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When to Go
Miami and Miami Beach are year-round destinations. Most visitors come November through April, when the weather is close to perfect; hotels, restaurants, and attractions are busiest; and each weekend holds a festival or event. The "Season" kicks off in December with Art Basel Miami Beach, and hotel rates don't come down until after the college kids have left after spring break in late March.
It's hot and steamy from May through September, but nighttime temperatures are usually pleasant. Also, summer is a good time for the budget traveler. Many hotels lower their rates considerably, and many restaurants offer discounts—especially during Miami Spice in August and September, when slews of top restaurants offer special tasting menus at a steep discount. (Check www.iLoveMiamiSpice.com for details.)
Festivals and Annual Events
Art Basel Miami Beach. The most prestigious art show in the United States is held every December, with plenty of fabulous parties to go along with the pricey art. This is a who's-who of the art world where collectors, emerging artists, renowned artists, curators, gallerists, and art aficionados convene alongside novices and trendsetters. While the main exhibition is held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, dozens of smaller exhibitions are set up on the beach, downtown, and in Wynwood. www.artbaselmiamibeach.com.
Art Deco Weekend. This annual weekend of all things art deco was started by the Miami Preservation League in the 1970s to draw attention to and celebrate Miami Beach's Art Deco Historic District. Tours, lectures, film screenings, and dozens of other 1930s-themed events are on tap over this January weekend. Festivities—many of them free—begin on Friday, followed by a Saturday morning parade and street fair. More than a quarter of a million people join in the action, which centers on Ocean Drive between 5th and 15th streets. www.ArtDecoWeekend.com.
Miami International Boat Show. Every February, fans of leisure boating and related sports flock to Miami for the city's renowned International Boat Show, held across three locations. Highlights of the five-day show include educational seminars, contests and giveaways, receptions, meet and greets with celebrity boaters, and plenty of exhibits on all aspects of boating. Miami Beach, FL. www.miamiboatshow.com.
South Beach Wine and Food Festival. The Food Network's star-studded four-day weekend each February, presented by Food & Wine, showcases the flavors and ingenuity of the country's top chefs and wine and spirits producers. Personalities like Paula Dean, Bobby Flay, and Rachel Ray headline brunches, lunches, dinners, and seminars. The festival attracts more than 60,000 attendees annually. To avoid disappointment, book your choice events far in advance. 877/762–3933 for ticketed events. www.sobefest.com.
Ultra Music Festival. One of the world's best-known electronic music events, the massive Ultra Music Festival has been taking place in Miami every spring since 1999. The festival has drawn crowds of nearly 200,000 revelers. Until 2011 the Ultra Music Festival was part of the Winter Music Conference but has since spun off into its own mega-event. www.ultramusicfestival.com.
Winter Music Conference. The largest DJ showcase in the world rocks Miami every March, when South Beach truly turns into one big ole party. The latest and greatest in electronic music takes over the lobbies and pools of Miami's most iconic hotels. www.wintermusicconference.com.
Winter Party Festival. An extended weekend of GLBT beach parties and raging nightlife attracts over 10,000 in early March, benefitting the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. Over 20 years strong, this long weekend is the ultimate pageantry of big muscles and hard bodies. www.winterparty.com.
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