Miami, located on Biscayne Bay in southeastern Florida, is the state's second-largest city (370,000) and the center of a large metropolitan area (nearly 1,000,000) that includes Miami Beach and Fort Lauderdale. Named after a Native American word meaning "big water," Miami was founded in 1870 and quickly became (and still remains) one of America's top vacation spots. An influx of 250,000+ Cuban refugees in 1960 helped define the city's bilingual melting pot.
Today, Miami is a hip urban center with a multicultural ambience and a strong economy based on baking, tourism and a other industries as diverse as its population. Several top companies are headquartered in the area, including Burger King, Norwegian Cruise Line, Ryder and Wachovia.
Miami CultureAs if spring break weren't enough, Carnaval Miami invigorates the city for 9 days each March, with a Miss Carnaval contest, concerts at the Orange Bowl, an in-line skating contest, jazz concerts, shows, and cooking contests. In the summer, Miami Reggae Festival, a 20-year tradition, showcases nearly a dozen acts in a downtown arena. Though known as a party town, Miami has more than its share of culture. It's home to the Miami City Ballet, the Florida Grand Opera and many highly regarded museums, including the Historical Museum of Southern Florida, the Florida Museum of Hispanic and Latin American Art, the Miami Museum of Science & Space Transit Planetarium, the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Miami Art Museum. In funky, trendy South Beach, the Art Deco Historic District is an architectural work of art, with 1920s buildings in pastel shades.
Miami Sports and LeisureFor spectator sports, Miami is represented in all four major leagues. Downtown, the 19,600-seat American Airlines Arena presents the NBA's Miami Heat. Just north of the city, Pro Player Stadium hosts both the NFL's Miami Dolphins and baseball's Florida Marlins. A half hour northwest of the city, the 20,000-seat Office Depot Center is home to the NHL's Florida Panthers. The University of Miami Hurricanes, always a threat to win college football's national title, are a religion within the area.
Miami OutdoorsThe Florida sun's constant heat and an abundance of beaches are the formula for outdoor recreation that cannot be improved upon. The area is a haven for water sports and a golfer's paradise, with dozens of top-rated courses nearby, including Doral. Five miles southeast at the southern end of Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area has nature trails and more beaches. For those that need to get away, Palm Beach to the north and the Florida Keys to the south offer more water sports and watering holes. An hour northwest, Lake Okeechobee, Florida's largest lake (and the country's second-largest fresh water lake), offers great bass fishing and fishing tournaments.
Miami at NightMiami is famous for its scintillating nightlife, easily making the Forbes list of the Best Places for Singles. Upscale South Beach is Miami's "it" place, with trendy clubs and bars open until dawn. Throughout the city, a young, diverse population and high number of college-age vacationers make Miami one of the hippest nightspots on the planet.