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Best Hidden Neighborhood Miami 2001 - El Portal

This tiny, bucolic slice of South Florida, incorporated as a city in 1937 and sandwiched between the cities of Miami and Miami Shores west of Biscayne Boulevard at NE 86th Street, almost feels like a hippie commune in Vermont. Dogs roam freely, people actually sit on their porches. But the lush subtropical foliage (a sanctuary for birds, according to a sign greeting visitors at 86th Street) brings you back to Miami. Something else unique to South Florida that connects this charming village to the past: Along the edge of the Little River canal, on NE Fourth Avenue Road, you'll find a Tequesta Indian habitation mound. A tablet erected in 1949 in honor of the natives marks the spot. Directly in front of it is a grassy patch of land overflowing with plants and trees for all to enjoy. But it's the neighborhood's ungentrified feel and a varied and colorful array of residential architectural styles -- from English Tudor to Spanish Mediterranean -- that give this city of 2000 residents its real charm.

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