Oustanding Attraction. Be Sure to Add the Audio Tour!
ACTIVITY: Museum and Gardens.
TYPE: Outdoors and indoors. Moderate walking.
LOCATION: 3251 S Miami Ave, Miami, Florida
WEBSITE: Viscaya Museum & Gardens
Prior to visiting, we read some reviews on sites like Trip Advisor and Yelp saying, “well the house wasn’t really worth it, but the gardens are great.” Well that might be true if you simply walk through the house, read the placards and look around. If that’s all you’re going to do, well then, yes, this house is just an old house. A really REALLY BIG old house.
But if you opt for the Audio Tour, well that changes everything. At least it did for us. We spent over 90 minutes in the house alone learning a ton of history and ‘behind the scenes’ knowledge about many features of the house. Both features that can be seen and those hidden behind the walls or in the back stories. How and why the house was built, why rooms are the way they are and a ton of hidden mysteries and advancements that went into this house. What just looks like a bunch of furniture in a room has an entire story to tell. For instance, there is just about nothing in that house that has not been modified in some way by James Deering or the designer, including most of the furnishings. Some rooms were built to fit ceilings that were purchased overseas. That’s fascinating in and of itself. Imagine going to Europe, buying a ceiling and then coming back to Miami to design a room to fit the ceiling you just bought. Just the stories on the why the house was built and James Deering’s love of life made the tour a lot of fun. He sounds like someone I would have enjoyed,
someone who lived to entertain others with good food and lots of laughter. Without the audio tour, it would have just been a house and some really pretty gardens. The Audio Tour adds a whole new level of intrigue and interest for what is otherwise a very very large house.
The audio tour allows you to just move along at your own pace instead of following along with a group in a scheduled tour. The recordings were very well done and just enough information at each stop. All in all we spent a little over 3 hours exploring the house and the grounds and really enjoyed ourselves. What a beautiful space and the views from the gardens are quite magnificent.
One of the best museum experiences of this type I’ve ever had. The grounds are beautifully kept and the house is really cool. Wish we could have seen the house and the grounds as they originally were before the land was sold.
A version of this review first appeared in Trip Advisor.
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