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Miami is the continental United States’ southernmost central city and the principal city in South Florida, a culturally different area with close ties to Latin America and the Caribbean. Though the Miami region has been home to local cultures for thousands of years and was attended by Spanish explorers and missionaries as early as the 16th century, it wasn’t actively settled until the late 19th century, and didn’t join until 1896. Nevertheless, Miami has a wealth of historical constructions and points of interest, several of which are free or cheap. Here you can read about six best historical sights and attractions in Miami.
Discover Miami attraction and historical sights
Also recognized as the Miami Beach Architectural District, the Art Deco District was the first 20th-century neighborhood to be attached to the National Register of Historic Places. Found in Miami Beach, it extends with Collins Avenue from Miami Beach Drive northerly to 18th Street, with a spur to the west on Lincoln Road. The buildings here, mostly hotels, were built between the 1920s and the 1940s, and their spaceship-like design gives a window into this more distant past – indeed, Miami Beach’s formative years. It’s free to walk throughout the area, though you may be tempted to stop at one of the several excellent (but overpriced) outdoor lounges or eateries along the way. You may also be capable of sneaking into a few hotel lobbies and pool areas, numerous of which are just as impressive as their street-side exteriors, as well.
Discovered in downtown Miami, the HistoryMiami Museum is a Smithsonian-affiliated museum that “gathers, interprets, and displays the history of Miami and the fabulous South Florida area as a cultural crossroads of the Americas.” Always favorite with school groups, the museum has a robust investigation arm that delves deep into the different events and trends that have formed the Miami area’s history over the years, from the Cold War to Hurricane Andrew.
Established in North Miami Beach, The Ancient Spanish Monastery has existed, in one form or another, since the 12th century. Mainly constructed in Segovia, Spain, it was bought in the early 20th century by newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst and transported in sections to the United States. It was reassembled on its current position and has welcomed guests (and hosted special events, including film shoots and lavish weddings) always since.
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Cauley Square Historic Village, placed southwest of Miami proper, is a lively (if somewhat kitschy) railroad settlement that dates back to the beginning 20th century. Though the green surroundings are very different, Cauley Square’s building stock is comparable to the recreated frontier towns close in the western United States. Restaurants, gift shops, and interpretive presentations abound, as do lovely gardens, scheduled musical performances, and several community events, including a car show.
Created as a winter home in the 1910s by James Deering, who managed an agricultural tools conglomerate, the beautiful Vizcaya Museum & Gardens sits on 10 acres of first real estate – just two miles southwest of downtown Miami, with Biscayne Bay. The immaculately landscaped gardens and magnificent dock space are almost as impressive as the sprawling stone palace itself. Vizcaya is genuinely an illusion: part Gilded Age exhibition, part art museum, and part nature preserve.
Miami’s first decent skyscraper, Freedom Tower, was constructed in the mid-1920s. It homed the “Miami Daily News and Metropolis” newspaper till the late 1950s when it briefly dropped. In the old 1960s, the U.S. Government took over and changed the building into the “Ellis Island of the South.” Officially identified as the Cuban Assistance Center, this was the middle processing point for Cuban exiles and refugees fleeing the newly installed Castro government.