North Miami Beach
Between Fort Lauderdale and Miami Beach, Hwy-A1A runs along the shore, first as Ocean Drive and later as Collins Avenue, while US-1 runs inland parallel to (and sometimes as) the old Dixie Highway. There’s nothing here to compare with the attractions farther south, but the town of North Miami Beach does have one oddity: the Ancient Spanish Monastery (16711 W. Dixie Hwy., 305/945-1461, hours vary, $8), a 12th-century monastery bought in the 1920s by William Randolph Hearst, who had it dismantled and shipped to the United States for his Hearst Castle complex in California. However, after U.S. Customs confiscated the stones, and Hearst lost his fortune in the Great Depression, the monastery was finally rebuilt here in Florida—as an Episcopal church.
On the coast, Hwy-A1A runs past a number of indistinct beach towns before hitting Bal Harbour, home to one of Miami’s biggest and best shopping malls, and one of its biggest beaches, Haulover Beach. Besides having a café, lots of tennis courts, and gorgeous sands, Haulover Beach is also famous for attracting the clothing-optional crowd.
From Haulover Beach south to Miami Beach, Collins Avenue (Hwy-A1A) used to be known as “Millionaire’s Row” for all the huge estates here. Now the road is lined with towering concrete condos and hotels, including the landmark Morris Lapidus-designed complex of the Fontainebleau (4441 Collins Ave., 305/538-2000, $359 and up). It’s been the setting for several movies: Jerry Lewis filmed The Bellboy here in 1959; Sean Connery checked in as James Bond, most famously in the film Goldfinger; and Al Pacino hung out by the pool in the quintessential 1980s Miami movie, Scarface.