Feeling cooped up? Check out part 3 in a three part series on Miami scenic drives and walks, places ripe for exploring and welcome eye candy. The recommendations come from realtors who are in the know. Part 3 is about the not to be missed themed villages of Coral Gables. For Part 1, A Daycation in Homestead, click here. For Part 2, more best Miami scenic drives and walks, click here.
Themed Villages of Coral Gables
By Mari Carmen Mayoral
Considered one of the most ambitious -and successful- planned city developments in the urban history of the United States, Coral Gables is legendary. Deservingly, the city is also well known as the ‘City Beautiful’. Founded almost 100 years ago by George E. Merrick, a fascinating visionary who had the foresight to design a vibrant metropolis in which properties still hold great value and the city conserves its allure.
Merrick’s marketing acumen is displayed in the design of 6 thematic villages that add diversity to the predominantly Mediterranean character of the City Beautiful. Luckily, these Villages still stand today as reminders of his vision. Following, a short tour of 4 of these treasures all built between 1926-27.
Starting at the corner of US1 and Riviera Drive, go south two short blocks on Riviera Dr. and you find:
1- The Chinese Village – surrounded by a common wall and composed of eight exotic villas, they form a cluster of oriental wonder. Last month, one of the lovingly restored villas hit the market for 1.625M.Circle the Chinese compound and continue on Castania Ave to Maggiore Street, go South until Hardee Road. From this corner on, you have varied examples of 18th. French architecture.
2- The French Country Village – starting in the 500 block of Hardee Road, these homes evoke two different styles: rural farmsteads and others, a more rustic style.
Continue west on Hardee Road and by the 1000 block you find:
3- The French City Village – this village proved to be one of the most popular of the 6 built. Each side of the block was designed differently: homes along the north side recreate renaissance architecture & the south side block has a more rustic style within a classic design.
Finally, continue on Hardee Rd. until Maynada Avenue north make a right. Venture north across US1, take Ponce de Leon Blvd. south. Right at Hurricane Dr. and veer right into San Amaro Drive. Drive north alongside the University of Miami until Blue Road, turn right and take first left to Santa María Street.
4- Florida Pioneer Village/Colonial Village – this street is a personal favorite.
It reminds me at times of the Garden District in New Orleans or of a New England streetscape of stately homes. This enchanting street has the added attraction that it bisects the Rivieramiami Golf Course. During Halloween past, the whole street came alive and my children still hold great memories of Santa María Street.
Note from Karen: For places to eat in Coral Gables, see below. Just call to make sure they’re open for in-restaurant dining. And for more casual, open air dining, check out the pedestrian mall on Giralda Avenue with a number of eateries of all kinds, or the restaurants of the Village of Merrick Park.
By María del Carmen Mayoral
LUXE Properties LLC