South Beach, Miami, Florida – July 2000

Summer is in full swing here on the Beach, and everyone is gearing up for the Independence Day celebrations. After that, things get a little quieter, perfect for the traveller seeking lower prices and a (relatively) calm vacation in South Beach. Here are the major goings-on in South Beach for July, along with some highlights of restaurants and other establishments that bear checking out this month.

A small word of caution: As of press time, the beaches around here – from north of North Beach, south to Key Biscayne, are closed, due to a slight – er – plumbing matter. This means that you can still go to the beach, but don’t plan on getting in the water. Officials say the beaches may or may not be open by the weekend of the 4th.

If you absolutely must swim in the ocean, check the local news closer to the holiday weekend to see what the status of the beaches are. Or, make holiday plans that include some non-swimming activities, just in case.

Events Around the Beach

Miami Beach 4th of July Celebration
Check out SoBe’s big 4th of July celebration, complete with a fireworks show, compliments of the City of Miami Beach. Beginning at 7 p.m., the United States Air Force Band’s premier show group, High Flight, will play patriotic music and American pop songs. Then come the fireworks! The whole show’s at 10th Street and Ocean Drive, roughly from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. on, of course, July 4. Arrive early and/or plan to walk quite a way, as parking is likely to be hard to find. For more info, call (305) 673-7575.

SummerNight MusiCool Down
The first in a summer series of free live music concerts kicks off Thursday July 6. Thursday concerts will be on Lincoln Road in South Beach and (except for the July 7 concert) Fridays at the Normandy Fountain on 71st Street in North Beach.

The first week’s performers will be 1960’s sensation Lovin’ Spoonful, along with local Miami band “BOB,” starting at 7:30 on July 6 at the 1100 block of Lincoln Road. On July 7, Richie Havens and folk singer Amy Carol will play at the 73rd Street Band Shell, in North Beach.

The series will continue every Thursday and Friday until September 1. For more info or to find out who’s playing on a specific date, call (954) 929-0982.

Theater and Concerts

Milton Nascimento in Concert
Come hear the sultry sounds of Brazilian jazz singer Milton Nascimento at the Jackie Gleason Theater in South Beach. July 6 at 8 p.m. 1700 Washington Avenue in South Beach. Tickets are $22 to $75. For more info call (305) 673-7300.

The Great Confession
A play about a turbulent marital relationship, written by Sergio DeCecco and Armando Chulak, two of Argentina’s most celebrated playwrights. Presented by the Bridge Theater. Performances (in English) run until July 2 at the Miami Beach Women’s Club at 2401 Pinetree Drive. For showtimes and prices call (305) 538-2877.

Come Out Laughing
Miami Light Project’s annual gay and lesbian comedy series will be at the Colony Theater at 1040 Lincoln Road. New York’s Marga Gomez will appear Friday July 7, and Mimi Gonzales of L.A. and Andre Kelly of Chicago will appear on Saturday August 12. Shows begin at 8 p.m. and 10 p.m., and tickets are $20.00. For more info call (305) 576-4350.

Manolete Flamenco Dance Theater will perform at the Jackie Gleason theater in South Beach on July 29, 8 p.m. Tickets are $25 to $45. 1700 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach. (305) 673-7300.

Art Galleries
South Beach is chock-full of art galleries, and here are a few you may not have seen, yet.

Art Center of South Florida
Through July 9: “Family Size,” works by three painters – Shirley Henderson, Kristen Thiele, and Robert Thiele. They are members of the same family. 800 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach, (305) 674-8278.

Best Buddies Art Company
Ongoing: Limited edition prints by Keith Haring, Jim Dine, Robert Rauschenberg, Julian Schnabel, and many others. 1637 Jefferson Avenue, Miami Beach (305) 534-8779.

Espanola Way Photo Exhibition Space
Through July 18: “Los Cubanos de Hoy / Cubans Now,” photographs by William Charles Moss. 1441 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach (305) 861-6583.

To get into the spirit of all things American, check out these truly American restaurants this month while you’re in South Beach.

1629 Michigan Avenue, Miami Beach (305) 673-0690
Now THIS is American food. Bistro-type dishes include burgers made from half a pound of ground steak, chicken marinated in balsamic vinegar, and an exquisite seafood pot pie topped with puff pastry. Specials change regularly and are as good if not better than the regular fare. Desserts are great, too – check out a meringue floating in vanilla sauce, aptly called the “floating island.” A little expensive, average meal ranging from $20 to $30.

Johnny Rockets
783 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach (305) 538-2115
Yes, it’s a chain, but for inexpensive American diner food, it’s hard to beat, and locations don’t get much trendier! Specialties are burgers and sandwiches, fifties-style. Thick, creamy shakes to go with them and all the jukebox music you could want. Average meal is less than $10.

Night Life
Tired of the oh-so-hip club scene? If so, or even if you’re not but you’d like something a little different for a while, here are a couple of the more unique nightspots in South Beach.

Lost Weekend
218 Espanola Way, Miami Beach (305) 672-1707
This is a unique billiards bar with hot jukebox, plenty of darts and all the laid-back atmosphere you can stand, not to mention a location in the middle of a really cool neighborhood where you could spend an entire evening exploring.

The Laundry Bar
721 N. Lincoln Lane, Miami Beach (305) 531-7700
If you’re staying for a while and want some clean duds, or just want to check out a unique only-in-South-Beach atmosphere, check out this bar, which contains a full-service Laundromat. Open every day 7 a.m. to 5 a.m. Deep house music Thursday thru Sunday; more relaxed Monday thru Wednesday. Doing laundry was never like this!

A few words on South Beach…

First, the name: The official name of this lovely city that sits on a barrier island, separating Biscayne Bay from the Atlantic Ocean is Miami Beach. This is not to be confused with Miami proper, that sits on the mainland.

Miami Beach is divided into North Miami Beach (above 25th Street), and the hippest, hottest part, known as South Miami Beach, or just South Beach (25th and below).

In the tradition of SoHo, SoCal and others, South Beach is frequently shortened to SoBe.

Getting Here
South Beach is about ten miles east of the Miami International Airport. In your rental car, exit the airport, following the blue “#2” signs toward the beaches.

After a 50-cent toll, the road will become Interstate 195 and eventually the Julia Tuttle Causeway. Stay to your right and exit Alton Road south.

Or, tell your taxi driver you want to go to South Beach and for a flat rate of $24 he or she will do the driving while you sit back and enjoy the view.

The Weather
After all, that’s why we’re here. Okay, that’s why I’m here.

The weather, in general, is beautiful. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind. While winter is glorious and temperatures are just about perfect most days, the summer can be a bit warm, not to mention humid, so keep that in mind when packing.

Temperatures generally range from 63 to 88°F (17 to 28°C). Finally, be aware that hurricane season runs from May to November. While the chances of having your trip disrupted by one of these swirling tropical phenomena are small, you will likely notice lower rates on everything from airfare to hotel rooms. So that’s a plus for you bargain hunters.

To rent a car, or not to rent. Basically, it depends on what you want to do while you’re here.

If you want to spend most of your time in the cafes, nightclubs, and sitting on the world-famous beaches, renting a car is probably not worth the expense and hassle. Parking in the Art Deco district can be very difficult, and it will cost you.

If you do want to go to the mainland, out to the keys, or somewhere else that would make a cab unfeasible, consider renting a car for a day or two. There are several rental agencies right in South Beach.

You can spend as much money as you want on a vacation in South Beach. That’s probably not what most folks are interested in doing, though.

For those of you looking for something other than the $2,200 a night penthouse at the Delano, there are some less expensive options.

If hosteling is your thing, there are a couple:

  • Banana Bungalow at 2360 Collins Ave. (800/7-HOSTEL or 305/538-1951) and the
  • Clay Hotel & International Hostel at 1438 Washington Ave. (305/534-2988).

    Prices are similar at both, with dorm beds ranging from $12 to $16 per person per night, depending on season, and rooms starting at around $40 to $50. From there, the prices go up. And up, and up. Check the monthly articles in this site periodically for reviews on some of the better bargains.

    As far as food is concerned, a similar concept applies. You can expect to be able to find lunch for about $5 in any number of places, ranging from pastry shops to delis to the News Cafe on Ocean Drive. (The last is one of those must-see fixtures of South Beach.) Expect to pay a bit more for dinner, or investigate some of the many family-run bodegas in the area and make your own!

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    About the Author
    Judy Davis is currently living in South Beach, fulfilling her lifelong dream of achieving that perfect shade of bronze that native Floridians always seem to have.

    In her spare time she writes novels and short fiction and plans the latest in an ongoing series of vacations.