There's nowhere in the U.S. quite like Miami-Dade County. It's larger than Rhode Island, has twice as many people, and is bordered by two national parks. Its 2.5 million residents are among the most diverse in the nation. And they live in a smattering of 34 incorporated cities, which range from 400,000-person metropolises to 86 solitary residents.
But we're not here to celebrate all of those unique statistics. We're here to argue about which of those 34 cities is best. What follows is the definitive ranking of each and every one of those communities.
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34. Florida City
Pros: It's the southernmost U.S. city on mainland territory, so that's something. It's the last stop before the Keys and Everglades National Park.
Cons: Mayor-for-life Otis Wallace might be Miami-Dade's worst politician, and that's saying something. Any federal funding or taxpayer money that's gone Florida City's way has rarely been put toward its intended use. But, then again, when you're called Florida City, you're bound to encompass Florida's worst aspects.
Bottom line: Keep on driving to the Keys or the Glades — nothing to see here.
33. Indian Creek
Pros: Paparazzi heaven! The tiny, superexclusive village counts the Iglesias clan, Adriana Lima, Carl Icahn, and former Dolphins coach Don Shula as residents.
Cons: With only 86 people, Indian Creek exists not so much as a real place but as the kind of spoiled, wealthy enclave that makes everyone think Miami is an elitist paradise. Squabbles like Indian Creek's years-long rift between property owners and the local country club over police budgets don't help that image.
Bottom line: You will never live here and probably won't even visit (the island is closed to the public), but the reality is that without places like Indian Creek, Miami wouldn't quite be Miami. Whether that's a good thing is an open question.
32. Bal Harbour
Pros: Malls so fancy. You already know.
Cons: (1) It's spelled "Harbor," idiots, but then they just made the "Bal" part up completely and like to pretend it means "Bay and Atlantic." Even this city's name is pretentious. (2) The mall stands where a prisoner-of-war camp once stood. (3) The only thing an average person can afford here is the postcard.
Bottom line: A little slice of Palm Beach in Miami-Dade.
Pros: With 1,110 registered industries and just 1,059 human beings wedged into eight square miles near the airport, Medley is one of the only towns in America with more businesses than people.
Cons: How do you feel about heavy industry? Because nearly every square inch of Medley consists of rows of warehouses, freight train depots, and industrial plants.
Bottom line: All business, no play.