Coral Gables

When vacationing in South Florida, it is always nice to explore new destinations. Such was the case for my family recently when we spent some quality time in the city of Coral Gables (www.citybeautiful.net), home to 175 multinationals, 26 consulates and trade offices and more than 30 fine art galleries. Known as the Fine Dining Capital of South Florida, it has the highest concentration of live theater in Miami-Dade County.

Growth in the commercial sector has brought a wealth of new activities for the area, including nighttime entertainment, live music, casual and fine dining, and new retail options. The city is home to many historic landmarks as well as 22 parks, 33 public tennis courts, two public golf courses, and other first-class recreation amenities. Among them: the largest tropical botanical garden in the continental United States, a spring-fed grotto swimming pool made of native coral rock with underwater caves, tree-lined bike paths and walking trails, and more. Also located in the heart of Coral Gables is the University of Miami, one of only 29 private research universities in the nation, educating nearly 15,000 students a year from every state and more than 100 countries.

Coral Gables is indeed the place to shop. The Village of Merrick Park (www.villageofmerrickpark.com) is where fashion and style come to life, featuring Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom and 115 other world-class retail shops and restaurants. The kids will enjoy this open air shopping experience. The famed Miracle Mile and its surrounding downtown streets with their European-style outdoor cafes, provides visitors with an enjoyable tropical shopping experience. In terms of the arts, the Actors’ Playhouse (www.actorsplayhouse.org) at the Miracle Theatre offers first class productions, many suitable for children. In the past we have seen a Broadway calibre production of Beauty and the Beast.

Fairchild Tropical Garden is an 83-acre natural preserve on the edge of Coral Gables that offers something for everyone. There are guided walking tours, tram tours, and special seasonal events. Matheson Hammock Park is known worldwide for its beautiful flora and fauna. Coral Gables is an art lover’s paradise. The city is home to dozens of art galleries. Visitors can also ride the new vintage-style, hybrid electric trolleys – a free and convenient way to move around the shopping and entertainment destinations in downtown Coral Gables.

For more information on Coral Gables go to http://www.coralgables.com