Explore by bike
George Merrick’s vision for Coral Gables comes alive when you cycle through his seven planned villages: French Normandy, French City, French Country, Chinese, Italian, South African Dutch and Pioneer Village. The Greek period homes back up on to the Biltmore Golf Course, on one of my favourite Miami streets, Santa Maria. If you’ve got the legs for it, hire a bike for two days and spend the second on the Shark Valley loop. This 15-mile bike trail winds through the Everglades. Watch out for the 14-foot alligators lying on the side, and sometimes across, the path. The signs suggest giving a 15-foot berth to the animals, but the trail is barely that wide.
Swim at the Venetian Pool
Created in 1923 from an abandoned four-acre coral rock quarry that had been dug to build much of the Gables, this 820,000-gallon pool is festooned with porticos, loggias and grottoes, and is fed with icy spring water from an underground aquifer. The only swimming pool to grace America’s National Historic Register, it used to be regularly drained for the Miami Symphony Orchestra to perform.
The Venetian pool, 2701 de Soto Boulevard, Coral Gables; coralgables.com/venetianpool
Tour Stiltsville by boat
Built in the 1930s, these overwater houses-on-stilts a mile off the coast in Biscayne Bay are most famous for serving as bars during the prohibition era. At its peak, there were 27 homes, and six remain today. Look out for the Landlord, the “very sweet” and very large hammerhead shark known to keep watch over the area. Those with some experience of kayaking can also paddle around this unique ecosystem.
Paddle the Seagrasses: biscaynenationalparkinstitute.org/kayak-the-seagrasses-of-stiltsville