Travel Diary: A Girls’ Weekend in Coconut Grove, Miami

Earlier this month, college friends and I escaped our respective East Coast winters for a girls’ weekend in Coconut Grove, Miami. We settled on Miami after much debate over the merits of various Florida and Caribbean beaches — Zika there, no direct flights here, it’s not an easy task to find a location that works for people coming from 5 different cities (I’d say states, but the two of us in DC don’t have that privilege).

PS I’m taking no credit for organizing anything here. My friends Steph and Katy did an amazing job finding the house and making reservations!

A GIRLS’ WEEKEND IN COCONUT GROVE MIAMI

Once we’d decided on Miami, Coconut Grove came up as a relatively affordable neighborhood to stay in. It’s definitely quieter than choosing somewhere like South Beach and you’ll save beaucoup dollars by not hitting the clubs or whatever people do there.

Fun fact: Coconut Grove is the oldest continuously inhabited neighborhood in Miami (thanks, Wikipedia!) and it definitely has that established vibe. The houses range from adorable little bungalows to discreetly fabulous mansions and all are surrounded by lush gardens. Coconut Grove has a more tropical, bohemian vibe than the sleek streets of South Beach, yet there’s an expansive enough downtown to keep yourself busy with dining and shopping. I thought it was perfect for a girls’ weekend — particularly if you’re not looking to PARTY. We hung out by the pool, ate at great restaurants, and enjoyed the sunshine, which was everything we had on our to-do list.

Also, Coconut Grove, for better or worse, is overrun with peacocks. Apparently, they’re an invasive species, but it’s pretty incredible as you drive into the neighborhood and the uber drive has to honk to scatter the dozens of peacocks (including a stunning albino!) that are wandering through the street.

 

girls weekend in coconut grove miami - peacocks in coconut grove miami

girls weekend in coconut grove miami

 

WHEN TO VISIT AND WHERE TO STAY in coconut grove, miami

I had actually been to and stayed in Coconut Grove previously (here’s a look at a vintage travel guide!). That trip was in October, Halloween weekend, and it was H-O-T, hot. I don’t particularly like heat (had we decided on an island, I might have been on the fence…I once left a Cabo vacation early), so I always recommend visiting when the weather is mild — January was perfect. We had highs in the mid-70s during the day, high-50s at night.

If you’re staying in Coconut Grove, I’d recommend looking at an Airbnb, VRBO, or something of the like. Now, we all know I’m iffy on Airbnb stays — I’ve had more than one go horribly south. But, I do think there are certain times and places when they’re the best option. The specific Airbnb we stayed in was the Tiki Hut. Yes, it could have been fabulously wrong and cheesy, but it was actually awesome. There was a pool and literal tiki hut out back where we spent the majority of our days and we were endless entertained by the roaming peacocks. Plus, there were enough rooms that we didn’t have to crowd in or sleep on couches. I’d 100% recommend for a group.

 

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WHERE WE ATE in coconut grove, miami

Of course, the backbone of any group trip is the food you eat. I mean, if you don’t leave feeling like you need a juice cleanse ASAP, have you even traveled? Our trip was quick, but these are the places we tried (thanks to Katy for making excellent rezzies!!):

  • ALMA: Our first night called for Spanish tapas and too much red wine. This place has a chic, minimalist interior and small plates that hit the spot. Don’t miss the Steak Tartare, the Roasted Bone Marrow, the Blistered Padrón Peppers, or the Seared Scallops (omg, the black rice).
  • Glass & Vine: Pretty sure we realized we’d made it in life when we were sitting outside on a gorgeous 70 degree Saturday morning, feeling the breeze off the water, listening to live music, and eating Carbonara Fries.
  • Jaguar: I wouldn’t say this was my favorite spot, but the Black Market ceviche was one of the best dishes I had in Miami.
  • Bianco Gelato: I can’t turn down post-dinner ice cream, so a visit to this adorable little ice cream shop was in order. I opted for mint chocolate chip, no surprise here.
  • The Salty Donut: We stopped by this spot in the Wynwood neighborhood for a “snack” of giant, filled, topped, overflowing baked goodness.
  • Panther Coffee: Another spot in Wynwood, I had been to this local chain on a previous trip to Miami, and this time walked in to grab coffee beans — which, lucky for me, came with a free drink. Nitro cold brew, of course.

And, a note on grocery shopping for a group trip: the girls assigned to the grocery run for the weekend were right on the money. So often, I’ve been on group trips where we have big dreams of eating carrots, apples, or whatever other healthy item we buy in bulk. There’s sandwich stuff that goes untouched. So, always buy less than you think you need. For this trip, we had some dips, chips, bananas, nuts, and coffee supplies. That’s it. We didn’t go hungry and we didn’t have a trash can full of waste at the end.

 

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girls weekend in coconut grove miami - paddleboarding coconut grove - paddleboarding dinner key miami

 

WHAT WE DID in coconut grove, miami

Honestly, we did a lot of peacock watching. But, seriously, we did do a lot of hanging out by the pool. I mean, when it’s so nice out, why wouldn’t we? We did have two little outings though:

  • Paddle-boarding: A few of us went paddle-boarding on Dinner Key and it was the perfect day to be out on the water. There were minimal waves, the sun was out, and we made our way to an island. Even if you’ve never been paddle-boarding before, this is a great way to introduce yourself to the sport. Trust me, you won’t fall.
  • Visit the Wynwood Neighborhood: Not in Coconut Grove and, yes, it’s full of Instagrammers (#guilty!), but the Wynwood neighborhood is cool to see and perfect for a girls’ weekend. There are blocks and blocks of colorful murals, interesting shops, and tasty restaurants. Just don’t visit when it’s hot out — there’s no respite from the sun.

A FEW FINAL NOTES ON PLANNING A GIRLS WEEKEND

So, I did zero of the planning here. My contribution was basically just saying that I’d been to Miami, specifically Coconut Grove, before and that I felt confident it would be a fun girls’ weekend. But, that is to say, the best way to plan a girls’ weekend is to be agreeable. If someone is willing to take charge, go with it. Unless they’ve chosen something completely egregious, trust their judgement and leave the drama behind. And, maybe, offer to be the one to take the lead on the next trip.

 

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