For a fresh take on the beautiful American state of Florida, take time to reconnoitre the roads leading out of Miami, where Venetian waterways, wild encounters and tranquil retreats await.
Photo by mattk1979 via Flickr
Just south of Miami sits Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, the Italian-style former home of turn-of-the-century billionaire businessman James Deering. Now a National Historic Landmark and listed as one of America’s Most Endangered Historic Palaces, Vizcaya’s breath-taking landscaped gardens and ornate house – bursting with 19th century European art and furniture – are a site to behold. If it all looks a bit familiar, then you may have seen Vizcaya used as a location in many movies, including Iron Man 3 and Any Given Sunday.
Photo by daspader via Flickr
Coconut Grove’s laid back atmosphere provides the perfect antidote to downtown Miami. As the oldest continuously inhabited neighbour of Miami, ornate historic monuments and 19th century landscaped parks offer a tranquil retreat from the urban experience. Visit Barnacle Historic State Park, where you’ll find the oldest home in Miami and the former abode of Coconut Grove founder Ralph Middleton Munroe. As well as regular movie nights, seaside yoga and a museum, wander through its forest of tropical hardwood, while enjoying the waterfront views over Biscayne Bay.
Photo by mnreddy9 via Flickr
Known as the ‘Venice of America’ (for its 300 miles of inland waterways) it’s no surprise many local attractions are water-based. Just pick your vessel. Will you choose gondola, 19th century riverboat, paddle boat or Duck tour of Las Olas Boulevard, the town’s main stretch? On colder days art galleries and shopping mecca Sawgrass Mills Mall provide warmer options. As the sun goes down, follow the Riverwalk mile to the arts and entertainment district, where you’ll find restaurants, theatres and open air pavilions, while wandering past native and tropical plant exhibits.
Photo by grahamc99 via Flickr
A tiny part of the 1.5 million-acre Everglades, this marina is a great base to explore, get to know the locals and do a little trout fishing. If it’s bigger creatures you crave, charter a boat from a local captain and they’ll get you up close and personal to some American Alligators who inhabit the glades. As its name suggests, the island was home to American Indians for more than 1,500 years before European explorers arrived. Watch the sunset on the marina and you’ll feel privileged you discovered Chokoloskee too.
1 hour 45 minutes
Photo by havankevin via Flickr
Explore the coral reefs, ride The Conch Tour Train or enjoy the bars via the locally renowned ‘Duval Crawl’. This lively historic seaport has something for all. After you’ve visited the homes of Ernest Hemingway and Harry Truman, grab a fish quesadilla and enjoy the sunset and street performers at Mallory Square. Locals and visitors have gathered here before sundown since the 1960s, just to hang out and enjoy themselves. Don’t forget to grab a photo by the Southern-most marker point before you go (even though it’s a bit inaccurate).
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