Just over six years ago, I was about to meet The Kid for the first time. My in-laws were flying to America to welcome their granddaughter to the world, their first trip to the United States. They wanted to start their trip somewhere warm and sunny, typical Dutch, and settled on Miami. At the time I thought it was an odd choice for an intro to America, thinking Miami was not exactly an all-American type town. Through the years, as I have become a more seasoned traveler, I’ve learned to push aside my preconceived notions. Miami is a city that has won me over with its diversity, Cuban cuisine, and abundance of American history. While most head to Miami Beach for the sand and waves, I’d suggest taking in these four historic sites that prove Miami is as American as they come.
The Colony Theatre
This beautiful art-deco theater was opened in 1935, originally part of the Paramount Pictures movie theater chain. The property is included on the National Register of Historic Places, and has recently undergone a $6.5 million restoration project. From the neon sign plastered across the front of the facade to the balcony seating inside, the Colony Theatre is an incredible reminder of a time when going to the movies was an extravagant affair.
The Breakwater Hotel
A hotel may seem like an odd choice for the list, but in Miami Beach’s Art Deco District, it is the hotels that stand apart in historical and architectural significance. The Breakwater Hotel was built in 1936 by Yugoslavian architect Anton Skislewicz. Its typical pastels, clean lines, and iconic typography, has made The Breakwater one of Miami Beach’s most photographed gems.
South Pointe Park Pier
In 2014, Miami Beach’s South Pointe Park Pier opened to the public after a $4.8 million renovation. Every day you can see swarms of tourist wearing wood sunglasses and very little else. The pier has been an ever evolving fixture in Miami Beach over the past century, but has undergone many changes throughout history. In the 1920’s it was home to Miami’s most popular strip club, eventually succombing to damage in the 1926 hurricane. In the 1950’s the pier had been rebuilt and become a popular location for fishing and evening dances. In 1973 it was constructed again, but after many hurricanes through the years it eventually fell into ruin. The new pier may look shiny and modern but it is a historical institution, one that has witnessed the tragedies and victories of Miami through the years.
St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church (The Ancient Spanish Monastery)
Originally built in Spain during the 12th century, the St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church is one of the most interesting sites in Miami Beach. This historic monastery was bought by William Randolph Hearst in 1925, and subsequently disassembled and rebuilt in its current Miami Beach location. Despite its odd journey, the church is now one of the oldest buildings in the Western Hemisphere. If that isn’t the epitome of American entrepreneurialism, I don’t know what is.
What are your favorite historical attractions in Miami Beach?
Header image: Creative Commons from Flickr by FedericoLukkini.