Aching to see Miami at its most colorful? Set aside time to explore the city’s world-famous Art Deco Historic District. Located in the South Beach area of Miami Beach, the district is home to the world’s largest collection of Art Deco architecture and is a must-see for anyone visiting the “Magic City.”
The Art Deco Historic District centers on Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, and Washington Avenue, between 5th Street and 23rd Street. Peppered around the neighborhood are 800 or so historic buildings, bringing back to life the glory of Miami in the 1920s and 1930s.
Ready to experience this historic gem to its fullest? Plan the perfect sightseeing experience with this complete guide to Miami’s Art Deco District.
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What to see & do in the Art Deco District
There’s no better place to experience Miami’s unique vibes than the Art Deco Historic District. The area, set in the heart of Miami Beach, showcases some of the world’s finest examples of the distinctive Art Deco architectural style. In fact, the area has the highest concentration of the style, not just in the United States but in the entire world!
Popularized in the 1920s and 1930s, the sleek Art Deco style is characterized by its bright colors, geometric lines and curves, and over-the-top ornamentation. Miami’s take on the Art Deco movement is particularly eye-catching, fusing bright neon lighting and tropical, pastel colors into the design.
Thanks to the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL), the city’s finest examples of the style were saved from demolition. Eventually, their efforts paved the way to get Miami’s Art Deco District added to the United States National Register of Historic Places in 1979.
Today, many of the Art Deco buildings, particularly along Ocean Drive, are home to trendy restaurants, beachfront bars, and some of the best hotels in Miami. Thanks to appearing in Hollywood films and TV series like Scarface, Miami Vice, and Bad Boys, many of the destinations here have become tourist attractions in their own right.
As you’re wandering around the district on a walking tour, keep an eye out for the following…
Park Central Hotel
Designed by New York-based architect Henry Hohauser, the Park Central Hotel dates back to 1937. The iconic property at 640 Ocean Drive features a bright blue horizontal “stripe” with three porthole windows framing the entrance, accented by eye-popping vertical stripes tracing to the top floor.
The window eyebrows at the Park Central Hotel juxtapose the bold blues with a light pastel green color. When lit up at night in electric pinks and blues, the building is at its most eye-popping.
Beacon South Beach Hotel
Designed by Henry O. Nelson and completed in 1936, the Beacon South Beach Hotel features a classic Art Deco tripartite design. Like many other buildings in the area, vertical lines reach upwards, but with various geometric shapes breaking the ascent.
The Beacon is at its most impressive at night when its neon-blue lights illuminate the exterior center column and half-circle adornments on the wings. Be sure to pop inside to check out the stunning lobby, dragging the unique styles and designs of Ocean Drive into the interior.
Located a block north at 736 Ocean Drive, the Colony Hotel is one of the most famous buildings in Miami Beach. Dating back to 1939, the property is easy to spot, particularly at night when its iconic marquee is lit up in bright neon blue.
Although it’s no longer one of South Beach’s top luxury hotels, the Colony Hotel is one of the Art Deco District’s most photographed locations, thanks to its unique façade, rising up just three stories. Be sure to bring along your camera to snap some of your own photos for your Instagram feed.
Further up Ocean Drive, The Clevelander was designed by well-known architect Albert Anis. Although the building dates by to 1938, a multimillion-dollar renovation breathed new life into the 60-room boutique hotel.
While it sits firmly among the best Art Deco hotels in Miami, The Clevelander is even more famous for its nightlife options. Enjoy the sea views with cocktails in hand from the two rooftop decks and oceanfront patio bar, or party until the wee hours at the on-site nightclub.
Located at the corner of Collins Avenue and 12th Street, The Marlin is one of the finest examples of Art Deco outside the Ocean Drive bubble. The boutique hotel, designed by L. Murray Dixon, has been fully renovated, fusing its 1939-era facade with high-tech modern amenities.
The Marlin’s most distinctive exterior feature is its window “eyebrows,” painted in soothing pastel shades. The windows are at their most striking at night when the purple neon lights illuminate the window shades.
When you’re done admiring the structure, venture northward to 1220 Collins Ave for a luxury shopping spree at The Webster. Rising up three stories, the luxury boutique shop is the perfect spot to snag all the latest styles and designs from top international fashion brands all in one place.
Made famous by films like Scarface, Bad Boys 2, and The Birdcage, The Carlyle is another Art Deco movement masterpiece to add to your walking tour. The building was designed by Pittsburgh-based architects Kiehnel and Elliott, whose footprints can be found all over Florida.
Today, The Carlyle has been transformed into a portfolio of luxury properties, including some vacation rentals. If you’re lucky, you might be able to book yourself into one of the suites, allowing you to admire the building’s distinctive window and column eyebrows.
Where to eat & drink
The Art Deco Historic District hides some of the best places to eat & drink in Miami Beach, whether it’s top-notch Italian restaurants or swanky rooftop bars.
If you’re craving a taste of Italy while exploring South Florida, duck into the Osteria del Teatro. Located at The Marlin on Collins Avenue, this popular Miami Beach restaurant cooks up Northern Italian food favorites from fettuccine alla carbonara to pollo alla parmigiana. Pair your delectable Mediterranean meal with a selection from their extensive wine list.
Dig into classic Mexican cuisine with an Art Deco backdrop at the Naked Taco on Collins Avenue. Tuck into their signature chicharrones, featuring crispy pork belly and mango habanero, or the Florida-inspired crispy Key West shrimp tacos.
Want to experience Miami’s Cuban vibes without venturing to Little Havana? Saunter over to the Havana Vieja Cuban Restaurant Miami Beach, located at the Hotel Chelsea on Washington Avenue. Delight in Cuban food favorites like ropa vieja, pollo asado, and, of course, classic Cubano sandwiches.
Although not occupying an Art Deco building, don’t miss the opportunity to dabble in high-end Mediterranean cuisine at the Versace Mansion on Ocean Drive. The Italian restaurant is housed in the former mansion of fashion designer Gianni Versace, showing off a stunning Mediterranean Revival style.
One of the most popular things to do in South Beach is to get a primer on Miami Beach’s legendary nightlife by sipping craft cocktails with the ocean breeze blowing in your hair at the open-air patios of The Clevelander Bar. Or enjoy handcrafted cocktails to live entertainment in the breezy courtyard of Sola Miami Beach.
End your Art Deco Miami itinerary at the Voodoo Lounge, featuring a fun-filled tiki bar and rooftop hookah lounge.
Where to stay
See Art Deco style with Spanish colonial design at the Lennox Miami Beach. Aside from the relaxing modern rooms, the hotel features a beautiful courtyard terrace and pool area, along with a fitness center to sweat out the mojitos.
Occupying a 1937 Art Deco building designed by L. Murray Dixon, Hotel Victor South Beach is one of the area’s most popular boutique hotels. A recent renovation has left the 91-room hotel brimming with luxurious finishes and modern amenities. For the ultimate in Miami Beach relaxation, book yourself to get pampered at Spa V, the hotel’s 6,000-square-foot European-style spa.
For the ultimate in luxury in the Art Deco District, book a night at The Setai, Miami Beach. Located directly on the beachfront, this 5-star hotel fuses Henry Houhauser’s originally 1936 landmark Art Deco design with Asian motifs for a feel like none other in South Beach. Cool down in the hot Florida sun at the three outdoor pools, enjoy a dip in the Atlantic Ocean, or relax at the luxurious on-site spa.