Things to do in Miami

Art Deco Miami

Discover Art Deco in Miami with our guide to the iconic streets, buildings, and landmarks found in the Miami Art Deco Historic District.

Embark on an unforgettable journey through the Art Deco Historic District in Miami Beach, Florida, as we explore some of the more unusual things to do in Miami.

We love strolling these streets and soaking up the stories these well-preserved buildings can tell, and we hope our Miami shows reflect a little of the bold spirit on display.

From parking garages to old hotels and Miami museums to fashion boutiques, many of Miami’s best-loved buildings are gorgeous examples of the Art Deco style. Perhaps you’ll find inspiration here too.

Ocean Drive - The Heart of Art Deco

Ocean Drive has a lot in common with our shows — it’s colorful, dynamic, and full of surprises. As you stroll down this iconic street, you’ll notice the bold Art Deco buildings, each telling its own story of Miami’s history. Here, you’ll find some of the oldest hotels in Miami, rendered in the Art Deco style.

1. Colony Hotel

The Colony Hotel stands tall and proud in South Beach, a jewel in Miami’s architectural crown. Built in 1935, the hotel’s design epitomizes Art Deco glam. The striking blue and white exterior makes it one of the most eye-catching buildings on Ocean Drive.

When it’s lit up at night, it’s the star of the show! The Colony Hotel isn't just famous for its iconic art deco style. Over the decades, it’s also played host to a wide range of musical stars, including Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra.

We love a building that wears its history proudly for all to see, which makes the Colony Hotel one of our favorite examples of Miami art deco.

Photographer: guerriernoir

2. Hotel Breakwater South Beach

Another gem in the Art Deco District of Miami is Hotel Breakwater South Beach. The angular blue and white design screams 1930s style.

Constructed from stucco and etched glass, Hotel Breakwater centers around the neon sign that towers above the rest of the building. Enjoy a drink on the terrace in front of the hotel, where tall palms provide shade from the hot Miami sun, and soak up the historic style.

Fancy waking up in this art deco haven every morning of your stay in the city? Book the Penthouse Sunrise suite, and enjoy the dawn light filtering through the classic arched windows. The interior decor is bold, bright, and true to the hotel’s art deco style.

3. Clevelander South Beach

Some might call it boxy, but we call it beautiful! The Clevelander South Beach hotel gets its name from the home city of the Ratner family, who were the original owners. Built in 1938, the Clevelander South Beach hotel is approaching a century of life, but it shows no signs of settling down into a sedate old age.

Instead, it’s living up to its reputation as a party hotel, where DJs spin the decks at the Beach Club. One thing to note if you’re traveling with young ones in tow — the Clevelander South Beach is for adults only. This is a place to come to live it up when the lights go down, in true Jazz Age style.

Collins Avenue - Architectural Elegance

As you stroll along Collins Avenue, prepare to be captivated by the Art Deco architecture. This historic avenue is a testament to Miami’s rich design culture and the city’s commitment to pushing the boundaries of creativity.

4. Essex House Hotel

With its curved facade, porthole windows, and nameplate tower, no one could mistake Essex House Hotel for anything other than an Art Deco masterpiece. It sits on the corner of Collins Avenue and 10th Street, a short walk from Ocean Drive and just a block from the beach.

The Essex House Hotel is a sister hotel to Clevelander South Beach. You can dance the night away there before coming home to your quiet, comfortable room at Essex House. We’re all about the work hard, play hard, and rest well lifestyle, so we approve wholeheartedly.

5. The National Hotel

The National Hotel is a big Miami resort that oozes art deco style. Look out for the flag flying atop the iconic tower — it’s an important part of the Miami skyline.

The National Hotel opened in 1940 and has attracted a range of celebrity guests over the years. It’s still popular with artists, who exhibit their work in the lobby, restaurants, and other spots around the hotel. Look out for the gorgeous rooftop murals and hyperrealist sculptures.

In the lobby, you’ll find a mixture of retro-style and antique furnishings. Did you know this hotel also has the city’s longest infinity pool? Whether you plan to stay here or simply swing by to take in the decor, The National Hotel is a must-see on your Miami art deco tour.

Photographer: Hector Falcon

Washington Avenue - A Blend of History and Style

Home to much-loved Miami institutions, such as The Wolfsonian-FIU and The Webster, Washington Avenue seamlessly intertwines art deco history with contemporary style.

Learn about the history of design in the city, or shop for a new outfit so you can look just as good as the architecture that graces this part of town.

6. The Wolfsonian-FIU

Right in the middle of Miami’s Art Deco District, The Wolfsonian-FIU is a grand old building holding a fascinating art and design collection.

Here, you can learn about the origins of the Art Deco movement, which began with the 1925 Paris Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes and developed into its iconic design style throughout the 1930s.

By the time you leave the Wolfsonian, you’ll know all about how American designers picked up the style and adapted it to the Depression-era United States. Even among the fantastic art galleries in Miami, the Wolfsonian stands out for its collection and the amazing building that houses it.

7. The Webster

Ah, The Webster in South Beach — this is a fashionista’s dream destination! From the moment you first spot the pastel-toned storefront of the flagship store, you’ll feel right at home in this luxury fashion house.

Inside, you’ll find collections from legendary designers, such as Balmain, Dior, Chanel, Yves Saint Laurent, and Givenchy, as well as up-and-coming designers.

Many pieces are exclusive to The Webster, so you'll definitely want to include this stop on your art deco Miami tour. Come inside, and let the stylists find you the ideal new outfit to wear during your stay in Miami.

Photographer: Debby Hudson

Lincoln Road - Modern Meets Classic

Welcome to Lincoln Road, where the old meets the new. From the renovated Lincoln Theatre to the eye-catching 1111 Lincoln Road parking garage, there are plenty of landmarks to look out for here.

8. 1111 Lincoln Road

Why have we included a parking garage in our guide to things to do in Miami? No, our minds haven’t been addled by too much time spent upside down on the flying trapeze.

This isn’t any old parking garage. Visit at night, and you’ll see its beautiful angles all lit up. You can appreciate the open, airy design at any time. Park here, and be sure to stick around for the panoramic views of the iconic South Beach area.

In case you need to be persuaded that 1111 Lincoln Road is so much more than just a place to leave your vehicle, check out the event space on the seventh floor. Here, you can find wine tastings, yoga classes, and even dinner parties — sometimes in the company of celebrity guests.

9. Lincoln Theatre

Let us spin you a tale about the Lincoln Theatre, a true star in Miami’s Art Deco history. In 1936, the brilliant architect Thomas W. Lamb teamed up with the genius Robert E. Collins (who also whipped up the nearby Cameo Theatre, now strutting its stuff as a nightclub).

The result was the Lincoln Theatre — a genuine Art Deco gem with its coral-pink facade rocking sleek curves and fancy floral reliefs. This place was the go-to for Miami movie premiers, but it closed its curtains in 1980.

Enter a cinematic twist in 1988 when the New World Symphony, led by the maestro Michael Tilson Thomas, swept in, leased the joint, and gave it a musical makeover. Fast-forward to 1990 when they sealed the deal, buying the Lincoln outright and pouring nearly a million bucks into its renovation.

The exterior got a glam makeover, while the interior was transformed completely. Today, it has 713 plush seats, a stage with oodles of space (more than 2,000 square feet), and acoustics that’ll make your ears do a happy dance.

We use beautiful custom-designed theaters for our shows, and even we’re a little envious of the old-school style of the Lincoln.

Española Way - Cultural Fusion

Cultures merge on Espanola Way, where European and Cuban influences combine to create a style that is unique to this part of town. We're passionate about telling important stories, and there are many of those to discover on Española Way.

10. Kasa El Paseo Miami Beach

The Kasa El Paseo Miami Beach started its life in 1925 as a stylish apartment building. Inspired by European architecture, its architects decided to design it in the Mediterranean Revival style, giving a nod to Spain, Italy, France, and Morocco.

Fast-track to the ‘50s and ‘60s, and cue the entrance of lively Cubans into Miami. They couldn’t resist the magnetic charm of El Paseo.

For a whopping quarter-century, this place went by the name Española Way Art Center. Some big-shot artists of the time, such as Kenny Scharf, called this spot home.

Today, El Paseo struts its stuff as a hotel on the vibrant Espanola Way — a haven for artistic souls, music lovers, and anyone craving a Latin flavor fiesta.

This hotel is like a time capsule, blending the movers and shakers of yesteryear with today’s creatives and creating a Bohemian paradise you won’t want to leave.

11. The Clay Hotel

Prepare for a trip back in time as we unravel the tale of The Clay Hotel. Located in the heart of the Art Deco District, just a hop, skip, and a jump from the beach, this hotel is more than meets the eye.

The Clay Hotel was born in the 1920s, and rumor has it that it was the epicenter of the Miami rhumba craze. That’s right — for a few years, everyone was dancing. The hotel reportedly even hosted Al Capone’s gambling ring.

In the years since, The Clay Hotel has been lovingly restored, ready to spill its secrets to those who seek a taste of the past. In the lobby, the original front desk designed in 1925 is ready to welcome you.

Special Mention - Unique Standalones

No tour of Art Deco architecture in Miami would be complete without mentioning a few standalone buildings that simply can't be missed. From the Bass Museum to the U.S. Post Office building, these art deco masterpieces are waiting for you to discover them.

12. The Bass Museum

Miami’s contemporary art museum, The Bass Museum, is in itself an architectural masterpiece. The art deco building was designed in the 1930s by Russell Pancoast, but it didn’t start operating as a museum until 1964, when a private collection was donated by the Bass family.

Before that, it was a public library and art center. Inside the Bass Museum, you’ll find solo exhibits by some of the most exciting and influential artists working today.

Outside, stroll the palm-lined walkways as you appreciate the pale pink stonework of this excellent example of Miami Art Deco architecture.

Photographer: Andre Tan

13. The Miami Beach Post Office

Finally, let’s take a trip to the Art Deco U.S. Post Office building. Designed by none other than Miami’s own Howard Lovewell Cheney, this single-level art deco wonder made its grand entrance in 1937.

A central, barrel-shaped section steals the spotlight while the rest of the building gracefully stretches down Washington Avenue and 13th Street. The dance of lines and curves will make you feel like you’ve stepped into a time machine — or one of our shows.

The lobby is circular and adorned with a spectacular three-panel mural by Charles Hardman. Meanwhile, a small round fountain holds court beneath a light fixture painted to mimic a sunset against a vibrant teal background.

Whether you’re sending a letter or just passing by, take a moment to soak in the charm of the art deco U.S. Post Office Miami building. Every curve and color tells a tale of Miami’s artistic past.

Embracing the Legacy of Miami's Art Deco Era

As we close our tour of Miami’s Art Deco architecture, one thing is clear: The legacy of the ‘20s and ‘30s is alive and well in Miami. From the iconic Ocean Drive to the landmarks on Washington Avenue, every street is a chapter in Miami’s love affair with the Art Deco style.

We think of the architects of this city as kindred spirits — never afraid to break boundaries for the sake of their art. We hope our shows in Miami will bring you as much joy as these beautiful buildings have brought to the city over the years.

Just like the people involved in preserving these architectural icons, our performers and writers are keen to bring meaningful stories to life in ways that enchant and delight. And, boy, do we know how to put on a show!

Expect colorful costumes, narratives that tug at your heartstrings, and daring maneuvers that make your jaw hit the floor. Book your tickets today, so the countdown can begin — we can’t wait to perform for you!

Photographer: Marc Fanelli-Isla

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