Very much enjoyed our walking tour with James. Since it was our first trip to Miami Beach, it was a great quick introduction to the Art Deco architecture and history of the area. James was fun and entertaining and kept the tour moving at a quick pace. Bonus--his restaurant recommendation that night was perfect! Also went back the next day for a tour of the Wolfsonian, where the tour originates--great local museum.
A brief local history lesson and some art deco basics started our tour, and we hit the trail to check out a few sites in the Wolfsonian Museum, where our tour began, and then it was out on the streets to check out the iconic architecture of South Beach. (Side note: if your tour starts at the Wolfsonian, plan to spend some time checking out its impressive collection before or after your tour, as well.)Our guide, James, was very knowledgable not only about the architecture, but of South Florida and its background. Our group of four included three locals and an out-of-state visitor. All four of us — including the three locals who've lived here for decades (one is a SoFla native) — learned things about both. We were able to see not only the exteriors that became so famous on the "Miami Vice" TV show, but we also entered hotel lobbies and bar areas where small decorative details were noted and more of that tawdry history was explored.James was upbeat and engaging, keeping individual tour members (total of 10) involved. His attention to detail, whether it was the architecture or the tales of SoBo in its heyday and Mob involvement, was impressive and entertaining. There was much more interaction between guide and participants than I've encountered with similar tours. The two hours flew by in a walk that was fun, informative and well worth the price."Let's walk!"
We arrived late, darn Miami buses, but James and the group had stayed at the start point so thankfully we didn't miss any of the tour, only the history of South Beach and Art Deco. The tour itself was extremely interesting and James obviously knows his subject and is very passionate about it. I would recommend this tour to anybody, the walking isn't that far and is necessary to see the various buildings.
Before the tour: two teenagers 16 and 17 are so annoyed. Really Mom? Another walking tour?
Start of the tour: the two teenagers are sitting at the table with Mom, Dad and James, the tour guide, at the Wolfsonian Museum in Miami Beach. Within seconds they are completely captivated by James's beautiful narrative about the history of Miami/ Miami Beach. What a wonderful setting and atmosphere to start the tour... or should I say tale?
During the tour: eagerly we follow James through the Art Déco Historic District. One of the teenagers whispers into Mom's ear, I would love to have James as my history teacher. It is really fun, informative and interactive.
After the tour: now we know that it all started with the oranges. The name Julia Tuttle is branded in our brains forever. We understand that Miami is unlike other US cities and Miami Beach has managed throughout the past century to transform the many discontinuities into an unbelievable energy and individual effort to keep this setting alive. Thank you, James, for telling us this story along the lines of the Art Déco movement. The two teenagers acknowledge that this was not just another walking tour.