When the University of Miami's Lowe Art Museum began in 1952, the school could comfortably display its entire collection in three unused classrooms. Those days are long past. Today, the museum stands as Miami's most comprehensive collection of western and non-western art. The permanent collections feature pieces drawn from across human history, with notable works including Claude Monet's Waterloo Bridge and a recently acquired face mask from the Dan people of Côte d'Ivoire and Liberia, forged from wood, cloth, and fur. A sizable trove of Native American artifacts includes pieces from the Southeast such as a beautifully embroidered bead shoulder bag. Other exhibits include paintings, sculpture, drawings, prints, and photographs from the Middle Ages through the present, including the Samuel H. Kress Collection of Renaissance and Baroque art, as well as pottery, sculpture, and metalwork from ancient Greece and the Roman Empire, dating from the first millennium BCE through the 4th century CE.
A few miles away, the tower of the 1939 Old Police and Fire Station rises above the street, gazing down on an unusual blend of sleek, depression-era modernism and Mediterranean revival ornateness. Founded in 2003, the Coral Gables Museum Corp. completely renovated the old municipal building. Spanish touches were added—the new Fewell wing and a 5,000-square-foot plaza—and the space was opened in 2011 as a museum dedicated to the civic arts of architecture, urban design, historic and environmental preservation, and sustainable development. Today, it holds regular art and design exhibitions, educational events, and concerts.
The most recent addition to Paragon Theaters’ repertoire of upscale movie venues, Paragon Grove Theater cushions customers in the plush luxury of its newly renovated theaters. Stadium-style seats pad posteriors as their owners gaze upon the silver screens from clear vantage points. An expanded concessions menu sates the palates of moviegoers by presenting a range of hearty fare and, for those of age, beer and wine.
Sony HD digital projectors bathe the towering screens in crystal clearness, granting films a visual crispness so pronounced it has enabled sponsors to advertise their logos in actors' pores. The company plans additional upgrades and outdoor seating to bring all the amenities found in its locations in Miami, Florida, and Burnsville and Rochester, Minnesota, to the new Deerfield Beach location.
The tower of the 1939 Old Police and Fire Station rises above the street in downtown Coral Gables, gazing down on an unusual blend of sleek, Depression-era modernism and Mediterranean revival ornateness. Founded in 2003, the Coral Gables Museum Corp. completely renovated the old municipal building. Spanish touches were added?the new Fewell wing and a 5,000-square-foot plaza?and the space was opened in 2011 as a museum dedicated to the civic arts of architecture, urban design, historic and environmental preservation, and sustainable development. The museum continues to cultivate partnerships to provide up to five art and design exhibitions at once, concerts, educational events like lectures and tours as well as other special events and publications to help foster an appreciation for the history, vision, and cultural landscape of Coral Gables.
Founded as a sanctuary for flowers, birds, and their admirers, Pinecrest Gardens has flourished into a family-friendly retreat that entertains visitors with horticultural exhibits and artistic events in a scenic setting. Spanning 4.3 acres of forested wetland, the gardens harbor more than 1,000 rare and exotic plants, including a 100-year-old coco plum tree, orchids, and a banyan tree that spreads across three-fourths of an acre. Waterways full of fish snake through these plants, their inhabitants impatiently pursing their lips at visitors for handfuls of food.
Pinecrest Gardens offers other entertainment opportunities for youngsters, who can splash around in the water playground, spot wildlife at Swan Lake, or play with potbellied pigs at the petting zoo. In addition, the 500-seat outdoor Banyan Bowl offers concertgoers pristine acoustics and cool evening breezes along with complimentary views of the stars.
Inside Laserland & Adventure, lasers pierce through clouds of fog and past glowing black-lit murals. Their targets: participants navigating the labyrinthine 3,000-square-foot arena's multiple levels during standard games of tag, as well as variations that incorporate special power-ups.
But as massive as it is, Laserland's laser tag arena is only a fourth of the entire 12,000-square-foot fun center. Upbeat tunes accompany the bleeps and blips of classic games from the on-site arcade before players head to the coffee shop to recharge with cups of joe and healthy snacks.
As they observe the vibrant exhibits of aquatic life inside the Miami Seaquarium, many guests don't realize that they are walking through a movie set and a hospital. In the onsite lagoon, bottlenose dolphins swim through waters once traversed by Flipper, who filmed several television episodes and films at the venue. The Seaquarium is also recognized as a manatee critical care facility. Its staff has accomplished several historic treatments, including monitoring the conception and arrival of the first manatee born under human care and conducting the first manatee neurological surgery.
These facets of the Seaquarium—along with its many conservation efforts, educational programs, and shows—underscore a united commitment to wildlife consciousness. The animal attractions enable visitors to witness the allure and fragility of oceanic fauna up close, whether they are petting the back of a stingray or washing a dress shirt on the rough back of an 8-foot nile crocodile. Special encounters decrease the distance even further, sending patrons on underwater Sea Treks through the reef display or helping them to lead marine-mammal training routines.
It's hard to pinpoint the biggest personality inside the Seaquarium tanks, but Lolita the killer whale—who performs daily alongside pacific white-sided dolphins—claims the title of heaviest, period. On the other end of the scale, macaws and cockatiels perch around the Tropical Wings section of the park, and endangered sea turtles lounge at Discovery Bay. Elsewhere, a watery playground and three-story ropes course keep legs from growing too wobbly after a trip to Shark Channel or a smooch from a sea lion.