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A visitor's guide to Miami

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Posted: Friday December 22, 2000 12:50 AM
Updated: Friday December 22, 2000 1:18 AM

  The path to the Orange Bowl Classic Trophy includes fun in the sun for a lucky few. Eliot J. Schechter/Allsport

By Jacob Luft, CNNSI.com

Winter in Miami never seemed quite as appealing as it does right now.

While most of the nation endures frigid wind chill factors and needs 20 minutes to warm up a car, Sooners and Seminoles fans will be sunbathing in a tropical paradise this New Year's.

Just another perk for them to enjoy, as if having their teams qualify for the national championship game wasn't enough.

Well, if you are one of the lucky few heading to South Florida for the Orange Bowl Classic on Jan. 4, 2001, here is a tourist's guide to Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

Make sure to bring back some sea shells for the rest of us.

Nightlife
   There are plenty of good times to be had before you ever get to Pro Player Stadium. Vincent Laforet/Allsport
  • South Beach: Located at the southern tip of Miami Beach, this is the place to go for ritzy, see-and-be-seen nightclubs, all-night shopping and the occasional celebrity sighting. The quality of the beach itself is among the finest in the world.

  • Coconut Grove: Have you ever wondered where I-95 begins? (Or is it ends?) From downtown, go south on I-95 until it spills onto U.S. 1. That puts you near Coconut Grove, a cultural/entertainment/shopping mecca. Enjoy fine dining, go to a play, a movie, or any one of a number of bars and nightclubs.

  • Fort Lauderdale beach and downtown: The Riverwalk in downtown Fort Lauderdale offers a fine array of restaurants, shops and night spots. For surf-side fun, cruise the strip up and down A1A for clubs, bars and a generally great view of the ocean.

  • Santa's Enchanted Forest: A holiday-themed carnival with rides, food and a whole mess of lighted Christmas trees. Located at Tropical Park on 7900 SW Bird Road.
  •  
    Sights to See
       The house where this now-famous photo was taken is being turned into a shrine for Elian Gonzalez. AP
  • Miami Metrozoo: This is a little bit out of the way for anyone staying in downtown Miami or in Fort Lauderdale but it's worth the long trip. More than 800 animals of 191 species reside in this 290-acre habitat located at 12400 S.W. 152nd St.

  • Miami Museum of Science & Space Transit Planetarium: Fans of natural and physical sciences will enjoy the exhibits and wildlife. Plus, it's a pretty cool planetarium with rock 'n' roll laser light shows on weekends. http://www.miamisci.org.

  • Ancient Spanish Monastery: Built in Segovia, Spain in 1141 and transported to America in 1954 by William Randolph Hearst, this is the oldest building in the Western Hemisphere. Great place for weddings. http://www.spanishmonastery.com

  • Elian Gonzalez's house: The house where the famous rafter boy stayed before being taken by force by the U.S. government and sent back to Cuba has been preserved by one of his relatives. No matter where you stand on the politics of the highly controversial issue, there is no doubt the house on 2319 N.W. Second St. in Little Havana has become an indelible piece of our history.

  • Fort Lauderdale Museum of Art: With more than 5,400 works ranging from pop to American impressionist, this is downtown Fort Lauderdale's cultural pride and joy.

  • International Swimming Hall of Fame and Museum: Also located in Fort Lauderdale, this museum boasts the world's largest collection of aquatic memorabilia and the single largest source of aquatic books, manuscripts and literature. A must-see for fans of Olympic swimming. http://www.ishof.org/
  •  
    Outdoor/Sports
       Pavel Bure is worth the price of admission to a Panthers game. AP
  • NHL: Granted, the Florida Panthers are having an awful season, but they do have one of the world's best players in Pavel Bure and a luxurious new arena, the National Car Rental Center in Sunrise. The Panthers play host to the Boston Bruins on Dec. 29 at 7:30 p.m. and then the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 30 at 7 p.m.

  • NBA: The Miami Heat also have a new building, AmericanAirlines Arena, with plenty of seats available. They entertain the Washington Wizards on Dec. 29 at 7:30 p.m. before going on a road trip.

  • Jai-Alai: Billed as the "fastest game on Earth," Jai-Alai is an inexpensive, fun way to spend an afternoon or evening. Live and simulcast wagering is allowed at either of the two locations, Miami and Dania.

  • Everglades National Park: The third largest national park in the continental United States encompasses 1.5 million acres of rare and beautiful ecosystems. Hiking, fishing, boating, camping ... do it all at this national treasure. http://www.nps.gov/ever

  • Biscayne National Park: Go snorkeling or scuba diving here and see a spectacular living coral reef. http://www.nps.gov/bisc/
  •  
    Shopping/Dining
  • Sawgrass Mills: If you like big malls, this is the place for you. This gigantic outlet mall in Sunrise (across the street from the Panthers' arena) will take most of the day to plow through. http://www.millscorp.com/sawgrass/index2.html

  • Shops at Sunset Place: This relatively new shopping center in South Miami features more than 60 specialty stores and restaurants, including a Gameworks, an IMAX and an AMC 24 plex.

  • Joe's Stone Crab Restaurant: A trip to South Beach would be missing something without a visit to one of the most famous eateries in town. Keep your eyes peeled for celebrities -- if you can even get a table, that is.

  • Don Shula's Steak House: "Shoes" isn't just the NFL's all-time winningest coach. He also knows how to cook a steak any offensive lineman would be proud to inhale. This nationally renowned eatery has locations all over South Florida.

  • Cheeburger Cheeburger: Huge, delicious cheeseburgers are a staple of this establishment with locations in Miami and Fort Lauderdale.

  • La Carreta: This is just one of a ton of places to get tasty Hispanic food. The difference is, they have a location in the Miami International Airport, so you don't have to wait long to get started on the local cuisine.

  • Los Ranchos: This upscale steakhouse has locations all over town and one of the best menus as well. Order the churrasco for a meal you won't soon forget.

  •  
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