Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is one of the South’s most stunning mansions, home to the former tycoon James Deering outside of Miami, Florida. It’s now become a museum to his life there and has stunning gardens. The lavish residence was modeled after the Italian villas that were popular at the time. Today the estate is a spot used for photo shoots for weddings and quinceañeras.
The History of Villa Vizcaya
James Deering’s father built his own home in Coconut Grove in the 1910s. During this time, Deering met Paul Chalfin and F. Burrall Hoffman, who became Villa Vizcaya’s creative director and architect. He purchased 130 acres overlooking the bay for his winter home and construction began in 1914.
Deering moved in 1916 and the home quickly attracted the attention of publications like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar. The gardens were expanded and became one of the beautiful features of the property. The first film used the villa as a location in 1920.
Deering died in 1925, only getting to enjoy his home for a few years. The Miami hurricane caused damage the following year but Vizcaya was restored. It opened as a museum in 1953, originally the Dade County Art Museum. Since then, it’s been visited by the likes of Ronald Reagan, Queen Elizabeth, Frank Sinatra, Bill Clinton, and Pope John Paul II.
What to See at Villa Vizcaya
Start your tour on the first floor, where the rooms surround a courtyard that was once open but is now covered to protect the historic site. Wander through the extravagant library, dining room, and living room, all located on the ground floor. Upstairs are Deering’s bedroom and his guest rooms. Admire the somewhat over-the-top furnishings.
Outside, visitors can enjoy the Italian-style gardens, which boast views of Biscayne Bay. Fountains and sculptures are incorporated into the designs of landscape architect Diego Suarez. The Garden Mound plays with perspective and gives the impression that you are inside a series of rooms.
Tips for Visiting Villa Vizcaya
Villa Vizcaya is located at 3251 South Miami Avenue, Miami, Florida 33129. The museum is open daily, but closed Tuesdays, from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is $22 for adults, $16 for seniors, $15 for students and $10 for children. No photography is allowed inside. Parking is free. Book your Transportation to Vizcaya Museum and Gardens before you go.
If you’re taking public transportation, go to the Vizcaya Metrorail Station. Cross US 1 on the pedestrian bridge and continue in the same direction, one block to South Miami Avenue. Cross SW 32 Road and proceed to the crosswalk before crossing South Miami Avenue to enter Vizcaya. The quirky Ermita de la Caridad is also nearby.
Where to Eat Near Villa Vizcaya
The Brickell Hammock neighborhood, near Villa Vizcaya, has a number of restaurants featuring European cuisines. El Carajo International Tapas & Wines offers traditional Spanish dishes like stuffed peppers and croquettes. Braga Portuguese Restaurant is named for the city in Northern Portugal and has what’s described as the best cod in Miami.
Where to Stay Near Villa Vizcaya
The Hilton Garden Inn Miami Brickell South is the closest hotel to Villa Vizcaya, offering balconies, in-room fridges, and an outdoor pool. If you’d rather stay in luxury, the colorful SLS Brickell Miami is a short drive away and has a swimming pool, bar, and large suites.