Coral Gables Visitors Guide
Just south of downtown Miami lays beautiful Coral Gables, or simply “The Gables” as it’s known to natives. This planned section of town is an oasis of quiet stately homes and upscale shopping and restaurants in the heart of Miami. If you’re tired of South Beach and the downtown scene and are looking for some classy fun, take a trip to the Gables. The City is home to many historic landmarks as well as 22 parks, 33 public tennis courts, two public golf courses, and other first-class recreation amenities. Among them: the largest tropical botanical garden in the continental United States, a spring-fed grotto swimming pool made of native coral rock with underwater caves, tree-lined bike paths and walking trails, and more.
Consider Coral Gables, The City Beautiful, your premier tourist destination.
The City is home to many historic landmarks as well as 22 parks, 33 public tennis courts, two public golf courses, and other first-class recreation amenities. Among them: the largest tropical botanical garden in the continental United States, a spring-fed grotto swimming pool made of native coral rock with underwater caves, tree-lined bike paths and walking trails, and more.
In the past three decades, the City has experienced healthy growth, which has bolstered the economic base. Today, Coral Gables is home to 175 multinationals, 26 consulates and trade offices and more than 30 fine art galleries. It is also known as the Fine Dining Capital of South Florida and has the highest concentration of live theater in Miami-Dade County. Growth in the commercial sector has brought a wealth of new activities for residents, including nighttime entertainment, live music, casual and fine dining, and new retail options. It has also helped maintain low property taxes. At the same time, the residential areas have remained protected from commercial intrusion.
The City supports both the residential and business sectors with excellent City services, having attained the highest possible standards in every field. In fact, Coral Gables is the only City in the State of Florida and one of only two cities nationwide to have a Class 1 Fire Department, a fully-accredited Police Department, and the highest awarded Building and Zoning Department rating. In addition, Coral Gables has been named a “Tree City USA” for 14 consecutive years, it has an award-winning Communications Division and offers one of the most comprehensive Parks and Recreation programs in the state.
Coral Gables is well-known for its outstanding restaurants. With more than 40 great places to eat, all within walking distance in the downtown area, the hardest decision will be which one to try first. There are places to meet for a casual outdoor lunch as well as elegant, top-rated restaurants for fine dining.
Downtown Coral Gables
Today, Downtown Coral Gables is a thriving business community, especially along the major shopping thoroughfare known as Miracle Mile ( Coral Way, between S.W. 42nd Avenue and Douglas Road ). Home to more than 130 multinational corporations, plus eleven consulates and foreign trade commissions. Coral Gables also offers some of the top chefs in the city, with more than 120 restaurants the choices are rich and varied. Be advised, you’ll need a map to explore Coral Gables. The curving streets can be confusing and the street signs are small. Drop by City Hall (305-446-6800), which is the imposing Spanish Colonial building complete with a tower and colonnade, for maps and information.
Coconut Grove is a worthy area to explore during your Miami visit. But perhaps what comes to mind most often for Miamians when they think of the Grove is shopping, entertainment, good food, and fun. Locals come from all over to dine at the many restaurants, from sidewalk eateries to candlelit dining rooms – all featuring a culturally diverse selection of food. The Grove is also a favorite haunt for locals when it comes to its art galleries, interesting shops, and clubs – all of which you will find at CocoWalk, a one-stop entertainment complex in the heart of the Grove. Visitors will also find a wide selection of street artists and entertainers at Cocowalk.
It’s never more obvious that the Grove is among the happening spots in the city than during one of the many festivals. A few include, “A Taste of the Grove” (January), the “Coconut Grove Arts Festival” ( February 14-16, 2004 ), the “Italian Renaissance Festival” ( March 19-21, 2004 ) at Vizcaya, the “Goombay Festival” ( June 5-6, 2004 ), a celebration of Bahamian heritage, and the “King Mango Strut” (December 28), which is a spoof on Miami’s Orange Bowl extravaganza.
Many of these events take place outdoors in Coconut Grove’s lovely Peacock Park (305-416-1300), but any day of the year is good for enjoying the views of the bay and the marinas from one of the area’s waterfront parks. Bicycling, roller-blading, jogging, picnicking, tennis and more are all here on the water. When you tire of walking the Grove’s tree-lined streets, hop in your car and admire the area’s architectural points of interest — from old houses of coral rock and gracious homes with expansive grounds to cottages and historic churches.
During your Miami visit, check out the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts, the second-largest performing arts complex in the United States. You’ll see world-class classical music, theater, ballet and dance in this venue.
Coral Gables is an area of graceful parks, tree-lined streets, and majestic gardens and fountain pools. It was a project of George Merrick.
In 1921 George Merrick has a dream – a city of plazas, esplanades and fountains, filled with buildings and homes inspired by a heritage of Mediterranean design. With the help of other visionaries of his time, Merrick’s dream became Coral Gables. It evokes the images of Spain and Italy and is often referred to as “City Beautiful“.
Many of the city’s architectural districts and buildings are preserved as historical landmarks. Among the more notable sites are Coral Gables City Hall (1927); The Douglas Road Entrance, an ornate street entrance to Coral Gables.
One of the grander attractions in Coral Gables is the Venetian Pool. Formerly a quarry from which oolitic limestone (coral rock) was taken for architectural uses, the huge municipal pool is a fantasy of caves, waterfalls, arched bridges, and buildings with Mediterranean architecture. On the natural side, there’s Matheson Hammock County Park, a mangrove forest fronting Biscayne Bay, edged with beaches and a boat harbor, and just south is Fairchild Tropical Garden a lush hothouse of tropical plantings.
The Venetian Pool, “the world’s most beautiful swimming hole”, is an 820,000-gallon swimming pool. It was built in 1923 from a coral rock quarry and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The pool is fed with cool spring water and is surrounded by two waterfalls, coral caves, and grottos. Location: 2701 De Soto Boulevard.
The Beautiful City offers 22 parks, 33 public tennis courts, two public golf courses, and other recreation amenities.
Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden
The largest tropical botanical garden in the continental United States – the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden – is situated here at Coral Gables. It has unique collections of rare tropical plants including palms, cycads, flowering trees, and vines.
Established in 1938, the 83-acre garden is among the region’s most popular visitor attractions and offers a variety of programs in environmental education, conservation and horticulture. There are guided walking tours, tram tours, and special seasonal events.
Coral Gables Art Galleries
Coral Gables is an art lovers paradise. Known as one of South Florida’s premier centers for the arts, this vibrant City is home to dozens of art galleries:
- Americas Collection, 2440 Ponce de Leon Blvd.
- Artspace/Virginia Miller Galleries, 169 Madeira Ave.
- Casa Culture, 801 Madrid St.
- Cernuda Fine Art, 3155 Ponce de Leon Blvd.
- Coral Gables International Art Center, 70 Miracle Mile
- European Fine Art, 2850 Salzedo St.
- Exposure Fine Art, 4021 Laguna St.
- La Boheme Fine Arts Gallery, 2970 Ponce de Leon Blvd.
- Modernism Gallery, 1622 Ponce de Leon Blvd.
- New Gallery, University of Miami, Department of Art and Art History, 1540 Levante Ave. and others.
Lowe Art Museum
The Lowe Art Museum, located in the University of Miami, displays temporary exhibits from both local and international artists. The museum collects original, quality works of art primarily from Asia, Africa, Europe, and the Americas, and organizes traveling exhibitions and loans of individual works from the permanent collection.
Coral Gables has plenty of shopping opportunities, the primary spots for which are Miracle Mile and Downtown Coral Gables. Located on Coral Way between Jeune Road and Douglas Road, this shopping district offers everything from exclusive designer boutiques to major department stores.