If you’re into sports, you might know Coral Gables best as the home of the University of Miami and its headline-grabbing football and basketball teams. But there’s a lot more to the City Beautiful–Coral Gables’ official nickname, given to it by visionary city planner George Merrick way back in the Jazz Age–than athletics. The Gables is home to some of South Florida’s most iconic and historic buildings, a thriving culinary scene, and shopping galore. Here’s how to spend a day in Miami’s sweet suburb to the south.
When Merrick laid out his plans for Coral Gables in the 1920s, the Biltmore Hotel was intended to be its hub. With its Spanish Mediterranean tower overlooking the rest of town, the Biltmore has been a fancy South Florida fixture ever since it catered to the likes of Ginger Rogers and Bing Crosby. These days, you’ll want to stop in for its famous Sunday brunch, with indulgent items like caviar and oysters laid out in an all-you-can-eat buffet–paired, naturally, with bottomless champagne.
1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Books & Books
Owned and operated by Miami Book Fair International founder Mitchell Kaplan, Books & Books is the literary hub of South Florida. The flagship location next to Coral Gables Museum has packed its rooms with the latest and greatest in literature, from bestsellers to little-known gems. (One colorful room is entirely devoted to children’s books.) The store hosts author events almost every night, but it’s just as rewarding to spend some time relaxing with your next favorite read in its open-air courtyard, noshing on coffee or a snack from the on-site cafe.
2100 Northwest 42nd Avenue, Miami, FL 33126
Southern-style comfort food is having a moment in Miami, and few restaurants have mastered the flavors quite as well as Swine. Chefs here elevate classic dishes like chicken and waffles with additions like pickled watermelon and bourbon-infused syrup. Pair your meal with a craft brew or specialty cocktail for a country twist on the typical–dare we say–“hipster” experience.
2415 Ponce De Leon Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33134
It’s no secret that Miami’s extra hot and humid during the summer. But Coral Gables’ Venetian Pool is something of an unknown gem, letting you cool off in a unique spot–namely, the quarry that provided the limestone that built many of the Gables’ other historic landmarks. Today, the pool is listed on the National Register of Historic Places–the only swimming pool on the list–and lures swimmers with its gentle fountains, photos of famous vistors like Esther Williams, and of course, its 820,000 gallons of spring water to swim in.
2701 De Soto Blvd, Coral Gables, FL 33134
Coral Gables Art Cinema
Coral Gables’ art house theater specializes in indie and foreign films, many of which are premiering for the first time in South Florida on its screens. These may not be billion-dollar blockbusters, but the theater itself is a posh experience, from the stately columns that flank its entrance to its state-of-the-art projection equipment.
260 Aragon Ave, Coral Gables, FL 33134