Businessman James Deering didn’t leave a corner of his 20th century estate untouched by his lavish taste. The mansion sits on many acres of thriving plant life, all serving as a makeshift museum. The furniture is antique & the inside architecture was created with an old Victorian-like image in mind. He enjoyed his contemporary paintings filling the walls; lush rugs that line the floors; his mystical paintings on the cieling of a nearby outdoor shelter; but the true magic is outside, where the plants seem to be singing with life.
Displaying some of the winning architecture & flora of Miami, Villa Vizcaya takes “Secret Garden” to a whole new level. Unique plants decorate the grounds, surrounding the concrete filled with coral fossils which serves as the backbone to this gorgeous estate-turned-museum. Fountains wrap around the enormous yard; bushes are sculpted to mimic a mini maze; even the steps are a work of art, all together comprising a truly enchanting abode for the average Joe to enjoy, just right if you’re looking for a respite from the chaos of Miami culture.
After paying the worthwhile $18 per person entry fee at the gate, the path leads explorers around the house and through some of the more uncommon plants of the Miami area. The trees seem unreal. Sprinkles of soft green vines and moss cover the branches, providing endless amounts of canopy shade. Unlimited options for picture-taking! It’s clear everything on the grounds was created or sculpted with an aesthetic inspired by Mother Nature, perfect for a family event or sentimental date. Statues and detailed architecture makes for an unforgettable stroll-through. Everything from layers of coconut palms—fitting, as the district in which the mansion resides is called Coconut Grove—to several species of cacti, fan palms, & exotic flowers make up the forest-like garden museum.
Located directly by the water, with moss decorating it’s way through the crevices of the concrete lining the shore, the former household of James Deering seems to be yet another utopia in Miami. Just a few meters offshore sits a half-sunken “ship” made of concrete and topped with intricate statues and pillars to admire, another indication of Deering’s affinity for elegance. A gazebo is nestled inside a cluster of mangrove trees lining the villa’s backyard shoreline. The staff have done a good job with upkeep, as everything looked well-preserved in honor of the late James Deering. He grew his business reputation as an agricultural equipment manufacturer—unsurprising, as he was a conservationist who built on the land lined with invaluable Mangrove trees as an effort to preserve the area.
Villa Vizcaya is truly a work of art, available for viewing every day of the week from 9:30am to 4:30pm, not including holidays. Parking on the estate makes for easy entry and exit, and the cafe on-site has great ratings. Guided tours are available, but it was nice to be able to explore the grounds for myself and enjoy the nooks and crannies I found without a tour guide.
The mansion attracts people from everywhere, though many locals of Miami have never heard of it, making it a sort of hidden gem for the nature lovers looking to appreciate a little art as well. Deering’s Italian Renaissance-style home is most appreciated by those who enjoy a mix of history, nature, and art, & less geared as a children’s attraction. The villa has been used as the backdrop for many wedding, birthday, & graduation pictures and several Hollywood hits have been filmed at the estate, yet it is still largely unheard of, accrediting “Secret Garden” to ring more true than expected. Vizcaya Museum & Gardens is best enjoyed with a bottle of water, camera, and a curious mind!
Services, Miami-Dade County Online. “Vizcaya Museum & Gardens – Vizcaya Museum & Gardens.” Vizcaya Museum & Gardens – Vizcaya Museum & Gardens. N.p., n.d. Web. 29 June 2017.