The owner of acclaimed independent bookstore Books & Books, Mitchell Kaplan, takes us through the historic streets of Coral Gables to show us the ins and outs of this picture perfect neighborhood. From the Mediterranean-inspired architecture to the playhouses and modern art galleries, the Gables has truly surpassed founder George Merrick’s vision of becoming a vibrant arts community.
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A relic from Coral Gables’ Prohibition era glamour, The Biltmore Hotel is a picture of true opulence. The four-star hotel and national historic landmark is surrounded by 150 acres of manicured tropical landscapes, a gorgeous pool and a championship golf course. So pinky up and airs on — whether you’re dining at Palme d’Or or sippin’ on afternoon tea, this place will have you feeling fancy.
This book lover’s safe haven has been around since 1982 and has since been hailed as one of the nation’s most respected indie bookstores. Roam the stacks and sidle into one of the bookstore’s cozy nooks and crannies. Check out their calendar for an impressive lineup of author signings, educational lectures and musical performances at their open-air, full-service cafe.
Aptly named and listed on the National Register of Historic Places, Merrick House is the childhood home of Coral Gables’ visionary founder George Merrick. Step back in time into the restored 1920s style home and get a history lesson on the origins of Coral Gables’ Mediterranean inspired flavor. The house is open to the public on Wednesdays and Sundays.
After a day of wandering Miracle Mile’s bars and boutiques, wind down with an out-of-the-ordinary wine collection at Wolfe’s Wine Shoppe. The shop’s founders Jeffrey and Christie will be the first to tell you that they favor small growers. Not a sommelier? That’s A-OK — book a tasting and their knowledgeable staff will help any amateur look like a pro the next time they hit the wine aisle.
What was once an excavated limestone quarry turned casino locale is now an aquifer-fed pool, open to those less inclined to get sandy or stuck in beach-bound traffic. It’s a calming respite surrounded by original coral, caves and waterfalls — something unmatched in a city flanked by beaches and mangroves.
Think of Miracle Mile as Coral Gables’ “Main Street.” The actual half-mile stretch of shopping is glittered with boutiques, bars, restaurants, salons and spas. It’s no wonder Miracle Mile doubles as “Bridal Row,” a one-stop-shop for wedding parties from around the globe. And if you want to lie low rather than shop high end, feel free to hit up the local book stores, theaters and art galleries.
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is kind of like a paradise within a paradise (the larger paradise being Miami). Dr. David Fairchild opened the 83 acres of gardens back in 1938 as a conservation and education center, meticulously curating tropical plant species from all over the world. The gardens are open year round, but we recommend planning a visit during one of their annual festivals.
Matheson Hammock is 630 acres worth of reasons to brave the Miami heat. The scenic park, friendly to beach-goers, bikers and pedestrians alike, includes a man-made atoll pool, a kite boarding cove, boat launch ramps, picnic pavilions, waterfront restaurants — you get the pretty picture. The park is a particularly great spot for sunrise walks and sunset picnics.
There’s a reason this once pop-up shop has become a permanent and favorite foodie stop in the Coral Gables restaurant scene. The rotating menu is based off seasonal ingredients, meaning whatever you order is going to be fresh to death. The cozy corner restaurant is always buzzing, so book a reservation ahead of time. (We recommend hitting up brunch for their Cap’N Crunch pancakes.)
The Bar, around since 1946, is something of a Gables staple. The neighborhood spot has the understated charm of a dive, but the modern bar fare and the weekend beats are what keep regulars and newbies coming back. The Bar runs specials all week, so whether you’re winding down with a craft beer or getting down on Fridays for Ladies Night, this spot’s got you covered.