Art Deco architecture replaced boxy rectangular buildings with curvaceous, colorful designs, which often evoked luxurious ocean liners, with facade elements that resembled the bows of ships and round porthole windows. Due to early preservation efforts (later joined by Andy Warhol) Miami boasts over 800 of these buildings.
Miami Beach is home to more preserved Art Deco buildings than anywhere in the world, most clustered around Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue. Of course, you can walk (or drive) down these streets for a DIY tour, but you'll get more out of the South Beach Art Deco Walking Tour by the Miami Design Preservation League, because their knowledgeable guides will educate you as you go. It's a great introduction to the gayborhood.
Congress Suites at The Strand
Congress Suites at The Strand is a unique South Beach lifestyle condo and hotel in the heart of Miami’s Art Deco Historic District on Ocean Drive.
Tides South Beach Hotel
Tides South Beach Hotel was built in 1936 and is now a condominium and 5-star luxury hotel that overlooks Lummus Park.
Palace Drag Bar & Restaurant
“Every Queen needs a Palace,” and the Palace Drag Bar & Restaurant has been home to many of the region's top drag queens since 1988. It is now Miami’s #1 LGBTQ+ bar and restaurant.
The Leslie Hotel was built in 1937 and sits on Ocean Drive, a few blocks from the famed Española Way and Miami’s top destination, Lincoln Road.
The Carlyle South Beach
Opened in 1939, The Carlyle in the heart of South Beach is now private residences, but you can still rent one of the condos via Airbnb or South Beach Rentals.
The Wolfsonian building isn't actually an example of Art Deco architecture, but it's included here because it houses a Museum that includes many Art Deco items. The museum has redesigned its interior to create one-way, guided route displays, and it is once again showing exhibits, currently focused on — economic catastrophe and recovery, protest against racist violence, and public response to epidemic disease.
In addition, every January, Wolfsonian hosts the Art Deco Weekend, Miami Beach's longest-running free community cultural festival. In 2021 the festival that will be entirely online, exploring the idea of home through the lens of the Art Deco period in three engaging Zoom-based talks.
This fountain at The Wolfsonian Museum features tiles rescued from the façade of the Norris Theater from Norristown, Pennsylvania, which was built in 1929 and demolished in 1982.
The Wrestler was made for the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, where the 6'6" adonis loomed over the wrestling arena. Made of the (then brand-new) airplane-age metal of aluminum, the 475 pound sculpture was the work of Dudley Vaill Talcott (1899-1986).