South Florida -- and Florida in general -- is an author's dream come true. In this state of much diversity (read: bizarre characters, to say the least), inspiration is practically hanging from the palm trees.

Fiction

  • The Perez Family (W. W. Norton & Co. Inc.) by Christine Bell -- Cuban immigrants from the Mariel Boatlift exchange their talents for an immigration deal in Miami (also a 1995 movie by Mira Nair).
  • Miami, It's Murder (Avon) by Edna Buchannan -- Miami's Agatha Christie keeps you in suspense with her reporter protagonist and her life as an investigative crime solver in Miami.
  • To Have and Have Not (Scribner) by Ernest Hemingway -- One of the many must-reads by Key West's most famous resident.
  • In Cuba I Was a German Shepherd (Grove Press), by Ana Menendez -- Stories of people who gather in Little Havana to lament the loss of the good old days.
  • Naked Came the Manatee (Ballantine Books) by Carl Hiassen -- Thirteen Miami Herald writers contributed to this hilarious story about the discovery of Castro's head.
  • Killing Mister Watson (Vintage Books USA) by Peter Matthiessen -- A fascinating story about the settlement of the Everglades and the problems that ensued.
  • The Yearling (Collier MacMillan Publishers) by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings -- A classic about life in the Florida backwoods.
  • Seraph on the Suwanee (Harper Perennial) by Zora Neale Hurston -- A novel about turn-of-the-century Florida "white crackers."
  • Nine Florida Stories (University Press of Florida) by Marjory Stoneman Douglas -- The beloved Florida naturalist's fictional take on Florida, set in a scattering of settings -- Miami, Fort Lauderdale, the Tamiami Trail, the Keys, the Everglades -- and revealing the drama of hurricanes and plane crashes, of kidnappers, escaped convicts, and smugglers.
  • Rum Punch (Harper Torch), by Elmore Leonard -- The story of a stewardess, bail bondsman, and gun runner in Palm Beach County.
  • Swim to Me (Algonquin Books) by Betsy Carter -- A wacky novel set in Weeki Wachee about a shy teenager who finds her purpose at the mermaid-happy theme park.
  • Tourist Season (Warner Books), by Carl Hiaasen -- Hiaasen is at his darkest, funniest, and finest in this book about a newspaper columnist who kills off tourists on a quest to return Florida to its long gone, unfettered, pristine state.
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Nonfiction

  • Fool's Paradise: Players, Poseurs and the Culture of Excess in South Beach (Crown), by Steven Gaines -- A New Yorker's love/hate take on America's alleged Riviera.
  • Miami Babylon: Crime, Wealth and Power -- A Dispatch from the Beach (Simon & Schuster), by Gerald Posner -- The name says it all about this investigative look at the sybaritic paradise that is Miami.
  • Miami (Vintage) by Joan Didion -- An intriguing compilation of impressions of the Magic City.
  • Miami, the Magic City (Centennial Press) by Arva Moore Parks -- An authoritative history of the city.
  • The Everglades: River of Grass (Pineapple Press) by Marjory Stoneman Douglas -- Eco-maniacs will love this personal account of the treasures of Florida's most famous natural resource.
  • Celebration USA: Living in Disney's Brave New Town (Holt Paperbacks) by Douglas Frantz and Catherine Collins -- An eye-opening true story about living in Disney's "model town."

Movies Filmed in Florida

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  • Clarence Brown's The Yearling (1946) based on novel by M.K. Rawlings
  • John Huston's Key Largo (1948) based on novel by Hemingway (gangsters, hurricanes, and Bogey and Bacall)
  • Harry Levin's Where the Boys Are (1960) (spring break in Fort Lauderdale)
  • John Schlesinger's Midnight Cowboy (1969) based on novel by James Leo Herlihy
  • Ernest Lehman's Portnoy's Complaint (1972) based on novel by Philip Roth (Jewish culture)
  • Lawrence Kasdan's Body Heat (1981) (crime)
  • Ron Howard's Cocoon (1985) based on novel by David Saperstein (retirees)
  • Tim Burton's Edward Scissorhands (1990) (modern fairy tale filmed in Dade City and Lakeland)
  • Mike Nichols' Birdcage (1996) (South Beach comedy)
  • Andrew Bergman's Striptease (1996) based on novel by Carl Hiassen
  • John Singleton's Rosewood (1997) based on historic Rosewood massacre (African-American culture)
  • Victor Nunez's Ulee's Gold (1997) (Panhandle family drama)
  • Peter Weir's The Truman Show (1998) (sci-fi in Seaside)
  • Spike Jonze's Adaptation (2002) loosely based on Susan Orleans' The Orchid Thief
  • Patty Jenkins' Monster (2003) biopic of serial killer Aileen Wournos
  • Taylor Hackford's Ray (2004) biopic of musician Ray Charles, born in Florida
  • David Frankel's Marley & Me (2008) based on the best selling novel of the same name by a former Fort Lauderdale Sun Sentinel reporter
  • Jason Reitman's Up in the Air (2009) starring George Clooney as a frequent flyer who comes through MIA and the Miami Airport Hilton

Music of South Florida

The Miami recording industry did not begin with Gloria Estefan's Miami Sound Machine, contrary to popular belief. In fact, some major rock albums were recorded in Miami's Criteria Studios. Among them: Rumours by Fleetwood Mac and Hotel California by The Eagles. Long-time local music entrepreneur Henry Stone and his label, TK Records, created the local indie scene in the 1970s. TK Records produced the R&B group KC and the Sunshine Band along with soul singers Betty Wright, George McCrae, and Jimmy "Bo" Horne, as well as a number of minor soul and disco hits, many influenced by Caribbean music. In the 2000s, Miami has seen an enormous rap boom in the form of Daddy Yankee, Pitbull, Rick Ross, and more.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.