Typically we head to the port cities the day before our cruise sets sail, just in case there are travel problems on one end or the other. This time, though, due to airfare costs and the fact that we were heading out of Miami, we decided to go down two days early. Of course, it was Spring Break, so why not go to South Beach! The fun thing was that we surprised Madeline for her “45th” birthday when my sister Sandi and her family joined us. We were within walking distance of anything we needed to be, and we took a tour to the Everglades.



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Miami Beach’s South Beach is interesting to say the least. Spring Break definitely brought out the beautiful (and sometimes the not so beautiful), the playful, and even the Immigration Service looking for aliens.

We stayed at Marriott’s Autograph Collection Winter Haven in the Art Deco area of Miami Beach (above right). It’s a boutique hotel on Ocean Blvd. and we had an ocean view room on the top floor with an interesting bathroom arrangement (left). Meanwhile, the girls had their own private balcony (right). Outside their balcony was another balcony for everyone on the top floor (below).

South Beach was bustling with people. The sand was great, the sunrises were nice, and the water felt wonderful. It was a perfect start to a vacation after leaving a harsh Chicago winter behind.

The Art Deco area is full of outdoor restaurants, shops, and multi-colored hotels at night. We ate Cuban food one night and a burger joint the next.

We did an Everglades tour while in Miami Beach. A bus picked us up at the hotel, took us out to the park, and we rode an airboat over the swamp. We saw baby alligators, adult ones, herons, egrets, and the colorful purple Gallinule bird

After the airboat ride, we saw an alligator show and even got to hold a little one.

What we saw back in Chicago was a whole different picture