Stream Aquarium Oculus at the Phillip and Patricia
Frost Museum of Science.
— I have often said that I think Miami is America’s
sexiest city. The sun-kissed metropolis is the United
States’ answer to jet-setting hot spots from Monte Carlo
South Beach and its continuous parade of socialites and
stars, models and millionaires, who make Ocean Drive pulse
with activity 24/7.
upscale Coconut Grove, hugging Biscayne Bay, with its
European-style sidewalk cafes and chic boutiques. There’s
Coral Gables, with its tree-lined boulevards choca-block
with Mediterranean-style mansions. Well, you get the idea.
before you get another idea that Miami is all style and no
substance, I want you to know that this sexy metropolis
has a serious side as well. I found out just how serious
on a recent visit.
MUSEUM LIKE NO OTHER
raise your hand if you think the prospect of spending half
a day at a science museum isn’t exactly what you had
planned for your vacation. Those of you with your hands in
the air probably haven’t had an opportunity to visit the
Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science.
just last May in downtown Miami’s Museum Park, the
250,000-square-foot structure is a combination science
museum, aquarium and planetarium, all under one
architecturally eye-popping glass roof with incomparable
views of the city.
may find the ticket price a bit steep — $29 for adults
and $20 for children ages 3 to 11. But considering that
with that price, you get one ticket good for what is
essentially three different experiences, I think it’s a
off your visit with the three-level aquarium, taking a
trip from the surface view of Florida’s waters to the
depths of its seas.
top level, Vista, is a journey through South Florida’s
watery eco-systems — from mangrove swamps and the
Everglades to the Gulf Stream. Giant clear tanks put you
face to face with all manner of aquatic creatures, from
hammerhead sharks to large turtles.
one level down to the Dive, and you can experience —
without getting wet — the majesty of undersea life. Some
30 aquariums offer a peek into a living coral reef and the
millions of organisms, from colorful coral to multi-hued
fish, that inhabit it.
venture into the Deep, a mysterious undersea domain where
graceful jellyfish engage in aquatic ballets. The aquarium
experience ends with a chance to observe sharks and other
denizens of the deep through the prism of a 31-foot oculus
dazzling as the aquarium is, the nucleus of the museum is
the science exhibits, which range from prehistoric
dinosaurs to space-age technology (the Feathers to the
Stars exhibit shows both ends of the spectrum).
doubt every visitor will have his/her favorite exhibit —
mine was Brain: The Inside Story, which takes one on an
interactive journey through the human brain.
the day with a show at the 250-seat planetarium where six
3D projectors and surround sound create a stunning,
sensory-filled spectacle. I was so impressed I went back
for an evening performance of "To Space and
Back," a one-hour laser show where planets collided
and meteors showered, all choreographed to the music of
is so much to see and do at the Frost that you may find
the half-day you had planned just isn’t enough time.
across Museum Park from the Frost Science Center is Miami’s
flagship contemporary art museum, Perez Art Museum. With a
focus on 20th and 21st century art from the Atlantic Rim
(the Americas, Western Europe and Western Africa), it has
1,800 works encompassing painting, sculpture, video,
photography and installation art.
well-known artists such as Diego Rivera are represented,
much of the focus is on works resulting from the Cuban
diaspora, with artists such as Jose Bedia Valdes and
sleek exterior of the waterside museum is as artistic as
the works inside. The three-story building has a wide
canopy, creating a shaded veranda, complete with a hanging
garden that serves to merge the indoor and outdoor spaces.
FOR THE ARSHT
less a talent than Harry Connick, Jr. calls the Adrienne
Arsht Center for the Performing Arts "one of the
great music halls in the world."
quite a mouthful considering that the center has only been
open since 2006, the gift of businesswoman/philanthropist
Adrienne Arsht, who also sits on the board of the Kennedy
Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C.
the multi-theater venue has been referred to as the
catalyst for Miami’s cultural transformation.
its three resident companies — Miami City Ballet,
Florida Grand Opera and New World Symphony, along with
traveling theatrical companies, the Arsht Center
definitely raises the bar on the city’s arts scene.
still not sure what I thought of the play I saw, the
Pulitzer Prize-winning "Topdog/Underdog" by
American playwright Suzan-Lori Parks. What I am sure of is
that it played to a packed house of serious theatergoers
— the kind you routinely see at Off-Broadway arty
thing I’m sure of is that the Arsht is one of the most
spectacular structures I’ve seen anywhere. Its two main
buildings are connected by an expansive outdoor Plaza for
the Arts overlooking Biscayne Bay, where, if you time it
right, you can sometimes catch an al fresco performance.
hard to decide which is the most elaborate feature of the
complex — the Art Deco Carnival Tower preserved from a
1929 Sears Department Store, or the floor-to-ceiling glass
mosaic that illustrates the act of artistic expression
retrospect, the Frost Science Center, Perez Art Museum and
Arsht Center for the Performing Arts may not be the main
reasons someone chooses the city as a destination. Still,
they are proof that you shouldn’t hate Miami because it’s
sexy. It has a brain as well.
to stay: Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 500 Brickell Key Drive,
mandarinoriental.com/miami. This member of the luxurious
MO collection occupies its own private island, but is
still close to the city’s main attractions.
spa offers the best in Asian-inspired treatments, and
dining options range from YAKU, a waterfront lounge
offering craft cocktails and innovative bar bites, to the
signature restaurant, La Mar by Gaston Acurio, a
gastronomic temple to the genius of the Peruvian chef.
and Patricia Frost Museum of Science, 1101 Biscayne Blvd.,
Art Museum, 1103 Biscayne Blvd., pamm.org
Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, 1300 Biscayne Blvd.,