For all its obvious physical natural bounty—turquoise Biscayne Bay lapping white-powder sand while sun-kissed bodies frolic everywhere—Miami is one complicated beauty.
It ranks #14 in the country in our deep Place category, including #3 for air quality and in the Top 10 for Parks & Outdoor Activities.
But Miami also scores very high in our People category, with an incredible third-most Foreign-born residents of any city on earth. It also boasts more than 100 languages that are spoken by residents at home.
With such a diverse cultural coexistence, it’s no wonder the city is mentioned in the same breath as San Francisco for its LGBT appeal.
Its “Gay Riviera” brand is one of the first developed by any city, elevating Miami to the forefront in drawing LGBT tourists and residents from all over the globe. There’s even a new LGBT Visitor Center in South Beach.
Miami has always been a destination, both for its accessible exoticism that coaxes frozen northerners, as well as the profound, magnetic Latin American community that serves as the point of entry for so many from Central and South America and, of course, Cuba and the Caribbean.
Miami’s alchemy of immigrant hustle and hedonism is unrivalled in the U.S. It’s why locals, inspired by the visual bounty of the land and sea, have always tried to do one better—first with some of the most striking Art Deco architecture on the planet and, most recently, wrestling the crown away from several cities for the title of Art City. It’s been 16 years since international art fair Art Basel landed, followed by the Frank Gehry-designed New World Symphony Center and the adjacent Soundscape—a 2.5-acre public park designed by Dutch architectural firm West 8. The Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts is a tropical Lincoln Center in the city’s downtown—one of only four centers in the country with separate performance facilities for ballet, opera, theater and symphonic live shows.
Amazingly, things seem only to be getting started. Shopping, not particularly exciting on a global scale, will move up in future rankings based on this year’s expansion of the Miami Design District, with its art-filled plaza and new retail venues housing coveted luxury brands.
The new Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami (ICA), also opening this year, is sure to improve the city’s cultural cache. So will the newly revamped Miami International Airport, which hit an all-time high for arrivals in 2016, 4.8% above the previous year. It’s #32 ranking is surely to rise faster than a Calle Ocho salsa riff after nightfall.