The Art Deco District of Miami, with its candy-coloured buildings and curvilinear architectural flourishes, its ocean-liner railings and portholes, is not so much a dense strip of fashionable shops, open-air restaurants and hotels but a fanciful time machine. A trip here is both a trip back in time as well as a visit to America’s future. Each one of these named buildings, from the Clevelander to the Tides Hotel, was erected between 1923 and 1943, and their diligent restoration in recent years allows a view of what glamour and wealth was like in America then: jazz and tall, fat automobile tail fins; tasteful pink and yellow walls and a wet, tropical heat pregnant with possibilities. The Deco District also looks forward, if not to the United States’ exact future, then at least one lingering possibility. Outside of NYC there are few places in the US as diverse as these few blocks just beside the Atlantic Ocean. Take away all the tourists and you would still be left with hundreds of Cubans, Haitians, Colombians, Nigerians, Brazilians and Israelis, the stray European fashion designer planting a paisley flag on what was once and remains the American Riviera. It goes without saying that it helps to be rich here (or, barring that, very, very beautiful and fit), but the beaches are free and the front doors of those whimsical deco-style buildings are always open and inviting. But a towel for the sand and an attentive eye for the details of buildings, of giant courtyards with amoeba-shaped pools, are all you need to be transported.