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Vizcaya Museum & Gardens

Critics' pick
© Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Coral Gables

Incongruous, unlikely and bizarre, Vizcaya is also an utter delight. An Italian Renaissance-style villa and gardens set on Biscayne Bay, it was built by F Burrall Hoffman, Diego Suarez and Paul Chalfin for Chicagoan industrialist and committed Europhile James Deering from 1914 to 1916. And a wildly extravagant spot it is too. Not only architecturally: the place is crammed with European antiques and works of decorative art spanning the 16th to the 19th centuries. All the furnishings at Vizcaya are just as they were in Deering’s time, including early versions of such amenities as a telephone switchboard, a central vacuum-cleaning system, elevators and fire sprinklers. The East Loggia looks out on to the bay, the exit guarded by a vast telescope. Off to the south stretch Vizcaya’s idyllic gardens, with fountains, pools, greenery, a casino and a maze. Strolling here on a quiet summer’s day can be magical (not surprisingly, it’s a popular spot for weddings). Another bonus is the café, which offers above-average lunches and, on Sundays, tea for two ($16) from 1pm to 4pm.

Name: Vizcaya Museum & Gardens
Address: 3251 S Miami Avenue
Miami

Cross Street: at SW 32nd Road
Venue phone: 305 250 9133
Website: http://www.vizcayamuseum.org
Opening hours: 9.30am–4.30pm Mon, Wed–Sun
Transport: Bus 48/Metrorail Vizcaya
Price: Admission $15; $5 reductions; free under-6s
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