Coconut Grove (or what locals call the Grove), is Miami’s oldest permanent settlement in Miami-Dade County. Unlike the pulsing parties of South Beach, this neighborhood offers a sense of community among the artisans who live there, a laid-back vibe with waterfront views, and enough to keep you occupied for an entire weekend.
An ideal day: Start the morning with a Cuban breakfast (and coffee, of course). Then, set out to enjoy the area's local art, museums, and verdant gardens. Come evening, call a Freebee, a golf cart-like version of ride sharing that's completely free (it's paid for by the Coconut Grove neighborhood), electric, on-demand, and eco-friendly. Peruse a local book and wine shop, then take dinner in one of the impossibly charming gardens of Coconut Grove.
Where to Stay
The Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove, Miami serves nicely as your home base, with its central location and ultra-luxe accommodations. The hotel is the perfect marriage of the Ritz-Carlton properties you know and love with a signature beach-chic vibe that's in no way cheesy, and just straight-up sophisticated. Guest rooms have a relaxed vibe with furniture you'll want to copy at home, and most have balconies, often with views of the Biscayne Bay. The swimming pool (where you can also rent cabanas) provides much-needed respite in the Miami heat. Stay during the steamy summer months — the city’s slowest season — when rooms at this property can dip to $250 per night.
Alternatively, the Residence Inn by Marriott Miami Coconut Grove features bright-white rooms, a small but serene pool, and rates that start at $127 per night. It's ideal for families or large groups, since rooms feature living spaces and kitchens.
Where to Eat & Drink
There's no need to leave the Grove to find incredible food. Start the day at Chug's, a Cuban diner for a café con leche ($3.50) and a Cuban sandwich ($7.99) in the sunny courtyard.
The Spillover is where you’ll want to stop for a delicious seafood lunch: think smoked Florida fish dip ($11), lobster BLTs, alligator ribs, and lobster Rubens ($25). Jaguar Ceviche provides something a bit lighter with distinctive Latin American flair ($7 to $25). Ariete is beautiful space with a delicious menu for brunch, lunch, and dinner; here, you can get anything from grilled oysters with bone marrow to great burgers.
To cool off, Vicky’s House makes massive, Instagram-worthy, 80s-inspired milkshakes. The Golden Girls is made with golden graham crackers, and — naturally — cheesecake ($7 to $15). There’s also Bianco Gelato for local, small-batch, and (occasionally) vegan cool treats.
Peacock Garden Bistro has a charming outdoor space that’s lit for dinner and features live jazz on Friday and Saturday night. Glass and Vine is just across the street and has another romantic outdoor space and serves South Florida-inspired fare, like scallops, snapper, and ceviche (entrées from $14 to $34).
What to See & Do
The year-round warm weather makes Miami a lovely destination for flora and fauna. The homes and neighborhoods are an architectural delight (you may even find live peacocks roaming front yards). Explore the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, and its tropical plants ($25 per adult ticket), along with the stunning Vizcaya Museum & Gardens, the former winter home of industrial executive James Deering. Be sure to visit the orchid garden ($22 adult ticket).
The Fashionista Boutique is almost worth flying to Miami alone for fantastic designer clothing, shoes, and accessories, which are all on consignment at incredible prices (think Dior, Gucci, Manolo Blahnik, and Tory Burch). If you're lucky, you may be able to snag a pair of Jimmy Choo heels for under $200.
Coconut Grove is Miami's sailing capital. Its location right on Biscayne Bay offers easy access to the water. Paddle boarding, kayaking, canoeing, and sailing (like easy three-hour evening sails) make for fun ways to spend a day or night.