An old seafaring settlement, the Grove is a village within Miami proud of its glorious vegetation, wild peacocks, and reputation for artsy, eccentric behavior. Chain stores, restaurants, and McMansions have encroached, but it still remains a local hangout. The tony neighborhood, ten minutes south of downtown Miami, has an upbeat street life, thanks to outdoor cafés, some clothing and jewelry boutiques, and clubs.
Start at (1) Peacock Park, a small, grassy area along Biscayne Bay with a baseball field, tiny playground, and walking bridge from which stingrays and manatees can be spotted on clear days. Bay View Inn (later known as Peacock Inn), the first hotel on the South Florida mainland, was built here in 1882 by English immigrants Isabella and Charles Peacock. In the 1960s and early '70s, the park was a prime hangout for hippies. Across from the park is the (2) Coconut Grove Sailing Club.
Walk in front of the club, heading north on South Bayshore Drive. Take the first left and walk up Mary Street. One block up, merge slightly to the left to get onto Grand Avenue. You'll pass (3) Mayfair in the Grove shops on your right, where you'll find outdoor kiosks selling sunglasses, T-shirts, and beach wraps, as well as Out of Africa, a store selling African statues, clothing, and jewelry, and Cuban Pete's cigar store. There also are chains like Ann Taylor Loft and United Colors of Benetton.
Continue up Grand until you reach a three-way traffic light. This is the heart of the Grove, where you can catch Johnny Rockets waiters singing and dancing to the Bee Gees in the median if the mood hits them. On your right is (4) CocoWalk, a three-story complex of shoes, and clothing shops and restaurants (Gap, Victoria's Secret, The Cheesecake Factory, Café Tu Tu Tango, Los Ranchos). Continue down Grand Avenue one block and stop at (5) Jaguar Ceviche Spoon Bar & Latam (as in Latin American) Grill on the right to try the sampler ceviche, with six varieties on large white ceramic spoons.
Afterward, run across the street to (6) The Maya Hatcha (www.mayahatcha.com), a Grove fixture since 1968. Filled with incense, Indonesian dance masks, Madagascar straw hats, glass bead necklaces from India, embroidered Indian shirts, leather sandals, and cotton bedspreads from India, the store has changed little in the past 35 years.
Continue down Grand, past the bikini and condom shops, then turn left to head up (7) Commodore Plaza, a quaint block of restaurants and shops. Stop into IOS for designer clothes that draw the models over from South Beach, then duck into The Fashionista, a consignment boutique across the street where you can get cast-off Jimmy Choo heels and Fendi bags at a discount.
Stop for a jolt of caffeine at the outdoor Cuban coffee counter at (8) Coco's, on the corner of Commodore Plaza and Main Highway. Or, if you're willing to linger, sit at one of the outdoor tables for a cappuccino across the street at (9) Greenstreet, the local favorite place to be seen.
Cross Main Highway and head south for a block to get to (10) The Barnacle Historic State Park (www.floridastateparks.org/thebarnacle). Built in 1891, it's the former home and boathouse of Commodore Ralph Middleton Munroe and one of the oldest houses in Miami-Dade County. Walk down a wooded path to get to the unique house, with its period furniture and wide porch offering a magnificent view of Biscayne Bay. Tours are provided Friday through Monday by park rangers (group tours are available Tuesday through Thursday by reservation). The forest surrounding the house is a tropical hardwood hammock—the last of its kind in the area. Outdoor concerts are held here every full moon night, except in the summer, when the mosquitoes can carry you away.
You'll want a refresher at the end. After leaving the park, head further south down Main Highway to end your walk at (11) Cefalo's in the Grove (www.cefaloswine.com), a wine bar on the former site of the 76-year-old Taurus tavern, now owned by former Miami Dolphins player turned TV sports anchor Jimmy Cefalo.
2014 Traveler Photo Contest
See all the winning images from the 2014 Traveler Photo Contest.