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Greetings! ¡Bienvenidos! Bom vindo! Akeyi!
Mei and Gayle look forward to hosting you in Miami. Some of you may also have some questions about visiting the area so we’ll be providing some entries here that might help you plan some pre- or post- conference activities!
About Coral Gables
Coral Gables, or the City Beautiful, was founded in 1925 by George E. Merrick as one of the United States’ first planned communities. Taking advantage of the sunny climate and temperate weather, Merrick envisioned the Gables as a city with a Mediterranean vibe. With its historic architecture and street names like Segovia, Milan, and Alhambra, the city certainly retains this European feeling. Among the distinctive buildings is the Biltmore Hotel, a national landmark famous for its opulence and to modern connoisseurs, its wonderful spa.
The site for this year’s conference, the Westin Colonnade, also has a historical pedigree. The building, located in downtown Coral Gables on the Miracle Mile, once housed George E. Merrick’s offices and the Florida National Bank. The Colonnade’s location on the Mile is particularly suited to this year’s conference. Steps from the hotel you can find the Coral Gables Museum, recently renovated and re-opened with wonderful exhibits of life in early South Florida; the Coral Gables Art Cinema, which brings art house films to the city; the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theater, where classic and original productions are staged; Books and Books, the independently owned bookstore; and a number of acclaimed restaurants.
Another Coral Gables landmark is the Venetian Pool, famed for its clear blue waters fed from an underground aquifer. The history of the Venetian Pool, as well as hours of operation, can be obtained from the City of Coral Gables’ website: http://www.coralgables.com/index.aspx?page=167
Getting to know this city within a city is one of the pleasures of visiting Miami, and I look forward to sharing it with you.–Mei, 3/13/2013
South of Miami…the Keys
The Florida Keys are the stuff of legend. You can start out on the Florida Turnpike but it peters out at Florida City and if you’re not interested in the outlet mall and Mexican restaurants in Homestead then you’ll find yourself south on US1 (which also picks up the name Overseas Highway) following the milemarkers to the varied destinations that make up the Florida Keys (‘key’ derived from ‘cayo’). If you’re determined, you’ll go all the way down to mile 0 to Key West to see the Hemingway house, the green flash at sunset, and perhaps even boat over to Fort Jefferson of the Dry Tortugas Islands (and once prison to Dr. Samuel Mudd for lending aid to assassin John Wilkes Booth). The latter requires an overnight stay in Key West since it’s a day long commitment starting around 6:30am. The good news is that hotels in the Keys generally start going to summer rates by the time SALALM is over!
It’s around 120 miles from Miami down to Key West which could make it a long day trip. Key Largo is the northern most of the keys so it’s an easier start to get down and back in a shorter amount of time. You’ll find lots of great restaurants there, the John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park is renowned for its underwater tours of its coral reefs as well as glass-bottom boat tours (more on that soon!) and can also allow for some beach time. Casually moving down the road, you’ll find the Florida Keys Wild Bird Center in Tavernier. Go down to Marathon, the halfway point of the keys. You’ll find the Seadell Motel, a locally owned motel that exemplifies the laidback accommodations of the Keys. Hang out in the pool or travel across US1 to Sombrero Beach.
Obviously there’s much more to the Keys than I can tell you. Go to the Florida Keys page for more details and places to visit.–Gayle, 3/4/2013
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