To the rest of the world, Miami may seem like a beach-hopper and style guru’s dream, boasting some of the best shopping and sun-soaking around. But to locals thirsty for a constant influx of culture and adventure, our city is bursting with hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. It may be a young city, but Miami’s history is rich in artistic abundance and cultural development, becoming named (not surprisingly) “The Gateway to the Americas.” All over the city, in between the sand and the winding highways, are secret spots even locals don’t know about and you’re about to get the inside scoop.
Hidden on the outskirts of Little Havana and surrounded by studios, startups, and the delicious aromas of Little Bread Cuban Sandwich Co. stands the humble El Fresco Courtyard. Maintained by Daniel “Krave” Fila, a local hero and talented street artist, the secret outdoor hang is polka-dotted by his artwork, and filled with swaying banana leaves, picnic tables, and even a mini stage for impromptu performances. With pop-up food trucks and an airstream that doubles as a bar, El Fresco is a perfect spot to take someone you’d like impress with your local knowledge.
Some locals will recognize the Fairchild family name, which belongs to the namesake of the city’s largest tropical botanic garden. What most Miamians don’t know, is that his nine-acre home off of Main Highway in Coconut Grove is also a sight to behold, brimming with thousands of plant species from all over the world. As you walk into the Spanish and South East Asian-inspired estate, you’re greeted with undulating banyan trees, rolling lawns and one of the best views of Biscayne Bay in the city. The air is quiet there, completely detached from the rest of the city, and the Kampong is home to one of the largest salt-water mangrove forests in the area.
Locals do know that a drive to The Redlands is entirely worth it, serving as the home for unlimited nurseries, fruit stands, baked goods, vintage markets and so much more. What locals don’t know is that the culture down there is full of representatives from all over the world. Standing spotless behind vibrant bougainvillea bushes and guarded by gilded lions is Miami’s Theravada Buddhist temple. For more than 30 years, Wat Buddharangsi has opened its doors to people from all walks of life, urging visitors to connect with monks as if they were in their own home. Originally named The Temple of Homestead, the Wat houses a Buddha statue created to bring peace and joy to all who sit in front of it.
Wat Buddharangsi, 15200 S.W. 240th St., Miami; 305-245-2702
As one of Miami’s largest historical landmarks, the Biltmore Hotel stands tall among the quiet residential neighborhoods of Coral Gables. Home to (arguably) one of the most picturesque golf courses in the city, the palatial resort has many hidden nooks among the greens. What most people aren’t aware of is that anyone can come to visit the grounds, get a bucket in, and enjoy a beer with one of the most beautiful sunset views in all of Miami at the 19th Hole Bar & Grill. Sit outside and enjoy classic American fare, watch a game, and even enjoy Happy Hour five days a week at a steal considering its in one of Miami’s most exclusive hotels.
1200 Anastasia Ave, Coral Gables; open 7 a.m.-10 p.m. daily; 305-913-3200
Miami has quite the abundance of places to mine for vintage and thrift treasures, but none so extensive and well-hidden as Stoneage. Right on the Miami River, this antique purveyor provides endless nuggets of historical time capsules, from 18th-century cannons to nautical treasures all over their huge warehouse. A 70-year-old pickup truck and piles of wagon wheels welcome you as you make your way through the maze-like winding aisles. There’s absolutely no way you can spend less than two hours at this place, packed with so much magic it feels like something out of a Harry Potter novel. This is definitely a spot for a payday celebration.
Stoneage Antiques, 3236 N.W South River Drive., Miami; 305-633-5114
There is no better adjective more fitting to describe The Little Farm House than “eclectic.” A tropical oasis on a concealed bend of the Little River off-shoot of the Miami River, this one-acre tropical oasis has been the location for multiple film and photo shoots. The grounds are broken into six mini 1920s cabins, one main Key West-style main house, a boathouse, and even a barn all covered by lush verdant forests of native trees and wildlife. Tons of hidden spots for bonfires, blooming flowers and waddling ducks make this one of the quaintest areas in town. Part-wildlife rescue (say “Hi” to Rebecca the pig), part-event venue, The Little Farm House is one of the best kept secrets in Miami.
The Little Farm House, 281 NE 84 St., Miami; 305-458-1030
If you’re looking for an escape across the world and even back in time, Rouge in North Beach is the perfect spot. Considered by many as the best French restaurant in the city, the intimate bistro incorporates the aromas and flavors of Spain and Morocco for a remarkable twist. But we’re not here to talk about the food. It’s their courtyard that is on our list of hidden gems. Aged bricks blended with Moroccan designs, fireplaces and colorful bougainvillea plants bring the outdoor experience together, and the skillful jazz concerts makes for the perfect romantic getaway.
Rouge, 908 71st St., Miami Beach; 305-720-9125