Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove is southern Florida's oldest settlement, established in 1825 - long before Miami existed - with the opening of the Cape Florida Lighthouse. The first hotel on the South Florida mainland was located in Coconut Grove, called the Bay View Inn (later known as the Peacock Inn); it was built in 1882, on the site of present-day Peacock Park. Today Coconut Grove is a district of Miami - south of Brickell and east of Coral Gables. It is referred to as a variegated mosaic and the centre is very compact and walkable.

The following is driving / walking tour of Coconut Grove - from downtown Miami take US1 south to SW 27th Avenue and follow this south, turn right into McFarlane Road, left on to Main Highway then turn right into Devon Road about half a mile away, to get to Plymouth Congregational Church. This was opened in 1917, made from coral rock. The front door is hand-carved walnut and oak with original wrought iron fittings, which came from an early 17th century monastery. Even more amazing is that it was built by one man, Felix Rebom, a Spaniard whose only tools were a hatchet, a trowel, a plumb line and a T-square.

Head back northeast on Main Highway to the historic Village of Coconut Grove, with red brick sidewalks, restaurants, galleries and shops. Parking is not great so be prepared to park and walk a few blocks. On the corner of Main Highway and Charles Avenue you will find the Coconut Grove Playhouse. Although this closed down in 2006 it is worth stopping by to admire the building, opened in 1927 by Paramount as a movie theatre and had the largest Wurlitzer organ in the US. The Playhouse presented the world premiere of Fame: The Musical. On November 22, 1996, Late Show with David Letterman originated from the theatre before it finally closed in 2006.

Opposite the Playhouse is the entrance to the Barnacle Historic State Park. This is a 5 acre park built in 1891 and The Barnacle was the home of Ralph Middleton Munroe, one of Coconut Grove’s founders, as well as founder and Commodore of the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. In 1992 Hurricane Andrew heavily damaged the boathouse, destroyed one of the last surviving Munroe boats, the "Micco", but house received only very minor damage.

Across the road, head up Commodore Plaza via one of the many cafes of this street, to Grand Avenue. Here you will find Cocowalk - a multi level open mall with brick courtyards and terraces. From here walk along McFarlane Road east to Peacock Park, the site of the first hotel in Florida. The park is 9.5 acres and includes a baseball field, basketball court, tennis court, playground, and skate park. The adjacent Kenneth M. Myers Park hosts the Coconut Grove Sailing Club. Coconut Grove Convention Centre has been used in the US TV series "Burn Notice". Across the parking lot on the east you will find Miami City Hall, built in 1934. Originally used by Pan-AM as the terminal for its seaplane based at Dinner Key.

Back in the car now, head north to Kirk Street and on the right, Kennedy Park. This will give you an unobstructed view across Biscayne Bay to Key Biscayne. Carry on further South Bayshore, past Mercy Hospital; turn right on to a private road to Ermita de La Caridad. This is a conical building, 90 feet high and 80 feet wide, which overlooks the bay enabling worshipers to face towards Cuba. Less than half a mile further north on Bayshore you will find the Miami Museum of Science. Across from here is the Vizcaya museum and Gardens - an estate with an Italian style villa built in 1912.

Next stop on South Bayshore is Simpson Park - a dense tropical jungle that once covered 5 miles from downtown Miami to Coconut Grove. That completes the tour of Coconut Grove.

Links to places mentioned -
Plymouth Congregational Church
Coconut Grove Playhouse
Barnacle Historic State Park
Peacock Park
Kennedy Park
Ermita de La Caridad.
Miami Museum of Science
Vizcaya museum
Simpson Park