Vizcaya Mansion and Gardens
Print Leave a comment
Vizcaya Mansion was the bayside winter estate of James Deering, who made his riches through his family's farm equipment company. The mansion is built in mediterranean revival style, but is unique in that local materials such as coral were used in its creation. It has open air rooms, a feature adapted to the South Florida climate, and a sunny inner courtyard that is now mercifully covered and air-conditioned, yet still allows light to enter. The East Loggia that looks out on the water is truly incredible with its floor to ceiling glass doors looking out on the varying blues of the bay. From the East Loggia, one can walk out onto the East Terrace, and wow! This is what you've come to see!
In the bay there is a "barge," a folly made of coral with Italian-style sculptures by Alexander Stirling Calder. Here, when Deering entertained, his guests could arrive by boat where the barge created a spot sheltered by the waves between the barge and the East Terrace. They could then enjoy drinks and tropical breezes from the barge. The barge was built on land and then the land was dug out around it to surround it with water. What a wonderful idea! Gondolas (electric because the current in the bay was too strong for plain gondolas) were tied to the yellow and blue striped gondola poles which still remain. What a colorful scene! You can't help but be mesmerized by it as the water glistens before you.
The gardens are also full of color. Bright geometric designs called parterres, and pools of jade green, inspire the imagination. Tropical plants that catch the light mix with Italian-style sculptures. There are two sphinx sculptures, lions with human heads, at the entrance to the maze. The maze is disappointing because it does not reach high to the sky. It is also by the mangroves where mosquitoes will attack you, so stay clear! Amazing fig trees can be found on the property.
Inside the house are dark, musty rooms filled with over-the-top wallpaper and busy decorations. The upstairs bedrooms don't take advantage of the amazing views but are awful! The rooms you want to see are the gorgeous East Loggia looking out on the bay, the South Loggia with its stained glass, ironwork gates, and decorated ceiling, and the bright Courtyard.
Make sure you eat in the cafe, which has a real chef and delicious food, in a historic room with marble and terrazzo floors and arched windows. You pass the lovely aquamarine pool on your way to the cafe. What a delight!
The audio tour is recommended. It has just the right amount of information and allows you to learn all about the house and how it was built. School-aged kids enjoy following along with the audio tour.
Take a short drive across the bridge to Key Biscayne and enjoy the magical Bill Baggs Beach.
James' brother, Charles Deering, also had an estate in Miami. You can visit it: Deering Estate at Cutler Bay.
Photo GalleryClick on photo to see large version
Vizcaya Mansion and Gardens is located at 3251 South Miami Ave, Miami FL 33129, call (305) 250-9133. The museum is near Highway 95 and therefore really easy to drive to.
Open Wednesday- Monday 9:30-4:30. Closed Tuesdays, Thanksgiving Day (fourth Thurs in Nov) and Dec 25.
Admission is $18 for adults, $12 for seniors, $10 for students, $6 for children aged 6-12.
The cafe is open 10-5 on days that the museum is open.
This is an interactive map, you can zoom and move it.
Overall Visitor Rating: Unrated.