Grove, celebrates the city's Bahamian heritage (tel. 305/443--7928 or 305/372--9966).

Mid-JulyHemingway Days Festival, in Key West, includes plays, short-story competitions,



Scuba divers take note: Do not fly within 24 hours of scuba diving.



Florida, with some 40 million visitors in 1995, has every conceivable type of lodging, everything from tree houses to penthouses, from mansions for hire to hostels. Recession in the early 1990s discouraged investors from adding to Florida's hotel-room supply, but even with occupancy rates inching up above 70%, there are always rooms for the night, except maybe during Christmas and other holiday weekends. Even the most glittery resort towns like Miami have affordable lodgings, typically motel rooms that may cost as little as $30--$40 a night---not in the best part of town, mind you, but not in the worst, either, perhaps along busy highways where you'll need the roar of the air-conditioning to drown out the traffic. Since beachfront properties tend to be more expensive, look for properties a little off the beach for the best bargain; still, many beachfront properties are surprisingly affordable, too. Travelers who favor vintage hotels can find them everywhere. Florida also has more than 200 historic inns.

Often the best bet for traveling with children is to book space that comes with a kitchen and more than one bedroom. Children are welcome generally everywhere in Florida. Pets are another matter, so inquire ahead of time if you're bringing an animal with you.

In the busy seasons---over Christmas, from late January through Easter, and during holiday weekends in summer---always reserve ahead for the top properties. If you're not booking through a travel agent, call the visitors bureau or the chamber of commerce in the area where you're going to check whether any special event is scheduled for when you plan to arrive. If demand isn't especially high for the time you have in mind, you can often save by showing up at a lodging in mid- to late afternoon---desk clerks are typically willing to negotiate with travelers in order to fill those rooms late in the day. In addition, check with chambers of commerce for discount coupons for selected properties.


Small inns and guest houses are becoming increasingly numerous and popular in Florida. Many offer the convenience of bed-and-breakfast accommodations in a homelike setting; many, in fact, are in private homes, and the owners treat you almost like a member of the family.


Vacation ownership resorts sell hotel rooms, condominium apartments, or villas in weekly, monthly, or quarterly increments. The weekly arrangement is most popular; it's often referred to as "interval ownership" or "time sharing." Of more than 3,000 vacation ownership resorts around the world, some 500 are in Florida. As an owner, you can join your resort's exchange organization and swap your interval for another someplace else in any year when you want a change of scene. Even if you don't own an interval, you can rent at many vacation ownership resorts where unsold intervals remain and/or owners have placed their intervals in a rental program.


The Miami area is warm year-round and often extremely humid during the summer months. Be prepared for sudden summer storms, but keep in mind that plastic raincoats are uncomfortable in the high humidity.

Dress is casual throughout the state, with sundresses, jeans, or walking shorts appropriate during the day; bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes or sneakers. A few of the better restaurants request that men wear jackets and ties, but most do not. Be prepared for air-conditioning working in overdrive.

Be sure to take a sun hat and a good sunscreen because the sun can be fierce, even in winter.

Bring an extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses in your carry-on luggage, and if you have a health problem, pack enough medication to last the trip. In case your bags go astray, don't put prescription drugs or valuables in luggage to be checked.


British citizens need a valid passport. If you are staying fewer than 90 days and traveling on a vacation, with a return or onward ticket, you will probably not need a visa. However, you will need to fill out the Visa Waiver Form, 1-94W, supplied by the airline.

While traveling, keep one photocopy of the data page separate from your wallet and leave another copy with someone at home. If you lose your passport, promptly call the nearest embassy or consulate and the local police; having the data page can speed replacement.


Malls in Florida are full of nationally franchised shops, major department-store chains, and one-of-a-kind shops catering to a mass audience. For the best souvenirs, look for small shops in out-of-the-way places.


Florida is a state for all seasons, although most visitors prefer October--April. Winter remains the height of the tourist season, when southern Florida is crowded with "snowbirds" fleeing the cold weather in the North. Hotels, bars, discos, restaurants, shops, and attractions are all crowded. Hollywood and Broadway celebrities appear in sophisticated supper clubs, and other performing artists hold the stage at ballets, operas, concerts, and theaters. For the college crowd, spring vacation is still the time to congregate in Florida.

Summer in Florida, as smart budget-minded visitors have discovered, is often hot and very humid, but ocean breezes make the season bearable along the coast. Besides, many hotels lower their prices considerably during summer.


The Average Daily Temperature for Miami for October is 72-83 F, 22 - 28 C.

Here's what Fodor's considers to be the best of the best in Miami. We hope you get a chance to experience some of them, as well as find some personal favorites of your own. When you get back, drop us a line and tell us about them.


Biltmore Hotel. The Biltmore's 26-story tower is a replica of the Giralda Tower in Seville, Spain. 1200 Anastasia Ave., tel. 305/445-1926.

Little Havana. Hispanics and Anglos alike come to this area in downtown Miami to experience the flavor of traditional Cuban culture. That culture, of course, functions in Spanish. Many Little Havana residents and shopkeepers speak little or no English.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. The 70-rooom house and gardens overlook Biscayne Bay on a 30-acre tract that includes a native hammock and more than 10 acres of formal gardens and fountains. In the house, 34 rooms of paintings, sculpture, antique furniture, and other decorative arts, are open to the public. 3251 S. Miami Ave., tel. 305/250-9133. Admission: $8 adults, $4 children 6-12. Guided 45-min tours available, group tours by appointment. House and ticket booth open daily 9:30-4:30; garden: daily 9:30-5:30. Closed Dec. 25.


Ocean Drive in the Art Deco District, Miami Beach. Feast your eyes on brilliantly restored vintage Art Deco hotels at every turn. Since their restoration, this palm-lined beachfront is hopping 24 hours a day.

Copyright © 1997 Fodor's Travel Publications Inc.