THE BLOG

Miami Is Not South Beach

01/16/2014 03:24 pm ET | Updated Mar 18, 2014

Driving in a cab from the airport, it dawned on me that 90 percent of tourists who visit Miami never really visit Miami -- they only visit South Beach -- and South Beach is not Miami.

These people zip by the flashing billboards near Downtown and before they know it, they're on a causeway to the beach, and they stay there, unless they're going on a cruise. It's frustrating to 90 percent of Miamians that we are perceived as South Beach. You hear it all the time in the national media, whether it's from entitled New Yorkers trying to define us during Art Basel, or the sports media talking about the Heat and South Beach. LeBron James is totally guilty of this crime: "I'm taking my talents to South Beach," he once infamously declared. Let me say this again with clarity: Miami is not South Beach.

Stop saying it.

Stop showing images of Ocean Drive when covering a football or basketball game. The national media appear clueless as to our real identity. Most of us hate South Beach -- well, maybe hate's too strong a word, but for the most part, it's not our favorite part of town.

Miami is the Downtown corridor; Miami is Allapattah, Overtown, Wynwood, Edgewater; Miami is Little Havana, Little Haiti, Brickell, Coconut Grove; Miami is Opa Locka, El Portal, Coral Gables, Key Biscayne. This is where you will smell Miami's multicultural sweat; where you will taste our flavors and see how beautiful and bright we actually are. Most residents of Miami go to South Beach less than five times a year, if that.

This rhetoric needs to be toned down a little.

South Beach is redeemable. Obviously the ocean is beautiful. Lincoln Road and the New World Center are precious. And there are tons of little nooks and beautiful crannies in the form of bars and restaurants and retail splattered throughout the area.

The problem lies in identifying our Magic City. We are so much more than South Beach. We are so much better than just South Beach. We are Miami. We know who we are.

Miami strong.