South Beach might be the party girl that you stay out with until the sun comes up, but its neighbor Coral Gables is much more like the girl-next-door. A bit more quiet and reserved, yet classy and upscale with substance and style, while showing off its classic beauty.
You certainly come to Miami for fun if you are in town for a visit, but you undoubtedly want to get a blend of everything and after a few late nights on South Beach, a few days in Coral Gables of relaxing and more quiet fun is a great way to finish off your vacation. The atmosphere will allow you to go home feeling relaxed and recharged. From one of the great shopping spots in the country, the Miracle Mile, to an amazing assortment of restaurants, to the historic Venetian Pool, the Fairchild Tropical Garden and just a city that managed to keep most of its history alive. Coral Gables certainly has enough to keep you busy while at the same time giving you a serene and laid back setting.
Coral Gables offers a rich-history that is still paved in the streets and buildings with its Mediterranean Revival style and it can be seen in one of the most famous hotels in the world, the Biltmore Hotel. As a tourist you can spend hours just looking in amazement at the architecture that is still in place and how Coral Gables kept the setting that was put in place when this city was first built.
If you are looking to be taken back in time and really live part of the Coral Gables history, you can’t miss the Venetian Pool which is just minutes from the Miracle Mile. The Venetian Pool was created in 1923 from a coral rock quarry. It opened in 1924 as the “Venetian Casino” and was a favorite destination of celebrities and high society of the time. Since its opening, the Venetian Pool has been visited by hundreds of thousands of visitors from all over the world, enjoying the 820,000 gallons of water provided by an underground aquifer, the two waterfalls, caves and grottos.
The next stop on your visit would have to be the Fairchild Tropical Garden. This 83-acre adventure could turn into as long of a visit as you want to make it and it might take longer than expected as you could lose yourself in all of the amazing tropical life that is on display. If you are concerned with the environment and want to see what the Fairchild Tropical Garden is doing to preserve the biodiversity of the tropical environment.
Le Boudoir is a great restaurant to stop and enjoy lunch as you are spending you day on Miracle Mile. Trying to find something that you could say is the best is always dicey, but Le Boudoir has taken Gratinee a l’oignon or French onion soup to a level not achieved by another restaurant. The soup is so thick and robust, but what really adds to it is that when you get your bowl, it appears as if it is encased in cheese and it really is. This thick, slightly cooked cheese fills every spoonful of soup to give it a perfect combination. Le Boudoir opens early enough for breakfast, but a lunch or early dinner really allows to sample a menu that allows you to sample one of their creations or come up with one of your own.
The only problem you are going to run into in Coral Gables is the parking, or should I say lack of it. Once you find a spot, you should hold onto it for dear life. Coral Gables does have a fantastic and unique solution to this, they offer a centralized valet system. What this allows you to do is to drop your car off at one location on Miracle Mile and pick it up at one of four stations along the Miracle Mile, this is so convenient and easy, make sure you take advantage of this. Miracle Mile has so much in such a small area, you really have the ability to spend your entire day on foot once you get rid of your car. Another great option is the Coral Gables Trolley service. The trolleys use hybrid engines and average more than 4,000 riders per day and it is free, you are not going to find anything better to make your way around Coral Gables.
The Miracle Mile offers a number of great events throughout the year including; Carnaval on the Mile, this three-day festival in March features gourmet foods, an artist’s village, sidewalk sales and the the best in live Latin Jazz. Just around the corner as fall approaches Halloween on the Mile will kick off. This family-friendly celebration features trick or treating at area stores, costume contests, pumpkin carving, goodie bags and plenty more. This year there will be a costume contest and the Humane Society of Greater Miami is putting on a four-legged Frankenstein contest.
For more information on the Miracle Mile, visit: www.shopcoralgables.com
For more information on Coral Gables, visit: www.coralgables.com
For more information on Le Boudoir, visit: www.leboudoirmiami.com
For more information on the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, visit: www.fairchildgarden.org
The Venetian Pool is located at 2701 De Soto Boulevard, but will be closed from September 8, 2008 through May 4, 2009 for renovations.