Coconut Grove neighborhood guide

Get to know Coconut Grove with our guide to the area’s best local restaurants and bars, arts, entertainment and things to do

Photograph: Miami-Dade County).Credit: Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Barnacle Historic State Park in Coconut Grove

Miami's oldest enclave offers lush gardens and eclectic architecture. Once a bastion for free-thinking wheeler-dealers who enjoyed its serene bay setting, Coconut Grove still attracts free spirits and creative types, and the Grove continues to enjoy a reputation as a cultural (and cultured) oasis, even if chain stores reign supreme.

Beyond the malls and boutiques, it's a pretty little neighborhood with a few pockets that are full of character. Since the 1920s, independent-minded locals have banded together in repeated attempts to secede from Miami, each of which has failed. More recent attempts at secession have been hamstrung by the small matter of Miami City Hall being located in the Grove. In the 1960s, the area was the heart of Miami's counterculture, a southern cousin to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury and New York's Greenwich Village. In 1963, residents launched the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, which is now recognised as one of the leading arts events in the US.

Central Coconut Grove
Coconut Grove's centre of activity is focused on the intersection of Grand Avenue, McFarlane Road and Main Highway. It's an area busy with shops, offices and restaurants, and it has the benefit of being one of the best sections of Miami for walking—aside from South Beach's Lincoln Road, the Grove is just about as pedestrian-friendly as south Florida gets.

Along Grand Avenue, between Mary and Virginia Streets, is Mayfair in the Grove, once a fortress-like shopping mall, now a lovely open-air shopping destination. At the busy intersection of Grand Avenue, McFarlane Road and Main Highway is CocoWalk, a huge and hugely successful open-air mall that helped revitalise the Grove in the early 1990s.

South Coconut Grove
When walking west on Grand Avenue, don't go too far inland, as beyond McDonald Street (aka SW 32nd Avenue) things can get a bit hairy. Instead, head south on vegetation-lined Main Highway. Two short blocks down, its chairs and tables crowding the junction with Commodore Plaza, is one of the Grove's most popular meeting places, the GreenStreet Cafe. A further block along, hidden behind a thicket of plants and trees, is the Barnacle Historic State Park, the original residence of pioneer Ralph Munroe.
 
Buzz out on Main Highway and you'll reach the end of Coconut Grove at the Kampong (4013 Douglas Road, at Bay Breeze Avenue), a stunning, seven-acre botanical garden with an Indonesian-inspired house set by a lagoon, which has been visited by the likes of Winston Churchill, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Dwight Eisenhower in its storied past.

Restaurants and bars in Coconut Grove

Peacock Garden Cafe

Critics' pick

It doesn’t get much more quaint than this dainty little café, which celebrates the south Florida lifestyle with its cute nautical theme, verdant garden setting and regional breakfast, lunch and dinner fare. The restaurant pays tribute to the history of Coconut Grove with a number of historical artefacts (photos, paintings, furnishings and even an old typewriter in tribute to the neighborhood’s arty culture), all curated by historian Arva Moore Parks.

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Le Bouchon du Grove

Everything about this bistro screams "France"—except for the warm service. The cozy room, the closely packed tables and the convivial buzz are all très Paree. The home-made foie gras terrine and the onion soup are especially good.

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Flanigan's Laughing Loggerhead

A Grove institution, the Loggerhead stocks 200 brands of bottled beer and serves decent grub, including some splendid ribs and juicy burgers. A fishing motif prevails, with Hemingway-esque photos of anglers and their catches. Kitsch? Yep. But you can drink here until 5am.

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Things to do in Coconut Grove

Miami Science Museum

It may not be the most technologically advanced museum, but where else are you greeted by a giant concrete sloth? The permanent exhibits are of mixed quality, while the displays compiled in association with the Smithsonian Institution are educational and occasionally fascinating. The recently opened Energy Playground—which features a range of interactive exhibits, including the Human YoYo and the Giant Lever—are fun for the kids. The adjoining Planetarium is a bit old-school (it opened in 1966), but benefits from the free observatory viewings on the first Friday of each month (8.30–10pm), a favorite of south Florida teens for decades.

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The Kampong

This glorious seven-acre botanical garden was once the home of botanist Dr. David Fairchild, who went on to found the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. As chief of the Seed Section of the US Department of Agriculture in the early 20th century, Fairchild traveled the world collecting plant specimens and bringing them back here. One of only two tropical plant research sites in the country, it's a stunning place, with an Indonesian-inspired house set by a lagoon. Scientists and world leaders such as Winston Churchill and Dwight Eisenhower have all visited, as did Fairchild's father-in-law Alexander Graham Bell, who invented a device for extracting fresh water from sea water while staying here. To this day, botanists and horticulturalists come to the Kampong, now part of the Hawaii-based National Tropical Botanical Garden, to conduct research.It's open to the public for guided tours on Wednesdays and Saturdays at 10.30am and noon from September to June. Self-guided tours are possible from Monday to Friday between 9am and 4pm, by appointment only.

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Crook & Crook

You don't need a saltwater fishing license if you fish from a charter boat in Miami—but you do if you're renting your own boat. (Neither do you need a saltwater license if fishing from land or a structure tied to land.) Freshwater and saltwater licenses for non-residents cost $17 for three days, $30 for seven days and $47 for a year. These can be ordered online here, but tackle shops such as the excellent Crook & Crook also sell them. While you're at it, this is the place to stock up on all manner of sports gear, from fishing lines to radars and rain jackets.

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Cultural highlights in Coconut Grove

Miami Science Museum

It may not be the most technologically advanced museum, but where else are you greeted by a giant concrete sloth? The permanent exhibits are of mixed quality, while the displays compiled in association with the Smithsonian Institution are educational and occasionally fascinating. The recently opened Energy Playground—which features a range of interactive exhibits, including the Human YoYo and the Giant Lever—are fun for the kids. The adjoining Planetarium is a bit old-school (it opened in 1966), but benefits from the free observatory viewings on the first Friday of each month (8.30–10pm), a favorite of south Florida teens for decades.

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Hotels in Coconut Grove

Apartment Miami 1

Located in Miami, Apartment Miami 1 offers an outdoor pool and a fitness centre. The property is 600 metres from Cocowalk Shopping Center and 3.1 km from Miracle Mile Miami.Accommodation will provide you with a TV, air conditioning and cable channels. There is a full kitchen with a dishwasher and a microwave. Featuring a shower, private bathrooms also come with a bath.If you feel like visiting the surroundings, check out Vizcaya Museum (3.5 km) and Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium (3.6 km).Miami International Airport is located 8 km away.

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Apartment Miami 2

Located in Miami, Apartment Miami 2 offers an outdoor pool and a fitness centre. The property is 600 metres from Cocowalk Shopping Center and 3.1 km from Miracle Mile Miami.Accommodation will provide you with a TV, air conditioning and cable channels. There is a full kitchen with a dishwasher and a microwave. Featuring a shower, private bathrooms also come with a bath.If you feel like visiting the surroundings, check out Vizcaya Museum (3.5 km) and Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium (3.6 km).Miami International Airport is located 8 km away.

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The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami

This 5-star hotel offers views of Biscayne Bay and is 5 miles from downtown Miami. It features a full-service spa, gym, rooms with balconies.The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami rooms include mahogany furniture and a marble bathroom. The rooms also feature a minibar, bathrobes and slippers.The Ritz-Carlton offers an outdoor pool. The hotel also has a business center.Guests at the Ritz Coconut Grove can dine at the Bizcaya, which serves Italian cuisine and offers drink in the lounge in the evening.The Coconut Grove Ritz-Carlton is within a 15-minute drive of South Beach. The hotel is 8 miles from the Crandon Golf Course.

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Music and nightlife in Coconut Grove

Swinging Richards

Swinging Richards moved north to a new state-of-the-art, 12,000 square foot building in Pompano Beach. Not for the faint-hearted, Swinging Richards is one of south Florida’s two fully nude gay strip clubs. On Sundays, patrons get the chance to strut their stuff during Amateur Night (7pm–3am), with the winner walking away with $300 in cash and a free cruise to the Bahamas.

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Shopping in Coconut Grove

CocoWalk

Residents of this one-time boho ghetto howled at the arrival of corporate America in the form of this multi-story, semi-outdoor mall. It’s everything you’d expect from a block whose residents include Gap, Victoria’s Secret and Starbucks. There’s also a 13-screen Paragon movie theater.

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Architectural Antiques

This warehouse is filled to the gills with large-scale goodies (wooden doors that came from a cathedral, for example), although you’ll also find smaller pieces such as lights and artworks. Bring a truck, though, just in case something big appeals.

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Mayfair in the Grove

Staying true to the pedestrian feel of the Grove, this mall offers wide sidewalks, balconies, outdoor cafés and a broad promenade. There’s a boutique feel to the storefronts that occupy this space, which include specialty food shops, salons and an art gallery.

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