The American Academy of Dermatology's Annual Meeting makes its first visit to Miami Beach, Fla., in March, and you'll want to make time within your travel schedule to absorb the city and its environs. Greater Miami and its beaches offer a colorful and vibrant getaway for visitors, whether for business or pleasure. With its picturesque beaches and rich culture, the possibilities for recreation and entertainment are endless.
Miami is known for its beautiful sunny weather, gorgeous backdrop of graceful, swaying palms and sparkling turquoise waters. With tourism as its backbone, pulsating Miami has evolved from a sleepy outpost near Florida's Everglades into a world-class cosmopolitan metropolis bursting with attractions, dining, nightlife and shopping options.
An urban city as well as an international resort destination, Miami is quickly becoming a serious culinary center thanks to cultural diversity and sophistication. Attracting the attention of acclaimed restaurateurs, chefs and critics, Miami is home to a breathtaking array of see-and-be-seen restaurants featuring innovative cuisine.
The idea of Miami as a culinary center was born 15 years ago with a new style of cooking — "New World" cuisine, which combines the freshest local ingredients and influences from the Caribbean and Latin America with time-honored European cooking techniques. High in flavor and low in fat, New World cuisine showcases clean flavors derived from creative combinations of fresh seafood and tropical fruits and vegetables.
Allen Susser of Chef Allen's (19088 N.E. 29th Ave., 305-935-2900) helped to pioneer this cuisine, and his namesake restaurant is now a Miami landmark. Susser has created a uniquely American seafood restaurant, about 20 miles away from the Miami Beach Convention Center. Local fishermen make daily deliveries of yellowtail snapper, grouper, pompano, Wahoo, cobia, lobster, conch and wild Florida shrimp.
If you'd rather have fish of the raw variety, Nobu (1901 Collins Ave., 305-695-3232) offers inventive sushi choices, such as the superb fresh yellowtail with jalapeno and citrus ponzu or grilled salmon smeared with chili paste. It's in the Shore Club hotel in South Beach, less than a mile from the convention center.
Just as seafood is a staple in coastal Miami, so is Cuban fare. Little Havana, located smack dab in the middle of Miami, is saturated with Cuban culture, and the main thoroughfare, Calle Ocho, is lined with restaurants, cafes and corner stores. Havana Harry's, about 15 miles away from the convention center (4612 S. Le Jeune Road, 305-661-2622), is popular with the locals.
In fact, almost every cuisine under the sun can be found in Miami — Haitian, Vietnamese, Colombian, Peruvian, Thai, Italian, German, Greek, Irish, Russian, Indian, Honduran and Brazilian — the list goes on. In the mood for meat? A top-rated steakhouse is Christy's, a South Florida institution. Feel like chowing down a burger? Le Tub (1100 N. Ocean Drive, 954-921-9425) burgers are No. 1 in the nation, according to GQ
Venture into a vibrant arts and cultural landscape
There's more to do in Miami than just eat, however. Its local scene offers much more than a day at the beach, evoking the essence of Miami with a mix of history, education and just plain fun.
An international symbol for Miami, South Beach, is a popular visitor destination known worldwide for its street-side cafés and beaches packed with beautiful young sun-seekers, but it also presents unique culture, entertainment and shopping.
The prestigious Bal Harbour Shops (9700 Collins Ave., 305-866-0311), located one block from the ocean at the northern end of Miami Beach and just eight miles from the convention center, has set the standard for high-end shopping centers, where you can find a collection of exclusive and luxurious retail stores such as Bulgari, Cartier, Harry Winston, Chanel, Gucci, Prada and dozens more.
To see the beauty of Miami beyond the beaches, the Fairchild Tropical Garden (10901 Old Cutler Road, 305-667-1651) is 16 miles north of the Miami Beach convention center. The 83-acre garden is among the region's most popular visitor attractions and offers tours along with a variety of programs in environmental education, conservation and horticulture.
While great beaches, refined shopping and beautiful scenery have earned Miami its status as the world's favorite fun-in-the-sun playground, the city also has a thriving arts scene. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami Dade County (1300 Biscayne Blvd., 305-949-6722), four miles west of the convention center, is one of only four major centers in the U.S. featuring three separate performance facilities created to present ballet, opera, theater and symphonic music. The venue houses the Concert Association of Florida, Florida Grand Opera, Miami City Ballet and the New World Symphony.
Surrounded by water, blessed with great weather and unparalleled natural beauty, Miami offers travelers the chance to experience a get-away to an urban center. Enjoy all Miami has to offer while you're at the AAD Annual Meeting.