As locals, we’re often asked what are the best things to do in Coral Gables, and what are the best hotels, restaurants, shops and places for culture and nature in the historic neighborhood a short distance from central Miami. Founded by developer George Merrick in 1925, the City Beautiful maintains its Mediterranean Revival architecture, old-fashioned high street dubbed Miracle Mile, and natural setting from mature tropical trees to vast green spaces. It’s also home to the University of Miami for outstanding medical facilities and diverse community programming such as sports and cultural events. Residents are further attracted by the number of corporate headquarters, proximity to top private schools, bayside public parks and private gated communities, and ocean access via the enchanting, eight-mile Coral Gables Waterway. Today’s leaders are committed to enhancing Merrick’s vision through beautification initiatives, pedestrian promenades and plazas, and new upscale businesses to service multigenerational visitors and tourists alike. Please enjoy our curated guide to one of Florida’s most charming cities.
Coral Gables Restaurants: New Culinary Experiences
Long a dining destination with multiple restaurant rows and plentiful outdoor seating, Coral Gables is constantly refreshing its culinary roster. Jeremy Ford, a Top Chef winner, and James Beard semifinalist with several eateries including Michelin-starred Stubborn Seed, unveils Beauty and the Butcher in fall. Its menu offers a selection of grilled meats and seasonal small plates. In Coral Gables, the chef owner scene is highly impressive, whether Niven Patel’s Mamey (Caribbean) and Orno (new American) at Thesis hotel, Antonio Bachour’s namesake bakery and café for fine pastries plus a savory side, or Giorgio Rapicovali’s Luca Osteria and Eating House, a palate-twisting game changer that reopens in Giralda Plaza in fall. More big names are moving in. Lots of stars will also light up historic property La Palma sometime this winter: three Michelin-starred chef Thomas Keller imports his Napa Valley-born Bouchon Bistro, while Shingo Akikuni of Wynwood’s Michelin-starred omakase den Hiden introduces a similar offshoot named Shingo. As if it couldn’t get any better, Miami native and James Beard winner Michelle Bernstein plans to resurrect her long shuttered Sra. Martinez for Spanish tapas, wines and sherries here next year. The oenophiles behind Key Biscayne’s Vinya wine bar and market leveled up with Vinya Table, a gorgeous, sit-down restaurant and wine shop stocking everyday bottles to rare vintages. Another food critic darling is Zitz Sum for umami-rich Asian fusion fare hidden inside a bank building. A recent guest on ONE Sotheby’s International Realty’s podcast “The New Luxury,” Fabio Trabocchi brought his Michelin-starred Fiola down from Washington D.C. At the new Lion & the Rambler, chef owner Michael Bolen works with farms for prix-fixe, nine-course tastings (grilled white cucumbers, garlic chive cavatelli, banana ice cream). Find more specialty items at Madruga Bakery for sourdough breads and yummy sandwiches and Wolfe’s Wine Shoppe, a decades-old source for boutique wines by small growers and well-attended wine tastings and guest chef pop ups.
Coral Gables Hotels
All roads lead to The Biltmore, a landmarked, Forbes Five Star-awarded grande dame that has welcomed guests for nearly a century. The 271-room resort, a beacon that soars above the lush tree canopy, is a timeless wedding venue and destination for special occasions of all kinds including Fourth of July fireworks and Signature Sunday brunches in its Fontana courtyard. Golfers come for the 18-hole, 71-par championship course designed by Donald Ross and Jim McLean Golf School; gourmands make sure to reserve wine dinners before they sell out, and spa goers are pampering themselves with new treatments like Environ facials and IV therapies. A members’ club gains access to the state-of-the-art gym, iconic pool measuring 23,000 square feet with 600,000 gallons of water, and events like a Halloween party and costume contest. Among other highlights to have your Eloise moment: take high tea in the lobby, whose ornate birdcages house jewel-toned finches, and sip martinis in the cozy jazz bar.
In November, the 242-room Loews Coral Gables Hotel opens within the all-new Plaza Coral Gables, a mixed-use development four blocks from Miracle Mile, featuring the just opened Fogo De Chao, and opening in 2023: Sanguich, Sweet Paris Creperie & Café, Cantina Leon, and high-end entertainment spot Pinstripes.
Within the Loew Coral Gables Hotel, dining outlets include Americana Kitchen and Bar, Phineas for Latin American small plates on the ninth-floor pool deck, and Miami Joe Coffee Co., which also offers gelato and grab-and-go bites. Topped by an elegant cupola and boasting Coral Gables’ largest ballroom at 9,000 square feet, as well as 15,000 square feet of outdoor meeting space including an event lawn with spectacular views, this newcomer just might give the Biltmore a run for its money.
Coral Gables Culture
As a fully, self-functioning city within Miami-Dade County, Coral Gables claims its own cultural institutions that draw tourism and locals in the know. Bibliophiles worldwide visit the original, 40-year-old location of independent book store chain Books & Books, whose owner also founded the annual Miami Book Fair in November. Located on Aragon Avenue with a lively courtyard café, the beautiful, spacious store neighbors a cluster of other cultural forces including Coral Gables Art Cinema, a nonprofit for indie, foreign, classic and cult films that’s undergoing an expansion campaign, and Coral Gables Museum, whose broad programming touches on exhibits for history and visual and decorative arts, as well as performances and bike and kayak tours. A block south on Miracle Mile, Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre has performed a variety of genres for all ages in its historic art deco landmark since 1995; its 2022-23 season ranges from Pulitzer Prize winner “Proof” to musical comedy “Jimmy Buffett’s Escape to Margaritaville,” while children’s shows include musical versions of “Charlotte’s Web” and “Stuart Little.” Longtime theater company GableStage moved into its current home at the Biltmore in 1998. New director Bari Newport promises a thought-provoking season of dramas (Heisenberg), comedies (Native Gardens) and in-between (A Doll’s House, Part 2). The University of Miami adds to this incredible array with its Frost School of Music’s regular performances of classical music, Latin, jazz and more; 8,000-seat Watsco Center, which hosts “Sesame Street Live!” and “Disney on Ice” this fall, and Lowe Art Museum for rotating exhibits and guest speakers on top of its permanent collection of 20,000 objects spanning 5,000 years and every continent.
Coral Gables Outdoors & Wellness
The crown jewel of Coral Gables’ lush greenery is the 83-acre Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden named after global plant explorer Dr. David Fairchild and opened in 1938. Especially renowned for its palm and cycad collections, it also features lagoons, an orchid-filled rainforest, greenhouses and butterfly and children’s gardens. The treasured oasis hosts numerous annual festivals dedicated to mangoes and chocolate, as well as plant workshops and sales, concerts, dog strolls, date nights and charity events. Next door sits the 630-acre Matheson Hammock Park & Marina with a beach, atoll pool and Red Fish Grill for waterfront dining. It’s popular for picnics and barbecues and watersports such as kite boarding and Castle Harbor Sailing and Powerboat School. Beyond the Biltmore, golfers have their pick of premier courses at Riviera Country Club, Coral Gables Country Club and the city’s nine-hole, par-36 Granada Golf Course. Swimmers have some pretty amazing places, too, whether the Venetian Pool, whose underground aquifer has provided refreshing dips since 1923, and a new location of Ocaquatics swim school with heated, indoor pools. Joggers and cyclists frequent the Old Cutler Trail, a 13.5-mile, tree-shaded, paved path from Cocoplum Circle in Coral Gables to Cutler Bay. The wellness-minded city further boasts Life Time “fitness resort” chain’s year-old foray into a hybrid work/live/athletic concept with an 80,000-square-foot fitness center featuring a gym with 400 pieces of cardio and strength equipment, studios for 70+ weekly classes, an outdoor pool, spa, kids’ academy and bistro. For more inspiration to stay fit, there are branches of SoulCycle, Equinox and Pure Barre.
Coral Gables Shopping
Many brides have found the dress of their dreams on or near Miracle Mile. Long associated with the bridal trade, the city claims well over a dozen shops from Chic Parisien, a mainstay since 1969, to more recent entries like Spain’s Pronovias. But the high street caters to many retail categories and services. Cuban émigré Pepi Bertini has outfitted stylish men with bespoke suits and European collections since 1985. Shoppers mine Violetas lifestyle emporium to spruce up their homes and purchase gifts from brands such as Missoni, Aerin and Baccarat. Ben and Giules, another lifestyle concept, focuses on handmade, sustainable wares from Greek leather sandals to shell necklaces. At the new Veranda Plants and Gifts, pick out greenery and flora-themed items and take a terrarium workshop. Spoil furry friends with peanut butter dogsicles, dreamy dog beds and squeak toys at Nandog Pet Gear. The active Coral Gables BID (experiencecoralgables.com) is constantly cooking up fun ways to attract foot traffic. Upcoming events are Halloween on the Mile, Doggie Day, Pumpkin Arch and Holiday Market. Off the Mile, one finds designer home showrooms Luminaire and Janus et Cie and an immensely popular Trader Joe’s. The Showroom lifestyle store’s South Gables location carries Tina Frey tableware, Hunza G swimsuits and women’s clothing labels like Nonchalant and Stateside. Latin American fashion designers with nearby ateliers for women’s couture and ready to wear include Cuban Mayda Cisneros and Colombian Silvia Tcherassi. The latter is located across from Shops at Merrick Park, a luxury center anchored by Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus with Gucci, Jimmy Choo, Tiffany & Co., and homegrown brands such as Edward Beiner eyewear and Eberjey lingerie, loungewear and swimwear.
New Coral Gables Development: Gables Village
Built in the classic enclave of Coral Gables, the new Gables Village Collections revive the legacy of the city’s first architectural icon. Inspired by George Merrick’s Spanish architecture, Gables Village reflects the community’s past and present vision – “The Village Project” – and offers 48 residences that are perfectly at home in their tropical surroundings. Residences range from two-bedroom flats to four-bedroom townhomes, achieving a delicate balance between homes and gardens, between privacy and serenity.
For more information on Gables Village, visit: https://www.onesothebysrealty.com/our-developments/gables-village