15 Best Things to Do in Coral Gables (FL)

Written by Bart Meeuwesen
Updated on
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Located in South Florida’s Miami-Dade County, Coral Gables is one of the principal cities in the sprawling Miami metropolitan area that is home to more than six million residents.

With a population of slightly more than 50,000, Coral Gables has a decidedly quaint feel compared to Miami, but it’s one of the most exclusive and priciest cities in an area that’s full of for them.

It’s close to some amazing beaches, world-class retail facilities, and natural, cultural and artistic attractions, so finding things to do won’t be a problem regardless of budget or interests.

Below are 15 things to do in and around Coral Gables.

1. The Shops at Merrick Park

The Shops at Merrick ParkSource: Fotoluminate LLC / shutterstock
The Shops At Merrick Park

Like many South Florida neighborhoods in the vicinity of Miami, Coral Gables has the reputation as a destination for those looking to experience the finer things in life, even if they cost an arm and a leg.

Featuring exclusive international brands like Gucci, Burberry, and Tiffany & Co., The Shops at Merrick Park are for those who want to treat themselves to something special, or at the very least, do a little window shopping and dreaming.

Not just a retail therapy escape, the shops include a fitness center and a variety of dining establishments.

Bring plenty of cash and a high-limit credit card or two.

2. Coral Gables Merrick House

Coral Gables Merrick HouseSource: James Kirkikis / shutterstock
Coral Gables Merrick House

Originally built in 1906, the historic home known as the Coral Gables Merrick House is named after its architect and the founder of the city of Coral Gables, both of who were members of the Merrick family.

Since the early-’70s, it has been a historic site open to the public. It’s full of period art, furniture, and housewares that give guests a unique insight into the past.

Property tours are available twice weekly and are led by docents who are knowledgeable and enthusiastic.

For history and culture-minded travelers, it’s the perfect way to spend an hour or two getting up to speed on South Florida history.

The home is located on Coral Way in Coral Gables.

3. Coral Gables Museum

Coral Gables MuseumSource: meunierd / shutterstock
Coral Gables Museum

Housed in the city’s old police and fire station building, Coral Gables Museum is located downtown and includes thousands of square feet of indoor and outdoor space.

The museum’s galleries include a variety of historical items and contemporary art pieces done in a wide range of mediums, and the outdoor public areas are nothing short of stunning.

The grounds are expansive, and guided tour options are available on foot, by bike, and even by canoe for visitors who want to burn a few calories and get a unique perspective that land-bound visitors will miss out on.

The museum is located on Aragon Avenue in Coral Gables.

4. Lowe Art Museum

Lowe Art MuseumSource: 8ABL / Wikimedia
Lowe Art Museum

By its own reckoning, the Lowe Art Museum at the University of Miami contains nearly 20,000 items.

Though its beginnings were humble, from its founding in the early-’50s, it has grown into one of the state’s largest and most visited art destinations. Its exhibits include pieces from the European Renaissance, Africa, Asia, and North and South Americas.

Guests appreciate its variety, especially the works depicting the lives of the Native Americans who lived in the area for generations before it was explored and settled by Europeans.

Consider strolling around the campus and checking out the bookstore before heading off to your next adventure.

5. Books & Books

Books & BooksSource: booksandbooks.com
Books & Books

Though many diehard readers these days prefer to read on their phones and Kindles, for a certain portion of dedicated bibliophiles, good, old-fashioned print books are still favored.

Founded in 1982, Books & Books is an independent book shop that’s a favorite destination for those looking to pick up a good beach read, or just browse its eclectic collection of classic and contemporary books in a variety of genres.

The store has an onsite café and offers a variety of community activities and programs, including guest speakers, poetry readings, book launches, and ‘meet the author’ functions as well.

6. Old Cutler Trail

Old Cutler TrailSource: Buganvilla / shutterstock
Old Cutler Trail

Stretching for more than 10 miles along some of Coral Gables most scenic landscapes, the Old Cutler Trail is the perfect place for a bit of exercise away from the city’s hustle and bustle.

The trail is open to bikers, walkers, and runners and is largely shaded by towering trees on either side.

It’s not uncommon to see some of the area’s animal residents along the way, especially during the low-light morning and evening hours when many of them are active.

At its south end, the Cutler Trail connects to the popular Biscayne Trail, which adds another three miles to its length.

7. Actor’s Playhouse

Actor’s PlayhouseSource: Phillip Pessar / Flickr
Actor’s Playhouse

Featuring year-round productions appropriate for a wide variety of visitors, Actors’ Playhouse at Miracle Theatre is Coral Gable’s premier community performing arts venue and was founded in 1988.

Since then, the art deco inspired facility has received a multi-million dollar upgrade; though it’s still a quaint and charming theater, it sports state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems.

From serious dramas to lighthearted children’s productions and even standup comedy, there should be something for everyone, so check out the calendar of events on their website to see what’ll be on-stage when you’ll be in the area.

8. Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Bill Baggs Cape Florida State ParkSource: Felix Mizioznikov / shutterstock
Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park

Located on South Crandon Boulevard in Key Biscayne, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park sits on the southern end of the island and offers guests some of the most scenic vistas they’re likely to see on their Florida visit.

The park’s crown jewel is the historic Cape Florida Lighthouse that’s the oldest still-standing structure in the Miami area.

From lighthouse tours to swimming, sunbathing, and leisurely strolls along the beach, it’s the perfect destination for those looking to catch up on their local history, work on their tan, or just escape the chaotic hustle and bustle of the nearby city.

Guided tours are available, but not every day of the week, so check their website before making a special trip.

9. Coral Gables Art Cinema

Coral Gables Art CinemaSource: gablescinema.com
Coral Gables Art Cinema

Not at all like the national chain movie theaters that dot every mega-mall and show the same first-run movies as everybody else, Coral Gables Art Cinema is more of a boutique theater and specializes in independent, international, and classic movies.

It’s one of the city’s trendiest destinations, especially for those who’d rather enjoy a chic French film from the ’60s than stuff themselves with popcorn and synthetic butter while watching Sylvester Stallone save the world.

The screen is large, the seats are comfortable, and the air-conditioning is top notch, so consider stopping by for a show or two that you won’t find elsewhere.

10. Deering Estate

Deering EstateSource: Felix Mizioznikov / shutterstock
Deering Estate

As the winter estate for a family of ultra-wealthy industrialists from the early part of the 20th century, the Deering Estate is a South Florida icon that deserves a spot on the itineraries of historic and culturally minded travelers.

The estate is located on Southwest 72nd Street in Miami and is one of the most well-preserved sites of its kind.

In addition to being an industrialist, Charles Deering was a forward-thinking environmentalist, conservationist, and art lover. The home is full of period art and furniture that were considered the height of luxury by the day’s standards.

Daily guided tours are available, and the extensive grounds are great for a relaxing stroll.

11. Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden

Fairchild Tropical Botanical GardenSource: S.Borisov / shutterstock
Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden

Situated on nearly 90 acres of picturesque land on Old Cutler Road in Coral Gables, the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is one of the city’s most popular destinations, and not just for its stunning gardens and idyllic ambiance.

The garden’s mostly volunteer staff offer a variety of educational and instructional programs; many of them are specifically geared toward children and touch on botany, the environment, and the importance of natural habitat preservation.

The garden’s amenities include a learning center, museum, and an onsite laboratory. They also host a few popular events throughout the year, like the International Chocolate Festival.

12. Janette & Co.

Janette & Co.Source: Janette & Co. Macaron / Facebook
Janette & Co.

After a long day on your feet, there’s no better way to treat yourself than with a freshly baked pastry and a piping hot espresso.

Located on Miracle Mile in Coral Gables, Jeanette & Co. Macaron and French Pastries is one of the area’s premier bakeries, and all their products are baked fresh onsite every day.

For those not familiar with the treats, macarons are vibrantly colored pastries that feature a crispy outside and a variety of moist and tasty fillings, like chocolate, coconut cream, and Nutella.

It’s a popular morning or afternoon stop that’s known for its laidback atmosphere that’s a bit of Paris in the Sunshine State.

13. Matheson Hammock Park

Matheson Hammock ParkSource: SchnepfDesign / shutterstock
Matheson Hammock Park

At more than 600 acres, Coral Gable’s Matheson Hammock Park is big by any standards, but in addition to its size, it’s also an urban oasis that’s conveniently located near many of the city’s top attractions.

The park is adjacent to the aforementioned Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden, making it an easy side-excursion for those with an already-full itinerary. Its amenities include a full-service restaurant and a manmade tidal pool that’s water level rises and falls with that of nearby Biscayne Bay.

Fishing, hiking, and photography are favorite park activities, so check out their website for hours, directions, and a full list of activity options.

14. Titanic Brewing Company

Titanic Brewing CompanySource: Titanic Restaurant and Brewery / Facebook
Titanic Brewing Company

Located near the University of Miami campus on Ponce De Leon Boulevard in Coral Gables, Titanic Brewing Company is a favorite destination for those who’d rather sip a bold and vibrant local microbrew than a watered down and largely tasteless glass of suds from a national mega brewery. In addition to their beers, they’re a live entertainment venue and full-service restaurant as well.

From IPAs and bitters to stouts and wheats, there’s probably something on the menu to appeal to most palates. For those who’d rather sample some options before buying a pint, it’s possible to buy a sampler to help you hone in on your favorite.

15. Venetian Pool

Venetian Pool, Coral GablesSource: Marco Borghini / shutterstock
Venetian Pool, Coral Gables

For much of its existence, Coral Gables’ Venetian Pool was a swank resort. Though it’s much less exclusive than it once was, it’s still a popular local icon full of amazing features that are an interesting mix of the natural and manmade worlds.

The pool is filled by Artesian wells that supply it with cool water; when full, it holds more than 800,000 gallons.

A variety of caves and grottos have been carved into the surrounding rock, making for a unique swimming and exploration experience that you won’t find elsewhere.

The pool also features waterfalls, porticos, and plenty of seating areas shaded by towering palm trees.

15 Best Things to Do in Coral Gables (FL):

  • The Shops at Merrick Park
  • Coral Gables Merrick House
  • Coral Gables Museum
  • Lowe Art Museum
  • Books & Books
  • Old Cutler Trail
  • Actor’s Playhouse
  • Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park
  • Coral Gables Art Cinema
  • Deering Estate
  • Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden
  • Janette & Co.
  • Matheson Hammock Park
  • Titanic Brewing Company
  • Venetian Pool