Take an Exotic South Beach Vacation on Miami's Espanola Way

Just a few blocks away from Miami's beautiful beaches, you can take a walk down a side street and get completely lost in the exotic flavor of your own South Beach vacation. Espanola Way is just a small area of South Beach, barely more than a few blocks long, but it delivers big style so spicy you'll forget you're just a few hours from home. If you're looking for a South Beach vacation that's more about the eclectic side of Miami and less struggling to squeeze into that bathing suit, Espanola Way is the place to be.

Modeled somewhat after a quaint Mediterranean village, this South Beach bohemian enclave is anchored by the Art Deco Clay Hotel, a colorful 1930's building that formerly played home to Al Capone, the Desi Arnaz Rumba scene, and background to Miami Vice. The peach building is now home to cozy rooms and many walls full of local art and paintings reminiscent of its 30's heyday. The artistic atmosphere continues beyond the walls of the Clay Hotel and onto the street where local artisans sell music, jewelry, flowers and the fruits of their crafts from kiosks and on street corners. If it's handmade, you'll find it in this neighborhood where the patrons are extremely proud of their heritage and roots. Spanish dancing, Italian treats, Parisian dinner - it's all here.

For a bite to eat on your South Beach vacation, skip the long lines at the celeb-chef restaurants and try Milani Gelateria, a locally-owned gelato shop known to rival anything you'd find in Italy. Sweet flavors like hazelnut, melon and champagne and proudly "Made by Italians," as the store proclaims, and also made with lots of love; one bite and you'll know why this store is a favorite of the locals. For a full meal, A La Folie, reminiscent of a Parisian sidewalk cafe, has got you covered. The authentic French menu has favorites like sweet and savory crepes and thick French Onion Soup. Or, for a Spanish flair, Tapas y Tintas, with its 80 varieties of wine and sangrias, wide array of fresh seafood-inspired small plates, always makes for a good night.

For an after-lunch treat that's uniquely South Beach, stock up on handcrafted items at the Espanola Way Market, free yoga classes in Flamingo Park - weather dependent - and the neighborhood's most hidden treasure, Miami Beach Cinematheque and Gallery, a restored Gothic revival building highlighting the beach art films of the Miami Beach Film Society.

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