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If you want a diverse, international culture experience, visit Miami, Florida. Native Americans once inhabited this area until the Spanish claimed ownership of the land. Then, in 1821, the United States acquired the state. The area was totally overgrown and did not become the city of Miami until 1896. Miami became a multicultural city because of the influx of five hundred thousand Cubans after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba. The weather in Miami is fabulous. Its subtropical climate makes it the warmest city in the continental United States. Depending on where you want to live, the cost of living is relatively low compared to the national average. Tourism is one of the mainstays of Miami's economy and, even though there is a high unemployment rate, about two percent above the national average, there are programs that the state has enacted to help counteract the growing unemployment problem. The sights, nightlife, arts, entertainment and restaurants are major tourist attractions for Miami, Florida. There are the Miami City Ballet, the Jackie Gleason Theater, the Coconut Grove Playhouse and the Au Rone Theater, just to name a few. Miami boasts some of the hottest nightspots in the United States. The Mansion, dubbed the “hottest nightclub” by People Magazine, has hosted a plethora of some of the best big-name parties and after-parties ever to grace the night. Shopping is a walker's dream. There are many avenues of shops and eateries to traverse.

Miami, the Youngest City in the US

Miami has been billed as the youngest major city in the United States. The first inhabitants came 10,000 years ago and named the area Mayami. The Spanish claimed ownership of the land until, in 1821, the United States acquired Florida as another state. At the time, the area that is now Miami was no more than an overgrown area that was undeveloped. In 1891, Julia Tuttle, an owner of 640 acres in Miami, got together with other families to talk Henri Flagler, a railroad magnet, into extending his railway into Miami to enable the construction of a new city. In 1896, Flagler brought his railroad and soon after, the new city was incorporated.

In the 1920's, there was intense expansion and real estate development that brought many individuals into the area. In September of 1926, a hurricane almost wiped out the City of Miami Beach. It recovered by 1935 and new hotels and apartment buildings were built to create what is now known as the Art Deco District. From the 1960's through the 1980's 500,000 Cubans immigrated to Miami after Fidel Castro came to power in Cuba. The mass immigration of so many Cubans culminated into a Latin universe which transformed Miami into a veritable international city. Today Miami is a multicultural city in which its economy is heavily reliant upon the tourist industry.

Living in Miami: Ritzy or Not, Here We Come!

Whether you're a sun worshiper or you want the high life or you are interested in the economic growth or even if you're just interested in having a lot of fun, Miami, Florida is the right place for you. Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach are areas that contain a lot of appeal to those that are looking for apartments. With its subtropical climate, Miami is one of the warmest places on the United States mainland with average January temperatures of near 70 degrees. The main downside to living here, though, is the susceptibility to tropical storms and hurricanes.

The cost of living is slightly lower than the national average and you can expect to pay between about $600 to $1,500 per month on an apartment depending on where, and how, you want to live. You can find the luxury hi-rise apartments on the South side of town and quieter, more sedate, suburbs to the north. Of course, the ritziest apartments can be found in Coconut Grove where apartment prices can go as high as $2,500 a month for a 2 bedroom bungalow-style house that is on an quarter acre of land.

Employment Options in Miami

Tourism, of course, is the major source of income for Miami. This is due to the fact that over 10 million people visit annually. Unfortunately, the current recession has caused tourism to drop drastically. This is probably why Miami is facing an 11.7% unemployment rate, as of June 2010, while the United States' rate hovers at 9.6%. Miami-Dade County and the South Florida Workforce have become partners to try and help with this growing problem. They have created the “Florida Back to Work” program designed for low income individuals with dependents that are unemployed or are underemployed. There is also a wonderful service at It is a comprehensive site connecting businesses with future-employees. The site also includes tips and links for job seekers.

There are other jobs than the tourist industry, though. That is because Miami is an international banking and finance center. Miami is also home to numerous multinational and Fortune 500 companies. High-tech jobs are on the rise as well. In Fort Lauderdale employment can be found within the marine industries, manufacturing, real-estate, avionics, film and TV production, just to name a few. If you get out and work at it, you can find a job. It may not be the job you want but at least you'll be working.

Cuban to American: Restaurants in Miami

There is a multitude of food types and many restaurants within Miami. There is the typical American staples as well as Peruvian, Cuban, Italian, Chinese, Seafood, bakeries, fast food and a myriad of international and local café's and flavors that will whet your whistle and fill your stomach.

For premiere Cuban food, reviews have shown that Sabor Latino is a good place. It is located on NW 42nd Avenue. It is not quite what one would expect, though. It looks just like a typical diner and the food prices are very cheap, less than $10 usually, but the food is a delicious Cuban-American cuisine that is heavenly. The Puerto Sagua, on Collins Avenue, is still a relatively low-priced place; you'll spend about $20 here, which has incredible Cuban food that, actually, is not exceedingly touristy.

In fact, it serves a mix of tourists and locals equally. Seafood is very popular in Miami. Garcia's, on NW N. River Drive, is a moderately priced place, about $21 to $30 per plate, that is informal but it has the freshest seafood in Miami. Fish, lobster, crab, shellfish, you name it, it's at Garcia's. A place that has been a beach institution since 1913, Joe's Stone Crab, on Washington Avenue, is more on the pricey side, about $30 to $40 per plate, but it specializes in Florida seafood and steaks.

Film Festivals, Ballet, Theaters: The Artsy Side of Miami

The Miami City Ballet is the Top Miami Dance Company and it showcases classical and modern dance forms. It is among the largest dance companies in the United States with over 40 dancers and an annual budget of near $15 million dollars. It has performed in over 100 cities across the United States and has had numerous venues internationally. The Miami City Ballet has a school of ballet and has a children's educational program where students are treated to lecture demonstrations.

Miami has some of the best known concert and theater venues in the United States. The best known are the Jackie Gleason Theater, The Actor's Playhouse and the Coconut Grove Playhouse. They have Broadway theaters including Au Rone Theater and the Ziff Opera House and concert halls and theaters like the Lincoln Theater, the Sinatra Theater and the Pompano Beach Amphitheater. There are a multitude of film festivals yearly. You can't go a month without having some sort of film festival going on. For example The Miami International Film Festival will be held in early March of 2011 and the 6th Annual Women's International Film and Arts Festival will be held in late March of 2011. There is also the Miami Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, Miami Short Film Festival and the Brazilian Film Festival that happens every year, just to name a few.

Sightseeing in Miami

From wide open beaches to the East and the Everglades to the West, there are a multitude of places to go and see in Miami. "Helicopters Over Miami" is a touring company that can take you on a tour over the greater Miami area. The pilot conducts a private tour as you fly over Key Biscayne, Downtown Miami, Bayside, Miami Beach and the Viscaya Museum. The cost is very expensive at $300 for a half hour and $600 for an hour trip. There are various natural wonders to be seen in Miami. Miami is the only place in the United States that has 2 national parks. These are the Biscayne National Park, which is the only national park that has a living tropical reef, and the Everglades National Park. There are miles and miles of beaches to walk and play on. has information on everything in the way of attractions that are available in Miami.

The Miami Seaquarium should be the first stop on your list. It is a world-class marine entertainment park that showcases 8 different marine animal shows and has a multitude of astonishing daily presentations. The Seaquarium's admission is kind of pricey at $38 for those over 9 and $28 for children ages 3 to 9 but it is definitely worth it. They are open from 9:30am until 6pm every day of the week.

When the Stars Come Out, Miami's Ready to Play

There are many, many things to do in Miami after dark. Bars, nightclubs, pubs, sports bars and just about everything abound in Miami at night. The Mansion is the hottest nightclub in town. In fact, it has been named the “hottest nightclub” by People Magazine. It has hosted some of the most memorable parties such as MTV's Video Music Awards after-party, Diddy's 2005 Birthday and Velvet Revolver's Miami Performance. Tickets, which have to be bought before-hand on the internet or you will never get in, are normally $20 and the evening starts out normally at 11pm and goes until 5am.

The Rok Bar in Miami is a very small 150 person capacity bar that is located in South Beach. It is a great art-deco bar where you can dance the night away. Nikki's Beach Club, located in South Beach directly on the beach, is always packed on Saturdays and Sundays so it is a good idea to get there very, very early. The party is held outdoors in a beautiful garden area which extends out onto the beach. The crowd is diversified and caters to the younger set. The Metropolis is a club that is five clubs in one. Each room has its own distinctive brand of music. They are the International, Electronic, Latino, VIP and Hip Hop rooms. The cost for entry is usually $30 but you can mingle through all five without a problem.

Shopping in Miami Beach

There are numerous places to shop in Miami and one of the best pedestrian areas is Miami Beach. It is a shopper's paradise that includes Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue, Espanola Way and Lincoln Road all located within walking distance of each other. Bring comfortable shoes, though, it's a long walk. Miami Beach also hosts a few fashion shows annually, namely Funkshion Fashion Week Miami Beach and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Miami Swim, where international designers show off their latest creations.

Lincoln Road showcases one of a kind boutiques, home design shops and trendy art galleries. Most notably, the Miami Symphony and the New World Symphony performs at the Lincoln Theater and there are musical and theater productions at the Colony Theater. Ocean Drive and Collins Avenue are two very diverse but chic places that just go so well together. Ocean Drive has boutiques that sport funky, youthful fashions and unique accessories while Collins Avenue's fashion district showcases a collection of designer stores that will make your mouth water. These big-name designers include Armani, Versache and Tommy Hilfiger. Espanola Way and Washington Avenue have lively weekend craft markets, art galleries and European café's. Espanola Way is famous for being a gangster lair in the days of Al Capone. Both streets are wonderful places to pick up unique clothing, jewelry, art and collectables.

“Best Spas in America”: Miami's Spa Scene Comes into its Own

The Spa scene in Miami has come of age and many have been ranked as “Best Spas in America” by various magazines and news programs. There are a vast number of choices available from the posh full-service treatments to the trendy on-the-go spot treatments. These include massages, body wraps, mud baths, mani- and pedicures, yoga, rock climbing, facials and on and on. The Spa at Shula's, located on Bull Run Road, is a complete day spa that specializes in body treatments, massages, facials and nail rituals. They also have day passes available to Shula's Athletic club next door which is Miami's longest running athletic club.

Another fabulous spa is the Spa at Mandarin Oriental, on Brickell Key Drive. It is a 5-star sanctuary that features 3 floors with 17 private treatment rooms. These treatment rooms have floor to ceiling windows that overlook the bay. Two of the suites are designed for Thai Massage and two are designed especially for couples wanting to share in their experiences. Miami is fun. Miami is loud. Miami has a lot of tourists. Miami is a hip and trendy place to be, and to live.

Hotels and Hospitality in Miami, Florida

Miami, Florida attracts vacationers from all over with its sunny beaches, nightlife, and beautiful hotels. Located in downtown Miami, you can stay at the luxurious EPIC Hotel. It is not located by the beach, but it is on the Miami River and is the only hotel in Miami to offer a marina. The Viceroy Hotel provides a lavish stay with a unique spa, fitness center, and breakfast bar. On the 50th floor is Club 50's, and dance club with a DJ and bar. The New Yorker Boutique Hotel is conveniently placed in walking distance of everything in Miami; it has recently been remodeled to give the rooms 1950's nostalgia. If hotels are not what you are interested in, there are plenty of bed and breakfasts to choose from.

The Tamiami Guest House is located in a residential area by the airport close to all the restaurants and shops. You can enjoy a plethora of authentic Cuban restaurants while enjoying your visit to Miami, or if you want to take advantage of all the great seafood Miami has to offer you can try Azul at Mandarin Oriental. There are tours as well to let you indulge in the fine dining that southern Florida has to offer. Miami offers everything, from sitting on the beach soaking the sun to an Everglades Hummer adventure. You can learn to sail, rent jet skis for the afternoon, visit the Miami Zoo, and relax at the Pritikin Longevity Center and Spa. Maybe if you are a little more adventurous, take a Miami Thriller Boat Ride.

Getting an Education in Miami

There is much more to do in Miami, Florida other than getting a sun tan and lying on the beach. Getting a secondary education is also an option. Miami has multiple private and public schools for its mostly Hispanic and African American student population to attend.

Miami's public and private schools follow a program called Child Find. All students with disabilities are identified, located, and evaluated. The city has implemented programs to accommodate children with the following disabilities: specific learning disabilities, speech-language impairment, visual impairment, traumatic brain injury, developmental delays, autism, metal retardation, deaf/hearing impairment, multiple disabilities, orthopedic or other health impairments, and or serious emotional disturbances.

Miami's public schools utilize a program called PowerSchool. This program gives all members of the educational system including faculty, administration, parents, and students access to live information from an internet browser. The program is considered a powerful student information system, regarded as SIS. Important and necessary information can easily be found in one location. The city also has several colleges and universities for students who wish to go on to earn an associate, bachelor, master, or doctorate degree. To keep up with Miami's steadily growing fields in healthcare, maintenance, and social services occupations, the city has several colleges and universities available to students who wish to stay in the city to complete their education.

Miami has over forty-eight public and private colleges and universities and technical and trade schools. Students can study in the areas of liberal arts, science education, agriculture, business, law, physical therapy, tourism, and visual arts. Three of the areas top colleges are Miami Dade College and Florida International University in Miami and the University of Miami in Coral Gables. There are also nursing, graphic design, cosmetology, homeland security, journalism, film, and HVAC schools in Miami.

Getting Around the City: Transportation in Miami

Miami lets its residents and tourists fly, drive, and ride into and around the city. Some people prefer to use their personal automobiles or rent them while others prefer to sit back and enjoy the scenery without having to drive. Miami has several forms of public transportation to get people to and from and around the city and employs transportation specialists to help people find the best and most accommodating way to travel around the city. The city has also gone so far as creating an ‘app' for cell phone users. The app lets people stay up to date on bus routes, schedules, and rider information.

The Metrorail is a popular and fun ride in the downtown Miami area. The Metrorail is comprised of over twenty-one miles of elevated rail systems and makes stops about every mile along the way. For tourists, riding the Metromover is a fun and unique way to get around the city. The Metromover covers 4.4 miles and is comprised of motorized cars that run along an elevated track. The Metromover transports people around downtown Miami and into the Brickell and Omni business districts. Public buses run rampant throughout the city covering over sixty routes to multiple destinations. A mode of transportation called the Tri-Rail, transports people around the city, Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties. The Tri-Rail has fifteen stations throughout the three counties. Perhaps one of the most fun and exciting modes of transportation, at least into Miami, is by cruise ship. Miami is a large port and is known as the “cruise capital of the world.” The port sees over three million passengers a year due to the eighteen cruise ships run by several major cruise lines who begin their journeys in Miami.

Flying is the third mode of transportation into the city. Miami International Airport has non-stop flights going into and out of the city. The airport is only seven miles from downtown and is sees more than thirty million travelers a year. Public transportation, shuttle and limo services, and car rentals are available directly at Miami International.

Government Services for Miami, Florida

Miami, Florida is governed by an elected Mayor and four Commissioners, one from each of the four districts. The Commission, headed by the Mayor, hires a City Manager, who handles the day-to-day running of the city. The City Manager hires directors for each city department. These directors include the City Attorney, whose office is a law firm which handles and advises on all legal issues for the City, and the City Clerk, who handles all records and permits for the City and certifies election results.

City Departments include the Emergency Response division, which oversees all Fire, Police and Emergency Medical personnel; Parks and Recreation, which manages the 100 plus parks in Miami; the Finance Department, which manages and invests all public funds; and Public Works, which handles issues dealing with the City infrastructure, such as repair and maintenance of public roads. The City Commission meetings are open to the public. The many Board meetings are also open to the public. A full schedule along with locations and times can be found on the City's official website at These would include meetings of boards and agencies such as the Downtown Development Authority, the Coconut Grove Business Improvement District, the Civilian Investigative Panel, and the Waterfront Advisory Board among many others.

The school system for Miami is actually part of Miami-Dade County School District and is managed by the school board of Miami-Dade County. There is a Superintendent appointed to head the school district. Miami is home to a great many attractions, including the Orange Bowl Stadium and the Miami Seaquarium. It also hosts a number of professional sports teams, including the Miami Dolphins, the Miami Heat and the Miami Hurricanes. There are also three city-run daycare facilities offering programs for children ages 2-5, after-school care programs, summer camp and fitness programs for both adults and children.