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
Filled with barrels that double as tables and stacked wine crates in every open nook, Happy Wine is basically our dream sipping room. The space might be diminutive, but the selection is anything but, with wines from Europe, South America and just about every other wine-producing region of the world. Spanish varieties reign (riojas, cavas, albariños, etc.) since they pair best with the tapas menu, but regular tastings and weekly wine specials give ample opportunity to sample more.Read more
Simple is often better when it comes to ice cream. Case in point: Bianco Gelato’s traditional and vegan varieties made with just a few organic ingredients and milk that’s free of GMOs and hormones. It’s the Italian tradition, says co-owner Federico Di Franco, whose shop produces fresh new flavors daily—salted caramel, Madagascar vanilla and vegan chocolate (made with almond milk) being among the most popular. Looking to really indulge? Order your gelato sandwiched between two doughy brioche buns.Read more
James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Schwartz’s neighborhood pizza joint, putting out gourmet-style wood oven pies, has found its way south to a second location in Coconut Grove. Fortunately, not much has changed from the original, four-year-old Design District spot. There’s still a large wood oven on the premises and Harry’s core offerings populate the menu—think crispy polenta fries, a warm Brussels sprouts salad and the namesake MGFD bacon pizza covered in gruyère—while guests can also have their pick of a rotating list of daily pie specials, such as the kale, caramelized onions and Parmigiano pie. House-made sodas, Michael's Genuine Home Brew and Wynwood-born Panther Coffee satisfy a thirst for local flavors.Read more
Things to do in Coconut Grove
This diminutive green space is widely used by people in the community for sports, exercise and all sorts of outdoor pursuits. There's free yoga on the weekends, a dog park with plenty of seating for voyeuristic animal lovers, a bike trail (Citi Bike docking stations were recently installed on park grounds) and an exercise course with calisthenic equipment. Regulars will recognize the A.C.'s Icees truck, which has had a permanent spot in the parking lot for more than three decades. It’s common these days to see generations of locals sipping on frozen lemonades as they make their way around the park during evening walks.Read more
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.Read more
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.Read more
Hotels in Coconut Grove
There is a true zen vibe at this luxury Coconut Grove hotel, and not just because it features a 4,500-square-foot Jurlique Spa. Guests will find spacious jacuzzi tubs in most of the all-suite rooms, plus a quiet rooftop pool with cabanas that are perfect for spending a relaxing afternoon outdoors. A number of major Miami attractions, such as Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, are just a few miles away.Book now Read more
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.Book now Read more
Courtyard Miami Coconut Grove features a heated outdoor pool, a fitness center and a tennis court. Offering panoramic bay views, it is located 3.7 miles from University of Miami.Each room is equipped with cable TV and an ergonomic chair with a work desk. Coffee-making facilities are also included. Select rooms and suites include a small refrigerator.The Bistro serves lunch as well as sandwiches, salads, and soups and other hot appetizers throughout the day. Breakfast, dinner and beverages are on-site. Complimentary coffee is available in all rooms.Courtyard Miami Coconut Grove is 7.5 miles from Crandon Park on Key Biscayne. Miami Beach Convention Center is a 20-minute drive away.Book now Read more
Music and nightlife in Coconut Grove
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.Read more
Shopping in Coconut Grove
Every week, Homestead's Glaser Organic Farms transform an unoccupied corner of Coconut Grove into a full-fledged produce market with dozens of fruit and vegetable stands, a raw bar of prepared foods and salads and coolers filled with cold-pressed juices and nut milks available for purchase. There’s even velvety vegan ice cream for sale and several rows of picnic tables on which to sit and enjoy it. Along the periphery of the square you’ll find other local vendors selling honey, homemade soaps, handmade jewelry and other artisanal items. It’s quite the operation that takes place here, making the setup and breakdown so fascinating to watch. At sunset, just like the circus leaving town, everyone quickly dismantles their tents and packs up, leaving no trace of the bustling day on the empty gravel lot.Read more
Dombe is a hybrid cycling hangout, apparel store and cafecito spot—an unusual combination that speaks to the motley crew of owners, which includes cycling enthusiasts, Lululemon employees and a local coffee shop owner. Inside, shoppers will find an edited assortment of high-end biking apparel and accessories, as well as a tiny coffee bar churning out $2 almond-milk cortaditos.Read more
Most of us don’t just hand over a diamond ring to just anyone to repair, yet customers do regularly drop off their fine jewelry at H & H Jewels for servicing. From fixing a botched design to altering the current look of a piece, H & H handles it all and does it well, judging by the volume of clients who frequent the Coconut Grove shop. But it’s not just resizing rings that gets customers through the door. The success of H & H is the result of owner H. Bredemeier’s incredible talent as a designer, handcrafting all of the beautiful, vintage-inspired pieces and exquisite jewelry on display in the window.Read more