Walk with us while we explore the art deco district of Miami Beach. Cut from a rat infested mangrove swamp, Ocean Drive became the most glamorous tourist destination of the 1930’s with its pastel colored hotels, its sun washed beaches and its tropical flavor all adding to the excitement of the time. This golden age ended with America entering World War II in 1941 and we continue the story of the area’s steady decline through the 1950’s ‘60’s and 70’s and its rebirth during the last 30 years due to one woman’s crusade to save the buildings from demolition. We discuss the 3 distinct styles of architecture, Mediterranean Revival, Art Deco and MIMO (Miami modern) and take you to visit the interiors of some of the hotels so you can appreciate not only the remarkable diversity of style but capture the flavor and mood of the time. We will show you the exterior of the only remaining mansion on Ocean Drive best known for being the residence of the late Gianna Versace and tell the stories of some of the people who with their flair and passion have restored this area once again as a sparkling winter playground for all.
Tour time: 90 minutes
This is an art deco tour with a difference as we begin with the later Art Deco Grande Dame Hotels of 17th Street and Collins Avenue (the Delano, the National & the Ritz Plaza), then visit Frank Gehry's fabulous New World Symphony building,before heading down the fabled Lincoln Road. Built out of a mangrove swamp by the legendary Carl Fisher, it was originally a street with traffic and in the 1920’s and 1930's was known as the Fifth Avenue of the South - the fanciest shopping street in America outside of New York. All the top stores were represented; Tiffany, Bergdorf-Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, and the most stylish New York furriers! Even the car showrooms of Cadillac and Packard oozed elegance and art deco style. Converted into a pedestrian mall in the late 1950’s by Morris Lapidus whose iconic designs, shapes and sheer fun of architectural design (known as Miami Modern or MiMo) are still far ahead of their time, we explore not only the architecture but also the linear landscape, the planting, trees and shrubs and a newly created area containing ponds and paving reminiscent of a plaza. We will talk to you about the history of the buildings on Lincoln Road and the work of Morris Lapidus, his landscape history and design.
Tour time: 90 minutes.
Urban Green Spaces of South Beach: This unique art deco tour offers visitors a glimpse of some of our green spaces and their history. We visit the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, the last remaining vestige of what was in the roaring twenties a golf course. We tell you the history of Carl Fisher whose vision in the early 1900’s turned Miami Beach into a playground for the wealthy winter residents from New York, Indianapolis and Detroit. After a gentle stroll around the gardens we walk along the Collins Canal and learn the story of another visionary John Collins, a Quaker farmer from New Jersey who built the canal to ship his tropical produce to the markets in the north. We pause at the oldest building in our National Historic District, the Carl Fisher golf course Club House and take a walk past splendid art deco hotels to The Bass Museum, located in Collins Park where we explore both the architecture and the park. Another short walk takes us to The Fillmore Theatre, where Jackie Gleason hosted his show from 1964 and where we discover the handprints and signatures of many stars in The Walk of Fame. Crossing the road we end our tour at the new Miami Beach Soundscape an urban park designed by landscape architectural firm West 8 to complement the landmark building designed by internationally renowned architect Frank Gehry, as the new campus of the New World Symphony.
Tour time: 90 minutes.
Latin Legends and Deco Delights
1980 saw Miami Beach transform almost overnight from a sleepy elderly enclave to a vibrant Latin community. In that year 125,000 Cubans made the journey on 1,700 boats to reach the shores of Miami Beach. Walk with us as we talk about those who having been cast out by Fidel Castro came to seek their fortune and make this barrier island their home. Our tour discusses the history of Miami Beach with emphasis on this turbulent time period when opera singers, rappers, actors, poets, arsonists, murderers and Pulitzer prizewinners all contributed to the heady mixture that is our slice of paradise today. We visit hotels, restaurants and streets where the Cuban and Latin movement has greatly influenced and benefited our City. Our tour ends with a mojito cocktail (included in the price of the tour) after which we can if requested recommend three restaurants where you can continue the Cuban experience on your own.
Tour time: 90 minutes, recommended start time 5:00PM. Tour cost $40 including one cocktail
The Street Art of Wynwood Walls, Miami
Created in 2009 and considered one of the top 10 destinations in Miami, Wynwood Walls is one of the largest concentrated areas of street art and graffiti in the world. Come walk with us through this vivid and colourful district of Miami and learn about the founder Tony Goldman, whose desire to bring recognition to this long neglected artistic medium resulted in the transformation of a drab industrial area into an exciting art community of storefront gates and walls brimming with “outsider” art. High visibility, striking colours, mind grabbing images and direct text create a unique and exciting sensory experience. All this combined with galleries, restaurants and bars mean that our 90 minute walk will be one to remember as we introduce you to the history of Wynwood, discuss the differences between street art and graffiti and show you many of the internationally recognised artists from around the world whose work adorn the walls of this ever changing landscape of “old” and “new” paint.
Art Deco Bicycle Tour
ROLL with us while we explore the Art Deco district of Miami Beach on bikes! Miami Beach is a biker's paradise because there are no hills, and bicycle tours let visitors see a wider variety of glamorous attractions throughout South Beach during the same tour. In addition to biking along Ocean Walk between 5th Street and 23rd Street, this tour visits stunning South Point Park and newly-opened South Point pier on the southern tip of the island. On the northern edges of the Historic District, we visit the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens, the Holocaust Memorial, and Soundscape Park (shown in the photo). The tour also takes in Lincoln Road and Espanola Way. Visitors rent their own bicycles from one of three bike shops in South Beach either for the length of the tour - or for the day, if you choose. Increasingly, some hotels now offer their guests loaner bicycles, so ask your concierge or, use the municipal bike rentals here known as Citi Bikes with kiosks located throughout the city. Tours begin from where the bikes are rented (location determined at time of booking) and last approximately 2 hours at a cost of $40 per person (family rates available). Come roll with us!
Prices for all our art deco tours:
- Tours are priced at $30 per person, the standard tour rate here.
- Foreign language tours are $35; bicycle tours are $40 per person. Teens are half-price, and we make every effort to involve them in the tour. Under 10 is free.
- Groups of twenty or more persons receive a discounted rate of $25 per person.
- Marty and Paula make every effort to deliver same-day tours, but 24-48 hour advance notice for a tour works best for all parties.
- We do tours of all sizes: from couples (2) and families (4-5), to social clubs, wedding groups, 'girls getaways', alumni & business groups/schools of 50+ people.
- We try to combine 1-person tour requests with other groups, if possible, to accommodate the solo visitor. If we are unable to do this, there is a somewhat higher charge for an individual tour of $50.
- Our tours also make an excellent gift for friends or family visiting South Beach when you can't be here with them. Surprise them with a tour!
- Starting times/locations for tours will be specified when the tour is booked.
- If you are staying at a South Beach hotel, we are happy to meet you in your lobby - the only Art Deco Tour to offer this service. Otherwise, we will select a mutually convenient meeting place and time, usually the Miami Beach Date/Time Clock at 10th and Ocean Drive, or the New World Symphony Box Office at 17th and Washington Avenue (depending on the tour).
- We do morning tours, afternoon tours and twilight tours. Tours are also available in French, Spanish and German. We make every effort to offer our tours to guests coming/going from cruise ships at the Port of Miami.
A 50% deposit payable by PayPal is required on day of booking, balance due (cash only) at end of tour. Art Deco Walks will send you a secure PayPal Invoice for the deposit, which can be paid either through your PayPal account or any major credit card.
Total Customer Service: Tips, Highlights & Recommendations for our guests...
- Bring a bottle of water with you - it’s essential in our climate. Wear comfortable shoes for walking and bring an umbrella if it looks like rain. Yes, we tour in the rain, too!!
- Marty and Paula have prepared "Art Deco Highlights" which we email to each of our guests when they get back home, if we have your email address and not just a phone #. These highlights retrace the Ocean Drive and Lincoln Road walking tours with many of the names , faces and dates that are mentioned in the tour. The highlights, coupled with your own photos, will let you share the tour with friends and family.
- We also faciliate the continuation of your Art Deco Discovery by proving useful art and architectural links in your home cities and countries. You'll be surprised - Art Deco is everywhere!
- NEW! We have prepared a list of recommended restaurants and bars (with addresses and phone #s) that can be provided in advance of your arrival, to help with your lunch and dinner planning.
- We aim to please, and that's why we have 345+ five-star reviews on Trip Advisor and have been awarded the Trip Advisor "Certificate of Excellence" for the past 4 years!