The Miami area’s vibrant confluence of cultures and languages—as well as its uninhibited consumerism—serve as a captivating mixture from the moment travelers arrive. The atmosphere in Miami Lakes is somewhat subdued, with a small Main Street district and a coterie of local restaurants such as laid-back Cuban café Casavana. In nearby South Beach’s Art Deco District, architecture appears in Technicolor straight out of the 1930s. It’s the American version of the tropics—a clean, breezy haven with street-side cafes, where people-watching is de rigueur and the beaches are thronged with beautiful people. Just north, the lively Oceanside resort area of Sunny Isles Beach harbors even more picturesque public beaches. Boats docked on the Intracoastal Waterway at Haulover Beach Park beckon ocean exploration through deep-sea fishing charters and watersport rentals. After weaving past an eclectic crowd of paddleboarders, stereo-toting locals, and sun-tanning tourists, vacationers can head across the street to Epicure, a full-service gourmet market and café that peddles supplies for picnic lunches and offers all-day beach parking for $5.Just west of Miami Lakes, the Everglades’ Gator Park offers narrated airboat tours that start slow, plodding through 8–12-inch depths, before revving their Cadillac engines into full throttle in search of alligators, American crocodiles,
exotic birds, and sitcom stars jumping sharks. The squawk of exotic parrots permeates the private sanctuary, as snakes slither up handler's backs and guests feel the small scaly skin of tiny alligators—a sensory escape from the concrete jungle of Miami. Although Don Shula's Hotel & Golf Club sometimes offers discounted pricing online, this Groupon is still the best deal available.