Miami Beach Art Deco District is truly like stepping back in time. With candy-colored buildings dating back to ’30s and ’40s, neon signs and plenty of lush palm trees.
When you think of the 1920’s – the roaring 20’s – it was a bizarre time of brassy jazz, flappers and prohibition. Leading much of the art, entertainment trends and fashion in the 1920’s was the Art Deco architectural style.
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What is the Art Deco Architecture?
Art Deco, also known as Style Moderne, was predominant from the 1920’s to mid 1940’s. It’s key features include geometric shapes; patterns including chevrons and ziggurats; ornate windows and streamlined building shapes with rounded corners.
Almost all Art Deco architecture, especially those in Miami, have a strong upward focal point with all features leading the eyes skyward. Decorative motifs often pulled inspiration from Roman, Greek, Mayan and Egyptian art and one will also notice a lot of sunrise-like formations.
Miami Beach Art Deco Historic District
If you are planning a visit to Miami, you must include a stroll through the Miami Beach Architectural District. The buildings beg to be photographed – and that’s just what I did after my Art Deco walking tour. I wind my way through countless buildings along Ocean Drive, Collins Avenue, Washington Avenue, and Lincoln Road admiring the architectural flare up close.
Insider Tip: Hotel lobbies are accessible to the public, so grab your camera, head on out and explore!
Miami Beach Art Deco Welcome Center
When strolling the architectural district on your own, I recommend starting at the Art Deco Welcome Center, located at 1001 Ocean Drive.
The Welcome Center is a destination in itself where you can prime yourself for the district by exploring the informative films, exhibits and even catch a lecture or two.
You will find information about the Art Deco Historic District, its history, and home of the Miami Design Preservation League (MDPL). The volunteer-run organization dedicated to preserving and celebrating the district’s history, culture and architecture including the Art Deco walking tours.
The guided walking tour provides a meandering look through the district, exploring hotels, restaurants, and other iconic structures, although they offer specialized tours as well, including the “South Beach Scandals” tour and the option for private tours.
Here, then, are some of my favs showing the variety of the Art Deco Historic District you just can’t miss!
Map of Miami Beach Art Deco District
Lummus Park & Ocean Drive
From the Art Deco Welcome Center, head out to Lummus Park and enjoy one of the best free things to do in Miami. Stroll through the park’s sweeping palms as you pass the line of adjacent pastel-hued buildings along Ocean Drive.
While technically an urban park, this site is right on the Atlantic Ocean and a famous backdrop for many photos and film shoots. Most will recognize it from its many cameos in Miami set movies and television shows like Miami Vice and Burn Notice.
Where to See Art Deco Architecture on Ocean Drive
The Barbizon is one of the first Art Deco buildings to catch your eye along Ocean Drive. It is characterized by its pastel yellow walls lined with lime green trim.
You will notice the rounded corners, typical of the Art Deco era, as well as the two blue pillars that draw your eyes upward to the building’s name.
Where to find it: 556 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
The Celino Hotel (formerly Park Central Hotel)
Built in 1937, this building’s perfect vertical symmetry makes a grand statement with lines guiding your eyes upward towards it’s three hexagonal feature windows.
Its white marble façade and Cubist-inspired lines invoke the vintage era of its inception, while the lush palm trees give a vibe of tropical luxury. It is now a thriving 4-star hotel with a glamorous and modern cocktail bar.
Where to find it: 640 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
With its iconic façade, this gem was built in 1935 and is one of the most photographed buildings on the strip. This neon beacon on Ocean Drive displays typical rounded edges that frame the inverse ‘T’ created by the hotel name.
The hotel holds a respectable 3-star rating and overlooking Lummus Park and the beach. Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 736 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
Owned by Renzo Rosso, founder of Diesel Jeans, the Pelican Hotel is rather unassuming during the day. The exterior is made up of rectangular shapes that alternate between concrete and window panes. By night, this boutique hotel is an illumination of lizard green which is hard to miss.
Where to find it: 826 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach
Room Mate Waldorf Towers Hotel
The Waldorf Towers Hotel stands out with its contrasting nectarine and white color scheme. It is also easily identified by the beacon perched atop its rounded corner.
Considering the Eqyptian themes often found in Art Deco architecture, you will notice that the beacon is reminiscent of the Lighthouse of Alexandria.
Where to find it: 860 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
Hotel Breakwater South Beach
The Hotel Breakwater is yet another picture of vertical symmetry. The navy blue and duck yellow lines entice your eyes from the exteriors toward the center of the building and up.
This 4-star hotel houses a gorgeous glass pool that overlooks the outside dining area. Be sure to take a look! Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 940 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
This is a rather interesting Art Deco building to behold. There is a strong contrast between the rounded archways and the rigid rectangular windows. This mix of smooth bends and angles was designed by Art Deco architect extraordinaire, Henry Hohauser.
Where to find it: 960 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
Clevelander South Beach Hotel and Bar
This iconic boutique hotel is known for its classic art deco façade and hype parties. It is both a nightclub and a hotel with an electrifying atmosphere. Consider looking into this 3-star hotel if you want to party all night in the glow of the neon Art Deco lighting. Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 1020 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
Congress Hotel South Beach
The Congress Hotel is like a miniature version of the Colony Hotel with the same rounded corners and the inverse ‘T’ shape. This hotel is wedged between two bigger buildings and adorns decorative etchings around the door and Corinthian-like columns. Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 1052 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
The Villa Casa Casuarina At The Former Versace Mansion
By far my one of the most popular stops along Ocean Drive. This now 5-star hotel is exactly as its name implies: a Mediterranean villa. Famous for being owned by Gianni Versace from 1992 until his death, this 1930-built estate is decadent Mediterranean revival at its finest.
The walls, decor and exterior design are dripping with Roman-level excess. Everywhere you turn, you will see the Greco-Roman influence, from the fountains and pools to the intricate mosaics set into the floors. Ask about the possibility of a hidden time capsule. Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 1116 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
The Tides South Beach
Rising grandly in a champagne-colored facade, The Tides Hotel hails back to 1936 with an exterior that reminds you of the sandstone used to build the pyramids or the Sphinx. This 5-star hotel is a sight to behold when lit up at night.
Where to find it: 1220 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
The Carlyle Hotel
You can’t miss the classic neon sign on this quaint art deco building. All the Art Deco signs are there: the rounded edges; classic pillars and three flag poles drawing your eyes to the heavens.
Originally built in 1939 by the Kiehnal and Elliot architecture firm, the Carlyle is now a block of apartments which can be rented out for any Miami visit. Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 1250 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
Cardozo South Beach
This luxury hotel may have had a recent facelift, but it’s charming, art deco lines are still apparent. The Cardozo dates back to 1939 and is best identified by its gold medallions and flag poles.
By night you will spot its aura of neon flamingo pink. This building is another of Hohauser’s masterpieces and was recently refurbished by none other than Gloria Estefan. Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 1300 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
Dating back to 1939, this seaside icon is a splendor of color and vintage style. The Winter Haven Hotel does not boast much to look at from the outside. However, its true beauty is in its interior.
Chock full of geometric shapes, metallic finishings, and velvet upholstery. A must if you’re photographing! Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 1400 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
The exterior of the McAlpin building contrasts round and square shapes with typical vertical lines traveling upward. The chunky neon lettering used to spell out the building name is quintessentially Art Deco. This bright building is now a Hilton Grand hotel with a 4-star rating.
Where to find it: 1430 Ocean Drive, Miami Beach
Art Deco Structures on Collins Avenue
The Hotel of South Beach
If you turn off Ocean Drive and onto Collins Avenue, you will find that your Art Deco adventure will continue. On the corner is the Hotel of South Beach, notable for its radio-tower displaying its neon name.
With its luxe rooftop pool and classic art deco features, this luxury hotel was built in 1939 by master architect Murray Dixon. Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 801 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
The Hotel Shelley is one of the oldest buildings you will come across in the Art Deco District. It is an unassuming building awash with lavender and white as well as squares of floral decal.
This building is now home to an affordable hotel renowned for its good service. Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 844 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
Señor Frogs (formerly Jerry’s Famous Deli)
One of the more obvious Art Deco buildings along Collins Avenue with circular features amounting to three flag poles on staggered podiums. Jerry’s Famous Deli was a Miami Beach institution, running for over 40 years. Today, it is a Senor Frog’s restaurant.
Where to find it: 1450 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
Essex House Hotel
The Essex House is another grand corner building with a high spire announcing its name. Built in 1938 and designed by Henry Hohauser, it features a unique style known as Nautical Moderne, which gives it a nautical-looking theme.
With pastel white and peach-colored elements, it is a fine example of the period architecture that emphasizes neon, aerodynamic curves mixed with projecting towers. Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 1001 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
The Berkeley Shore Hotel
This 4-star hotel is located in a broad Art Deco building with a circular column rising up from the shiny front doors. Don’t let the beige exterior fool you, the inside is modern and chic. Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 1610 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
Sagamore Miami Beach
Quaint beach bungalows and art deco penthouses … The Sagamore is a relatively new Art Deco building developed towards the end of the trend. It is an angular building with its name etched in luminous letters along its outside walls.
This beautiful property is now a 4-star hotel right on the beach with a comfortable outside leisure area, pool, and beach loungers.
Where to find it: 1671 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
Graceful and elegant, this palm-fringed art deco tower exudes old Hollywood glam. It dates back to 1939. Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 1677 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
A soaring lobby and clean, classic art deco lines make these twin towers an impressive sight on the strip. The sharp-edged building corners fold outward almost like a star with the central column crowned with wings framing its name.
The Delano Hotel boasts a 4-star rating and has a picturesque, palm-lined swimming pool in which guests can relax in and cool off.
Where to find it: 1685 Collins Avenue, Miami Beach
Art Deco Buildings on Washington Avenue
Jewish Museum of Florida
Venture a street deeper into the Art Deco District of Miami and you will find the Jewish Museum of Florida. The building is an intricate design of triangular roofs juxtaposed by the deep arches over the windows and doors.
Built as the first synagogue in Miami Beach, it is now a museum which holds over 100,000 artifacts and documents pertaining to the Jewish heritage in Florida.
Where to find it: 301 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach
Clinton Hotel South Beach
The Clinton is a flat-faced building accented with Roman feathers and floral flourishes. Now, a successful 4-star hotel with a glittering marble interior and a luxurious spa. Check rates and availability.
Where to find it: 825 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach
This museum, library and research center is an iconic, cubist-inspired structure dating back to 1927. The nearly completely windowless exterior is used as a canvas for various exhibits and art installations house at The Wolfsonian–FIU.
Where to find it: 1001 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach
U.S Post Office on Washington Avenue
Mediterranean Revival at its finest, this circular, building houses something you wouldn’t expect: a post office! Built in 1937, it features a barrel-shaped lobby with a fountain, vintage gold mailboxes and a three-panel mural that depicts images central to Florida’s history.
Where to find it: 1300 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach
Cameo Night Club
This nightclub resides within the old cameo theatre. Look beyond the neon lighting, and you will see the telltale Art Deco details. Stop by the building during the day to admire the architecture and at night to dance to the hottest hip hop beats in Miami Beach.
Where to find it: 1445 Washington Avenue, Miami Beach
Art Deco on Lincoln Road – Between 16th and 17th streets from Washington to Lenox Avenues
Lincoln Road: This pedestrian mall features some of the best Miami Modern architecture in the city, not to mention plenty of shops, eateries and art galleries all within a short walk of Biscayne Bay.
A former theatre and concert hall, this stately gem was built in 1935 by prominent theatre architect, Thomas Lamb. Through its many iterations, its classic art deco features have remained intact.
Where to find it: 541 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach
Another theatre on Lincoln Road, the Colony Theatre is very much alive and a popular spot to enjoy films, music, dancing and even opera!
Where to find it: 1040 Lincoln Road, Miami Road
The Miami Beach Architectural District is extremely walkable (or bikeable!) and is worth taking a stroll. The district is retro charm at its finest, dripping in decadent history, elegant buildings and all the color and vibrancy you expect from Miami. Seeing the well-preserved buildings is a perfect way to transport yourself to a different time and place.
At the end of your tour, find an appropriate place for a refreshing drink and tasty tidbit or two. Another alternative is to take advantage of the lovely boutiques and unique shops along Ocean Drive. Maybe you just want to head toward the beach and relax. Whatever you choose, you won’t see the South Beach the same way again after this tour.