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Transcript: Miami Vacations

Mark Ellwood answered your questions February 17, 2004

Always wanted to vacation in Miami but never knew where to see or do?

Mark answered your questions on Tuesday, February 17, at noon EST.

Read the transcript below.

Mark Ellwood has lived out of a suitcase for most of his life. After finishing university in England, he spent several years as tour director leading art tours around cities like Florence, Rome and Paris. He then joined the Rough Guides team and left garlic and Gallic passion behind, moving across the Atlantic to America. Since then, he's zigzagged around the country, researching destinations as diverse as Key West and Niagara Falls; but has always loved Miami for its weather, nightlife and Cuban coffee.

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Mark Ellwood: Hi Mark Ellwood here - thanks for joining me. I'm a travel writer, who specializes in Miami and am here to answer as many of your questions as I can over the next hour.

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Manchester, NH: I will be taking in a long weekend in Miami Beach soon with my wife (we're newlyweds). Where can I catch good "Broadway style" shows in the Miami area?

Mark Ellwood: The best place for shows in Miami is actually on the mainland, in Coral Gables. The Actors Playhouse in Coral Gables is a top notch theater, where a lot of Broadway shows try out -- the current revival of Little Shop of Horrors was workshopped there last spring.

Otherwise, the Coconut Grove playhouse has some good plays, though if you're looking for spectacle stick to Coral Gables - the building's also astonishing.

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Teaneck, NJ: There's a restaurant in Miami that I am curious about. The restaurant has beds as tables and couples are served their dinner in bed by candlelight. It's supposed to be very trendy and there was also a plan to have a similar kind of restaurant in NYC. Do you know what the name of the restaurant is? I have friends that are flying to Miami in April and would like to suggest that restaurant to her. Many thanks.

Mark Ellwood: The restaurant's called B.E.D. - it stands for Beverage, Entertainment & Dining, and is on Washington Avenue. It's certainly great fun, especially on Wednesday nights when the uber promoter Michael Capponi hosts a night there. There are two seatings (or lyings, I suppose) each night: as a tip, book into the later one.

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Anonymous: I was thinking of taking in a few days of warm sun and have chosen Miami. I want a hotel on the beach that is at least "average" in amenities (if not higher-end) and I don't want to break the bank. Is there a steal on the beach?

Mark Ellwood: Absolutely. There are two gems there that are reasonably priced, staffed by happy, helpful people and super groovy. The Townhouse on 20th St is owned and run by Jonathan Morr, the restauranteur & nightlife maven from New York; it's all white, with smallish rooms & no pool, but the rooftop terrace has a bar & huge bright red waterbeds where you can sunbathe. Prices can be as low as $99 per room. Otherwise, check The Albion: Jennifer Rubell is one of the beach's nicest movers & shakers, and she owns this place. It's designed in a nautical deco style, like a ship, and has a huge pool with portholes on the side which you can see swimmers through. Rates are usually around $150 there.

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Brooklyn, NY: Mark, Every time I try to find a bookstore in Miami Beach, the locals look at me like I'm crazy. I love Miami but find the lack of culture (outside of nightclubs) to be a little tiresome after a while. Can you suggest some museums or art galleries or bookstores? Signed, Not Ashamed to be Brainy

Mark Ellwood: It's fair to say that Miami isn't a place for bookworms, or for that matter, anyone who wants to hole up in museums. But there are options: at the beach, you can pick up a used paperback at Kafka's Kafe on 14th & Washington or there's a small selection at the News cafe on 8th & Ocean. Otherwise, head to Lincoln Road for Books & Books, a smallish satellite branch of the main outlet in Coral Gables.

My favorite museum in town is the Miami Art Museum which is just by the bus station downtown: its selection of modern art is stunning & very smartly curated - some lovely conceptual pieces from the Cuban artist Felix Gonzales-Torres especially.

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Denver, CO: I'm gay (and hoping my partner of ten years and I can get married someday soon). So, where's the gay nightlife in Miami? South Beach?

Mark Ellwood: Miami's gay nightlife is shifting - in fact, some of the long-term club owners have headed up the coast to Fort Lauderdale, which now has quite a buzzy gay scene. Stalwarts include Twist on Washington Ave, which has about 6 rooms and lots of different music/bars or the Laundry Bar on Lincoln Lane just north of Lincoln Road, which is mixed but great fun (the name comes from the working washing machines there). I think another gem is the Magnum Lounge on the mainland, 79th street or so, which is lush, kitschy piano bar/restaurant where you can sing along with the pianists most nights.

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