The oldest building in the Western Hemisphere is beautiful, quaint…and located in Miami Florida. How is that possible, you ask? Well, if you’re an eccentric like William Randolph Hearst, apparently you can put any building in the world anywhere you want it; even a 12th century Spanish monastery.
Purchased in 1925, Hearst intended to have the monastery disassembled, brick by brick, shipped to the States, and reconstructed in Berkley, California. He lost interest along the way (imagine that), and it sat in crates for 25 years. Eventually the beauty was purchased by a church and reconstructed in Miami, making it the oldest structure in the Western Hemisphere.
Another gem in Miami, isn’t really in Miami. It lies just south, and is a world away from Miami proper. Welcome to South Beach. Ahhh, South Beach, a.k.a. “America’s Riveria”, a whimsical collection of more than 800 architecturally protected buildings from the 1930’s and 40’s. Without hesitation, it is one of my favorite places on the planet! To experience Miami fully, one must spend some time in South Beach.
According to those who live in this palm-shaded land, here’s what else one must do to for a true Miami experience: Stop in and talk a bit with Robert at “Robert Is Here” Produce Stand, get a berry shake or giant cinnamon roll at Knaus Berry Farm, and get a cup of joe at Panther Coffee. Go to Shark Valley in the Everglades at nightfall and look for alligators with a flashlight, kayak at Deering, drive to Key Biscayne, and stop in to Sweat Records for their waffle party (1st Sunday each month). Visit the lobby & grounds of the Biltmore Hotel and swim in the Venetian Pool in Coral Gables, stroll the boardwalk at Miami Beach marina, spend some time at Lummus Park Beach and Little Havana. Watch Flamenco dancers at Casa Panza, get a cupcake at Buttercream, and drive SW 248th Street, lined with palm tree farms. Watch a free film at Tower Theater, drive Sunset Drive, run the path along Old Cutler Road, and visit the South Miami Farmers Market.