Imagine standing eye level with a giraffe, holding out your arm for parrots to land on, or touching the head of an endangered rhino. At Zoo Miami, these experiences happen every day, fulfilling the institution's mission of encouraging the conservation of wildlife. More than 2,000 animals—from chimps to tigers to koalas—populate the African exhibit, Asian exhibit, Australian exhibit, and the most recent addition, the Amazon & Beyond exhibit. Many of the individual exhibitions don't use cages, but are instead bound by moats throughout more than three miles of walking trails. This setup allows guests to get closer to animals as they romp in their habitats. More than 1,200 plant species populate these habitats, which are re-creations of the animals' native environments.
Guests can use free WiFi to download a free mobile app for iPhones and Androids. The app then delivers functions such as location beacons so that family members keep track of one another, show times, and GPS-enabled maps that show the nearest dining venue or restroom. Transportation options within the zoo range from an air-conditioned monorail to tram tours, which provide behind-the-scenes insights such as which animals have recently had babies, what they named the babies, and each baby's first word. Developed specifically for kids, a children's zoo offers camel rides and a playground.
Wings Over Miami Air Museum serves as an ongoing tribute to the veterans and aviators who pioneered military and civilian aviation. The museum seeks to educate visitors about the rich history of aviation, the scientific basis of flight, and the many challenges faced during the evolution of flight.
When he’s not lavishly decorating the homes of famous friends such as Sylvester Stallone, Lil’ Wayne, and Jose Canesco, Anwar Zayden applies his meticulous designer’s eye to the projects of his clientele at Art Express Miami. At his on-site, full-service factory, Anwar and his team preserve prints, diplomas, and photos within 30 minutes with customized framing, or craft shadow boxes to showcase 3D items from plaques to swords. His in-home consultations help homeowners design and install new decorations within 48 hours, and his custom-made mirrors spruce up abodes with reflective surfaces that remind you you’re the fairest of them all even when you don’t ask. Inside Art Express Miami’s gallery, Anwar also stocks pre-framed pieces of decorative art that run the gamut from classical portraits to contemporary abstract canvases.
Since 1989, The Miami Symphony Orchestra has mimicked Miami’s cultural diversity with concerts and events that act as a melting pot of musical influences. Music director Eduardo Marturet, a Venezuelan composer and conductor, helms many of the concerts, encouraging the musicians to unleash their inner Beethovens or Bachs—former members of the ’80s hair-metal band Skid Row.
Belly2Abs founder Adriana Echeverri brings dance to unexpected places, opening Ireland’s first belly dancing school in 2006. Her Belly2Abs studios create a safe and harmonious space for women to work out and explore the undulating movements of belly dancing, tango, and flamenco. The studio’s diverse and international collection of instructors teach introductory steps to young girls and lead up-tempo fitness classes that tone and burn calories.
Studio owner, mother of three, and passionate polecat, Annia Vazquez, encourages women to tap into their inner minx during pole-dancing and flirty-fitness classes. The studio takes pole dancing—once strictly a means of determining the next fire chief—and turns it into a full-body workout that incorporates core work, conditioning exercises, and sultry dance moves. Students can explore some of the other seductive arts during exotic belly-dancing lessons or courses that combine Vaudeville-style and modern burlesque. Classes keep comfortable with a maximum of 16 students, giving instructors enough time to dole out personalized tips to help newbies transform into veteran vixens.
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.