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“Architecture or Garden Fan...this is a must see!”

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens
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Ranked #5 of 365 things to do in Miami
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Fee: Yes
Recommended length of visit: 1-2 hours
Owner description: Built in 1916 as a winter retreat, this lavish villa is a tribute to the Italian Renaissance. The museum contains much of the original furnishings and artwork, and is surrounded by lush, formal gardens.
Reviewed June 9, 2013

If you enjoy architecture or gardens this is a must see. Vizcaya is nothing short of magnificent. You can take your time exploring the home or gardens. The estate is absolutely beautiful. Vizcaya is a short drive from Miami Beach so if you are bored with the beach take a break and enjoy some historic beauty!
I would not recommend bringing young, loud, active children here.

Thank JudysFun
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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3,323 - 3,327 of 5,963 reviews

Reviewed June 8, 2013

If it’s good enough for Tony Stark to fight in, then it’s good enough for you. Robert Downey, Jr. isn’t the only famous person to grace the Vizcaya with his presence (although it’s nice that he did, because prior to Iron Man III being filmed here, this Miami gem was relegated to film history hell by being known for that scene in Ace Venture: Pet Detective). When Pope John Paul II visited Miami, the Vizcaya Villa was where Ronald Reagan received him. Clinton came here too in 1994 for the first Summit of the Americas.

The villa was built primarily between 1914 and 1916 on the order (and funds) of James Deering, who used Vizcaya as his winter residence from 1916 until his death in 1925. Construction of the extensive elaborate Italian Renaissance gardens and the village continued into 1923. Deering fashioned the villa after Venetian palaces that inspired him, and if you’ve been to Venice, you might notice some similarities in architectural style. Before my husband and I were even aware of the Venetian influence, we noted that one of the staircases looked almost exactly like the main staircase in the Palace of the Doge.

Granted, even with Deering’s significant financial resources, he wasn’t able to replicate the beauty of a 1,000 year empire like Venice, but the villa is well worth visiting, especially if you like mermaids, tritons, or really anything nautical (in the garden, sculptures that would typically have carved replicas of grape vines hanging off of them feature hanging coral instead).

I don’t know if this was just a fluke, or if this is typical, but at least on the day we were at the Vizcaya, it was Quinceañera central. My husband and I spotted five groups of young women and their entourages taking photos. To be fair, the Vizcaya gardens are about the most picturesque gardens in Miami, or anywhere in South Florida for that matter, so I definitely see the draw. The interior of the villa is well worth a look too, and I’d recommend a trip here. Below is some color commentary about the villa that my husband put together – in case you’re visiting and want a bit of background on the villa and gardens…

Deering was kind of like a late 1800s version of a trust fund baby. Born in 1859, Deering’s family was already doing quite well by the time James finished college. And by finished, I mean that he took a year at Northwestern, and a year at MIT, and then pretty much called it good. By the time he joined the Deering Harvester Company in 1880, his father had already done very well in growing the business. James took a role as treasurer, but was later phased out in 1909 after The Bank of J.P. Morgan purchased the company. An early retirement seemed to become James, plus there was the pernicious anemia that was racking his health, so a year after he was phased out of his duties he purchased the land in Coconut Grove that would become the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens.

Deering never married in life. His vision to build the Vizcaya was helped by Paul Chalfin, a former art curator, painter, and interior designer, was the project's director. Paul also never married, nor did he ever work on another mansion even though he received many offers after his work on the Vizcaya. Instead, Paul stayed on and assisted and encouraged Deering to collect art items, antiquities, and architectural elements for the project. Chalfin recommended the architect F. Burrall Hoffman to design the structural and envelope of the villa, garden pavilions, and estate outbuildings. Later Paul would say of the project, "Hoffman did the plumbing, I did the house".

Records indicate Deering wished the villa’s name to commemorate an early Spaniard named Vizcaya who he thought explored the area, although later he was corrected that the explorer's name was Sebastián Vizcaíno. Awkward. Deering used the Caravel, a type of ship style used during the 'Age of Exploration,' as the symbol and emblem of Vizcaya (some of the best known caravels include the Santa Maria, the Pinta, and the Niña). A representation of the mythical explorer "Bel Vizcaya" welcomes visitors at the entrance to the property.

Speaking of ships, James Deering died in September 1925, on board the steamship SS City of Paris en route back to the United States.

Thank GSather
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 6, 2013

The other reviews say it all. You can't take pictures inside so you have to see it for yourself. It's gorgeous and unbelievably posh for being built in the early 1900s. The gardens are fantastic and they even have a nice little cafe. A must see in miami.

Thank Kermatt
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed June 5, 2013

We were recommended to look this up it was a great 2 hour visit almost like visiting a stately home in the UK or Europe. The original owner was obviously very wealthy and imported and recreated parts of European history, you need to see the house for yourself as you cannot take photographs, the extensive gardens are also a major attraction and at this time of year the young Spanish girls in their ball gowns and fine dresses add a further attraction.

Thank paulm1954
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Reviewed June 3, 2013

Beautiful gardens and home. Enjoyable view of what money and an interest in art could produce. Wonderful time wandering through the house and grounds. Take the tour which is included in the ticket price.

Thank PhilandSaraF
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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