MIAMI -- I have often said that I think Miami is America's sexiest city. The sun-kissed metropolis is the United States' answer to jet-setting hot spots from Monte Carlo to Marrakesh.
There's South Beach and its continuous parade of socialites and stars, models and millionaires, who make Ocean Drive pulse with activity 24/7.
There's upscale Coconut Grove, hugging Biscayne Bay, with its European-style sidewalk cafes and chic boutiques. There's Coral Gables, with its tree-lined boulevards choca-block with Mediterranean-style mansions. Well, you get the idea.
But before you get another idea that Miami is all style and no substance, I want you to know that this sexy metropolis has a serious side as well. I found out just how serious on a recent visit.
A MUSEUM LIKE NO OTHER
OK, raise your hand if you think the prospect of spending half a day at a science museum isn't exactly what you had planned for your vacation. Those of you with your hands in the air probably haven't had an opportunity to visit the Phillip and Patricia Frost Museum of Science.
Opened just last May in downtown Miami's Museum Park, the 250,000-square-foot structure is a combination science museum, aquarium and planetarium, all under one architecturally eye-popping glass roof with incomparable views of the city.
Some may find the ticket price a bit steep -- $29 for adults and $20 for children ages 3 to 11. But considering that with that price, you get one ticket good for what is essentially three different experiences, I think it's a bargain.
Start off your visit with the three-level aquarium, taking a trip from the surface view of Florida's waters to the depths of its seas.
The top level, Vista, is a journey through South Florida's watery eco-systems -- from mangrove swamps and the Everglades to the Gulf Stream. Giant clear tanks put you face to face with all manner of aquatic creatures, from hammerhead sharks to large turtles.