Is it because we’re getting old or just more picky? Traffic, crowds and noise no longer appeal. (Did traffic ever appeal?) Florida is notorious for its aggressive drivers and crazies in the news, and Miami isn’t exactly the peaceful paradise we travelers seek far from the madding crowd. Tucked inside the city of Miami is a place that existed before Miami – Coconut Grove, where settlers in the 19th century were drawn partly because of the land grants offered by The Homestead Act and also because of the area’s fresh water springs. As time went on a mixed bag of millionaires, farmers, sailors, artists, and transplants from the Bahamas all settled in together and got along!* This ability to embrace all types, to live in harmony and just feel happy to be here together thrived through the years and today Coconut Grove proudly enjoys its reputation of lively, colorful, free-spiritedness.
(*Okay so maybe it wasn’t always popsicles and pony rides, kumbaya or “All skate!” at the roller rink. Read more about Coconut Grove’s effervescent history here on Coconut Grove Business Improvement District’s website.)
However it was they wound their way through history to arrive at such a welcoming, peaceful vibe, we’re happy they did because we fell in love with Coconut Grove.
There are a zillion places to laze your day away on a beach near Coconut Grove, and we chose South Beach (I know! South Beach?? The madding crowd LIVES AND BREATHES South Beach! Read about how we found serenity in South Beach, here.)
For this trip we stepped it up a notch and – believe it or not – did not park ourselves on a beach bar bar stool. One non-negotiable was a view of the water, and wow, did we get that!
9610 Old Cutler Rd.
Miami, FL 33156
- VIBE: Upscale and intimate, quiet, special occasion (we watched a young man get down on his knee and propose to his girl!) We saw one guy in shorts and flip flops (everywhere in Florida, you see that, even in church) but most were wearing trendy, dressy-casual garb.
- ARRIVE: By car or by boat. Red Fish Grill is located in historic Matheson Hammock Park, and the Matheson Hammock Marina is close by. Make note it feels like you are driving into the wilderness, and in fact we actually did – we passed the turn off to Red Fish Grill and ended up on a dirt road in a dark scary forest surrounded by ditches full of water… Hopefully your GPS is more trusty than ours was…
- SIT: You could sit inside but why? Even on a rainy evening there is a sheltered area out on the patio, with views like the ones above and below.
- SIP: Red Fish Grill has an extensive, impressive wine list, a number of interesting beers, and my dad’s favorite non-alcoholic beer, Clausthaler.
- NOSH: We felt childishly naughty ordering the red snapper – it was more expensive than most other options – but it was worth it. AMAZING.
- WE LOVE: The historic building – it used to be the Matheson Hammock beach pavilion. And of course, that view over Biscayne Bay.
We were unable to find an affordable bungalow style motel, mom-and-pop or B & B for our dates, and as we would rather dance naked in front of your grandmother than stay at a chain hotel, we tried AirBnB.
Our remarkable AirBnB is not on the site at this time. We’re thinking the owners may be traveling and will re-list their property when they return. If you’ve never tried AirBnB, give it a go; this was our first time and our experience was perfect.
AirBnB has high standards for who hosts and for travelers, in fact they’ve published Standards and Expectations, click here to find out more. We’ve never heard of a bad experience from any of our fellow travelers, though some who have stayed in a private room (as opposed to having the whole place to yourself – which is the option we chose and will always choose) have mentioned feeling a little weirded out and so they always lock their bedroom door!
We had the entire back yard and pool to ourselves, which took a little time to relax into (“Are they peering out their windows at us?”) but before too long we were swanning around with our glasses of wine as if we owned the place!
And for our around-the-town photos we always show you, mine turned out ick, so our Instagram friends at Coconut Grove Miami are graciously letting us borrow their stellar photos of this vibrant, peace-loving town:
Speaking of Instagram and stellar photos and friends: are you on Instagram? If not, why? Are you afraid you will never put your phone down ever again? I had a mild addiction, I confess, to Pinterest before I found Instagram. I have found way more engagement, positive feedback, and people I know I would want to hang out with and drink wine with on Instagram! So come on, explore Instagram, we promise you won’t regret it (or put down your phone ever again.) Follow us @beachesbarsandbungalows and also @coconutgrovemiami.
And when you visit Coconut Grove, let us know how you fell in love with it, too.
Coconut Grove is a part of Miami, 3.5 miles south of downtown Miami, and 3.5 hours north of Key West.