Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden is one of Miami-Dade County’s largest, most pristine, and tranquil outdoor expanses. It sits on 83 acres just south of Coral Gables, and though it’s a private organization — not a city park — it is dedicated to tropical and subtropical plant propagation and research.
The garden was first established in 1936 by Robert H. Montgomery, a wealthy businessman with a passion for plants, and a friend of the great plant explorer David Fairchild. Fairchild himself retired to Miami around the same time, and many of his specimens helped form the original collection. In fact, an African baobab tree still thriving on the site belonged to Fairchild.
What this means for the casual visitor is a well-manicured, interesting landscape full of winding paths for calm walking and expanses of grass and palm groves for a scenic picnic. Different areas of the park focus on different kinds of plant climates, from rainforests to dry succulents. A glassed-in rare plant house harbors some of the most strange and exquisite species in the whole park, and next door, you can get a tropical fruit smoothie made from rare varietals grown on-site. In fact, much of the park, away from visitors, is dedicated to this kind of research and preservation.
In recent years, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden has also become known for its large-scale art installations throughout the park. The first most notable one was by glass aritst Dale Chihuly, who created a number of larger-than-life, serpentine creations that fit in organically with the setting. Several of these remain on permanent view at Fairchild. Other artists who have exhibited sculpture on the grounds include Roy Lichtenstein, Fernando Botero, Michele Oka Doner, Ursula von Ryndingsvard, Daisy Youngblood, and more.
The park is open year-round to visitors, usually from sunrise to sunset, though it also sponsors the occasional nighttime concert or movie screening. On weekends, Fairchild is also a popular destination for its frequent themed outdoor festivals. The largest is the annual Ramble, which includes daily plant sales, auctions, an arts and craft fair, workshops, live performances, children’s activities, international fair food, and more. Many of the other festivals follow a similar format, though with a slightly different focus — the Mango Festival in July, for instance, or the Chocolate Festival in January.
If you choose to attend one of the more popular festivals, like the annual Ramble or the summertime Mango Festival, consider traveling by public transportation and foot if possible, or by bicycle. Not only does parking fill up quickly, but Fairchild offers admission discounts for pedestrians and those traveling on two wheels.
Address: 10901 Old Cutler Road, Coral Gables, FL, 33156
Phone: (305) 667-1651
Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m (closed on Christmas)
View Green Miami in a larger map