Back at the hotel, the kids plug into their iPods, which are better than the hotel's windows at shutting out the noise of the never-ending motorcycle traffic and car-stereo bass rumblings booming up and down Collins. Michelle and I sneak over to D'Vine Cyber Lounge, which bills itself as the only wireless cyber-lounge in South Beach, to check our e-mail. We sip a special Spanish wine cooler called calimocho (a light blend of red wine, sugar, and lemon), a delicious purchase that allows us free use of the wireless service.
For dinner, we join a bevy of locals at David's Cafe II, a 24-hour takeout near the hotel. Regulars - from cabbies who stop at the curb to workers finding their way home - come and go, a woman behind the counter fixing them bittersweet Cuban coffees with a minimum exchange of words. We grab our bag of Cuban sandwiches and enjoy them perched in our hotel courtyard, watching the daily circus go by.
After dinner, we slip out onto Ocean Drive and into a snaking crowd. While the Cuban influence here is still dominant, today's Miami moves to a Latin-Anglo-European-Asian fusion. We squeeze past sunburned tourists and women in gauzy, sequined camisoles. Lights blink from palm trees, music blasts from clubs. We are part of the show now, but the kids are wearing down. So we make tracks for the Essex.
An uncommonly mild Sunday morning bodes well for a visit to the every-other-weekend Lincoln Road Antiques & Collectibles Market, a smorgasbord of 80-plus dealers peddling everything from armoires to vintage cat-eye reading glasses.
We arrive early to snag a street meter, avoiding more expensive public-lot charges; $2 buys us two hours of strolling time.
As vendors pull out their rumba costumes, wrought iron peacocks, fur stoles, and mah-jongg sets, we wander through the stalls stretching along South Beach's famous Lincoln Road pedestrian mall. For 50 cents, Hunter surfaces with a Hunter Mountain Ski Bowl pin and Maddy grabs an old 19th Amendment suffragette button. A belt buckle with a tiny working roulette wheel in the center fascinates Hunter. Michelle considers a bracelet made of large green dice but decides it costs too much.