Photo Credit: Dykes and the City

Created out of a largely uninhabitable swampland in Florida, Miami is a city that is both miraculous and thoroughly man-made. Its shining tower blocks scrape the sky above a sculpted coastline that attracts millions every year, alongside the tropical weather and glitzy night-life. However, a trendy new district is emerging downtown, the arts scene is on the move and flights to Miami are becoming more affordable all the time, making it more than just a beach holiday destination.

It’s not often Miami is lauded for its heritage, yet the apartments and hotels lining Miami Beach form the world’s largest collection of Art Deco buildings. There are many tours available allowing visitors to appreciate these impressive examples of early 20th century design. Elsewhere, museums like the Bakehouse Art Complex – a working contemporary studio – and the social and historical exhibits at the Wolfsonian are also worth a look.

The chances are that if you’ve come to the ‘Sunshine State’, you’ll probably want to stroll along a beach or two. South Beach is definitely one to be experienced for the famous party atmosphere and unrivalled white sands. Away from the crowds, the Cape Florida State Park is renowned as an area of natural beauty, encompassing quieter bathing spots and a 19th century lighthouse amid the idyllic palm trees.

Miami is bursting with family-oriented attractions. The entertaining Seaquarium hosts exuberant outdoor shows featuring sea turtles, killer whales and dolphins. Due to the warm climate the Metro Zoo boasts a significant collection of Asian and African wildlife and a refreshing approach: there isn’t a cage in sight in this self-proclaimed ‘free-range’ zoo.

Seeing animals in the wild is also possible in the Everglades National Park which owns UNESCO status and one of the most unusual habitats in the US. Just 45 miles out of the city, this sprawling 1.5 million acres of jungle, prairie and swamp can be explored by boat or bicycle as well as the countless hiking opportunities. Amongst the glades and groves, you can catch a glimpse of flamingos, panthers and crocodiles to name just a few.

Nearer to the south is the area known as The Gables, a tranquil mix of wealthy suburbs, upmarket shopping and choice restaurants. There is a strong Mediterranean influence in the architecture thanks to nearby Villa Vizcaya, conceived in 1914 using fragments and decoration from European structures. Touring the estate’s lavish interiors and perusing the surrounding boutique outlets makes for a relaxing break from the downtown throng.

Whatever brings you to Miami, there is a depth here that goes beyond the instant glamour of the South Beach. This eclectic city is surrounded by striking landscapes, has family appeal and a cultural heritage of its own. With flights to Miami now leaving from many major UK airports, there’s a good reason why it welcomes so many eager visitors every year.