A Local Guide to Coral Gables
prepared by Hal Feldman - updated July 6, 2019
If you want to find out what is going on in and around Coral Gables for its approximate 51,000 residents, you’ll want to check out:
The official Village website (coralgables.com/)
The official Facebook page (facebook.com/cityofcoralgables/)
The official Twitter feed (twitter.com/CityCoralGables)
The city was developed by George Merrick during the Florida land boom of the 1920s. Coral Gables was one of the first planned communities, and its planning was based on the popular early twentieth century City Beautiful Movement. It is infamous for its strict zoning regulations, carefully design pedestrian-friendly street and as a family-friendly place to live. Among the landmarks in Coral Gables are the Venetian Pool, Douglas Entrance, Fairchild Tropical Gardens and the Miami Biltmore Hotel. The “City Beautiful” also has excellent schools.
Matheson Hammock Park is a 630-acre urban park at 9610 Old Cutler Road. The park surrounds the north and western ends of Fairchild Tropical Botanic and is best known as a boat dock/launch for many yachts and pleasure craft.
Coral Gables Entrance Park is a historic site in Coral Gables, Florida. It is located at the junction of Douglas Road and Tamiami Trail (US 41). The architect was Phineas Paist and it was completed in 1924. On September 22, 1972, it is listed on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places. It is a favorite spot for photographers.
Merrie Christmas Park
There are several smaller parks for people and dogs that you can explore at the City’s website: https://www.coralgables.com/parks-recreation.
One of the reasons Coral Gables is known as one of the best bedroom communities in South Florida is because of its educational resources and focus.
Coral Gables schools are part of the Miami-Dade School District. The district has several high schools in Coral Gables, most notably Coral Gables Senior High School and International Studies Preparatory Academy, both of which educate students in grades 9 through 12. It also has a K-8 school, Coral Gables Preparatory Academy (formerly Coral Gables Elementary School), with two campuses, including a historic campus located on Ponce de Leon Boulevard. Henry S. West Laboratory Elementary is another K-6 school. Finally it has two middle schools: George Washington Carver Middle School located on Lincoln Dr, and Ponce de Leon Middle School located across from The University of Miami on Augusto Street.
Gulliver Academy - Marian C. Krutulis Campus, a Pre-K through 8 school that is a member of Gulliver Schools, has a strong reputation and history. The lower campus of the Riviera Schools is a Pre-K through 12 school. The historic St. Theresa Catholic School, a Pre-K through 8 school is located near the Coral Gables Biltmore Hotel. St. Philip's Episcopal School, the French-American School of Miami, and St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School, all Pre-K through 5 schools, are also located in Coral Gables.
MEDICAL AND EMERGENCY
Should your child need emergency medical care, Palmetto Bay has a branch of the Miami’s (Nicklaus) Children’s Hospital to provide outpatient services. There are also many highly respected pediatricians throughout Palmetto Bay. The original offices of Kings Bay Pediatrics has moved to Pinecrest, but it is where my kids went and got great care.
There are a few urgent care facilities along US-1 for other medical related issues. In short, you won’t be wanting for excellent medical care if you live in Palmetto Bay.
Palmetto Bay has a free mini-bus service called iBus. It has several stops throughout the Village and runs during the weekdays only. For schedules and information, please see the iBus home page.
Palmetto Bay has made extensive efforts to make significant portions of the Village accessible by bicycle. In conjunction with several other municipalities, you can bike on a dedicated parallel bike path to Old Cutler Road from SW 136th Street to SW 184th Street (the entire length of Palmetto Bay). You can read about lots of area bike paths here.
For grocery shopping, it’s hard to beat Publix. Thankfully, Palmetto Bay has a huge Publix located at US-1 and SW 146th Street. It is joined with a CVS pharmacy and a Hallmark store, making this a great one-stop weekly destination. Also in this shopping plaza is Grove Bank & Trust, a great local bank.
All along the US-1 corridor you will find a myriad of great stores to shop. If you are in need of pool supplies or advice, I highly recommend the locally-owned Pinch-A- Penny franchise.
Just north of Palmetto Bay on SW 136th Street is a Home Depot. Like me, I am sure you’ll be spending plenty of time there to fix up your home just right.
The Falls Shopping Center is an open-air strolling mall with about 30 shops. Located just west of US-1 at 136th Street, you can’t miss the large monument sign. Outparcel The Fresh Market allows for alternative grocery shopping to Publix. The mall itself is host to anchors Macy*s and Bloomingdales. There is also a Regal multiplex movie theater.
The Falls Industrial area consists of warehouses, shops and restaurants and is located between 136th Street and 128th Street just west of US-1. It is best to take the 132nd Street turn off of US-1 to reach this location. Among the offerings is South Dade Electric, Bensons Lighting, several plumbing supply shops, tile and carpet stores and vendors who can provide parts for just about anything. In short, if you are looking for specialty items, you should check here first. You’ll probably find it!
Dadeland Shopping Center is a larger, more mainstream shopping mall located north of Palmetto Bay by about 10 minutes. Best way there is US-1 to the Palmetto Expressway northbound. Exit at 88th Street and you will see the mall to your right.
Opened in 2012, Fuddruckers is hard to beat for good burgers. Owned by a family from Pinecrest, this particular restaurant takes pride in their community involvement.
Starbucks is in two locations in Palmetto Bay. One is at US-1 and 148th Street. This location features a drive-thru to get you on your way. There is also one off Old Cutler Road at SW 168th Street in a little “town corner” which features two gas stations, a BB&T bank, dry cleaner and more.
At that same corner is the wonderful Alaine’s Osteria restaurant. It is a great Italian place with nearly every family member involved in the restaurant. There is a Miller’s Ale House at 136th Street and US-1. For eating in or taking out, China Gold is a favorite of my family at US-1 and SW 152nd Street. Krispy Kreme also operates at US-1 and SW 168th Street. Many other fine restaurants from inexpensive to not so cheap are waiting to take your money.
Three diner/deli type restaurants are worth noting due to their local hangout status. Within Palmetto Bay, you can try Original Lots of Lox. Just north on US-1, please check out Wagons West in the Suniland Shopping Center (US-1 at 114th Street). This has been a staple to the community since 1980 and is one of the family favorites. Still further north is Roasters ‘n Toasters in two Pinecrest locations (US-1 and SW 128th Street & US-1 and SW 94th Street), known as the best deli in Florida. A bit more expensive than the first two, but you can’t beat their food.
Deering Estate - If you are interested in the early history of Miami, Cutler and the Palmetto Bay area, look no further than the Deering Estate located off Old Cutler Road and SW 168th Street. Besides hosting events like the annual Seafood Festival, this is a great place to get some culture and stroll the grounds of a unique part of South Florida.
Zoo Miami – Located on SW 152nd Street about five miles west from US-1, this is a tremendous zoo. Zoo Miami offers discounts to families, a monorail option for getting around and hosts 40 endangered species. Since 1948, the zoo has opened its doors to kids and adults from around the world.
Fairchild Tropical Gardens – This is a treasure of South Florida. Located on Old Cutler Road north of Palmetto Bay at SW 119th Street, Fairchild Tropical Gardens has a lot more than just tropical gardens. This is a great social and cultural center as well. Dale Chihuli’s hand-blown glass art graces many areas of the grounds. Don’t miss the butterfly exhibit!
Black Point Marina – If you have a boat and want to launch to Biscayne Bay, this Cutler Bay spot is a great place to do so. Black Point Marina also has a great Ocean Grill restaurant/bar, where (if you are lucky) you’ll see one of South Florida’s great cover rock bands, Mr. Nice Guy.
Matheson Hammock – A park, beach and marina. This public park gets you close to the water activities you want. Located off Old Cutler Road at SW 96th Street, Matheson Hammock has many boat slips, launches, a restaurant (Red Ocean Grill) and a man made beach (really a lagoon-like lake).
GET GOING IN PALMETTO BAY
Beyond knowing Palmetto Bay better, you will want to use my online resource for getting started in South Florida. Everything from getting your electric and water turned on to filing for homestead exemption can be found in one place... at MiamiHal’s website.
I look forward to seeing you soon and talking more about everything Palmetto Bay has to offer!
The Village of Palmetto Bay has history going back to the Native American tribes that inhabited the area. Several historical markers dot the landscape. you can learn more here.