If traffic wasn’t an issue, what would be your favorite roads and streets to drive on in Miami? Being such a car-forward city, the best way to get around is by four wheels (much to our rush hour-hating dismay). But there are some brilliant upsides to living in such a drivable city. For one, we get to see more of a colossal plot of land in a remarkably unique natural landscape. And, since the city’s roads have only grown out and expanded, some of Miami’s most charming neighborhoods are easily navigable, giving you a dose of history in one short car ride. Now that the weather is gorgeous and traffic is starting to abate since the holidays are kicking in, take some of these drives:
While it might not have the stellar skyline views of other large bridges, it does have that low-to-the-ground nostalgic field from the moment you pass its historical tollbooth. The houses are all breathtaking, but it’s the mini bridges that connect these islands to Sunset Harbor that make it exciting. One moment you’ll be surrounded by residential greenery, the next you’ll be shooting out over the bay and back again.
The western corridor of Coral Way might not be as picturesque as its Eastern cousin, but as you enter Coral Gables with Red Road behind you, you’ll be stepping into a different time. The original Gables gates in front of you, mini parks and benches constantly greeting you, and above you only the natural archway created by century-old wild oaks. Along this stretch you’ll even pass the historical George Merrick House, a landmark by the founder of the neighborhood built out of, you guessed it: coral.
Before you groan, remember that we said “if traffic wasn’t an issue” so just imagine if this Miami Beach artery was empty save for you and your windows down. Collins Avenue is a pretty breathtaking sight if you give it the chance, no matter whether you’re a tourist or not. Art Deco hotels in an array of pastel colors greet you all the way to the 100s and even further up north. The beauty is never-ending.
There’s no denying that Coconut Grove is one of Miami’s most beautiful neighborhoods, and never lacking of lush nature to reel you into its charm. Main Highway is as old as the neighborhood itself, thus giving way to historical views along the ride. When driving through the grove and passing its tropical gated communities, you’ll reach the center of the area and shoot out onto South Bayshore, another main pillar. South Bayshore’s best architectural creations on display for all the world to see, we love passing the oolite limestone ridge–our natural coastline–and see the rock formations first-hand. And what could be better than ending at Vizcaya Museum & Gardens (and the original science museum for us OG locals)? Come on.
Miami and The Beaches
Another main artery running through the north and south of Coral Gables is Granada Blvd. Along this drive you’ll pass some of our city’s most beautiful houses and historical landmarks. Estates preserved in time, The Biltmore Hotel, and even the Spanish-revival architecture that Merrick loved so much. You’ll pass the DeSoto Fountain, Venetian Pool, and a beloved local spot: The Granada Golf Course.
Keeping the Boulevards close together (and again reminding you about the no traffic thing), Biscayne is easily one of the most exciting drives in our city. For an out-of-towner, to get to experience the Downtown skyline up close and personal is truly a rare sight. Witnessing the Freedom Tower–a relic among modern skyscrapers–still standing strong, then seeing the arena, the PAMM and our highways is unimaginable (mainly because our Downtown is almost never shown in pop culture). Even the 50s and 60s of Biscayne Boulevard, where MiMo architecture still reigns supreme is a game-changer for any eyes.
This one’s short, but the views will linger for a long time. Driving to Key Biscayne, you’ll get a nice introduction to the coastal pines still thriving along the islands and if you go so far as to actually get on the Key, you’ll get a nice drive in Crandon with its many palm trees and sea grapes. But it’s the return trip that makes it worthwhile: driving up the causeway again, look to your right and bask in the glory of the best skyline view of Downtown you’ll ever see. Day or night.
Another wonderfully lush and historical drive in the center of Coral Gables, Alhambra Circle has a handful of more remote and hidden secrets you’ll love to come upon. You’ll drive along The Biltmore golf course and note the quietness of its surrounding neighborhood. But for us, it’s the Alhambra Water Tower that outshines every charming house you’ll pass. “The Lighthouse that never saw the ocean,” it’s a colorfully preserved marvel and a glimpse into the calmness of Coral Gables’ past.
The Miami Beach staple has been on and off construction for quite some time, so let’s pretend it’s running smoothly for the purpose of this piece. The part of Alton Road north of Mount Sinai, just after the golf course and the high way ramp, is one of our favorite drives to take. While sticking to the speed limit might be hard here, we advise you to take your time and and enjoy its winding and weaving, rows of nice houses and palm trees, until you shoot right back out onto bustling Indian Creek once more.
We saved the best for last. My own personal favorite drive in all of South Florida and our longest-surviving street: Old Cutler Road. This one drive can take you from homestead all the way through Downtown. If you’re driving south from Coconut Grove, pop onto Old Cutler at Cocoplum Circle and you’ll begin your descent through towering banyans and oaks, past Fairchild Tropical Garden and so many shaded areas you’ll want to stop several times to take it all in. Old Cutler Road plows through South Miami and Pinecrest until you reach Charles Deering Estate Park, and then you can keep going until literal farmland. But we like the drive best from The Grove to Deering and back again.
South Florida Finds