Miami-Dade’s true character comes from the uniqueness found in its many distinct neighborhoods, up-and-coming cities and quieter towns scattered far from the central urban core of Miami. Thanks to the real estate boom of the last few years, the skyline of Miami-Dade reflects a continual growth spurt as the region looks once again to its urban core for intelligent growth. But all of this new growth is only adding to Miami’s charm and convenience, confirming what real estate developer Al Piazza has said all along.
“My wife and I travel several times a year to a variety of destinations all over the world, and at the end of each and every trip, we realize that for us there is no match for Miami,” explained the owner of Coscan. “We love the diversity of the many cultures that literally influence everything here. From the restaurants, music and style to the incredible world-renowned art scene that has developed here, we enjoy experiencing and exploring it all.”
First developed in the 1970s and incorporated in 1995 as “The City of Excellence,” Aventura is characterized by the immaculate-landscaping and amenities offered within its 3.3 square mile area. It’s become one of Miami-Dade’s most popular residential areas, whose residents include many young families and singles. Condominiums range from older, low-rise buildings lining Country Club Drive to the sleek white towers in upscale complexes that evoke Hollywood-style glamour. The new center of town and the Intracoastal are seeing a construction boom of new condominium towers designed in contemporary or traditional Mediterranean-style, many of which have boat dockage and sometimes even a beach.
The housing mix also includes neighborhoods of luxurious single-family homes, townhouses, villas and courtyard homes. Many of the city’s popular rental buildings have been converted to condominiums over the past few years as well.
Deep-water access to the Intracoastal Waterway attracts private yachts to Aventura’s marinas at the Waterways, Turnberry Isle, Williams Island and elsewhere. Residents can frequently be seen jogging, biking or skating around the fitness trail that encircles the private Turnberry Isle Resort golf club. The nearby Founders Park features a children’s playground, tennis courts and multi-purpose athletic field, while Veterans’ Park offers residents a pet-friendly recreational space. Families love the waterfront Community/Recreation Center.
Aventura has the first municipal-run charter school in Miami-Dade County, which currently serves kindergarten through 5th grade. A middle school is in the planning stages.
Aventura Mall is the area’s most popular shopping destination, encompassing four department stores, some 250 shops and a 24-screen movie theater. Other shopping centers throughout the city offer name-brand retailers and neighborhood stores. Aventura also offers a huge variety of fine dining establishments, ranging from gourmet to casual.
The city’s thriving business community is focused on retail, service providers and numerous professionals, who have a choice of new, recently inaugurated Class-A offices buildings. Aventura Hospital and Medical Center has a new state-of-the art facility.
SUNNY ISLES BEACH – GOLDEN BEACH
Located in the northeastern tip of Miami-Dade County, Sunny Isles Beach has been reinventing itself as an upscale residential city. The numerous construction cranes along Collins Avenue signify the change from a traditional vacation area to a city of glittering, luxury condominium towers and condo-hotels. The west side of Collins adjacent to the bay also has several new residential buildings under construction. Two areas of single-family homes complete the housing options. A wide beach, attractive landscaping in the medians and new parks add to the city’s amenities. The busy shopping area features some fine restaurants, which attract patrons from all over. Golden Beach, extending north to the Broward County line, is a tiny, exclusive community of bay- and oceanfront mansions.
NORTH MIAMI BEACH
North Miami Beach (actually inland from the beach) dates back to 1917, when it was planned as a “perfect city” with a street layout that has remained the same.
Most residential areas date back to the 1960s and ’70s, when most of the current homes and apartments were constructed. Each of the city’s thirteen neighborhoods has a distinct flavor, with neighborhood community centers and community groups enhancing the “small town in a big city” atmosphere. Cozy starter houses and practical single-family homes on sizeable lots line North Miami Beach streets, along with some low and mid-rise condominium buildings. The city’s first high-rise condominium development is planned for the Maule Lake waterfront on Biscayne Boulevard, while the Eastern Shores’ gated enclaves boast larger homes and elegant waterfront properties. The City of North Miami Beach is creating a new “Main Street,” with stores, offices and restaurants that offer outdoor seating, in the area around Hanford Boulevard (NE 164th Street).
City residents enjoy eight parks and the County’s historic Greynolds Park, characterized by its 9-hole par-3 golf course and abundant wildlife. Oleta River State Recreation Area located to the west on NE 163rd Street offers kayaking, picnic grounds and more. The oldest building in the Western Hemisphere, the Ancient Spanish Monastery that dates back to 1141, was brought from Spain to the United States in segments and rebuilt on its current site on West Dixie Highway.
The North Miami Beach Performing Arts Theater is a popular venue for concerts and stage performances. Medical arts buildings surround Parkway Regional Medical Center, the area’s flagship health care facility. Elsewhere in the city, there are mid-rise office buildings and some industrial spaces offering convenient highway access and ample parking.
Shopping areas includes The Mall at 163rd Street, which has recently undergone a complete renovation and features a new Wal-Mart, among other new retailers. There are name-brand stores on Biscayne Boulevard and enclaves of neighborhood shops throughout the city. Dining choices range from varied ethnic eateries and bistros to upscale chain eateries.
A model planned community — the first in the County — Miami Lakes was conceived 40 years ago by the Graham brothers (Bill, Phil and Bob, the latter a former Florida Governor and U.S. Senator). It’s an attractive small town with a strong sense of neighborhood and an enviable quality of life. The city was incorporated as the Town of Miami Lakes in 2000 and is known as “A Dream Town.”
Residents need hardly ever go anywhere else, since almost everything is available right here amidst a setting of lakes, parks and golf courses. They can shop and dine locally, work close to home in the area’s office complexes and light industrial plants and enjoy the neighborliness that comes from shopping and strolling on pedestrian-friendly Main Street, replete with old-fashioned lamps, colorful striped awnings and brick sidewalks. Weekly live entertainment and music festivals are held in the Town Center.
The wide range of housing available includes both affordable and very luxurious, single-family homes and condominiums as well as rental apartment complexes. Families have the benefit of highly regarded public and private schools.
Miami Lakes’ two main corporate parks offer a million square feet of industrial space and 500,000 square feet of office space. Offering convenient access to major expressways and a large multilingual workforce, the parks have attracted an impressive business community that includes some of America’s largest and most respected corporations.
Nicknamed “The City of Progress,” the 100-year-old community of North Miami stretches inland from Biscayne Bay and has grown to nearly 60,000 culturally diverse residents of all ages.
Lush with thousands of trees planted under a local beautification and landscaping program, the city’s streets feature a wide choice of housing options, ranging from modest and luxurious single-family homes to medium- and high-rise condominiums and rental apartments. The Sans Souci and Keystone Point neighborhoods east of Biscayne Boulevard boast a network of canals and many waterfront homes on Biscayne Bay. Biscayne Landing, a master-planned urban village community of homes, parks, lakes, shops and the city’s first charter high school, is under construction on 190-acres between the Biscayne Bay campus of Florida International University (FIU) and Oleta River State Park.
North Miami has 11 public parks, including the historic Arch Creek Park — the site of Arch Creek Natural Bridge and Indian relics and a 22-acre natural oak hammock, two public swimming pools and tennis court facilities. Shopping is focused on national and neighborhood stores on the city’s main street, NE 125th Street, and on Biscayne Boulevard, where several new neighborhood shopping centers have opened recently. City landmarks include two universities: FIU’s Biscayne Bay Campus and the Johnson and Wales University. The internationally acclaimed Museum of Contemporary Art (MoCa) has added a strong cultural focus to North Miami, dubbed “The Film and Recording Capital of South Florida.”
NORTH BAY VILLAGE / SURFSIDE / BAY HARBOR ISLANDS / BAL HARBOUR
Spanning the 79th Street Causeway (John F. Kennedy Causeway) across Biscayne Bay between Miami Beach and mainland Miami, North Bay Village is in the midst of a building boom. A younger population is moving to the island, attracted by several new luxury condominium projects and condo conversions. Streets of established single-family homes are conveniently close to the main shopping and restaurant areas along the Causeway.
Back on Miami Beach, the North Shore State Recreation Area’s unspoiled beachfront nature preserve marks the city’s northern boundary, separating it from three popular residential communities to the north.
The first is Surfside, a quiet family oriented, oceanfront town boasting a wide, secluded beach bordered by a path through the dunes. Here, Collins Avenue is lined with luxury condominiums at a height limit of 12 stories, which ensures that any new buildings under construction won’t significantly alter the skyline or hinder the gorgeous views enjoyed by residents. The city boasts a neighborhood of extremely popular 1940s and ’50s single-family homes located within a few blocks of the beach, which now sell at premium prices. Harding Avenue is lined with small shops and restaurants and an attractive Mediterranean-style supermarket.
Bay Harbor Islands spans Kane Concourse leading from 96th Street in Surfside to 123rd Street in mainland Miami across the Broad Causeway. The East Island is home to the commercial area of medical offices, shops, art galleries, restaurants and multi-family buildings, while the West Island is composed mostly of upscale single-family homes, many located directly on the water. A highly regarded elementary school serves the surrounding communities. As in much of Miami-Dade, Bay Harbor Islands is seeing significant growth and a dramatic change in its population base, but it’s striving to maintain its hometown feel, according to Mayor Peter Lynch.
“I’m very proud to be Mayor of Bay Harbor Islands, one of many small towns and villages that make Miami-Dade special,” he said. “These towns offer residents a wonderful quality of life: a place where most everyone knows each other and are quick to exhibit a welcoming wave or friendly smile to one another. In recent years, the demographics of Bay Harbor Islands have changed as elderly residents have been replaced by younger folks with families, but the delightful character of the town has remained unchanged.”
Adjacent Bal Harbour is one of the smallest municipalities in Miami-Dade County, occupying only a third of a square mile between the ocean and the bay. It’s also one of the most exclusive and prettiest, with abundant landscaping and a curving arc of beach, bordered by a lush walking path. The village’s large homes and oceanfront luxury condominiums are complemented by the world-famous upscale shopping center, Bal Harbour Shops, whose tropical garden setting serves as the backdrop for a collection of internationally renowned boutiques and stores. Several new luxury condominium towers and condominium-hotels are under construction or planned along Collins Avenue.
Known as the City of Progress, Hialeah is recognized as a thriving industrial, commercial and residential city – the second largest in Miami-Dade County – with a distinct Cuban flavor. The Spanish spoken in stores, cafeterias and supermarkets throughout Hialeah capture the essence of the diverse Latin American cultures that set Miami-Dade apart from other areas with strong Hispanic influences. From its strong and steadily-growing business and industrial sector to its wide variety of quiet neighborhoods and its numerous parks and recreational facilities, Hialeah has it all.
In 2005, Hialeah annexed more than 1,800 acres of land from Miami-Dade County, with a third being designated for residential development and two-thirds designated for commercial and industrial use. This annexation area ensures that Hialeah will continue to experience the economic growth and expansion that has made it one of the fastest growing cities in the State of Florida. With its enduring tradition of success and plans for a bright future, Hialeah truly is the City of Progress.
Dating back to the 1920s, this family oriented community bills itself “The Village Beautiful” and remains invitingly low-key. Older charming houses in every architectural style (notably Mediterranean Revival) and 12 churches representing almost every denomination sit on tree-lined streets stretching west from Biscayne Bay to NW 2nd Avenue. The golf course of the village-owned Country Club cuts a swathe of green across the northeast corner of Miami Shores, and its tennis courts and fantasy Aquatic Center add to the amenities for residents. Neighborhood shops, eateries and entertainment are centered on the village-like main street of NE 2nd Avenue. The Shores Performing Arts Theater, a venue for dramatic productions and art movies, is currently under reorganization. The campus of Barry University complements the area’s public and private schools, and the new Doctors Charter School is adding a high school to the existing Miami Shores Barry Middle School.
Miami Springs’ prime location located between Okeechobee Road and NW 36th Street and close to the airport and major highways has helped its growth, but the city still retains its quiet small-town atmosphere that pioneer aviator and developer Glenn Curtiss envisioned in 1922. Originally known as Country Club Estates, the community changed its name to Miami Springs in recognition of its 15 natural underground springs. It was incorporated in 1962 amid a setting of lakes and tropical vegetation. The original Southwestern-inspired architecture still remains in many picturesque pueblo or mission-style buildings, contrasting with the 1930s to 1950s single-family homes and more recent condominiums and apartment buildings. Miami Springs Circle is a quaint plaza of small shops, galleries and restaurants, serving as the focal point for residents who enjoy a wide range of city recreation programs for all ages. Residents receive reduced rates to play the championship course at the Miami Springs Golf & Country Club. The community is well-served by local public schools, including two elementary schools, one middle and one high school.
Although it first gained recognition for its namesake golf course, Doral (one mile west of Miami International Airport and close to major highways) is now one of Florida’s fastest-growing and most prestigious areas. Gone are the grazing cattle and most of the scrubland that defined Miami-Dade’s western frontier until the early 1990s, replaced by residential communities and an extensive commercial area of industrial parks, warehouses and office buildings pulsating with activity. Doral and neighboring Airport West around Blue Lagoon Drive form the hub of an area of national and international corporate offices, primarily technology and transportation companies, and those focused on business with Latin America. The area now supports South Florida’s largest employee base, estimated at more than 100,000 people.
Incorporated in 2003, the City of Doral covers some 15 square miles and is home to nearly 30,000 residents. Both executives and employees are attracted by the serene residential lifestyle and the convenience of being close to work. The northwestern residential area features gated enclaves of new single-family and older estate homes set among lakes and greenery. Elsewhere, the housing mix includes town homes, low-rise condominiums and single-family homes at all price points. New homes are going up on the remaining parcels of land, with the city expecting build-out within five years. Doral residents have a choice of well-regarded neighborhood schools, and the community’s first high school opened last August.
Nearby shopping options include Miami International Mall and the vast Dolphin Mall, outlet shopping and entertainment center. Business visitors have a choice of more than a dozen hotels and extended stay residences, while the Doral Golf Resort & Spa, home of the famed championship course, is the epicenter for both business conventions and vacationers.
THE MIAMI DESIGN DISTRICT
These two very different areas west of Biscayne Boulevard are definitely changing the pulse of Miami’s northern section. The Design District, an area of wide, tree-lined streets and historical structures dating back to the 1920s, now serves as the trade center for the South Florida interior design and home furnishing industry with stores and galleries galore. The adjacent Wynwood section — formerly a warehouse district — has now evolved into an edgy arts district of studios and galleries. The area is already luring former residents of New York, such as Events Planner and Marketing Consultant Carol Ann Ross, who love its urban feel.
“I moved from New York three years ago and enjoy a tropical urban lifestyle that wouldn’t be possible there,” Ross explained. “Every time I drive across the [MacArthur] Causeway I get a thrill at the spectacular water vistas. I love living in a new loft building in an up-and-coming urban area [Wynwood] surrounded by galleries. I get on my bicycle and just enjoy looking around the neighborhood.”
As proof of developer confidence in the area, the Midtown Miami project is turning a former 85-acre rail yard into an additional focal point in the Wynwood neighborhood that will enable residents to live, work and play in their own “city within a city.” Already being dubbed “SoHo South,” the multi-billion dollar development incorporates residential towers, stores and offices in a pedestrian-friendly setting. The first residential phase is scheduled for opening in late 2006 or early 2007, and a total of 3,000 residences are scheduled for completion by 2010. The Shops at Midtown Miami, featuring national retailers, restaurants, sidewalk cafés and boutiques in a four-block-long shopping center, are also scheduled to open within the same time frame.
Nicknamed “The Sun and Fun Capital of the World,” Miami Beach combines a thriving community for year-round living and a tourist playground in a scintillating tropical mix. The seven-mile-long barrier island is home to 87,925 residents, quite a change from the population of just 644 permanent residents in 1920.
South Beach, just two square miles at the southern tip of the barrier island, is the city’s most famous area and home to dozens of colorful, whimsical Art Deco-style hotels and apartment buildings. Home here may mean a condominium in a shiny new waterfront tower south of Fifth Street, a studio or loft in a lovingly restored historic building or a mansion on one of the islands in Biscayne Bay.
The convenience of the South Beach lifestyle hinges on its easy access to Downtown Miami via the MacArthur Causeway and its proximity to the city’s own impressive office buildings. With the vibe of Ocean Drive, Washington Avenue and Lincoln Road in your “backyard,” you can stroll to fine restaurants and bistros or enjoy snacks in casual eateries open late; find cultural diversion in the neighborhood’s art galleries, museums and theatres; stay up all night at hip dance clubs and posh watering holes; or take time out to shop the designer-name stores and boutiques on Collins Avenue and the eclectic shops on and around Lincoln Road.
It’s easy to find your way around Miami Beach’s streets, which are arranged in a grid system with numbers increasing as you head north. Housing options here range from tiny cottages to grand estates, studio apartments and luxury condominiums, all set amidst the lush tropical vegetation, canals and golf courses. Single-family homes in the mid-Beach area (north and south of 41st Street) date back to the 1920s, ’30s and ’40s, but you won’t find any cookie-cutter houses here; the designs are quite individual, ranging from coral rock bungalows to Deco delights with a tropical Mediterranean-style predominating. The community is served by several public and private schools.
BISCAYNE BOULEVARD CORRIDOR
The long-awaited grand opening of the Carnival Center for the Performing Arts has now propelled the growth of Miami’s burgeoning Arts & Entertainment District just north of Downtown into warp drive. The new Center, designed to look like a cruise ship at sea, is the focal point of an area soon to be home of thousands of new residents, who will be walking to opera and symphonic performances, art galleries and restaurants.
The Corridor is already home to the NAP of the Americas, a cutting-edge fiber optic exchange linking South America’s Internet data with that of the United States.
Heading north along Biscayne Boulevard, the new growth is even more apparent. According to a 2004 survey, Miami zip codes 33137 and 33138 had some of the top property appreciation values in the country.
The historic Biscayne neighborhood of the Upper Eastside traces its roots to Miami's early settlement and still retains a cozy feel in its neighborhoods of predominantly single-family homes: Magnolia Park, Bay Point, Morningside, Bayside, Palm Bay, Palm Grove, Belle Meade and Shorecrest. Bayside and Morningside are home to some of the area’s oldest and most architecturally significant homes, while Bay Point is an exclusive neighborhood of waterfront estates.
New mixed-use developments are infusing renewed life all up an down the Corridor, with new neighborhood stores, boutiques and galleries springing up along Biscayne and eastward along NE 79th Street.
Long known as the financial heart of Miami, the Brickell District and its namesake avenue (U.S.1), continue to grow and prosper. Named after the 19th century founders of Miami, William and Mary Brickell, the broad avenue is characterized by its shimmering office buildings, top-tier hotels and elegant, high-rise condos. More than a dozen new buildings are currently being added to the mix, contributing to an even livelier urban feel. With the recent opening of Mary Brickell Village, area residents now have several new shops and restaurants from which to choose, and more are on the way. When completed, it will include a supermarket and fitness facilities in addition to the businesses already open, as well as 369 residential condominiums.
New loft and residential towers are also going up along the banks of the Miami River that flows through Brickell, along with riverside restaurants serving freshly caught seafood and providing patrons with an ever-moving landscape of oceangoing vessels and tug boats chugging up and down the lively working waterway. This type of ambience is what still fascinates Joyce M. Bronson, the executive vice president of The Related Group.
“I have lived here for over 20 years after spending some very cold winters in Chicago and Washington, DC, and for most of those last 20 years, I could take a boat to my job as I was involved in waterfront development,” Bronson explains. “For someone who loves outdoor living and who celebrates the diversity and richness of spirit in Miami, I couldn't think of another city that could offer what Miami does.”
Along Coral Way to the west, the area is booming with new mixed-use buildings that include residential, retail and office components. Inland in The Roads area and to the south, attractive single-family homes line tree-shaded streets.
This far-western unincorporated community is known as a family oriented and primarily Hispanic community of good schools and parks. Single-family homes predominate, but there is also a good selection of town homes, condominium and rental apartments. Westchester houses the main campus of FIU — University Park Campus, the National Hurricane Center and Tamiami Park, home of the annual Miami-Dade County Youth Fair and Exposition, one of the top 20 fairs in the United States.
Long known as an artist and bohemian enclave, Coconut Grove still exudes the charm and energy of one of Miami’s oldest communities on Biscayne Bay.
A drive through the Grove’s winding, tree-shaded streets offers glimpses of “character” homes, surrounded by lushly landscaped gardens and a vista of boats rocking gently on the waters of Sailboat Bay. Closer to the water, imposing mansions catch the eye. A handful of new condominium towers and town homes are going up in the center of town or close to the waterfront, adding to the residential options that range from luxury condominium towers and waterfront enclaves to modest, low-rise condominiums and a scattering of rental apartments.
Just 10 minutes from Downtown Miami, Coconut Grove offers a fun ambience of sidewalk cafés, people-watching and throbbing nightlife. Shoppers here have a broad choice of boutiques and specialty stores on the two main streets, as well as big-name retailers and galleries at CocoWalk and The Streets of Mayfair. Fine dining here is a main focus, and you’ll find dozens of fine restaurants offering a variety of cuisines.
Collectors flock to the Coconut Grove Convention Center’s regular antique and art shows. The annual Coconut Grove Arts Festival is rated one of the best in the country. Manatees and other wildlife can be spotted at the waterfront parks, while visitors can learn about local history at The Barnacle, the 111-year-old waterfront home of Coconut Grove pioneer Commodore Ralph Munroe. Other area attractions include the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens exhibiting the glory of the Italian Renaissance and the Miami Museum of Science and Planetarium.
The Rickenbacker Causeway soars over Biscayne Bay en route from mainland Miami to the tranquil, family oriented town of Key Biscayne. Two area landmarks, the Miami Seaquarium and the University of Miami’s Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, stand as silent sentinels guarding over the entrance to the island.
Key Biscayne’s residents are truly concerned about quality-of-life issues, striving to maintain a perfect ecological balance among the dunes, beaches and nature preserves. Just one-and-a-quarter square miles of the island is taken up for housing, which consists of mostly single-family homes, exclusive oceanfront compounds and upscale resort complexes, along with a few condominium and rental apartment complexes. The residents’ children have a choice of top-notch public and private schools, while students come from all over to attend the Maritime and Science Technology High School (MAST) Academy on Virginia Key.
Businesses along Crandon Boulevard include neighborhood shops, boutiques, ethnic eateries and a noted steakhouse, among others. It’s common to see the residents walking, skating and biking to the magnificent beaches and the Village Green, a destination for soccer games that features jogging trails and a children’s playground. The waterfront Crandon Park attracts residents and visitors to its Family Amusement Center that features a fun playground and a historic carousel. Golf fanatics love the intriguing terrain at Crandon Park Golf Course, and tennis lovers have their choice of 23 courts at Crandon Park Tennis Center, home to the Sony Ericsson Open held every spring. The southern end of the island is home to the Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Recreation Area, featuring an extensive system of nature trails and a 175-year-old lighthouse.
Like much of Miami-Dade County, Coral Gables is experiencing a building boom of residential high-rises and mixed-use developments, mainly in the downtown area and along Ponce de Leon Boulevard. Coral Gables continues to guard its reputation as “The City Beautiful” with strictly enforced zoning codes and architectural guidelines.
The prestigious community of Coral Gables dates back to the 1920s, when developer George Merrick planned an immaculate neighborhood of stately homes on winding roadways shaded by ancient banyan and oaks amidst open green spaces. Although the Spanish style prevails for private homes and public buildings, ornate plazas and fountains also lead to some original themed “villages” conceived by Merrick. In the Riviera section, dense green canopies shade streets lined with homes designed in Chinese, American Colonial, French City and Country, Dutch and South African architectural styles. While the area near the University of Miami’s main campus is characterized by condominiums, rental apartments and single-family homes, the eastern end of the Gables is defined by its impressive estate homes in the exclusive waterfront neighborhoods of Cocoplum and Gables Estates. Residents are drawn here by the quality of life and the well-regarded private and public schools.
The city’s vibrant business center features Class-A office buildings home to professionals, national companies and more than 150 multinational corporations. Nearly a dozen foreign consulates also call Coral Gables home. For getting around town, the Coral Gables Trolley provides a loop around the city throughout the day with regular stops at local landmarks and in the downtown area. Gourmet restaurants, specialty shops, boutiques and art galleries add to the high-energy ambience along the stretch of Coral Way known as Miracle Mile. Cultural life is alive and well with the monthly Gables Gallery Night, music clubs, the Actors’ Playhouse at the Miracle Theatre, mainstream movie theaters and art house cinemas. The University of Miami campus offers the Lowe Art Museum, Gusman Concert Hall, Bill Cosford Cinema and the Ring Theatre. There are also two public and two private golf courses, along with historic landmarks such as the spectacular Biltmore Hotel, the Venetian Pool (a swimming lagoon carved out of coral rock) and Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, one of the world’s noted botanical gardens and center for special events. For shopping, the focus is on style and elegance in the fine boutiques on Miracle Mile and the top-tier national retailers in the garden-like Village of Merrick Park.
The city of South Miami offers perhaps one of the best commutes into Downtown Miami, thanks to its strategic location along South Dixie Highway (U.S. 1) just south of Coral Gables, and the convenient Metrorail stations and parking garages located up and down the highway. Although founded some 112 years ago and incorporated as a city 78 years ago, South Miami retains its homey atmosphere.
The family-oriented neighborhoods are populated with spacious, older houses and apartments on tree-lined streets where the residents can safely jog, stroll, walk their dogs and greet one another.
You’ll find a lively scene of small shops, antique stores and art galleries along Sunset Drive and Red Road in the downtown area, as well as The Shops at Sunset Place, featuring name-brand retailers and a 24-screen movie theater in this combination indoor/outdoor mall. The South Miami Art Festival held on Sunset Drive each November inaugurates the festival season in Miami-Dade County and is ranked in the top 100 fine art shows in the country.
KENDALL EAST AND WEST
Encompassing some 23.5 square miles sprawling to the south and southwest of South Dixie Highway towards the limits of the Everglades, this is the largest unincorporated community in Miami-Dade County. First developed in the 1950s and ’60s, Kendall offers a wide range of older residential communities and new housing developments with large and small homes, modern townhouses and apartment complexes clustered around lakes, canals or parkland. Its abundance of neighborhood parks, playgrounds and recreational programs in the County-run park system make Kendall an extremely popular community with families. In fact, West Kendall is gaining new schools to cater to the influx of children.
Shopping options here include the small-neighborhood commercial centers and Dadeland Mall, which houses a great variety of department stores, shops and restaurants. Kendall now boasts a new downtown — Downtown Dadeland — which includes several new high-rise luxury condominiums, office buildings and stores under development. The 319,000-square-foot Dadeland Station (adjacent to the Dadeland North Metrorail Station) is a vertical shopping center housing national “big box” retailers on several levels. It also includes three Class-A office buildings, 35,000 square feet of retail space and a 305-room hotel. The Kendall area is home to Miami-Dade College’s South Campus on SW 104th Street, while the Kendall-Tamiami Executive Airport and some industrial parks are located in the southern part of the area.
Incorporated seven years ago, the Village of Pinecrest lies southwest of Coral Gables and is known for its excellent municipal services. Ranked as one of the highest per-capita income communities in the Southeastern United States, its convenient commuting location, quality of private and public schools and rural atmosphere make it a very desirable, upscale residential area. Wide, shady streets are home to single-family estate homes, many on large lots of an acre or more. Its modest, older homes are frequently purchased as “tear-downs” to be replaced with new mansions. Diverse wildlife flocks to the green areas and canals coursing through the village and to Pinecrest Gardens (the former site of Parrot Jungle), an oasis of towering banyans, natural streams and beautiful landscapes. Just south of Pinecrest, the exclusive neighborhood of Deering Bay offers luxurious homes and apartments, while shops and restaurants are located along South Dixie Highway and in adjacent areas.
Stretching from SW 168th Street to SW 216th Street along South Dixie Highway, the newly incorporated Town of Cutler Bay (formerly known as Cutler Ridge) and the unincorporated area of Perrine are seeing great changes. The once-rural nature of the region is changing dramatically with new planned communities and developments of value-priced single-family homes and town homes. Boasting the highest density of parks in Miami-Dade County, the area is home to the South Dade County Government Center, which services all of unincorporated South Dade. The entire area is a State of Florida Enterprise Zone, which provides incentives for companies relocating here. The area’s multi-ethnic population adds a rich cultural essence, apparent in small stores, eateries and festive events. South Dixie Highway, the main commercial thoroughfare, is lined with shopping centers, businesses and restaurants. The Southland Mall in Cutler Bay has four department stores and 100 smaller shops.
Centered along Krome Avenue (SW 177 Avenue) and bounded by the Everglades on the west, this part of Southwest Miami-Dade County is still primarily rural, comprised primarily of farms, ranches and century-old clapboard homes. Life moves at a much slower pace than in the city 45 minutes to the north, with a hint of wilderness still evident. Although there are some new estate home developments underway, the wide-open spaces are sprinkled with farms and nurseries, which produce tropical fruits, plants and up to two crops of vegetables a year. This is the place to enjoy the freshest produce from roadside stands and even pick your own strawberries in season. Many homes sit on an acre or more, with five-acre properties and horse paddocks common.
The Redland is home to several attractions, including the Fruit and Spice Park, a wonderland of exotic fruit trees; Monkey Jungle, home to nearly 400 primates in a 30-acre tropical spread where visitors are “caged” and monkeys frolic freely; and Cauley Square (located in nearby Goulds), a delightful oasis of quaint craft and antique shops and a famous tearoom, all housed in historic cottages. For a special treat, visit Knaus Berry Farm, where you’ll find scrumptious strawberries, milkshakes and to-die-for cinnamon buns. Nearby, Burr’s Berry Farm also blends delicious shakes.
Dating back to 1898 when the first homesteaders settled at the southern end of the County, Homestead is the second-oldest city in Miami-Dade County. It was incorporated in 1913 and is currently in the midst of a major building and population boom. Currently estimated at 44,494, Homestead’s population is expected to reach 60,000 by the year 2010. Homestead is the gateway to both the Everglades and Biscayne national parks and is just minutes from the Florida Keys.
Homestead retains its traditional small-town character while embracing its new status as a burgeoning suburb of Miami with many urban amenities. In addition to the existing choice of single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums, new residential developments with thousands of new homes are being built on open land around the city. These new homes offer very good value in planned, traditional-style neighborhoods, which will also feature shops, commercial buildings, public squares and clubhouses amid lakes and acres of green open space.
Homestead’s quaint main street is populated with antique stores, specialty shops and restaurants. Bargain shopping is available at the nearby Prime Outlets Mall in Florida City. The area is home to elementary, middle and high schools, as well as a campus of Miami Dade College. Construction of the new Homestead Baptist Hospital finished in May of 2007. A public golf course, the Homestead Bayfront Marina and a beach add to the recreational options. Homestead-Miami Speedway, home of Ford Championship Weekend and hosting both NASCAR and CART races, is a world-class motor sports facility.