Where In the World: Miami, Florida Where Tourism, Nightlife, and Nature Meld Article & Photos

Miami – What Does It Mean?

The name Miami comes from the Native American tribe “Mayaimi”, which lived around Florida’s Lake Okeechobee through the late 17th to early 18th century. Translated, it means “big water.”

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Everywhere you turn in Miami, there are interesting things to learn about the city. Ranked as a travel hot-spot, with more nightlife than you might know what to do with, more beaches than you’ll have time to swim or surf in, more shops and restaurants than you can count, you’ll never be at a loss for what to do next.

 Believe it or not, the city was largely founded by a business woman in July of 1896. Julia Tuttle, known as the Mother of Miami, owned the land Miami sits on today. Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1848, she saw Southern Florida for the first time when she visited in 1875. After her husband passed away, she moved to the area in 1886 and purchased several hundred acres of land near the Miami River.

 Tuttle was an intuitive woman and realized quite early on that they’d need railroads in order to see the area grow and prosper. Julia teamed up with multimillionaire Henry M. Flagler, who was thinking about extending his railroad. A deal was sealed, with Julia turning over hundreds of acres and Flagler building a large hotel and bringing the rail- road into Miami for the first time in April of 1896.

 The Miami River

The Miami River Walkway is a wonderful pedestrian walkway that runs along the north side of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay. The views are spectacular, with both business and ultra-chic con- temporary buildings on either side. The walkway is about a mile long, starting at the Bayside Marketplace and end- ing at the Metromover Station. Take a moment to admire both artwork and historic images that are part of the River walkway’s curving wall.

  Welcome to the Jungle

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Miami’s Jungle Island marries a tropical vista with rare birds and wildlife from all around the world. Its ecosystem is stunning and makes visitors feel as if they truly are in a jungle, with African Sausage trees and hundreds-of-years-old Banyan trees lining its pathways. Begun in 1936 as Parrot Jungle, it was first located in South Miami. Now in a different location, under new ownership, it houses many different exotic animals, birds and unusual plants.

 Jungle Island also hosts many activities, such as private safari tours and interactive shows on many different stages through- out the property. I saw Pinky, their high wire, bike riding cockatoo, watched a six foot cassowary swallow an apple and even crouched in my seat a bit as vultures flew low over my head. I laughed at orangutans antics and watched adorable lemurs put on a show with their trainers.

 Flamingos were in abundance, walking around leisurely and drinking from the still waters in the corner of the park. Many large cats paced in their natural habitats or slept on long benches under the heat of summer sunshine, and the call of birds could be heard all around me. Jungle Island is a wonderful place for families to go and spend the day. It provides a learning experience about the world around us, as well as an entertaining showstopper.

 Amazing Architecture

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The architecture in Miami is astounding. Art Deco is prevalent, with over 800 different buildings showcasing the vibrant colors and bold geometric shapes of a designer’s dream. Most were built between 1923 and 1943. Other ultra-contemporary architectural features would make postcard shots to frame and hang when you get home.

 What About Sports & Shopping?

Every major city is home to one or more professional sports teams. Miami is no different, with the Miami Heat (Basketball – World Champion), Florida Marlins (Baseball – former World Champion), and the Miami Dolphins (Football) all stars of the show.

 Whether you are enjoying Lincoln Road during the daytime shopping hours or living the nightlife that’s so hot here in Miami, you won’t be disappointed. High-end shops and farmer’s markets are in abundance up and down main streets. You can sit at outdoor tables and spend hours relaxing as you people watch. After dark, all along the many beaches, you will see neon lights from hotels or eateries, inviting you  to come in and dance to your heart’s content or watch a live show on any of the many stages. The outdoor restaurants for dining are too many to count, serving savory foods from all corners of the world and fruity drinks to go with the dish you end up choosing.

 A Sausage Tree?

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Here’s description of a sausage tree (see image in lower right corner) from a local: A most unusual tree that has huge, sausage like fruits that hang down from long, ropey stalks. Its blossoms are nocturnal and because they hang low, they are suited for bats and other nighttime insects. These interesting trees can yield fruit up to 2 feet long and that can weigh a hefty 15 pounds!

 Always Sun & Sand Last but not least, the beaches. Sun and sand and absolutely nothing to do but catch up on your R&R. You’re on vacation after all, aren’t you?

by Theresa St. John

 Join and Read more of the Winter Edition 2014-2015

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