Paul's Travel Pictures

Miami City Tour - South Florida
Pictures and visitor information from a tour of the city of Miami in South Florida with the "Miami Tour Company".

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Collins Ave. A1A

 
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Loews Hotel Miami Beach

 
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Loews Hotel Lobby Area

 

Last week I received an email that announced the launch of a new tour company in Miami that offers GPS guided audio tours.

We've lived in the South Florida area for several years but have never been on a formal tour of the city of Miami. The unique high tech GPS feature of the tour really piqued my interest.

I signed us up for the Saturday morning tour that departs at 10 AM via the "Miami Tour Company" website. The base price of the 3.5 hour city tour is $33 for adults and $29 for children. They accept Visa, MasterCard, Discover and American Express credit cards online or you can also book by phone at (305) 260-6855.

We had plans in the late afternoon so we weren't able to take advantage of one of the "Tour Combos". You could add on a variety of destinations to the standard "Miami City Tour" such as a Biscayne Bay boat cruise, the Florida Everglades, Jungle Island, Seaquarium, and Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.

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Outdoor Lounge Area
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Loews Hotel Pool Walkway
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Jacuzzi & Cabana Area
The Miami Tour Company offers a pickup service for tourists staying at nearby hotels. Locals and tourists not staying at hotels in Miami are asked to convene at the Loews Hotel (1601 Collins Ave., Miami Beach) for the tour bus to arrive at 10 AM. We drove down from southern Palm Beach county, which was a relatively quick trip down I-95 and over I-195. The Loews Hotel has a valet service but we instead chose to park in the multi-level parking garage located on 16th St. directly across the street from the hotel. The parking garage charged $12 for up to six hours, has a security guard, and accepts credit cards.
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Pool Cabana With TV
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Fountain By Pool
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Water Noodle Pool Toys
Traffic on I-95 was lighter than I expected so we arrived at the Loews Hotel at 9:30 AM. To pass the time, we walked around the hotel lobby and the picturesque pool area. Each staff member that passed by greeted us and none of them seemed concerned about whether or not we were guests of the hotel.
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Palm Tree Lined Walkway
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Hotel Lobby Side Entrance
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Elemis Spa Entrance
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Water Fountain
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Large Tile Mural

After we admired the sparkling pool, the cabanas equipped with televisions and the pristine landscaping, we went back inside the Loews hotel lobby. We found a comfortable bench on the landing in between the first and second floors that had a view of the hotel's semi-circle driveway.

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Indoor Palm Tree
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Pineapple Crystal Chandelier
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Miami Tour Company Bus
The Miami Tour Company's bus arrived promptly at 10 AM. It was a bright white bus with bands of orange running down each side and tinted windows. I could tell the bus was brand spanking new just by looking at it from a distance. This was a relief because we've been on some really old buses on tours in South America that had stained seats and broken air conditioners.
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Inside of New Tour Bus
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Loews Hotel Tower
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Loews Hotel Driveway

The tour guide, Rickey, checked off our names on his list as we climbed aboard the bus. Then he gave everyone a quick overview of the GPS guided audio tour and asked if anyone needed the headsets to hear the tour in other languages. Besides English they also have the tour audio translated into Spanish, German, French, and Italian.

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Miami Beach Taxis
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Loews Hotel Valet
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Bancroft Building

As the tour bus pulled out of the Loews hotel driveway, Rickey told us to feel free to ask him any questions whenever "she" (the female voice of the GPS guided audio tour) took a break from talking, which made everyone chuckle.

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Dolce
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Ocean Drive & 15th Street

The GPS audio tour began almost immediately once the bus turned onto Collins Ave. (A1A). It was a pleasant sounding female voice that was easy to hear and understand through the high quality speakers located all around the interior of the bus. I captured about 30 seconds of video with my Canon SD700 IS digital camera so that you could get the full experience.

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Haagen Dazs & Starbucks
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Lummus Park
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Ocean Dr. Street Sign

Click on the link below to stream the video. You can also right click on the link and choose "Save Target As" or "Save Link As" to save the file to your hard drive. The clip is encoded in the WMV (Windows Media Video) format, runs 32 seconds long and has a file size of about 8 MB (megabytes). I must have had my finger over the camera's microphone so turn up your computer's speakers to hear the audio tour.

Miami City Tour Video Clip
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Residential Condo Building
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The Savoy Hotel
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Path To The Beach


 

At first I was worried that the tinted windows of the bus would hamper my ability to take clear pictures of the buildings and other sights. It turned out that the tint was just dark enough to protect us from the hot South Florida sun and still allow me to get great shots. The tinting actually gave the buildings a cool surreal look that goes along well with the character of the city.

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Park With Lush Green Grass
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Marjory Stoneman Douglas Park
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Danny DeVito Restaurant

To break up the tour and keep us from being stuck in the bus for the entire three and a half hours, there were several stops mentioned in the brochure. The first stop listed in the brochure is the "Our Lady of Charity Shrine" which was built by Cuban Refugees. Instead of that, our first stop was at the Fresh Market for some free coffee. The Fresh Market has one of the most colorful produce sections that I've ever seen. If you really want a cup of coffee, go to the front middle of the store because it goes really fast.

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Marriott Hotel
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Hilton Bentley Hotel
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Club Nikki Beach

The other stops on the tour were in front of the historic Biltmore Hotel, at Domino Park in Little Havana, and the final stop was at the Bayside Marketplace. Each stop was about 15 minutes long which was just enough time to take some pictures, stretch your legs, go to the bathroom and buy a souvenir.

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Condo Skyscrapers
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As a photography enthusiast, I really enjoyed being able to get entire skyscrapers into frame right from my seat. The large "picture" windows on the bus extended from just below my elbow almost all the way up to the ceiling. It was also helpful that the windows were spotlessly clean on the inside and out. I've been on plenty of bus tours where I had to continuously hunt for a clear section of the window in order to take halfway decent photographs.

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Portofino Tower
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South Pointe Tower

Some of the highlights of the tour included South Beach, Collins Ave., Ocean Drive, Lummus Park, Gianni Versace's house, the Holocaust Memorial, the picturesque Venetian Causeway, the Miami Herald building, the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the Downtown Miami financial district, the Brickell neighborhood, the Rickenbacker Causeway, Key Biscayne, Miami Seaquarium, Marine Stadium, Madonna's house, Sylvester Stallone's house, the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, Hobie Beach, the Port of Miami, the MacArthur Causeway, the Cuban Shrine, the Pan American Seaplane Base, Coconut Grove, Plymouth Church, and Miami's first school house.

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But that's not all! We saw plenty of other places on the tour such as the swanky Coral Gables neighborhood, Charlotte Jane Cemetery (where Michael Jackson filmed "Thriller"), Bahamian Village, Cartagena Plaza, Old Cutler Road, the University of Miami, Pinewood Cemetery, the Venetian Pool, the Miracle Mile shopping area, Calle Ocho, Watson Island, Virginia Key and Fisher Island.

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Washington Ave.
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Overall this was the best city tour I've ever been on and I was very impressed with how smoothly the day went. There wasn't a moment during the 3.5 hours that I felt bored. Our funny yet informative driver, the GPS guided audio tour, and the beautiful sights of Miami kept us entertained at all times. It was well worth the $33 cost per person considering the vast amount of the city that we were able to see. I really enjoyed finally being able to see all of the interesting parts of Miami that I've heard about but have never seen in person.

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The rest of the 267 pictures that I took on this Miami city tour can be found on the next four pages. For more ideas of fun things to see or do in the South Florida area, take a look at some of my other galleries such as the Fairchild Gardens, the Biscayne Lady Yacht Tour, the Ritz Carlton South Beach, the Aventura Mall, South Beach, the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, the South Florida International Auto Show, the Gator Park Everglades Airboat Tour, and the Miami MetroZoo.

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