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    Coconut Grove: what to see in the Vizcaya Museum district in Miami

    Who I am
    Joel Fulleda
    @joelfulleda
    SOURCES CONSULTED:

    wikipedia.org, lonelyplanet.com

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    Miami shows all its facets to anyone who decides to explore it with interest and curiosity. Today we will talk about Coconut Grove, a nice neighborhood overlooking the bay and facing the island of Key Biscayne. What is the greenest area of ​​the city is also the first city settlement, founded by many Bahamians almost two hundred years ago. Coconut Grove is considered an elegant but also extravagant district, being inhabited mainly by a wealthy class and a few famous people, such as NBA star James LeBron.



    Coconut Grove in a nutshell it is a delightful neighborhood near downtown Miami and Coral Gables, where you can undoubtedly appreciate the view over Biscayne Bay, the quiet corners and the lush nature without neglecting its artistic vein and its lively nonconformist face.

    Index

    • How to reach the neighborhood
    • What to see in Coconut Grove
      • Vizcaya Villa
      • The Barnacle Historic State Park
      • The Kampong – National Tropical Botanical Garden
      • Dinner Key Marina
      • Other architecture in the neighborhood
    • Shopping and activities
    • The most important events
    • Some advice on where to eat
    • Where to sleep in Coconut Grove

    How to reach the neighborhood

    To get to the Coconut Grove neighborhood fromMiami airport (2100 NW 42nd Ave.) allow about 20 minutes, while Miami Downtown is almost around the corner, 10 minutes away. If you do not like to use a rental car - the car is suitable for getting around the neighborhood - you can move around with the city service Metrorail (2780 SW 27th Ave.), accessible in the western part of Coconut Grove: the station of the same name is located at 2880 SW 28th Lane, while the one in the north is called Biscay (3201 SW 1st Avenue). If you want some more advice on how to get around the city you can refer to our article on how to get around Miami.



    What to see in Coconut Grove

    With its tropical oasis feel in the heart of Miami, Coconut Grove is a residential neighborhood with a relaxed atmosphere in which many artists have chosen to live, who have opened their art galleries here. The area, about 15 square kilometers, is bounded by N. Prospect Dr. to the south, to the northwest by S.Le Jeune Road, to the northeast by S. Dixie Hwy. (US1) and the Rickenbacker Causeway . To the east we find Biscayne Bay which is overlooked by villas of considerable visual impact. The heart of Coconut Grove it is located in the area where the Main Hwy and Grand Avenue intersect, but we recommend taking a walk in the neighboring streets and towards the harbor to understand the atmosphere in the neighborhood.

    Vizcaya Villa

    The biggest attraction in Coconut Grove - "The Grove", as the neighborhood is nicknamed - is actually located a little off-center, in the area called Northeast Coconut Grove: we are talking about the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens (3251 S. Miami Ave.) also known as Vizcaya Villa, an incredible historic residence built according to the dictates of the American Renaissance in the Venetian Renaissance style between 1914 and 1922.

    This mansion was designed and used as a winter residence by James Deering (1859-1925), a wealthy American industrialist with a passion for antiquities. The villa, with 34 finely decorated rooms, represents one of the most significant collections of European furniture in the United States. According to Deering's dream, the mansion must have given the impression of having been regularly inhabited in previous centuries.


    The beauty of the interiors as a whole is not everything, because even the exteriors of the property are a must see: labyrinths, stairways, flowery rotundas, fountains with refined architecture, sculptures, hedges with artistic shapes, a very special overlooking the mangrove channel and especially 40.000 square meters of European inspired garden, in particular Italian and French from the 17th and 18th centuries.


    And then gardens of orchids, palms, oaks and Australian pines complete an impeccable picture that also includes a swimming pool north of the main house. One of the most interesting sculptural elements is the barge, an aquatic rock sculpture in the shape of a caravel located in front of the villa, with the function of a breakwater. In front of the David A. Klein Orchidarium you will also find a coffee shop offering South Florida flavors and fine wine. For a souvenir of the visit, you can buy some memorabilia at the gift shop.

    The mansion is open every day from 9.30am to 16.30pm, except Tuesdays, Christmas Day and Thanksgiving. Tickets cost $ 22 for adults, $ 15 for kids between 13 and 17, $ 10 for kids between 6 and 12, and free for younger children. Over 65s pay $ 16.

    Consiglio: the discounted ticket for the Villa Vizcaya is included in the GoMiami Card. If, on the other hand, you want to add a transport and pick-up service from your hotel click on the link below.

    Admission to the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens with hotel pickup


    The Barnacle Historic State Park

    And here we are at the first destination, the most interesting of Central Coconut Grove from a historical and landscape point of view. After parking in one of the surrounding streets (for example Commodore Plaza, where parking is not paid until 10 am), we reach The Barnacle Historic State Park (3485 Main Hwy.), A property built in 1891 in which the splendid villa of Ralph M. Munroe (1851-1933), boat designer, sailor, photographer and commodore of the Biscayne Bay Yatch Club. Inside the Old Florida style house - one of the oldest in all of Miami - many of the furnishings are still original and you can breathe the life of those times. The spacious porch of the house is used as a meeting point and the rocking chairs give a remarkable aesthetic touch.


    Mr. Munroe was above all a naturalist, a man who knew how to appreciate the beauties of creation. The estate is in fact immersed in one luxuriant nature: while the access path to the park winds through tropical vegetation, a nice park where you can walk freely along a paved path, up to the small pier on the sea. Under the central pavilion of the park we find strategic picnic tables and there is nothing more beautiful than having lunch here in such an inviting natural setting. The park is also home to rabbits, woodpeckers, herons, doves, pelicans, cormorants and birds of prey.

    The Barnacle is open daily from the 9 17 (Thursdays until 19pm), except Tuesdays, Christmas Day, Thanksgiving and New Year's Day. The entrance fee is $ 2 from 5 years of age, you must leave the money in a box located at the entrance to the park. Upon reservation, tours of the villa are available at a cost of $ 3 for ages 13 and up and $ 1 for ages 6 to 12. The hours of the guided tours are as follows: 10.00, 11.30, 13.00 and 14.30. A Hidden Gem At 3157 Commodore Plaza is a beautiful historic building: the The Cruz Building. As it is intended for weddings and private parties, the house cannot be visited, however we recommend that you reach it to see the magnificent exteriors, focusing your attention on the wrought iron railings and on the lighted lamps that recall the architecture of New Orleans. An ornamental facade that gives a pretty good idea of ​​the glitz of this venue.

    The Kampong – National Tropical Botanical Garden

    Still in the natural environment, the The Kampong – National Tropical Botanical Garden (4013 S. Douglas Rd.), A botanical garden which in Malay means "village" or "group of houses". The property is home to the doctor David Fairchild (1869-1954), a botanical explorer who traveled through Southeast Asia and other tropical regions, collected exotic plants and introduced some 30.000 to the United States, many of which are found here.

    Other plants include avocado, mango, citrus, palm, fig, bamboo and ylang-ylang in their bright yellow. A Coral Gables botanical garden is also named after Fairchild.

    Upon reservation, you can visit the garden with guided tours lasting one hour, at a cost of $ 20 for adults, $ 15 for ages 62 and up and $ 10 for ages 4 to 12. Also by booking in advance, self-guided tours are available at a cost of $ 15 for adults, $ 15 for ages 62 and up $ 15 and $ 5 for ages 4 to 12. Self-guided tours are available from Wednesday to Saturday from 9am to 15pm, guided tours only on Thursdays and Saturdays at 10am and 12pm.

    Information and a map of the park can be found in the main building of the complex.

    Dinner Key Marina

    Not far from the center of Coconut Grove, along the path on S. Bayshore Drive, we find the signs for the Dinner Key Marina (3400 Pan American Dr.) overlooking the waters of Biscayne Bay just a short distance from the heart of Coconut Grove. It is a well-organized marina that houses nearly 600 boats and has 24-hour security and staff as well as laundry. It is also a docking area for fishing boats and for these reasons it is a photographically scenic place.

    Other architecture in the neighborhood

    If we move west, towards Charles Avenue, the Mediterranean style gives way to the more Caribbean one in line with the first settlers and their descendants. Another interesting architectural example is the Plymouth Congregational Church, at 3400 Devon Rd, built in the style of the Spanish missions: even the sturdy coral rock facade alone is worth a visit.

    Shopping and activities

    A little bit of Shopping can certainly not be missing. The CocoWalk (3015 Grand Ave.) is an inviting open-air shopping mall spread over four floors in the heart of Coconut Grove. Opened in 1990, it alternates shops, restaurants, cafes, cinemas and live entertainment from Thursday to Sunday. Overall in Mediterranean style, part of the shops overlook a paved courtyard that creates a pleasant "square effect". The shopping center is currently under renovation and will only be reopened in 2020. In the immediate vicinity we point out the pedestrian area of Mayfair Mall (2911 Grand Ave.) in the Mayfair in the Grove complex which houses a luxury hotel, shopping, boutique and entertainment.

    For non-classic shopping or just a stroll, we recommend the Midori Gallery Asian Antique (3168 Commodore Plaza): This is a long-standing oriental antiques emporium spread over two floors. It is not a mass of small objects as you often come across: the shop has a strong personality and a beautiful collection of paintings, porcelain, ceramics, sculptures, furniture, fabrics and much more. If you pass by there and have a moment of time, it can be pleasant to visit it regardless of the interest in the type of items because there is a relaxing atmosphere inside.                  

    A really interesting proposal is the one conceived by the local historian Frank Schena, a bicycle enthusiast, who proposes bike tour free in this lush and charming neighborhood, the oldest in the city of Miami. "All in the saddle" every 1st and 3rd Saturday of the month at 9.30 and we return at noon but to find out about all the initiatives it is advisable to write an email to [email protected]

    The most important events

    Attractions, shopping and walks are already taking up our time but there is still another way to appreciate the visit more: combine it with a local event. In February it's time for Coconut Grove Festival in various outdoor locations where visual arts are appreciated (Biscayne Bay), visit the pavilion dedicated to the kitchen (2900 S. Bayshore Dr.), attend musical performances (Peacock Park-2820 McFarlane Rd.) and do activities for the whole family (Regatta Park-2699 SW 27th Ave.). Admission to the event costs $ 15 for adults and $ 5 up to 12.

    Presso il Barnacle Historic State Park (3485 Main Hwy.) in June takes place Cars and Cigars which sees the exhibition of classic and vintage cars complete with voting and final classification. Those of the age to do so can enjoy handmade cigars while appreciating artisanal products also created by children and the presence of live music. During the event you can buy food at the stands in the park or you can bring your own from home. Participation in the event is included in the park entrance fee.

    Every first Saturday evening of the month musicians and artists exhibit their works in boutiques, restaurants, salons and art galleries: all this is the Fashion Art & Music Night, a recurring and much appreciated event. Another very interesting initiative is the yoga lessons free at Peacock Park (2820 McFarlane Rd.) on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 18 to 19 pm, but we also keep in mind the concerts summer along the streets of Coconut Grove.

    Some advice on where to eat


    Da Lulu in the Grove (3105 Commodore Plaza) seasonal dishes with fresh produce and local ingredients are served in a sophisticated atmosphere where it is possible to have an indoor or outdoor table. Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 16 is brunch time while happy hour is from 15 to 17.

    In a beautiful garden or in a light-colored room, you can enjoy aperitifs and dishes from the Peacock Garden Cafè (2889 McFarlane Rd.). The restaurant offers cheeseburgers, fish risotto, cesar salad, grilled asparagus, crab pie, grilled tuna, filet mignon and the Key Lime Pie, the typical Florida cake. The restaurant organizes happy hour from Monday to Friday from 16 to 19 and brunch on the weekend from 9 to 15.30.

    At the Peacock Park you can refresh yourself at Glass and Vine (2820 McFarlane Rd.) With a magnificent view of the lush greenery. The tables are placed both inside and outside the room. The dishes are inspired by Spanish, Italian and Florida cuisine, combining different flavors and using local ingredients. Brunch is offered on weekends.

    Excellent local cuisine and a very varied menu at the Greenstreet Coffee (3468 Main Ave.) where we would happily return to enjoy pancakes.

    Do you love exotic flavors? For authentic Indian cuisine we recommend the Bombay Darbar (2901 Florida Ave.) with pakora, samosas, chicken wings or tandori shrimp served by an efficient and courteous staff. The restaurant also offers take-away service and home delivery.

    Where to sleep in Coconut Grove

    Arya Hotel

    In the Miami area you will be spoiled for choice in terms of accommodation (as you can check by reading our article on where to sleep in Miami), but if you want to stay in the neighborhood, the field narrows considerably with prices that don't drop that much. The Courtyard by Marriott Coconut Grove (2649 S. Bayshore Dr.) is a hotel with sea view rooms and suites and free wi-fi. The hotel features a restaurant, business center, fitness center, heated outdoor pool, and valet parking ($ 30 per day).

    Surrounded by the panorama of Biscayne Bay, theHotel Arya BW Premier Collection (2889 McFarlane Rd.) Has modern rooms and suites with city or bay views and free wi-fi. On the eighth floor there is a lounge, a swimming pool and a panoramic restaurant with Latin American cuisine. The hotel features concierge service, fitness center, business center and valet parking for $ 30 per day. We keep in mind that, always in the same complex, it offers interesting studios, small apartments with private bathroom, equipped kitchen, dishwasher, traditional oven, microwave and coffee machine, all at an affordable price.

    Il Mutiny Luxury Suites Hotel (2951 S. Bayshore Dr.) is a very nice boutique hotel overlooking the Biscayne Bay harbor, from where you can enjoy the sea view. All modern suites have one or two bedrooms. The hotel has a restaurant, sauna, fitness center, business center, laundry service, heated outdoor swimming pool, free wi-fi in the lobby and for a fee in the room.

    Il Residence Inn Miami Coconut Grove (2835 Tigertail Ave.) features spacious suites with full kitchens, balconies, and wi-fi. The hotel offers its customers, free buffet breakfast, fitness center, business services, laundry service and two outdoor swimming pools.

    At an affordable cost, The Hampton Inn (2800 SW 28th Terrace) is strategically located and is recommended for the Coconut Grove, Coral Gables and Miami areas being 15 minutes from South Beach and 10 minutes from Virginia Key Beach Park. Clean rooms, comfortable beds, free breakfast and wi-fi, a swimming pool, gym and computer area are some of the things that make this hotel a great choice.

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