Everyone loves a good trip down to the Everglades for an airboat ride and alligator sightings, but we have news for you. There is so much more to discover in the area known as the “Miami’s Countryside”. Thirty minutes from Downtown, you will find yourself surrounded by acres of lush farmland, exotic tropical fruits and vegetables, stunning orchids, and old country roads. Stroll and shop through an eclectic historic village, enjoy a craft fruit wine pairing with farm-to-table dinner, or drink a farm fresh smoothie while you pick out perfectly ripe produce for the week. As our Sound Guru Jared said – it’s where to go when you want wide open space and time with nature, a welcome break from the Miami hustle.
If you have some free time and love a bit of exploration, follow our Guru Guide to The Redlands. And remember: “we go first” ™.
With acres of Redlands countryside to explore, it’s best to start at the beginning, literally. Cauley Square is a historic village located just one block west of US1 and at the doorstep of The Redlands District. This is considered the first stop of what is known as the Historic Redlands Tropical Trail. Park your car in a shady spot and find hand-painted red street signs and illustrated maps directing you to each resident gem. As we wandered around the music filled gardens, we felt like we had traveled back in time – understandable, since many of the small wooden shops were restored homes hand-built by pioneers of South Dade in the early 1990’s who arrived with Flagler’s rail. Through hurricanes, wars, and more hurricanes, the Square declined but was magically and generously restored. The first time in 1949, an interior designer and art historian restored the Square and created the original Tea Room, where today you can still enjoy tea and sweets on delicate china, lace, and crystal. In 2001, a 10-year beautification project added The Village Chalet restaurant and new shops; a yoga studio, a salt cave, a charming book store and shops that sell locally made macrame, jewelry, and paintings.
Closed Mondays and Tuesdays.
Drive 6 miles South (about 15 min) and you will find what is known as the Coral Castle. What is so amazing about this place is not only that it is the spectacular remains of an intricately built home made entirely of oolite limestone, but also that it was carved and sculpted over 28 years single handedly by one man – Edward Leedskalnin – with over 1,000 tons of rock; he was barely 5 feet tall and had no machinery or equipment, only his hands. History says he was to marry his true love, but she left the day before the wedding. Driven by his aching sadness, he built this castle as a testament to his one true love.
Head west to R.F. Orchids and find yourself surrounded by endless rows of gorgeous exotic orchids. Wander through the lush tropical landscaping to find their gazebo they use for weddings and beautiful waterfalls and koi pond. It may be impossible to take a bad picture here. This is one of the oldest and most respected orchid firms. You may get an escorted walking tour of the private garden at 11am and 3pm, Saturdays and Sundays.
Head west again to Schnebly Redland’s Winery and Brewery. Peter Schnebly was a fruit farmer frustrated by the waste of bruised or damaged fruit. He partnered with a craft winemaker to create exotic fruit wines, and in 2005 created Schnebly Winery. Curiosity seekers came to enjoy the tastings, so in 2014, he partnered with a craft brew master, and now Schnebley’s boasts wine, beer and farm-to-table food in the lush subtropics of South Dade. Visit this Colonial-style mansion surrounded by palm trees and greenery of every size and species and reserve the beautiful back patio and tiki hut for tastings and events or come for country night line dancing and axe throwing at the brewery.
Schnebly’s is the southernmost winery and brewery in the US, and the wine and beer are crafted from the bounty of our very own Miami Countryside. Yes – some wine flavors were too exotic for our tastes, but the lychee wine was refreshing, the beer was tasty, and the cuisine was – yes – farm fresh.
Check out happy hours, electric music night, and line dancing on Fridays. Live music on Sundays.
Robert is Here
Head south 5 minutes and you will find the Miami institution of Robert is Here. The story goes Robert was 6 years old in 1959 and started a fruit stand to help his dad sell produce from the family farm. His dad made him a sign saying “Robert is Here” for his fruit stand and you can still find Robert selling fruit under his sign today. People come to enjoy their fresh smoothies and Cuban sandwiches and stroll around his market. You can find locally made jams, jellies, mustqards, sauces, and picture-perfect produce. Have you ever had a mamey coconut milkshake? Tasted a guanabana or a canistel? Oh – and go around back to see the petting zoo and vintage tractors. Robert is Here is a local institution and a great stop.
In September, this Colombian restaurant Pueblito Paisa reopens on Saturdays and Sundays. This family has recreated a typical Colombian farm town with beautiful, small houses with painted wooden balconies. Order one of their tropical fruit juices and try their empanadas or Bandeja Paisa.
Are you a foodie or just love fruit? Your last stop is 6.6 miles north (about 13 minutes). Check out this 37-acre park filled with more than 500 varieties of exotic fruits, spices, herbs, and nuts from all over the world. Imagine 180 varieties of mangos and 40 varieties of bananas; jackfruit, sapodillas, papaya, lemons, limes, lychee, coconuts, and more… but the signs make clear to eat only fallen fruit. You can enjoy an educational tram tour each day at 11am or 1:30pm, and there are tasting tours guided by a Naturalist who will show you all that’s in season on a “tasting tour of the Tropics” available daily at 3pm.