Though you wouldn't know it to look at it now, plumb with sidewalk cafes, surf shops and college bars, Coconut Grove was a Bahamian community originally populated in 1825, when the Cape Florida Lighthouse was constructed. White Bahamians of British descent were followed some fifty years later by black islanders who worked at the Peacock Inn, the first hotel to be built in South Florida (it was originally called the Bay View Inn.)
In addition to boasting the first mainland hotel, Coconut Grove, which was annexed by Miami in 1925, also features the oldest, preserved structure, built in 1891 by yachting enthusiast Ralph Middleton Munroe, the Commodore and founder of the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. Now a museum, the house is referred to as the Barnacle (full name The Barnacle Historic State Park) and features concerts and other events on its lawn throughout the year.
Nearby, Villa Vizcaya, also known as Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, is another architectural bonanza, especially for lovers of Baroque Italian Renaissance and Mediterranean Revival Style. Industrialist-cum-conservationist James Deering, who used estate as his winter residence, built the ornate house and collected both the furniture and the plants for the garden with the help of design director Paul Chalfin. Perfectly preserved, Vizcaya is often the spot for both elaborate parties and movie sets, including such gems as Ace Ventura: Pet Detective and Any Given Sunday.
Seventy years later, the Beatniks claimed the Grove as their own, turning the village into an artsy retreat. The Doors played their famous"indecent" concert nearby here, on Dinner Key, and while not much remains of the love-ins and counter-culture movement, Coconut Grove still retains an appeal for artists and musicians, which can be seen among the trendier shops and open-air malls of CocoWalk and Streets of Mayfair. Indeed, Coconut Grove is most widely known across the nation for its Coconut Grove Arts Festival as well the Great Taste of the grove (which preceeded the more celebrity-driven Food Network South Beach Wine & Food Festival) and the Bahamanian celebration, the Goombay Festival.© NileGuide