Things To Do

Art Deco Weekend Events

As part of Art Deco Weekend, the Miami Design Preservation League is offering two unique events this weekend: a walking tour with a focus on the mobster underworld of the era and a pub crawl through three Art Deco hotel bars.

“We do our best to keep things from being dry,” said John Bachay, a volunteer tour guide who last year started the “Cocktails With a Twist” pub crawl.

Bachay and Susan Fernandez have set up a two-hour tour for a group that will bounce from bars at The Betsy, The Clevelander and The Hotel, where a rooftop bar will set the scene for a lesson in the preservation efforts of developer Tony Goldman.

Bachay said a speaker from each venue is lined up to give a unique and personal perspective on the history and design of each hotel.

“Sometimes it’s really good and they tell stories about colorful people, politicians or mobsters,” Bachay said.

Mobster stories are guaranteed on the Underworld Tour, guided by Jeff Donnelly and Mat Ruiz. Ruiz, who has been leading the tour for five years, said much of what he talks about isn’t in the tour guide books.

“This is where all the gangsters came during vacation,” Ruiz said. “We had all the crime families, from Chicago, to Philadelphia, to New York. They all came down here to get a piece of the pie and everybody knew they weren’t going to get arrested.”

Among the players Ruiz talks about is Al Capone, who made his home on Palm Island and, according to rumors, used to gamble frequently in a second-story casino above what is now Club Mansion. He also talks about prohibition – or the lack thereof – during the tour.



The guided walking tours during Art Deco Weekend are a great way to get a look at the National Register Historic District, its architecture and its history. Tours are led by local architects, preservationists and historians and last approximately 90 minutes. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for seniors and children under 12 are free.

Tickets are available at the MDPL Tour Booth in front of the Art Deco Welcome Center at 10th Street and Ocean Drive at the following times:  Fri, Jan 15, 11:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sat, Jan 16, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.; Sun, Jan 17, 9:30 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Tour times are subject to change, so check when purchasing tickets. 

Except as noted below, all tours begin at the Tour Booth.


Discover the architectural styles found within the Miami Beach Architectural Historic District.  Tour takes you through hotels, restaurants and other commercial structures, both inside and outside.             


Fri, Jan 15 – Noon, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 pm

Sat, Jan 16 – 10, 10:30, 11 am, Noon, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 pm

Sun, Jan 17 – 10, 10:30, 11 am, Noon, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 pm




Sat, Jan 16 – 4 pm

Sun, Jan 17 – 2 pm


Explore the Art Deco District through the lens of organized crime and other infamous acts.


Sat, Jan 16 – 1 pm

Sun, Jan 17 – 1 pm


Discover the neighborhood around Collins Park, from the grand Collins Avenue hotels to MiMo apartment buildings to the Bass Museum.  Tour departs from the lobby of the National Hotel, 1677 Collins Ave.   


Sat, Jan 16 – 11 am

Sun, Jan 17 – 11 am


Learn about the early history of Miami Beach, when Carl Fisher’s Lincoln Road was “the Fifth Avenue of the South.”  Tour departs from Starbucks, 420 Lincoln Road, just west of Washington Ave.


Sat, Jan 16 – Noon

Sun, Jan 17 – Noon



Take a traditional “pub crawl”, add some surprise performances and shake with commentary covering history and architecture.  Each of the stops features a special event and the opportunity to sample distinctive cocktails.  (Beverages not included in the price of the tour.)


Sat, Jan 16 – 5 pm


All films screened in the Ocean Auditorium, 1001 Ocean Dr.

Admission is free


Friday, Jan. 15

5 p.m.

Road to Rio

Directed by Norman Z. McLeod, 1947, 100 mins

The maddest merriest Bob Hope “road” picture of them all. Scat Sweeney, and Hot Lips Barton (Bing Crosby and Bob Hope), two out of work musicians, stow away on board a Rio bound ship, after accidentally setting fire to the big top of a circus. They befriend Lucia (Dorothy Lamour) and the antics begin. Though she unexpectedly turns them over to the ship’s captain, the boys help her to extricate herself from an impending marriage of convenience. When the ship reaches Rio, the boys turn up at the ceremony in order to stop the wedding and to help catch the crooks.


7 p.m.

O Brother, Where Art Thou

Directed by Joel Coen, 2000, 1hr 43 mins.

Loosely based on Homer’s ‘Odyssey’ the movie follows with the adventures of Everett Ulysses McGill (George Clooney) and his companions Delmar and Pete in 1930’s Mississippi. Sprung from a chain gang and trying to reach Everett’s home to recover the buried loot of a bank heist they are confronted by a series of characters. Among them sirens, a cyclops, bank robber George ‘Babyface’ Nelson, scheming politicians, a KKK lynch mob, and a blind prophet, who warns the trio that “the treasure you seek shall not be the treasure you find.”

Sunday, Jan. 17

2 p.m.

Paper Moon

Directed by Peter Bogdanovich, 1973, 1hr 54 min

Moses Pray (Ryan O’Neal) is a happy-go-lucky con man traveling throughout the Midwest during the Great Depression, conning widows into buying Bibles. Stopping in a small town for a friend’s funeral, he is persuaded to deliver the deceased’s precocious 10-year-old daughter, Addie Loggins (Tatum O’Neal), to her aunt’s home. The resemblance between Moses and Addie–who never knew her father–is uncanny, and the two are soon acting like father and daughter as they travel the back roads of heartland America. The film was nominated for four Academy Awards, including Best Screenplay; both Kahn and the 11-year-old O’Neal were nominated for Best Supporting Actress, which O’Neal won.


4:30 p.m.

It Happened One Night

Directed by Frank Capra, 1934, 3 hrs 35 min.

The escapist theme of the film, appropriate during the Depression Era, is the unlikely romantic pairing of a mis-matched couple – a gruff and indifferent, newspaper man (Clark Gable) and a snobbish heiress (Claudette Colbert) – a runaway on the lam. It is a tale with light-hearted sex appeal in which courtship and love triumph over class conflicts, socio-economic differences, and verbal battles of wit. Considered one of the pioneering “screwball” romantic comedies of its time, the madcap film from Columbia Studios was an unexpected runaway hit, winning all five of its nominated categories: Best Picture, Best Actor (Clark Gable), Best Actress (Claudette Colbert), Best Director (Frank Capra), and Best Adaptation (Robert Riskin).


All lectures are free to the public and take place at the Wolfsonian-FIU Museum, 1001 Washington Ave., Miami Beach

Thursday, Jan 14

7 p.m.


Art Deco and British Car Design- The Airline Cars of the 1930’s

Speaker: Barrie Down

Saturday, Jan 16

12:30 p.m.

Art Deco/Car Deco

Speaker: Kenneth Kurtz

2 p.m.

On the Road to Sobe

Speaker: Ira Shapiro

3:30 p.m.

The Mimo Historic Architectural District

Speaker: Alan Shulman

4:30 p.m.

30 Years Later: Historic Preservation and the Art Deco District

Speaker: Chris Delaporte


Sunday, Jan. 17

12:30 p.m.

Auto Restoration: How does the transformation occur?

Speaker: Mel Mann