We visited Vizcaya on a recent holiday in Miami. The “hop on hop off” bus stops right outside the entrance in South Miami Avenue which was very convenient.
Vizcaya was built on Biscayne Bay by a business man called James Deering, who wished to create a European inspired showpiece house. He first lived in it in 1916. The accommodation is designed to look as though a family had occupied it for centuries and the various rooms, overlooking a central courtyard, have a range of rooms decorated in a selection of periods and styles. It also has some of the modern innovations, such as bathrooms, which were available at the beginning of the twentieth century. We found the whole house interesting but strange – probably because we are used to genuine stately homes that really have been used by families through the centuries.
Outside there is an elaborate jetty (he had a house boat or barge) with views over the bay. The gardens are lovely with many fountains and statues. There is a theatre garden, a raised casino garden with views back to the house and a central walkway under pollarded trees.
Part of the house, but approached from outside, is a small shop and a cafe with a pleasant outside seating area. There is also an outside orchid garden close to this which was enjoyable but not outstanding.
We were very impressed by the gardens and enjoyed wandering around them. The house was different, it contained many artworks, panelling and ceilings imported from Europe, but was not to our taste. Definitely worth a visit, however, if you are in Miami for a few days – allow about half a day.