Wanderlust America

An Ultimate Guide to the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

Named after one of the most enchanting shorelines on the Spanish Coast, Vizcaya Museums and Gardens has some of the most amazing European lavishness in a captivating American context.

It is an Italian Renaissance villa with French gardens surrounded by acres of tropical bed just south of downtown Miami. Once you visit Vizcaya, it will transport you to an enchanting Mediterranean palace that is full of historical artifacts, stunning gardens, and an astonishing architectural setting.

Today, let us explore the breathtaking Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in all its glory.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami

Story of Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

The builder was James Deering, a prolific industrialist who traversed through uncharted territories to create his ambitious home. The garden and house were both built between 1914 and 1923. James employed up to 1,000 people, which was up to 10% of Miami’s population at the time. The estate was originally on a 180-acre property surrounded by mangrove shoreline and inland hammock.

Even though its natural setting is quite beautiful, the house itself is a gem at its center. The museum and gardens are spread over 43 acres with the house being a little over 45,000 square feet. It has 54 dazzling rooms. 34 decorated rooms are now open to the public. Deering had his home filled with many wall panels, paintings, Renaissance furniture, and art pieces. There are more than 2,500 art objects and furnishings in the home. It is a home full of art and historical objects.

Vizcaya gets over 300,000 visitors every year with many noticeable visitors traversing through the home. Pope John Paul II was received by President Ronald Regan in 1987 at the Vizcaya. The first Summit of America was hosted at Vizcaya, as 34 leaders visited Vizcaya to discuss trade, hosted by President Bill Clinton in 1994. Queen Elizabeth II, King Juan Carlos, and Queen Sofia of Spain all attended a function at Vizcaya. When James Deering was at the house, President Warren G. Harding, Thomas Edison, and actress Lillian Gash were welcomed as guests.

The Main House

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 The interiors of Vizcaya are simply breathtaking. The architectural style of the home is mostly Mediterranean Revival but also has influences of Baroque, Neoclassical, and the French Empire. It was built of steel-reinforced concrete and limestone was also used throughout the house. Stonemasons from the Bahamas contributed with their expertise in carving the limestone. The house had many new modern technologies installed in it such as a central vacuum system, heating, an electric telephone, refrigeration, a burglar alarm, and two elevators. There were also fire hydrants and hoses installed on each floor in case of fire.

If you are visiting, you will be able to see 38,000 square feet of the house. The basement and service area are not made open to the public. If you enter the house through the Main Entrance Loggia, you will find a courtyard just beyond the entrance. In the Loggia, you will be able to find a 2nd-century Roman basin, Egyptian granite vases, and a large Empire door leading straight to the home’s interior. From the Loggia, you then go in through a French Empire-style entrance hall leading you to the Adam library. Every room has a unique architectural design.

These rooms are filled with art objects and treasures from James Deering’s travels. The distinctive styles for every room provide the visitor with the idea that the villa has been occupied and has been constantly evolving for many years now, including new elements, decor, and furnishings with every passing generation.

The bedrooms are also each styled differently and named accordingly. They have names like Manin, Cathay, Espagnolette, Goyesia, and Guidecca. Every room is magnificent in its own right and  has its own back story.

The Gardens

The Vizcaya gardens have been modeled after former Italian and French gardens of the 17th and 18th centuries. These grounds feature long-stepped vistas and many smaller visible settings. There is also a walled secret garden, a hedge maze, an elevated oak-lined garden mound, an outdoor tearoom, and many more unique and spectacular spaces. You can hear the sound of water through the gardens from the many fountains you will be able to see. When you are at the bayside, you can hear waves coming and going. Every secret of the gardens is slowly revealed to you as you move through them.

The elevated mound terrace has naturally formed live oaks. Wild mangroves line the shore along the bayside. There are fountains, sculptures, and iron gates scattered through the gardens. Every space that you keep moving through will open a new and unique space. The gardens are 10 acres of beautiful outdoor spaces. It is a wonderful time if you are just looking to walk, take a photograph, or take a feeling that you are lost in an Italian courtyard. It will surely help to clear your mind and take your mind off any stress that you might be having. You can bring children to explore and discover the gardens and learn about Miami’s history.

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 Vizcaya Museum and Gardens provides you with a virtual tour of the beautiful house and gardens. If you do decide to take this tour, make sure you are looking up at the ceiling when exploring James Deering’s bathroom. You do not want to miss the Garden Mound, as it is a great vantage point. The virtual tour allows you to take a glimpse of the garden estate, and there is nothing like being there in person.

Location and Hours

The address for the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens is 3251 South Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33129.

Vizcaya is open to the public from Wednesday through Monday 9.30 am to 4.30 pm.

The gardens are open until 5.30 pm.

It is, however, closed on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day but open on all other holidays that do not fall on a Tuesday.

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The cost for adults over 13 years of age is $25.
For children aged 6-12, it is $10 and free for children 5 and under.
Visitors with wheelchairs are permitted with a $10 entry fee.
If you are a United States Military veteran or active personnel with ID, the admission is free for you and must be purchased onsite.


There is accessible parking in the main parking lot on the south side of the Main house.

Travel Tips

Make sure you check the weather forecast before arriving in Vizcaya. Also, keep checking its official website for any news on restorations taking place and the gardens being closed due to it.

Food and drinks are available at the Vizcaya Cafe and Shop. Outside food and beverages are prohibited. If you are looking for a place to eat nearby, Coral Gables and Little Havana are both about a 15-minute drive from there.

If you are using the Metrorail to get there, stop at Vizcaya station, it is a 10-minute walk to the museum.

You should expect it to take at least 3 hours to move through the entire house and gardens. Arrive early so that you can get accessible parking and avoid crowds.

During summers visit the air-conditioned house during the day and explore the gardens late in the afternoon, to avoid the heat .

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