on May 8, 2010
Bayside Marketplace is an airy shopping center right on the edge of a large marina. Many of the stores are the same as the ones in the local upscale malls, but there is a fair amount of kiosks that have individual owners and unique products. The Hard Rock - Miami anchors the south end next to Bayfront Park. Parking is in a covered deck and is self-park or valet. Either way you pay to park.This Island Queen Cruiseline is located waterside in the middle of the shopping area and has one of the best tourist-style cruises that I have been on. The boat was clean and the tour guide gave the information in both English and Spanish since the Miami area is predominantly of Hispanic descent.We were taken past several islands in the channel between Miami and Miami Beach. Most of them are man-made and they are accessed by the MacArthur Causeway. The largest residential one (Fisher Island) is only accessed by boat. A ferry runs to the island several times a day from the terminal off the east end of the MacArthur Causeway.The homes that are on these islands are the reason for this tour. Unfortunately, the boat does not dock along the route, so we could not see any of them "up close and personal". But the view from the water is beautiful and sometimes overwhelming.Some of the homes that were pointed out belong to famous people and others were used in movies. My favorite was the house on Star Island that was used in the movie "Cocoon". It looked so nice with the lush lawn and pool. Several other homes were pointed out on Star, Palm and Hibiscus Isalnds, then it was back to the pier.We then embarked on a bus tour of the Miami/Miami Beach area. The driver here also gave the tour in both English and Spanish. We drive through the Miami area - Coral Gables, Coconut Grove and Little Havana among others. We made a "pit stop" in Little Havana and were able to pick up some hand-rolled cigars as presents. This is the area where the cigar factories are located so there were several places to browse before making our final choices. We also got a free cup of coffee at one of the local shops, but really enjoyed the MickeyD's milkshake more. (The coffee was a bit too strong for my tastes.) The bus wended it's way through some picturesque small streets in the Miami/Miami Beach area before dropping us off back at the Marketplace.The entire tour took several hours and was a great way to spend the day. You don't need to take both the land and water tour - you could choose one or the other, but we opted for both. I'm sure that most children (other than infants and bored teens) would enjoy the water tour the most, and would probably enjoy the land tour since it is in an air-conditioned, nicely cushioned bus.
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