The Deering Estate south of Miami offers a sweeping view of Biscayne Bay that is like a soothing balm on jangled urban nerves. The view alone is worth the visit, but this Miami-Dade County park offers much more.
Located south of Miami, the Deering Estate was the home from 1922 to 1927 of Charles Deering, the wealthy industrialist who was chairman of International Harvester. His half-brother, millionaire industrialist James Deering, built Vizcaya, the Mediterranean palace and gardens also overlooking Biscayne Bay, which is far better known as a Miami landmark.
It is not as ostentatious as Vizcaya and unlike Vizcaya, it lacks its original furnishings. Yet, the Deering Estate has a magic about it, and Yelp reviews are full of people calling it a hidden gem and marveling that they had never been here before.
What’s special about Deering Estate? Here are six things we love
1. The grounds preserve a remarkable 444-acre parcel of land, which includes pine rockland and coastal tropical hardwood hammock plus mangroves, salt marshes and a coastal dune island. In an area open only on naturalist-led tours in the winter season, you can see a 350-year-old oak tree that grows atop a Tequesta Indian Burial Mound.
2. The Stone House is a grand castle-like place Deering built as his home in 1922. Its design was inspired by two castles in Sitges, Spain. Without its original furnishings, the big Stone House seems hauntingly empty, but that is part of its magic. Without the period furniture, visitors are allowed to wander through the rooms on their own.
3. One of my favorite spots is the wine cellar –– don’t miss it! Hidden behind a false-wall and a three-ton bank vault door in the basement is a room that housed 4,500 bottles of champagne, wine and spirits, hidden during the Prohibition. It was flooded by a 1945 hurricane and its combination lost. It remained sealed until 1985, when the Deering Estate became a public park and Deering’s new owners hired a famous safe-cracker to break in. The wine cellar has been restored to include hundreds of vintage bottles.
4. The most photographed feature is the boat basin on Biscayne Bay, lined with rows of majestic royal palm trees stretching out into Biscayne Bay. Year around, it’s a spot favored by manatees. Nearby are picnic tables and open space where you can stretch out on a blanket. Visitors are struck by the feeling of isolation of the place; how far away Miami’s bustle appears. The view off Biscayne Bay is especially beautiful when viewed through the archways and windows of the castle-like Stone House.
5. The mangrove-lined shoreline. One of the remarkable things about the Deering Estate is that it is part of one of the longest continuous mangrove shorelines left in the Southeastern United States. The water is clear here and teeming with life. You can rent kayaks, including clear-bottom kayaks, to explore the Biscayne National Park seagrass beds and mangrove shore. Kayak rentals are available daily between 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., weather permitting. Full-moon kayaking tours are offered monthly.
6. Boat trips into Biscayne National Park. In recent years, the Biscayne National Park Institute has begun offering boat trips onto Biscayne Bay from the Deering Estate. Every weekend, there are two boat trips. One is a three-hour trip to captivating Boca Chita Island, where you can picnic and explore the historic site. The other cruises you by the six remaining Stiltsville homes in Biscayne Bay. There are also two special boat tours available once a month: a birding tour and a trip past the four historic lighthouses in Biscayne Bay. Here are details about boat tours from Deering Estate. Prices range from $56 per person to $70 per person and include admission to Deering Estate.
Walking tours and kayaking at Deering Estate
From October through May, Deering naturalists and volunteers offer Nature Preserve Tours (12:30 p.m.) that are filled on a first-come, first- serve basis at a limited capacity. All guests, including Deering Estate Foundation members, must sign-up at the Main Gate before the tour begins.
Final Deering Estate fascinating fact
Almost 30 years ago, on Aug. 24, 1992, Hurricane Andrew came ashore near the Deering Estate. The 170-mile-per-hour winds and the 16-foot storm surge did millions of dollars of damages to the property. Photos from the aftermath show unimaginable damage, yet it has all been lovingly restored.
Deering Estate at Cutler
16701 SW 72 Ave.
Miami FL 33157
- Hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (last ticket is sold at 4 p.m.) Open every day except Christmas and Thanksgiving.
- Admission price: $15 for adults and $7 for youth (ages 4-14). Admission includes self-guided programs and 12:30 p.m. nature preserve tour in season.
- Deering Estate at Cutler website
- Deering Estate tours, classes and programs, which includes things as varied as “herp” tours about snakes and amphibians, butterfly walks, boat tours and concerts.
- Deering Estate is a popular wedding venue. More about Deering Estate weddings.
- Deering Estate camps for kids
Notes from the editor:
The information in this article was accurate when published but may change without notice. Confirm details when planning a trip, especially to areas hard hit by hurricanes.
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The author, Bonnie Gross, travels with her husband David Blasco, discovering off-the-beaten path places to hike, kayak, bike, swim and explore. Florida Rambler was founded in 2010 by Bonnie and fellow journalist Bob Rountree, two long-time Florida residents who have spent decades exploring the Florida outdoors. Their articles have been published in the Sun Sentinel, the Miami Herald, the Orlando Sentinel, The Guardian and Visit Florida.