Miami: Downtown

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SEE Bayfront Park
301 N. Biscayne Blvd., 305/358-7550,
A generous waterfront green space, dotted with sculptures and large, leafy trees as well as wide benches where you can rest a while and watch the boats in the harbor. Isamu Noguchi's moody, white, geometric memorial to the 1986 Challenger disaster is at its southern end, and the controversial Torch of Friendship is to the north of the park, on Biscayne Blvd. It's a visual emblem for Cuba's political isolation: There are coats of arms from every Latin American country showcased here alphabetically, with a telling gap where the insignia of Castro's country should sit.

SEE Freedom Tower
600 Biscayne Blvd., 305/416-4456,
Miami's answer to Ellis Island, this Mediterranean revival replica of the striped Giralda Tower at the Seville Cathedral in Spain (the same one used as a model for the Biltmore Hotel-see "Coral Gables") served as an immigration processing post and community center for the more than 650,000 Cuban refugees who arrived between 1961 and 1974. There's no public access to the interior now, though, as the building is earmarked for development; even so, it's an irresistible, iconic photo op.

SEE Miami Art Museum
101 W. Flagler St., 305/375-3000,
A remarkable collection of postwar art, accessibly and intelligently curated in a building designed by architectural icon Philip Johnson. Look for surrealist works from Marcel Duchamp and conceptual art by the late Cuban-American artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres, including a stack of paper intended to look like sculpture. (Help yourself to one of the sheets.) The museum also hosts temporary exhibits. $5, free every Sunday and the second Saturday of each month. Closed Mon.

EAT Garcia's Seafood Grille
398 NW N. River Dr., 305/375-0765
Join the Customs guys at this riverside fish café. It's bustling and efficient, with a small counter in the front and racks of waterfront picnic tables out back. Look for specials on the blackboard, or try the lemon-grilled grouper.

EAT La Paris
251 SE 2nd St., 305/371-5181
One of downtown's better divey Cuban diners. Try a pressed pork sandwich for $5 and, of course, a thimbleful of toxically sweet café cubano. The counter seating is limited, but the turnover is fast.

EAT Mosaico
1000 S. Miami Ave., 305/371-3473,
An upscale Spanish restaurant in a former firehouse. Some nights the huge wooden patio is open for dinner as well as drinks. Opt for the soupy arroz caldoso (lobster risotto).

DRINK The Pawn Shop Lounge
1222 NE 2nd Ave., 305/373-3511,
A massive pawnshop converted into a bar (the exterior is unchanged). Inside, it's decked out in a trippy, postmodern style. Somehow there's room for a school bus inside the bar. Cover from $15.

DRINK Tobacco Road
626 S. Miami Ave., 305/374-1198,
Gritty and fun, and Miami's first bar (it holds the oldest liquor license still in circulation). Two stages host mostly jazz and rock; the menu is burgers and basics. Free weekdays; Fri. and Sat. $5 for cabaret upstairs.

30 NE 14th St., 305/358-8007,
Club-cum-music venue known for its vast selection of dance, indie rock, punk, and pop music. There's a large bar with cheap drinks and an outdoor garden; the main space features live bands every night at 11 p.m. Free-$15.

PLAY Nocturnal
50 NE 11 St., 305/576-6996,
A high-tech nightclub where waiters carry gizmos that not only summon a bottle to your table wirelessly, but can also ask the valet to prepare your car so that it's already waiting by the time you get downstairs. There are several dance floors, as well as a dreamy roof deck with dazzling city views. From $20.

PLAY Olympia Theater
Gusman Center for the Performing Arts, 174 E. Flagler St., 305/374-2444,
Beautifully renovated vintage performance space home to an eclectic program: classical music, dance, and touring productions. One of its hits: Sing-a-Long Sound of Music. From $30.

Española Way Picturesque Hispanic crafts market, lined by shops, restaurants, and galleries. Between Drexel and Washington aves., 305/531-0038. Open Sat., 10 a.m.-midnight, and Sun., 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Also open Fri., 7 p.m.-midnight from Nov. to July. For sangria and live music, Tapas & Tintos (448 Española Way, 305/538-8272).

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