Miami is such a big and happening place that it would be impossible to cover it all in one weekend.
For our most recent visit in February we decided to stay in Coconut Grove. And I fell in love again with this charming and quaint neighborhood.
Coconut Grove, or “the Grove” as locals call it, is nestled between Biscayne Bay and US 1. The Grove is just a short drive away from Miami’s bustling Brickell Avenue, but you feel like you’re in a different city.
This small waterfront village is home to a bohemian and laid-back community, complete with its own organic farmers market and an annual arts festival that takes place over President’s Day weekend. The pace is slower and the sense of community is strong.
The residential streets are absolutely stunning. The lush vegetation seems determined to take over the houses, which play a secondary role in this fairy-tale like setting. And, if you’re lucky, you might spot a few (or a lot of) wild peacocks.
I stayed at one of these houses many years ago (pre-kids) and it was heartwarming to see that the Grove still holds its character.
A couple of blocks from the ocean is the intersection of Main Street and Grand Avenue. This is the heart of the Grove and the choices of restaurants and local stores abound.
Unfortunately, our time was limited and it was hard to pick among the various tasty offers.
We arrived on a Saturday afternoon and took a brief walk along Peacock Park, a small, grassy area along Biscayne Bay. The park has a baseball field, a tiny playground, and a walking bridge from which stingrays and manatees can be spotted on clear days. Following our stroll, we headed to Lulu’s for dinner.
Lulu in the Grove (3105 Commodore Plaza, Miami, FL 33133) is known for its small plates (“tapas”, if you will). The dates filled with sausage and manchego cheese (wrapped in bacon, of course) were delicious. But so was the steak salad, the ceviche and everything else we tasted. The kids menu was far from healthy, but the girls surely enjoyed their chicken fingers with fries.
The original plan for after dinner was to head to CocoWalk – Coconut Grove’s open-air shopping mall – to explore a face painting stand and other activities for kids.
However, the girls were exhausted from the long flight from Madrid and we were all so jet lagged that we walked back to our hotel instead.
Speaking of hotels, there are options in the area to accommodate all budgets, from Best Western to the Ritz Carlton.
The next day we were out visiting family in Kendall (check out this healthy kids menu at Bahama Breeze, a local chain), but were back in time for dinner at Le Bouchon du Grove (3430 Main Highway, Miami, FL 33133).
This French bistro with a South Floridian flair is a little crowded, perhaps a bit noisy, which can actually be quite convenient when you find yourself with two cranky kids. The rack of lamb and steak frites were tasty.
Le Bouchon is also a great option for breakfast, along with GreenStreet Cafe with its huge American-style portions. Here you can sit, relax and watch the local families and couples meet, walk their dogs, etc. And that’s just what we did the next morning.
From here, you can visit The Barnacle Historic State Park (www.floridastateparks.org/thebarnacle). Built in 1891, it is the former home and boathouse of Commodore Ralph Middleton Munroe and one of the oldest houses in Miami-Dade County. A wooded path leads to the house, with its period furniture and wide porch offering a magnificent view of Biscayne Bay. Tours are provided Friday through Monday by park rangers.
Head to Dolce Vita (3462 Main Hwy, Miami, FL 33133) for Italian gelato and be sure to visit Brenda’s boutique (3444 Main Hwy # 4, Miami, FL 33133) if you have a girl in your family or need a gift for a special young lady. Brenda has beautiful dresses (including the ones on the photos), tutus, headbands and accessories.
Last, but not least, check out the Bookstore in the Grove (3390 Mary St, Miami, FL 33133) a local, independent community bookstore. They offer kids story time Fridays at 4pm.
Our girls loved the atmosphere, sitting outside, having ice cream by a water fountain, and shopping at local boutiques. But the highlight of their visit was probably this cute biker dog.