In Part 2 of this two Part visit to Greater Miami, we'll visit a garden paradise, shop at a unique store that has survived for three decades and dine at a charismatic ocean front restaurant.
after David Fairchild, one of the world's foremost plant explorers, this
83-acre botanical garden, with eleven lakes, is located in Coral Gables,
Florida. Open to the public in 1938, this beautiful sanctuary was the
dream of Robert Montgomery, a successful businessman with a passion for
nature and plant collecting. Together with the help of his friend, David
Fairchild, he created the one place in the continental U.S. where tropical
plants could flourish and grow year round.
One of the many wonderful things about Fairchild is that you can wander freely about the property. You're welcome to bring a book and blanket and stretch out on one of the lush green lawns or you can go on a photo shoot and capture the many species of plants and palms on film. There's also a guided tour from a tram (take it!) free with your price of admission. The tour guide will explain the different areas of Fairchild and the types of plants you'll see along the way. It's a great way to get acquainted with your surroundings, and then you can venture off on your own to your favorite spots.
Fairchild is full of rare palms, cycads and exotic plants. There's a magnificent Endangered Species Garden where you can see several species of palms, shrubs, small trees and herbs, which, had it not been for places like Fairchild, might have already disappeared from the earth. Many small animals that are indigenous to the tropical climate like ducks, lizards, turtles and alligators and can be seen wandering the premises. It's best if you don't feed them, however.
Some of the other collections and special places to visit are the Bamboo Collection, a garden of more than 20 species of bamboo; The Mayan Fruit Garden, a fruit and vegetable garden employing age old planting methods from theYucatan peninsula of Mexico; the Mongomery Palmetum, a collection of some 900 palms, many of which are endangered; and the Chachi House, an authentic rainforest dwelling built by Chachi people who come from the rainforest of northern Ecuador. In addition to the above, there are several other special areas you will want to visit, including a rainforest. You can find them by picking up a free guide and map at the Garden's front entrance.
as far as gift shops go, you're very likely to find the best one you've
ever been in, right here! I am a gift shop enthusiast. This gift shop
gets a two thumbs up and a click of the heels. Filled with unusual gifts,
jewelry, lamps, books on plants and educational items, you'll be browsing
for a while, so give yourself time to take it all in.
On one of my visits, I was lucky enough to catch the Chihuly exhibit, which displayed a variety of glass sculptures mixed in with the lanscape of the gardens. View the Photo Essay.
my own visit here, I was awestruck and profoundly inspired by the beauty
that surrounded me. Fairchild Tropical Garden is a one-of-a-kind experience
that brings the magnificent splendor of nature and God to one joyous place.