Mon. Jan 17th, 2022

Hidden away just south of Brickell, beneath a plush forest of hammock trees, is the iconic village of Coconut Grove. Formerly independent of the City of Miami until being incorporated in 1925, Coconut Grove is considered to be Miami-Dade’s oldest and most historically rich neighborhood. Today, Coconut Grove stretches over 5.607 square miles of land and has a population of 20,076. More commonly known to Miami natives as “The Grove”, the area’s extensive yet well persevered history, as well as its vast number of shops, restaurants, and bars, has made it a popular destination for tourists and locals alike.

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The Grove is tucked away almost as if it were not just another neighborhood of Miami but an exclusive, tropical resort on a Caribbean island. The roads that lead into Coconut Grove are mostly narrow and wind almost erratically through a sea of green foliage and beautiful houses, with towering hammock trees providing relief from the hot South Florida sun. The cool blanket of shade provided by the dense vegetation only lets up as the residential area ends and the city’s center nears. The narrow, heavily shaded roads leading into the Grove open up and from one moment to the next the tropical jungle is replaced by a waterfront metropolis

The breezy, resort style atmosphere may be largely attributed to the area’s first immigrant settlers, a large of which were of Bahamian descent. In honor of the city’s first inhabitants, Coconut Grove throws an annual bash each June called the “Goombay Festival”, transforming the main street (Grand Avenue) into an authentic Caribbean Carnival. Grand Avenue is more often than not a home for live entertainment with the “Goombay Festival” being only one of a number of festivals held annually by the Grove. In April, the area’s restaurants get to display their culinary offerings alongside live music at “The Great Taste of the Grove” festival and comedy fans can enjoy a parade of parody at the “King Mango Strut” every last Sunday of the year. But none of the festivals can compare to Coconut Grove’s biggest crowd draw, the “Coconut Grove Arts Festival” which takes place every President’s day weekend. The festival, which has been a Miami tradition for almost 50 years, offers three days of art, music, and food alongside Biscayne Bay and is, according to its website, “the nation’s top outdoor fine arts festivals”.

As the oldest neighborhood in South Florida, Coconut Grove has done a wonderful job of preserving the area’s unique heritage and has several historic sites within blocks of each other. The Barnacle Historic State Park was once home to one of Miami’s founders Ralph Middleton Munroe. It was built in 1891 and offers stunning views of Biscayne Bay as well as a forest of endangered hardwood hammock. Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is another former home of a Miami pioneer that now serves as a public exhibit in Coconut Grove. Villa Vizcaya was once home to businessman James Deering and was built from 1914 through 1923. A vast Italian renaissance styled estate that sprawls over 50 acres, Vizcaya is another waterfront property that features endangered hardwood hammock trees and elaborate gardens.

Coconut Grove visitors and residents can enjoy the shopping and nightlife entertainment provided by the open air malls of Cocowalk and the Shops at Mayfair. With a Paragon 13 movie theater as well as bars such as Fat Tuesday and clubs like the Improv Comedy Club, the Grove is a popular nighttime hotspot. It is also an ideal destination for the outdoorsmen type. Not only is the area packed with over 15 parks, its waterfront location has made for a thriving boating community and includes the Coral Reef Yacht Club, the Coconut Grove Sailing Club and Dinner Key marina, which also doubles as a set for the popular USA show Burn Notice.

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