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historic deering estate homes on the water in miami, fl

Miami Historic Places & Cultural Landmarks That You Need To Experience

Behind the Miami sunshine and Magic City skyline is a city filled with a rich history. South Beach may get all the national attention, but hundreds of thousands of visitors flock to South Florida every year to explore the variety of cultural landmarks, museums, and historical sites scattered throughout the city. Here are some of the top hidden gems worth exploring while visiting Miami.

historic deering estate homes in miami, fl

Explore Historic Architecture

Deering Estate — Palmetto Bay

From its archeological treasures to its eco-marvels, the legendary Deering Estate is one of Miami’s most fascinating landmarks. South Florida’s hidden gem offers guided tours through historic houses and exploring nature preserves, to a picnic and walk along the boat basin located on Biscayne Bay, a multitude of experiences awaits you here. The historic homes on this property were near and dear to the late founder Charles Deering. Each home fulfilled a different purpose. Visitors will have a chance to tour his private residence as well as the impressive home he built as a homage to his artistic pursuits.  

The Richmond Cottage — Palmetto Bay

The Richmond Cottage pre-dates the Stone House and was the last vestige of the former town of Cutler. Deering purchased it in 1916 as a winter home for his family and had it remodeled from its former life as a hotel. Here, the family would enjoy breathtaking views of the bay and the neighboring birds in this serene oasis. In 2022, the Deering Estate celebrates the 100th anniversary of the construction of the Stone House designed by Coral Gables’ celebrated architect, Phineas Paist. This historic building continues to serve as a community anchor and source of pride for South Florida and the State of Florida.

The Stone House — Palmetto Bay

In 1922, In order to house his extensive collection of art and books, Deering began construction of what would become the Stone House. The 3-story Mediterranean villa is built entirely of indigenous oolitic limestone and poured concrete. You’ll see the stately ballroom where many works of fine art are displayed, namely his self-portrait, as well as the many other rooms in the home which are deeply influenced by the seaside castles he saw on his travels to Spain.

Venetian Pool — Coral Gables

Enjoyed by hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, the Venetian Pool is one of the most prominent tourist attractions located in the City of Coral Gables. Created in 1923 from a naturally occurring coral rock quarry the 820,000-gallon pool is surrounded by palm trees, shady fields, and beautiful porticos. The quarry was reconfigured by renowned Coral Gables architect Phineas Paist and designed by artist Denman Fink.

Religious History

St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church — North Miami Beach

One of the most historic hidden gems in Miami is the Ancient Spanish Monastery. St. Bernard de Clairvaux Church is a medieval Spanish monastery cloister originally constructed in the town of Sacramenia in Segovia, Spain in the 12th century. It was later dismantled in the 20th century and shipped to New York City in the United States. It was eventually reassembled at 16711 West Dixie Highway as is now an Episcopal church.

Gesu Church — Downtown Miami

Gesù is the oldest Catholic Church in all of South Florida, and one of the oldest historical sights in all of Miami. In fact, the church was founded in April of 1896, before the City of Miami was established. One of the few institutions that preserve the history of the city, the Gesù Church was a religious refuge for many soldiers from the Spanish American War in 1898, and Veterans from the First World War in 1917. When all of Miami was a training camp during World War II in the 1940s, soldiers came to Gesù to receive the Sacraments. Explore this hidden gem and discover one of the true historical treasures of Miami.

Sunlight peeking through the trees on one of Deering Estate's nature trails

Historic Nature Walks

Deering Estate — Palmetto Bay

The legendary Deering Estate is lauded as one of the most fascinating historical sights in Miami. A top destination for nature lovers and family fun, Deering Estate features a rich history coupled with incredible nature trails. Discover a rare showcase of native South-Florida area habitats, from Pine Rocklands to the dense tropical forest of the Addison Hammock, and the mangrove-lined shores of Biscayne Bay.

Vizcaya Museum & Gardens — Miami

The Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is the former villa and estate of businessman James Deering. Not to be confused with his brother, Charles Deering, James sought to build his own opulent home, influenced by Veneto and Tuscan Italian Renaissance models and designed in the Mediterranean Revival architecture style, with Baroque elements. The lush gardens of Vizcaya, set along Biscayne Bay, are the real star attraction. Designed by Paul Chafin and Diego Suarez, the Italianate formal gardens beautifully showcase classical elements such as labyrinths, grottoes, reflecting pools, and a waterfall.

Experience Cultural History

Miccosukee Village and Airboats — Miami

The Miccosukee Village and Airboats experience offer a uniquely South Florida attraction and is regarded as one of the most prominent historic sites worth exploring. the Miccosukee Indian Village showcases the history, culture, and lifestyle of the Miccosukee Indian Tribe. Discover a variety of demonstrators and displays from woodcarving to patchwork, beadwork, basket weaving, and doll making. Then experience a thrilling Airboat ride and experience the fun of gliding over the everglades.

The Freedom Tower — Downtown Miami

A visit to Miami isn’t complete without stopping by the iconic Freedom Tower. This historic site is considered to be the “Ellis Island of the South” for its role from 1962 through 1974 as the Cuban Assistance Center, offering nationally sanctioned relief to the Cuban refugees seeking political asylum from the regime of Fidel Castro. Designed by Schultze and Weaver, the historic site is currently used as a contemporary art museum and a central office to different disciplines in the arts associated with Miami Dade College. Discover this legendary landmark that played such a pivotal role for many Cuban Americans who helped grow Miami into the vibrant city it is today.

Little Havana Historic Sites — Little Havana

Little Havana is a thriving, healthy, and culturally rich neighborhood overflowing with Cuban American culture and pride. An internationally recognized symbol of the role of immigrants in the American story, the iconic Little Havana offers a vast array of historic sites worth exploring. Here, you’ll get a real feel for the Cuban American experience in Miami. It where visitors can find hidden gems such as the Bay of Pigs Monument and the Little Havanna Walk of Fame. Little Havana is also home to the legendary Calle Ocho, the second most popular tourist destination in all of South Florida.

Historical Homes of Pioneers

The Barnacle — Coconut Grove

The Barnacle offers a rare glimpse of frontier life in 1891. Situated on the shore of Biscayne Bay, Ralph Middleton Munroe’s former home is now one of Coconut Grove’s most charming and influential historical sites. Munroe was widely regarded as one of the most prominent pioneers in South Florida’s illustrious history. He preserved the forest on his land, cutting out only a winding trail through the hammock. Today, tourists and locals alike visit the hidden gem to reconnect with a simpler time.

There’s Plenty of Rich History & Culture to Explore in Miami

It’s no wonder why so many tourists and locals view the city of Miami as a rich hub for cultural and historical landmarks. With so many options available to the public, it’s hard to figure out where to begin. One thing is for sure, the Magic City is overflowing with hidden gems and historical sites that are guaranteed to amaze all.