In the mood for a vacation destination under the Florida sun? Then head for beautiful Coral Gables. Coral Gables is a bit off the beaten path for a vacation in FLA, as many more people spend their time at the beaches or Disney World. But Coral Gables is unique and elegant, with sights everyone from kids to senior citizens will enjoy and world-class restaurants to delight your palate.
There are many ways to get to Coral Gables, but if you enter on U.S. Route 1, you’ll clearly see why it’s called “The City Beautiful.” Buildings become elegant. Plantings become green and lush. You want to stop and walk around. So do!
The Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
First, Coral Gables is home to one of the most important botanical preserves in the world, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (FTBG). It’s an 83-acre garden specializing, as its name implies, in the plants and fauna of the tropics. It’s also part of the larger 630-acre Matheson Hammock Park, so you can stop and see the ocean and feel its breezes if you want!
Start your FTBG tour with the Tropical Plant Conservatory and Rare Plant House. It’s 16,500 square foot conservatory with wonderful native tropical plants, including rare palms, cycads, orchids, ferns, bromeliads, fruit trees and exotic vines.
Explore one of the most extensive palm collections in the world, at the Montgomery Palmetum. As the FTBG itself notes, it “is generally recognized as the most important documented palm collection on earth” -- 13 acres and 1000 palms worth.
Then start viewing some of the life that clusters in the tropics. The Wings of the Tropics Conservatory allows you to view hundreds of exotic butterflies, from roughly 45 different species. The Conservatory releases the butterflies twice per day, so visitors can see them flying. The Wings of the Tropics also has beautiful tropical fish.
In the mood for some tropical fruit? The William F. Whitman Tropical Fruit Pavilion displays the most exotic tropical fruit species, found in Borneo, the Amazon, Indonesia, Thailand and other exotic locations.
Next door, The Edible Garden displays the kind of tropical fruit, vegetables, medicinal plants and herbs that can easily grow in the urban landscape. Bring home some mango and basil.
The Coral Gables Museum
The city treasures its historical architecture. The Coral Gables Museum, housed in a historic building itself, is a great place to learn about The City Beautiful: its Mediterranean Revival buildings, its historical connection with Miami, and its founding in the 1920s. Walking tours of downtown are given on the weekends.
The museum also hosts an ongoing exhibit on the city’s founding by George Merrick in the 1920s and has frequent children’s activities.
Food, Glorious Food
If you’re a foodie—and even if you’re not—know that Coral Gables is a foodie paradise. Restaurants run the gamut from simple to elegant, but all serve great food. In fact, the number of potential great meals out is exponentially larger than it might be in another city of its size.
Eating House is a small restaurant with a very big clientele. Be aware that they will only hold your reservation for 15 minutes -- it's that popular. They serve lunch from 11:30 to 3 every day and dinner from 6 to 11.
The menu varies according to what's in season, but be prepared for classic favorites with a twist: roast beef with white cheddar cheese, for example, or a carbonara hamburger, with truffles and fried eggs.
If the tropical gardens put you in the mood for tropical food, try Orantique. They specialize in Caribbean cuisine such as jerk chicken and vegetables, dubbing it food of the sun.
Please contact us for information on planning your trip.