When it comes to Miami tourist spots, not visiting South Beach would be like going to Orlando and bypassing Disney World. It’s a given that you’ll have to go at least once.
However, if you frequent South Florida and are looking for a switch to the routine, take your R&R in Coconut Grove.
The neighborhood, enveloped by lush, tropical foliage and blessed with beautiful bays, has had its share of A-lister residents like Madonna (she lived there in the ’90s) and Sylvester Stallone. Its local flavor won’t be outshined by its celebrity sheen, though. The natives are more fans of sailing and lounging than trying to stake out starlets (hit Ocean Drive for that).
The artist’s enclave blends old and new worlds, from the pedestrian-friendly CocoWalk (plan a group, adult-focused outing to dueling piano bar Crazy Pianos) to architectural wonders like the Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, once the winter escape of U.S. industrialist James Deering, who chose this bayfront space on 10 acres for a home that is simply breathtaking. The stunner brims with furnishings from the 15th through 19th centuries and captures the elegance of the finest gardens in Italy and France. (If you’re in town April 27-28, don’t miss the moonlight tours.)
That influence spreads beyond Vizcaya to other Florida vacation rentals in the Grove. The estate pictured above is just as captivating, though on a smaller scale. For $5,000 a week, you can rent the five-bedroom home that sits on a coral rock bluff overlooking South Bayshore. The circa 1910 house is all about the details, channeling Europe through its archways, fountains, beamed ceilings and columns and tower.
Valerie Moloney is your resident blogger and the Expansion Markets Editor for Citysearch.com, who oddly enough, feels panicked when asked, "What's the best place to eat in Chicago?" or her favorite, "It's my birthday. Where should we go with a party of six?" No stranger to travel--and traveling with kids--she is a young mom who ODs on the Internet when it comes to planning family trips or buying clothes. Here's hoping she finds you the vacation you deserve.