Visiting Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

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 โ€œI doubt if we are likely to get a better name.โ€

vizcaya museum and gardens miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

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.

Vizcaya museum and gardens miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel
The mosquito bite on my shoulder will indicate that the lure of the garden triumphed, and that my lack of foresight led to an unfortunate mosquito attack which drove me inside, for a time. Moral of the story: pack mosquito repellent, esp. if you’re going in the summer and rainy season.

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).

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel
Floral sundresses are, like, my uniform.
Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel
A view of the gardens.

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.

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

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.

vizcaya museum and gardens miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel
Foo dogs are actually lions. They always come in pairs, male and female, yin and yang, and
are meant to be kept together.
vizcaya museum and gardens miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel
Don’t quote me on Rococo or Italian. It’s my guess, but I’m usually decent at guessing.

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.

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

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.

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel
How much time do you suppose it took to carve this ceiling?

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.

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

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.

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

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.

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

But staring at the floor may cause you to miss the giant oak trees covered in moss…

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

And cavern-like walkways leading to magical little alcoves where one might imagine herself as The Little Mermaid in all her sexy glory.

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel
Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

I love the way Vizcaya blends the boundaries between indoor and outdoor spaces, such as this gazebo like structure with hand-painted ceiling.

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

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.

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

Any day spent around new and interesting plants is a day well spent. Vizcaya, as you’ve guessed it, is full of nature porn.

Vizcaya museum and gardens miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel
How cool are the paintbrush stripes on these leaves? Does anyone know which plant this is?

The prettiest thorn tree? I ever did see.

Vizcaya museum and gardens miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

I was coming all over the place. (Modest Lyz is rolling her eyes, but I don’t care.)

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel
Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

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…

Vizcaya Museum and gardens Miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

So, I took my shoes off once, what’s it to you?

Vizcaya museum and gardens miami iwannabealady Lyz Durand Fort Lauderdale travel

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.

Vizcaya Musseum and Gardens Miami Fort Lauderdale iwannabealady travel Lyz Durand creative fashion

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!

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