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What To Do In Miami Miami Beach

Cheer on the Dolphins, Heat, Marlins, Golden Panthers or Hurricanes, depending on what time of year you're visiting the destination—if you can get a cheap ticket.

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Imagine what life was like during the Gilded Age at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (3251 S. Miami Ave.), the lavish 34-room winter estate of industrialist James Deering. The estate enjoys a beautiful setting on Biscayne Bay that includes a 10-acre Italian Renaissance formal garden with paths, fountains and statues; a hammock of native hardwood trees; and an ornate stone “barge” just in the estate's boat harbor.

¡Bienvenidos a Calle Ocho! Welcome to Eighth Street, the main thoroughfare of Little Havana. Immerse yourself in Cuban culture, transplanted to South Florida, as you sip a café con leche or shop for hand-rolled cigars and the perfect souvenir guayabera. Join the celebration every month on the last Friday during Viernes Culturales (Cultural Fridays). This family-friendly street party features visual and performing arts, food, dancing and music.

Feel the sand trickle through your toes, wade into the gentle surf (being careful not to get a mouthful of saltwater) and test your architectural skills with a plastic pail and shovel. Two favorite beaches are nearby in Key Biscayne: Crandon Park (6747 Crandon Blvd.) and Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Beach (1200 S. Crandon Blvd.).

Steer your car south toward Florida City to the main entrance of Everglades National Park , where trails, boardwalks and tram tours provide access to hardwood hammocks, swamps, mangrove forests and sawgrass prairies. Also south is Biscayne National Park , 95 percent of which is underwater and suitable for adventurous things to do, such as scuba diving, snorkeling or kayaking. Guided boat tours are offered most Thurs.-Sun., year-round.

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You won't be able to tiptoe through the tulips, though you can travel through a rainforest and among the palms, bougainvillea, hibiscus, vines and fruit trees that grow in organized profusion at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (10901 Old Cutler Rd.).

Glide your way through the Zoo Miami (12400 S.W. 152nd St.) on a monorail, taking time to admire the habitats where animals native to Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe and South America live. More than 3,000 animals including endangered animals are visible from the zoo’s 3 miles of walkways. Close-up and some face-to-face encounters are available at the free-flight aviary and more than 100 cageless exhibits throughout the zoo.

In a city famous for its diverse cultures and lifestyles, The Holocaust Memorial (1933-1945 Meridian Ave.) is a fitting reminder of our world's need for tolerance. The Miami Beach memorial features a circular reflecting pool bordered by bougainvillea-draped arbor surrounding a towering bronze sculpture of an outstretched arm.

Watch sea lions frolic beneath the Golden Dome at Miami Seaquarium (4400 Rickenbacker Cswy.), a Miami institution on Virginia Key that's been enchanting visitors since 1955.

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