Lately I’ve been thinking. We travel to far off places, visit new cities, new states, new countries, new continents, we gawk, we’re amazed, we’re grateful, we post to Instagram, we hashtag #wander; that’s cool. Sometimes, however, in our zeal to explore new worlds, we forget the cool stuff in our own backyard. As for Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami, Florida, I’ve been hearing about this popular landmark all my life, yet I’ve passed it countless times. This visit was long overdue.
Let’s begin by saying that every corner of Vizcaya is beautiful. I’m a big fan of beauty for beauty’s sake and Vizcaya is all about it. In choosing the name Vizcaya, James Deering, founder of the estate, said “the name is pretty in itself” and “I doubt if we are likely to get a better name.”
Vizcaya lives up to its beautiful name. A fountain lined path leads you to a choice- tour the interior or meander through Vizcaya’s gardens. Neither will disappoint.
Since we’re inside, let’s take a look around, shall we?
Colorful stained-glass windows in unique designs, art in their own right, provide a gorgeous framework to view the expansive outdoor gardens (don’t worry, we’ll get there).
Because Deering wanted his estate to be evocative of the Spanish explorers who fascinated him, we find a recurring theme of ships throughout the estate, such as in this stained-glass window or expansive murals like this one, which wrap around the room.
Deering, and his architect/designer Paul Chalfin, were fond of European shopping sprees. In Europe, they would collect art and artifacts from all over the world to bring back to Vizcaya. As a result, many rooms of the house will feature contrasting styles side by side, such as these Chinese foo dog stands alongside two very Italian, very Rococo lanterns in a classically styled hallway.
Also, notice the various stones and flooring in this one corner of the house. Deering and Chalfin had a love affair with stone, it seems. There’s so much variety throughout the estate, from more familiar stones to exotic ones with colors and patterns I’ve never seen before. Trust me, they’re fantastic; you’ll want to put your hands on everything.
Other rooms were dedicated to just one style like Italian Renaissance or Napoleonic French.
No matter the style, the attention to detail is stunning and dripping from every corner of every room. Vizcaya is Gilded Age excess, and I love it.
Beauty for its own sake.
At Vizcaya, even a random door like any other door may be covered in embossed leather because hey, why not, right? These smaller, unexpected touches can create just as big an impression as the larger architectural features.
As you can imagine, rooms are filled with the finest fabrics, wall coverings and furniture of the time. Want to call up a servant? There’s a cute pull next to your bed for that.
I could fill this blog post with a hundred other pictures of beautiful Vizcaya interiors, but time is rolling and the show must go on. There’s also a ton of history that I learned and have yet to learn. I don’t typically go on group tours when visiting museums or historical sites, but we stood next to a tour guide for a few minutes in one room and he was sharing some interesting facts about the estate’s interiors that I wouldn’t have known otherwise, so it may be worth a shot.
Let’s step outside, shall we?
I love the ever present use of coral fossil limestone in the outdoor spaces. It’s so Florida, and aesthetic as fuck.
But staring at the floor may cause you to miss the giant oak trees covered in moss…
And cavern-like walkways leading to magical little alcoves where one might imagine herself as The Little Mermaid in all her sexy glory.
I love the way Vizcaya blends the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces, such as this gazebo like structure with hand-painted ceiling.
Everywhere you turn, the art of nature and the art of man are interwoven to create something organic yet structured.
Beautiful statues tucked into corners of the garden.
Any day spent around new and interesting plants is a day well spent. Vizcaya, as you’ve guessed it, is full of nature porn.
The prettiest thorn tree? I ever did see.
I was coming all over the place. (Modest Lyz is rolling her eyes, but I don’t care.)
They’d have been forced to hose the whole place down if I’d been allowed to walk barefoot the entire time. I don’t recall any signs telling me I couldn’t…
So, I took my shoes off once, what’s it to you?
Okay, it was twice. Look, I’m a hippie at heart, people, and it kills me not to walk these gorgeous grounds barefoot. All the other creatures, the birds, the lizards, the caterpillars, they all go barefoot; why shouldn’t I?
Speaking of hippie, lately I’ve been interested in sustainable and pretty alternatives to grass, so I was stoked to find this bright, soft, flower-filled patch of earth. I don’t know about you, but I’d be thrilled to have this cover my yard instead of grass. Is this something you’ve thought about? I’d like to write a future post on the subject, but I’m still gathering information (I’ve literally just begun). Any point in the right direction is greatly appreciated.
I took far less photos and video than I typically do, but I’m going to blame it on being lost in the experience or something positive like that. I plan to revisit Vizcaya at some point, so look out for a future post with more lifestyle of the rich and famous deliciousness.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip to Vizcaya. If you, like me, have been sucky about exploring your own city, surrounding cities, and small towns, I encourage you to get on your bike, hop in your car, or ride a train and explore your local gems up close.
How often do you explore your city? What cool things have you discovered? Let us know in the comments!