Home - 37º and rain: here 82º and sunshine. Where would you rather be?
With happy hearts we took a drive south on A1A to South Beach, driving on the barrier islands that form the Indian River passageway along much of Florida's east coast. The names of the towns we drove through convey what we saw - Golden Beach, Sunny Isles Beach, Surfside, Miami Beach. Each town had a different look. Sometimes we could only get a peek at lavish homes hidden behind walls and gates covered with lush green vegetation. When the road was close to the water we could see mansions on the water front; each had a yacht tied up in front. Miami Beach feels like Manhattan. One huge high rise of condos and town homes after another. It was a condo canyon. No beach in sight here. The white buildings were accentuated by hot Florida colors - pink, orange, yellow, aquamarine. We would have liked to stop to photograph what we saw. But every time we come to coastal Florida we wrestle with parking. Sometimes there is none. Other times it is pricey. We are used to plotting, scheming and planning the day when we bring a car to major metro areas, but much of the sea coast is low rise and green. We like the Hawaiian approach - the beach is for everyone.
South Beach is noted for its Art Deco architecture. Many of the buildings were erected in the 1930's and some have fallen into disrepair or destroyed entirely by more modern development. But much has been restored and Ocean Drive is lined with picturesque hotels, restaurants and store housed in the deco style. The buildings were a little harder to see than we remembered since the sidewalks were lined with al fresco dining and big colorful umbrellas. Customers were guzzling colorful $19 cocktails the size of tankers. And it was only mid afternoon.
There were many spots where bikes were available for self service rental. You could check one out with a credit card and return it to a different location without interacting with the owner and pay for the exact amount of time you rode. A great idea! There were many scenic areas to ride along the beach. The beaches in this area are immaculate - not a speck of garbage and carefully raked every morning. The golden sand and aquamarine water were stunning and the sand full of brightly colored umbrellas, chairs, cabanas, and other beach furniture for rent. It reminded us of the Riviera. Most beaches in the US are more self service or offer rentals that have been used and used and used. South Beach is classy - and pricey!