Given Miami’s huge foreign-born population (about half according to Census data) and constant influx of newbies, it’s safe to say that most of our residents are also tourists. Many are still becoming acquainted with their adoptive hometown, even as they raise kids and run businesses.
For some, the idea of taking a tour of the city in which they reside may seem strange, but Discovery Miami Beach offers a unique insider’s look at the history of Miami Beach, providing an earful of knowlege about some of South Beach’s most important landmarks.
To get started just pick up the audio device and a map at the Art Deco Welcome Center, chart a route using the map they provide, stopping at one of 29 points of interest and push the landmark’s corresponding number. You will be schooled on history, celebrity gossip, architecture, politics and art by local personalities including historian Seth Bramson, pop artist Romero Britto, Miami Design Preservation League historian Jeff Donnelly, Miami Beach mayor Matti Herrera Bower, and Tara Solomon, former “Queen of the Night” columnist for The Miami Herald who documented the city’s nightlife scene in its infancy.
The device is yours for four hours, and you could walk the route (which may get tiring), rent a DecoBike (less tiresome), or hop a ride with the Miami Big Bus as it circles its own route, hitting most of the same landmarks you will enounter on the Discovery Miami Tour.
You’ll learn nuggets from Tara Solomon about velvet rope policies in the ’90s, info from Jeff Donnelly about how the Delano Hotel was built during the wave of post-World War II construction, tidbits about the historic 5th Street Gym, training ground for boxing legend Muhammad Ali.
CEO Matthew Krieger says they are working on the company’s mobile app, which will make the tour even more accessible. Since it’s so self-directed, participants can linger at many of the sites: Have a cappucino at News Cafe, dance on the bar at Mango’s, marvel at the architecture of the Frank Ghery-designed New World Center.
After Discovery Miami Beach, no one will ever mistake you for a tourist.