A Walking Tour of Downtown Shopping

An Intrepid Tour of Select Places by our Shopping Team. Just Set Aside Two or Three Hours

November 2019

You can start wherever you like, but we started on the east end of Miracle Mile, on the south side, where you can grab a quick coffee at the Capital Café. Depending on the time of day, you can start with a quick glass of wine at Cibo across the street. But it was early yet, and we weren’t ready to nap.

Walking west toward City Hall, our first stop was Gables Coin & Stamp. A fantastic selection of money and postage from the past. Nothing like gifting an ancient Roman coin that cost less than $100. Next came Spy World, where you can buy anti-bugging devices for your paranoid friends, or a chip to track your teenager. Proprietor Steven Gonzalez will explain it all.

Crossing Galiano Street, but staying on the south side of Miracle, we stopped at Wolfe’s Wine Shoppe. Jeffrey Wolfe was there, along with his two giant golden retrievers. Best place to buy good wines at any price. “We focus on the unsung heroes of the wine industry, and that doesn’t mean it has to be pricey,” he told us. His sage advice is complimentary.

Further down the street is Barnes & Noble, with its cavernous collection of books and magazines. We stopped in, however, for the best reason to shop here during the holidays: Their huge collection of educational toys. Robotics. Smithsonian motors. Giant volcanoes. Lego sets. Biology labs. Insect Explorer. Glow in the dark crystal factory. Gummy Candy Lab. Need we say more?

From here we crossed the Mile for a blast of three super stores on the north side of the street between Ponce and Salzedo. First came Violeta’s, worth a visit just to see what imagination and deep pockets can do. Expensive but wonderfully eccentric objects for your home, from Fornasetti face pillows ($235) to hand candles ($60) where the fingers slowly burn. Next is Jae’s Jewelers, reputed to be the oldest store in the Gables, a family affair for three generations. We were fascinated by their collection of vintage jewelry, now the rage, much of which comes from the estates of Coral Gables. They are also launching an array of super-affordable UM bling, for you ‘Canes fans. Toward the end of the block is YoYo Chidlren’s Boutique, which answers the question of where you can buy exquisite baby clothing. Theirs is all knitted cotton from Spain, for ages newborn to four. Most items between $40 and $200. Pricey, yes, but sooooo soft!

We crossed the Mile again at Salzedo and back tracked a half block to Snow’s Jewelers. This is another icon of the Gables, in business for 45 years. Their selection is laden with classic diamond jewelry, in a wide price range. What makes them unique is their collection of sterling bracelets, rings and broches, all enamel inlaid, and their selection of pocket watches, the kind you would get after working 40 years for the railroad. Priceless.

Next came the upstairs walkup hideaway that makes us feel like Miracle Mile can actually be a groovy place: City Collectables. The dream of a husband and wife team who are both local schoolteachers, it’s laden with old vinyl LPs, comic books and movie posters. Also, some vintage lunchboxes, like from Happy Days. They are only open 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., next to Miracle Theatre, but worth the walkup. Crossing Salzedo, we continued down Miracle toward City Hall. Before we reached the end, we stopped in at Leica, the high-end German camera store. These are cameras for people who really want to be professionals, starting at $1,000 and going up to $21,000. Our choice for the photo-bugs we know was to pick among the cloth and leather camera bags, priced between $150 and $800.

Around the corner from Leica, where the Mile bends, lies Rose Gift Cottage. It’s really a holiday hangout (there for 25 years) gorged with a treasure hunt of holiday gee-jaws, including elf and Santa dolls ($40). This is the place to go when you can’t think of what to buy for someone. For them you can buy an enameled metal box with Van Gogh’s irises for $43. Also, linens, lamps and fragrances.

Now we crossed Miracle and made our way north along Le Jeune, taking a right on Aragon. When we reached Salzedo we took a left to visit Nini & Loli. This is an everything-for-the-baby place – not just Peruvian cotton dresses, but strollers, cribs and highchairs (the Stokke brand from Norway). So, it’s really a place to buy the parents something.

Speaking of parents and other assorted adults, down the street on Giralda is Mystic Wine & Spirits, where the array of liquor is worth the visit – scotch, pisco, gin, tequila, bourbon, champagne, brandy, cognac, and whiskeys of every blend, all the things that a parent might need to survive the holidays. Plus, a nice selection of cheeses and cured meats to go with their wine selection.

Now it’s time to cut back to Aragon, for drop ins at two side-by-side stalwarts that never disappoint: The Coral Gables Museum Gift Shop and Books & Books. The gift shop is actually part of Books & Books but resides inside the museum. Here you can find unusual gifts for friends and relatives: Dream catchers, miniature books, really interesting socks, bizarre ash trays, hand tools, native jewelry, gift cards with unusual messages, old Life Magazines. Next door at Books & Books are, well, books – but not just any books. The latest, the greatest, the most beautiful, and many signed by their authors. We love to follow the staff recommendations – and to stop at the café for a snack and sip.

Further down Aragon are two stores that could not be more different. On the south side of the street is No Boundaries Sport, where you are sure to find something for the athletic types you know. Not just a bicycle (prices range from $300 to $12,000), but all the accessories of locks, water bottles, helmets, riding gloves, super lightweight riding shirts, etc. Across the street is the gentle, zen-like cave of Small Tea, which is where you can pick up an offbeat gift for the non-athletic type in your life: an $8 copper container that you can fill with $4 to $16 worth of tea from their selection of 86 “scents.”

Around the corner on Ponce is Macanoco & Co., a quirky high-end store for kids. Here you can get a baby carriage for your kid’s dolls, handmade in England. For $500, it’s called a pram, not a carriage. They also have a large selection of tiny plastic figurines of mammals and dinosaurs which cost considerably less.

Crossing back onto Aragon, a must-stop would be Luminaire. This is a 15,000-square-foot shrine to ultra-high design, with home furnishings, objects of art, and super-cool kitchen gadgetry. But don’t expect any bargains. A simple wall lamp will set you back $400; a deck chair, albeit beautifully designed, can reach $1,000. More affordable is the kitchen wear: $48 for a sleek spaghetti tester.

Continuing down the street we took a left turn on Galiano and stopped at the Galiano Cigar Room. Perfect place to find a gift for that cigar-chomping colleague. Most of their stogies run $8 to $30, with special packaging for several cigars together. If you want to be on the safe side tastewise, you can go for a Colibri lighter. Like a blowtorch, for $50 to $175.

The final stops on our downtown shopping trek were a pair of oriental gift shops, The Golden Triangle and The Silver Dragon. The Golden Triangle is right up the street from the Galiano Cigar Room and is filled with all the accoutrements for mental cleansing and focusing, from incense and candles to singing bowls and CDs of meditation music. Buy the sage and cleanse thy home. Over on nearby Merrick Way is the Silver Dragon, a smaller, more upscale version of the same. Here they have serious statuary and oriental scroll paintings which can run into hundreds of dollars but are real works of art. Fortunately, our walk through the downtown finished at the tail end of Giralda Plaza, where Merrick Way and Galiano collide with that pedestrian promenade, so libations to celebrate our successful shopping journey were readily available. The beer was flowing at Fritz and Franz, the coffee was brewing at Passion del Cielo, and the food options on the Plaza itself were abundant. A job well done and worth rewarding.