The first games of the 2011 NBA finals will be held in Miami, Florida on Tuesday and devoted fans of each team will be flocking to the Sunshine State to see the action. When fans aren't in the stadium cheering for the Miami Heat or the Dallas Mavericks, they might find that there is more to the city than its basketball court.
No, this does not give you license to GTL and start referring to yourself as 'The Situation.' While this area has become famous for its Jersey Shore residents, this Miami hotspot has long been known as the quintessential place to shop, party and be seen. Staying on the strip means access to many of Miami's top hotels including the Delano, the Pelican and the Ritz-Carlton. And, an assortment of restaurants cater to a wide range of tastes from Italian to Cuban. Nightlife rages on until the wee hours, making this a perfect spot for young fans ready to celebrate their team's win or commiserate a loss.
With 1.5 million acres of swamps, saw-grass prairies and sub-tropical jungles, Everglades National Park is one of the most unusual public parks in the United States. A short 20 minute drive from downtown Miami, the park is home to 14 rare and endangered species including the American Crocodile, the Florida Panther and the West Indian Manatee. Visitors can walk one of the many winding trails, camp for a night, or take a canoe through some of the more remote areas of the park.
Coral Castle is truly unique. Built by Latvian-born Miami resident, Ed Leedskalnin, this 1100-ton coral creation has been featured on That's Incredible, In Search Of..., You Asked For It! and Ripley's Believe It or Not. Created entirely out of coral, Leedskalnin built the Castle with his own two hands over an almost 30-year period in the 1950s. These structures seem to defy physics and human skill, leading some to believe they were constructed using paranormal powers. To this day, no one knows how Leedskalnin accomplished this feat, but his creation is well worth a visit.
Miami is famous for its beaches, and it should be. Miami has some of the most beautiful beaches in the United States, all a short car ride away. There is no shortage of white sand, clear waters, palm trees and hot sun to keep you relaxed and tanned during your visit. Most beaches offer activities like snorkeling, windsurfing, parasailing, waterskiing and scuba diving. With temperatures at a steady 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32°c), don't forget the sunscreen!
Great White Golf Course and the Doral Resort
One of the dozens of golf courses around Miami, the legendary Great White Course was rated as the best new golf course of 2000 by the National Golf Foundation. Designed by Greg Norman, the 7,171-yard, par-72 course is the only golf course of its kind in the Southeastern United States that utilizes crushed shells as the primary design element on every hole. Hundreds of palm trees line the course and 14 of the 18 holes have views of the ocean, making it one of the most beautiful courses in Miami. The resort also features four other courses with varying difficulties and lengths.
Miami Goombay Festival
For those fans that can't bear to stay away from the game for long, the 34th annual Goombay Festival will offer outdoor, interactive NBA Basketball entertainment for kids and adults. Official NBA Nation Ambassador and Legend Daryl Dawkins will also be there to sign autographs, answer questions and meet fans. While you're there, be sure to check out the rich history of the festival as it celebrates the American/Bahamian culture of Miami with arts, crafts, food and games from the more than 300 vendors.