An expert cruise port guide to Miami
With its golden sands, pastel-hued Art Deco hotels and the tropical wonderland of the Everglades, Florida's jewel is a departure port you won't want to leave
Florida's most famous city and the biggest cruise port in the world, Miami is the only major US city with a female founder.
Nineteenth-century businesswoman Julia Tuttle campaigned for development where her contemporaries only saw a swampy wilderness - and thanks to her efforts, today's Miami is a stunning sight with the largest collection of Art Deco architecture in the US, world-class museums and galleries, and colourful neighbourhoods such as Little Havana and Wynwood.
There's incredible shopping, too, and a short hop from those famous beaches takes you to the Everglades, one of the world's most amazing wildlife havens.
In fact there's so much to see and do here that we recommend bookending your cruise with a hotel stay - then you can truly immerse yourself in the colours, flavours, and diverse cultures of this city by the sea.
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Cameras at the ready?
Head to the Art Deco district in South Beach for more than 800 examples of iconic 1920s and 1930s architecture, such as the cool curved Carlyle Hotel (which you may recognise from classic movies including Scarface and The Birdcage).
You'll also want to snap pictures of the brightly painted lifeguard towers along South Pointe Beach, constructed in the early 1990s as an emblem of Miami's renewal after the destruction wrought by Hurricane Andrew.
Fairchild tropical botanic garden
Southwest of downtown Miami in beautiful Coral Gables, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is a must-see for its collection of 23,000 specimen plants and rare trees, plus a museum, laboratory and the fascinating Wings of the Tropics rainforest walk.
If the Florida sun is baking hot and you'd rather not tackle this 83-acre site on foot, you can see the highlights in comfort on a guided tram tour.
Feeling a million miles away from Miami, yet within just a few miles of its urban bustle, lies the stunning island town of Key Biscayne.
Sandwiched between two nature parks, this former coconut plantation offers long, sheltered beaches, tropical forest, and incredible wildlife including exotic birds and loggerhead turtles.
You can also visit the famous Cape Florida lighthouse, built in 1825 and a sturdy survivor of Civil War battles and countless hurricanes.
Spanning 1.5 million acres throughout Southern Florida, the Everglades National Park is the largest sub-tropical wilderness in the USA.
Home to many rare and endangered species, including the Florida panther, American alligator, West Indian manatee and snail kite, it's a wildlife-lover's dream.
You can explore the park by tram or canoe, or get up close to the action in the cypress swamps with a thrilling ride on an Everglades airboat.
Dine & drink
Joe's stone crab
Joe Weiss opened his first lunch counter on Miami Beach in 1913, and from these humble beginnings grew a gastronomic legend.
Seasonal stone crab still tops the menu, along with lobster, shrimp and other seafood favourites, plus - so the locals say - the best Key lime pie in town.
Home to 30,000 Haitian Americans, the urban enclave of Little Haiti is a hotbed of art, music and fabulous Caribbean cuisine.
Check out Chef Creole for popular dishes such as griot (fried pork) with rice and beans and their signature pikliz (cabbage slaw).
Beware, it's seriously spicy!
Slicing east-west through Miami's Little Havana, Calle Ocho offers an instant hit of Cuban culture, with any number of restaurants serving deliciously authentic dishes such as vaca frita (thinly cut steak) and lechon asado (roast pork).
And the famous Cuban sandwich is a meal in itself, packed with ham, cheese, mustard, pickle and pulled pork.
Wash it down with a tiny cafecito Cuban coffee for a slam-dunk caffeine punch.
They love their steak in Miami, and the hot ticket just now is Michelin-starred Cote Miami in the Design District.
A fusion of Korean barbecue and all-American steakhouse, it's famous for its Butcher's Feast - four different cuts served with Korean accompaniments.
With more than 150 shops, around 40 places to eat and free live performances from local musicians, this yacht-lined location is the city's number-one tourist attraction.
So shop till you drop, then chill out with a sunset cruise across Biscayne Bay.
Miami's largest outlet mall is chock full of discounted designerwear from more than 240 international brands.
Pick up a Dolphin Mall Passport to Shopping for even more money off the sticker price.
Handicrafts, designer clothing and rare fragrances can all be found in this fashionable neighbourhood.
Look out for UNKNWN, Miami's premier streetwear store; Boho Hunters for up-and-coming Latin American designers, and Wynwood Shop for hand-made souvenirs.
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