Miami Travel: Villa Vizcaya, Downtown Fort Lauderdale, the Spanish Monastery, South Beach & Bayfront Park

As the cold weather starts to settle in over Canada, it’s always a real treat to get away to a warm and sunny destination. And there is no closer and more convenient destination from Toronto than Florida. So I used up some of my Airmiles to book two flights for my husband and me to Miami. On November 27, 2010 we arrived at the Miami Airport, picked up our Budget Rental car and drove north to the City of Weston, where we would be spending a week at the Mizner Place Resort in a well-equipped one-bedroom apartment. We also had convenient access to the Weston Tennis Center, part of the Cliff Drysdale’s group of tennis centers.

Villa Vizcaya

Villa Vizcaya

On Sunday, November 28, 2010, I drove south into Miami to do some sightseeing. Miami is most well known for its colourful entertainment scene, but I was looking for a bit of history and architecture. I found it at the Villa Vizcaya, an opulent mansion that was constructed between 1914 and 1919 for James Deering, an industrialist and heir to the International Harvester fortune. Built in a Venetian and Renaissance revival style, this National Historic Landmark impresses with its interior courtyard, its formal reception rooms, lavish private living quarters and its breathtaking location on Biscayne Bay.

The beautiful waterfront of Villa Vizcaya

The beautiful waterfront of Villa Vizcaya

My explorations continued on Monday with a trip into downtown Fort Lauderdale where I explored the Las Olas Riverfront. Las Olas Boulevard is Fort Lauderdale’s most popular shopping avenue and the Las Olas Riverfront is an entertainment complex that features several restaurants, nightclubs and retail outlets, all set on a scenic waterfront promenade along the New River. Along the Riverwalk there are several additional attractions, including the Old Fort Lauderdale Museum of History, the Broward Center for the Performing Arts, the Museum of Discovery and Science with its IMAX Theatre, and the Museum of Art.

Fort Lauderdale

Fort Lauderdale

On November 30, after an intense round of tennis in the morning, I headed off again to another interesting destination in Miami: the Spanish Monastery at St. Bernard de Clairvaux Episcopal Church. Publishing tycoon William Randolph Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the Monastery’s outbuilding which were all part of a monastic complex in Sacramenia, near Segovia, Spain, that was built between 1133 and 1144. Hearst had the entire complex dismantled stone by stone, protected with hay and shipped to the United States in 1925.

The Spanish Monastery

The Spanish Monastery

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