CASTLES IN THE SAND

Just beyond the candy-colored buildings of the Art Deco District and the downtown skyscrapers is another Miami where the early days of the Magic City are beautifully preserved in architecture and in spirit. The elegant Villa Vizcaya and the grand Biltmore Hotel, two of Miami’s National Historic Landmarks, provide a window into the past when dreamers and visionaries transformed a wilderness into a metropolis in the early days of the 20th century.

The Villa Vizcaya, once the winter residence of industrialist James Deering, was designed as a palatial Italian Villa on Biscayne Bay. He filled it with European art, state of the art technology and surrounded it with formal gardens, fountains, and hidden grottoes. A stroll through the house and gardens transports you back 100 years to a time when Miami was new and a gilded age millionaire created a place where wealth, leisure, art and nature found perfect harmony in Miami’s greatest house. In Coral Gables, the Biltmore Hotel was the centerpiece of visionary developer George Merrick’s 1920’s City Beautiful where well- heeled guests came for winter luxury, fox hunts, Italian gondola rides, Roaring 20’s parties, and the largest swimming pool in Florida. Coral Gables still contains a magnificent collection of period Mediterranean architecture and the distinctive features that once made it Miami’s most elegant suburb.