Greater Miami and its surrounding areas give tourists and natives alike a wide variety of character and identity especially in its neighborhoods. People around the nation look to Miami as a playground to escape the routines of their daily life to spend a week soaking in sun and seeing the sights. The colors and feel of Miami show its past and its future.

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BrickellWhen it gets to twilight after a long work day in the Brickell area, the lights turn on at the various restaurants and large buildings and they grow brighter as night falls. A tourist or a native can find elegant restaurants with gourmet chefs making dishes that are worth the cost and cocktails that will titillate the taste buds. Take a walk down the rural-like South Miami Avenue to have a light lunch at Perricone’s Marketplace  and return later to Brickell Village and listen to jazz music at the Blue Martini. Go to Miami’s oldest standing bar, Tobacco Road, for good times and live music or eat at stylish, high-class restaurants like Fratelli Milano or Zuma. The lit, large sidewalks give friends, couples and women the safe feeling that this area is comfortable and safe to return to again and again.

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Midtown MiamiMidtown is quickly eclipsing Miami Beach/Lincoln Road as a daytime and nightlife spot with the beach’s recent police and Urban Beach Week problems coupled with the attraction of the artists’ community in the Design District. There are lit sidewalks surrounding shopping centers, art galleries and nightclubs to attend and enjoy with friends and family. Walk around the Wynwood Walls  and feel the humanity of the artists’ creations or walk through a time warp to the Prohibition Restaurant & Speakeasy.

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DowntownMiami has always suffered the identity of an in-between medium to a big city because of the lack of a nightlife in its downtown area. It becomes a kind of ghost town after six o’clock when all of the professionals go out west, but no more. Starting with the clubs, downtown attracts tourists and natives alike to sit and have a cocktail by the bay (Bayside) or dance until the sun rises (Bongos). Its restaurants rival those of any other big city (San Francisco, New York, Chicago) and it is a place to “see and be seen.” The variety of dining selections (Sparky’s Roadside BBQ, neMesis Bistro, Elwood’s Gastro Pub) and entertainment (Avenue D, Club Space, E11EVEN Miami) keep people around until six the next morning.

Related: Top Dance Clubs In South Florida

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Coconut GroveWith its important role in Miami’s founding, Coconut Grove’s lush vegetation gives tourists and natives a change from the concrete and steel of downtown and midtown. Eating at local restaurants (Jaguar) or drinking at Sandbar Grill gives a similar feel to enjoying the nightlife on a Caribbean island. The wide sidewalks and main concourse of Main Highway and Grand Avenue give off opportunities for memorable pictures. See the oldest house in Miami at the Barnacle Historic State Park and enjoy the atmosphere of the Green Street Cafe at lunch time. Drink wine and find love again during happy hour and walk down to the Historic City Hall which was once the departure gate for PanAm Airways sea planes.

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Coral GablesIt is called “The City Beautiful.” Its Spanish influence with streets such as Segovia, Alhambra, Giralda, Aragon and Ponce De Leon stand out the most and its dining is second to none. Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Caffe Vialetto, Eating House Miami  and Caffe Abbracci  are within walking distance of one another. The beautiful, remade Biltmore Hotel  is nearby with a pool that reminds people of the lush 1920s era.

Related: Top Art Museums In Miami

Eric L Labrador is a freelance writer covering all things Miami. His work can be found on Examiner.com.