France 2020 Ineffable Miami: Coconut Grove by Alexandra Rodriguez

Photo by Audri Rodriguez CC by 4.0

Biography

Alexandra is a current junior in the Honors College at Florida International University. She plans to pursue a degree in Accounting and earn her certifications and licenses to become a CPA. She is an active member of Beta Alpha Psi, a national honor society for Accounting and Finance majors. She enjoys traveling, sports, and fashion. Alexandra has explored over twelve different countries and appreciates the culture and lifestyle in each; she believes each country has something special to offer. With plans to travel abroad this summer, she is excited to embark on a whole new journey. 

Geography

Image from Google Maps

On a total of 1,471 acres, Coconut Grove sits along the Biscayne Bay. The area is between North Prospect Drive to the south, LeJeune Road to the west, South Dixie Highway and the Rickenbacker Causeway to the north, and the bay to the east. Being a waterfront neighborhood, there are many palms and sand around the area. With several parks along the coast, greenery is a large part of Coconut Grove and its habitat. The area still has a “city like” feel to it, as there are many businesses, buildings, hotels and homes in the area. Sitting on a total of 5.607 square miles, “The Grove” continues to be a commercial, yet functional area for residents and visitors.

History

Photo by Alexandra Rodriguez, CC by 4.0

As the oldest inhabited area in Miami-Dade County, people began to immigrate to the area of Coconut Grove in 1825. In 1873, Dr. Horace P. Porter named Coconut Grove after renting a home and eventually residing there for a year. At the time, many immigrants came to this area due to the Homestead Act; they traveled mainly from the Bahamas in the late 1800s. There were also many travelers from northern parts of the United States and from across the pond in Britain.

Later on, the Bayview Inn (Peacock Inn) was built as South Florida’s first hotel on the mainland. Many of the Bahamian immigrants worked at the inn, establishing the area’s first black settlement. Mariah Brown, an immigrant, became the first black Bahamian resident, marking an important direction change for the neighborhood.

In 1925, Coconut Grove was annexed by the city of Miami (Wikipedia). The area encompassed a bohemian vibe and began to host concerts and “love-ins” where several people gathered. Today, Coconut Grove still gives off a very distinctive vibe, as it continues to attract residents, tourists and large events.

Demographics

The population of Coconut Grove sits at about 19,000 residents. On average, most people in the area are around thirty-nine years old. Although the population is fairly young, only 11% of the households consist of married couples with children. Latinos make up about 15%, while African Americans make up about 50%. The rest of the population consists of White and other race ethnicities (Wikipedia). Surprisingly, the median household income is around $64,000, which is less than the United States’ average of $73,000. Most of the residents are self-employed, work for private companies, or work for the government (Point 2 Homes).

Interview with resident, rachel marolf

Photo courtesy of Victoria Marolf

How long have you lived in Coconut Grove?

I moved here in 2013 when I began high school. I attended Immaculata La-Salle High School, which is in the neighborhood.

Do you prefer living in your old neighborhood or Coconut Grove?

I definitely prefer living in The Grove. I used to live in the Kendall area, and my family would always have to drive our car to get everywhere. Now that I live in Coconut Grove, I enjoy walking places and taking scenic routes.

Do you plan on living in Coconut Grove in the future?

As of now, I see myself living here until I’m ready to have a family. Although I enjoy the parks and living by the water, I would prefer to live in a quieter, more secluded area when I have kids. But, who knows? I just might end up retiring here.

Lastly, what do you think makes Coconut Grove, Coconut Grove?

I think what’s so special about this area is its overall vibe. Everyone is extremely laid-back, yet on top of all their work. It’s a great place to work hard and play harder!

Landmarks

Photo by Alexandra Rodriguez at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, CC by 4.0

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens: Lavish marble walls, extravagant landscaping, large portraits and grand décor are parts of Vizcaya visitors can’t miss. Being one of Miami’s most popular tourist attractions, visiting the museum is a must. James Deering, the former owner of the villa, began constructing in 1912. Vizcaya successfully encompasses different styles like Italian and French Renaissance. (Fun fact: Many films like Iron Man 3 and Ace Ventura were actually filmed in Vizcaya!)

The Barnacle Historic State Park: This park is the location of the oldest original house in Miami-Dade. It was built in 1891 and owned by Ralph Middleton Munroe. Munroe is also known as one of the founders of Coconut Grove (Wikipedia). There are plenty of activities to do in the park. While some may picnic in the large green space, others enjoy taking a tour and experiencing the wildlife. The admission to enter the park is only $2, making this a great destination for visitors in Miami.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas Home: This cottage, home to Marjory Stoneman Douglas, was built in 1924. Although it has exceptional architecture, the home serves as an education center. Stoneman Douglas wrote many of her stories here, and it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2015 (Viglucci). After writing The Everglades: River of Grass, she shaped one of Miami’s most beloved places and brought much attention to the state park.

Regatta Park: This location successfully encompasses all Miami has to offer. Being outdoors, many people enjoy bike riding, docking their boats, dog walking and picnicking near the water (Gil). It’s a great place to relax and take in the view after a long, busy day around the city. Plus, the view of Biscayne Bay is unlike any other!

Green

Biking in Kennedy Park by Alexandra Rodriguez, CC by 4.0

Coconut Grove is home to many parks; it’s what makes Coconut Grove so refreshing and enjoyable. David T. Kennedy Park is amongst one of the many green areas, and you will always find it full of people (and their dogs)! It’s a great place to bike ride along the bay, walk your dog, or even play beach volleyball. Covering about 20 acres of the Grove, it’s a great escape for visitors and residents. Another large park in Coconut Grove is Peacock Park. Also on the shore of Biscayne Bay, this park covers 9.4 acres. Most people enjoy taking walks in this area after shopping and eating at the Grove’s finest shops. It’s also well known for hosting the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, which occurs every February.

The Barnacle Historic State Park mentioned earlier is another large green space. Since it’s such an old, historical site, tourists are particularly fond of this area in Miami. Many people enjoy taking tours and learning about the grounds. Alice C. Wainwright Park, another famous green area, is a great place to visit with kids. With padded playgrounds and small hiking trails, it’s a perfect family spot. Just to keep in mind, most of these green areas are open sunrise to sunset, so there is always time to enjoy these leafy grounds.

Transportation

Metrorail Tracks by Alexandra Rodriguez, CC by 4.0

Car: Traveling by car is the most popular form of transportation in Miami. Luckily, there are about thirteen parking garages in Coconut Grove, making it extremely easy to park your vehicle in the area. Rates can vary anywhere between $2-$10, depending on location and time. Since most residents in The Grove work, seeing many cars along the streets is common.

Walking: Since The Grove is such a personable neighborhood, it’s easy to walk to different destinations in this area. Walking is the second most common mode of transportation, especially because of the numerous shops and places to dine. Getting to you destination on foot in Coconut Grove is not only enjoyable but extremely scenic.

TrolleyBus: This is a great option for both residents and visitors, as this trolley is completely free. It stops at many different locations in Coconut Grove including Peacock Park, Kennedy State Park, and the Metrorail station. It even offers services on Sundays in certain areas like Coconut Grove.

Metrorail: The Metrorail would be a good choice of transportation for anyone looking to visit downtown or just a little more south of Coconut Grove. It’s an extremely efficient way to get to different locations in Miami, since traffic can be an issue on most days. A single day pass for the Metrorail would cost you around $5, while a yearly pass could cost around $100 for an adult. Both the green and orange Metrorail lines make stops in Coconut Grove.  

Food

Egg Omelet, Toast and Potatoes @ GreenStreet Cafe by Alexandra Rodriguez, CC by 4.0

Eating great food with a scenic view is a common occurrence in Coconut Grove. There are many popular restaurants in the area, and most of them recommend outdoor seating. Here are a few of my personal recommendations:

GreenStreet Café: One of the most iconic, and a personal favorite of mine, is GreenStreet Café. Founded 23 years ago, this café offers some of the best brunch options in Miami. Whether you’re in the mood for red velvet pancakes or a Greek salad, GreenStreet has you covered. With a moderate price range, this is a must visit in Coconut Grove. $$

Tigertail + Mary: My favorite aspect of this restaurant is the design. With leaves and greenery hanging from the ceiling, this tiny spot reminds me of everything Coconut Grove encompasses. They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner. My personal favorite at this restaurant is their charred octopus with avocado. (Don’t forget to stop by for their happy hour every weekday from 5:00-7:00pm! It definitely beats waiting in Miami traffic!) $$$

Vicky’s House: If you are craving something sweet, Vicky’s is a great option. This 80s inspired milkshake spot has some of the craziest desserts in town. Named after the owner’s mother, Vicky’s has a vibe unlike any other dessert spot in Coconut Grove. They successfully encompass the retro experience and make an insane milkshake! My personal favorite is the “Golden Girls” milkshake. This comes covered in whipped cream, toffee bits, Twinkies and tons of caramel! $$

A.C.’s Icees: I have been visiting this tiny icee truck in Kennedy Park for as long as I can remember. My dad used to take my sister and I to the park on Saturday’s, and our day would always end with an A.C.’s Icee. Using the best lemonade, you can get a classic lemon icee or experiment with the cherry-lemon icee! Both receive two thumbs up from me! $

Enjoying A.C.’s Icees on a sunny day by Alexandra Rodriguez at Kennedy Park, CC by 4.0

Businesses

Photo courtesy of Sidnei Maia on Pexels.com

One of the most famous places to visit in Coconut Grove is CocoWalk. This mall is filled with tons of shops and eateries. Whether you want to stop by and catch a movie or do some high-end shopping, this area is a great choice. If you prefer smaller, local businesses, Coconut Grove houses many shops and boutiques. If you walk along the Main Highway, you will come across clothing boutiques, jewelry stories and even florists. These local businesses are extremely important to Coconut Grove and mainly earn income from tourists. Here are a few businesses you may come across walking down the Grove (Culture Crusaders):

Romana La Rue: This clothing boutique sells pieces unlike any other. Their clothing prints and patterns encompass the bohemian, tropical vibe that Coconut Grove and Miami give off. Although the pieces are a bit pricey, they are extremely fashion forward.

Celestial Treasures: This small boutique carries everything from crystals to incense. Celestial Treasures is also known for selling unique pieces of jewelry. They even have great, bundled gift options.

The Blonde Tulip: Located in the heart of Coconut Grove, this florist shop sells beautiful arrangements for décor, weddings or just for loved ones. Since Coconut Grove is known for its greenery, I think a florist shop in the middle of the Grove is perfect!

Summary

Photo courtesy of One Shot on Pexels.com

As someone who was born and raised in Miami, Coconut Grove has always been one of my favorite areas in the city. Whenever I’m craving some Vitamin D and a nice bike ride, I’ll head down to the Grove to relax. I think Coconut Grove is an extremely fun and efficient place in Miami and definitely attracts many tourists. With its countless green spaces and outdoor appeal, it’s a great spot for families, tourists, and just about anyone else. They have great access to transportation, especially with their own Metrorail stop and the TrolleyBus. Being home to Vizacaya and the Marjory Stoneman Douglas Home, it also proves to be a historic site.

One aspect of Coconut Grove that struck me was the demographics. More than 50% of the residents in the area are African American, yet the area fails to incorporate restaurants and places that celebrate their culture. While there are plenty of American and Latino restaurants in the tourist areas, the restaurants serving African American foods are hidden or not easily accessible by the tourists. It would be a great addition for Coconut Grove to move a restaurant like Jackson’s Soul Food next to a restaurant like GreenStreet Café, which brings in many tourists.

works cited

Culture Crusaders. “Coconut Grove Takes the Lead in Supporting Small Business.” Culture Crusaders, 2 Apr. 2020, culturecrusaders.com/2020/04/02/coconut-grove-takes-the-lead-in-supporting-small-business/.

Gil, Virginia. “The Best Things to Do in Coconut Grove You Can’t Miss.” Time Out Miami, http://www.timeout.com/miami/things-to-do/things-to-do-coconut-grove.

Parkopedia. “Coconut Grove Parking.” Coconut Grove Florida Parking – Free or Cheap Lots, Garages and Street Meter Spots, en.parkopedia.com/parking/coconut_grove_florida/?arriving=202004182100&leaving=202004182300%2B%28Parkopedia%29.

Point 2 Homes. “Coconut Grove Demographics.” Coconut Grove Population & Demographics, Median Income – Point2 Homes, http://www.point2homes.com/US/Neighborhood/FL/Coconut-Grove-Demographics.html.

Viglucci, Andres. “Marjory Stoneman Douglas’ Home Belongs to You. The Neighbors Don’t Want You to See It.” Miamiherald, Miami Herald, 15 Mar. 2018, http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/coconut-grove/article205263894.html.

Wikipedia. “Coconut Grove.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 17 Apr. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coconut_Grove.

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