Coconut Grove Highlights: CocoWalk & the Grove Isle Hotel & Spa

    By Kristine Hughes

    Eat, drink, shop and dance at CocoWalk in Coconut Grove, then rejuvenate at the Grove Isle Hotel and Spa.

    Coconut Grove is an eclectic blend of Key West bohemianism and chic sophistication. Over the years, The Grove has acquired an artsy feel while retaining a small-town atmosphere. Everything of interest—from designer clothing stores to art galleries and cigar stores—is located within a four-block radius. The Grove caters to a range of tastes. My recent trip had me sipping beer next to bikers one day, then indulging in a luxury spa treatment the next.

    Prepared for a shop-a-thon, my first stop was the set piece of the Grove, CocoWalk Miami, an open-air shopping, dining and entertainment complex. The stores at CocoWalk are a blend of privately owned boutiques and national names. Sparkle Plenty is a whimsical gift shop that carries the best greeting cards I’ve seen in a while. Some are laugh-out-loud funny, others are tres chic and embellished with faux stones and feathers. I stocked up on both.

    Celebrity optician Edward Beiner has a store in CocoWalk, in case you want the same eye and sunglasses as Alicia Keys, Felicity Huffman or Sigourney Weaver. Koko & Palenki Shoes offers the latest styles from the most wanted designers. Palm Produce stocks Florida-inspired resort wear. National stores include GAP, Victoria’s Secret and White House/Black Market – a personal favorite.

    There’s a variety of dining options at CocoWalk Miami including Cheesecake Factory, Bice Bistro, Hooters, Chili's and CocoWok. There is also Paragon Grove 13 Theaters, a luxury movie theater that serves wine and beer.

    CocoWalk hosts special events all year long, including their annual, must-attend Halloween Bash, with a live DJ, adult costume competition and special guest stars. Visit the CocoWalk website for a full schedule of other events throughout the year.

    Later that afternoon, I checked into the Grove Isle Hotel & Spa, a one-mile drive from downtown Coconut Grove on its own private island. The clandestine enclave is bordered by Biscayne Bay and was a welcome oasis for this weary shopper. My Bay Suite room greeted me with an elevated bedroom area with a large window displaying an uninterrupted view of the bay.

    Next day, I took myself down to the Spa at Grove Isle Hotel & Spa, where I booked a signature Volcanic Earth Clay Spa Ritual. After my therapist slathered me in a volcanic clay body mask, he went on to a relaxing Balinese foot massage and followed it up with a Balinese full body massage. The two-story spa also features a steam room and outdoor spa with waterfall that overlooks Biscayne Bay, so arrive early or plan to stay on after your treatment. And check out the spa shop. On the way out, I bought the Coco-mango body lotion – to die for.

    Aside from CocoWalk in Miami, Coconut Grove also features a mélange of shops along its four main streets: Grande Avenue, Commodore Plaza, Fullet Street and Main Highway.

    I managed to go from morning to night in Coconut Grove and still not explore everything I wanted to see. If you haven’t already visited Coconut Grove, here’s my advice: Plan to spend at least two days in the area and then book time at the spa. You’ll need it.