A Day at Fairchild Tropical Botanical Gardens

It’s been a really crazy past few weeks for me with school and work and trying to make last minute preparations for my trip to Paris in a few days, so I really haven’t been doing anything exciting that seemed worth talking about. Mostly because I wasn’t making time for myself, which proved to be a lot more counter-productive in the long run. Today, though, I was able to (sorry for the cliché) “kill two birds with one stone.”

For my journalism class, we’re supposed to attend the Miami International Book Fair this weekend and write about it- it’s a lesson in “event reporting.” Well, this would be fun and all, except for the fact that I won’t be here next weekend, because I will be in Paris… Fortunately, my teacher gave me an alternative: attend and report of “The Ramble,” the world’s largest garden festival at the Fairchild Tropical Botanical Garden here in Coral Gables.

Since I first came to Miami two years ago, I’ve always wanted to go to the gardens. I love nature, parks, flowers- everything associated with Fairchild- and it seemed like a great place to relax, explore, even to do homework, after class. But I never made it out there; I never “had time.”  When I saw that I had the chance to visit the gardens for class, I jumped at the opportunity. I spent a few hours there today, and the experience was one of my greatest in Miami so far.

Old Culter Road
Driving to Fairchild on beautiful Old Cutler Road

For one thing, I was shocked at how close the gardens actually are to me- and to get there, I don’t have to waste time sitting in miserable traffic, as I’m able to take back roads. The surrounding community was new to me too; it was the first time that I’ve ever seen “normal” communities with one-lane roads and quaint neighborhoods and green plant life on the sidewalks. Ignorant of me, yes, but still surprising and refreshing, nonetheless. The sweeping canopy of the oversized trees covering the road made the drive there almost as pleasant as being at the Fairchild Garden itself.

On that note, the Botanical Garden was incredible- much bigger than I thought and encompassing much more. I was lucky enough to be there on the day of The Ramble, so it was especially active and exciting! Live, upbeat music could be heard across the grounds and row upon row of booths presented a pleasant amalgamation of information, products for sale, and beautiful art. There were foods from all corners of the globe, an entire building dedicated to antiques and old books (one about microscopes from the 1700s was being sold for $12,000!), eco-friendly furniture, home decorations, design tips, local environmental organizations, and of course, flowers and plants for every taste. I personally loved all the tea booths- one vendor has a Coconut Green Tea that I swear was made for me (I bought a significant amount…).

A row of booths at 'The Ramble'

Even without the festival though, I can tell that the garden is beautiful. The quaint, peacefulness of it really made me want to go back again and again. So, I did what any other person would do and bought a membership. Now, in my case, it would’ve been stupid not to, as a student membership was merely $5 more than admittance to the festival in the first place (why not pay the extra 5 to be able to go back all year?). I know that I’ll actually use it, especially now that I know that it’s so close, so it made sense. What I didn’t realize at the time, though, was that I was actually paying for a lot more than mere admission to Fairchild.

Apparently, the membership is part of a larger organization of museums across the country, which means that I can use it for admission to any one of the hundreds of museums that also participate- including the Museum of Science in Boston (my favorite) and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (home of “my” seal and another favorite)! Now I get to go to both- and bring my friends- for free. Plus, the membership also includes discounts to a ton of local businesses- like discounted hotel rooms and even free sunset cruises. Talk about getting my money’s worth!

Garden Art
Garden art at Farichild Tropical Botanical Gardens

I’m really glad that my journalism project “forced” me to visit the Fairchild Gardens today, and I’m beyond excited to go back again. It’s really refreshing when what I’m doing in school reflects what I’d like to be doing with my life in general. The botanical gardens are beautiful- definitely a must if you live in or are visiting Miami.

Today was a much needed “break” from end-of-semester stress- and I really didn’t have to take a break at all.

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