Cauley Square is Miami's best kept secret

Amidst the clubs and the nightlife, Miami hides a mystic village

You hear a lot about Miami's clubs, its beaches, its nightlife. The Magic City, ironically, is not usually associated with an actual magical place. Enter Cauley Square, a historical village deep in South Miami hidden off the relatively-empty Old Dixie Highway. The entrance is located right by a post office that never seems to be populated, but is nevertheless open regular hours. Cauley Square itself is usually sparsely populated, but when you get under the shade of those big trees, an entire village for you to explore, that won't at all seem like a bad thing—it's something out of a magical realism novel.

The village was founded as a sort of middle ground for the Goulds railroad siding, which acquired the name due to the railroad employee who operated it. The village, soon populated by the workers of one Mr. William Cauley, acquired a bad reputation for its rowdy nights, the bar fights in the recently-constructed salon, and the drunken brawls of Cauley's workers. It wasn't long before the village––and its crown jewel, a two-story warehouse, brushed with touches of Spanish architecture––began to fall into disrepair. The village was slated for demolition, and was bought by interior designer Mary Anne Ballard, who began the first of several renovations, which continued to take place after Hurricane Andrew and after the deed to the land Cauley Square was built on was bought by Frances Varela, who helmed the picturesque direction the square and its surrounding cottages has taken in recent years.

The first thing you'll notice is the roaming cats, holding court everywhere from the outdoor smoothie café to the nearby galleries. Animal lovers and pet owners will find wide-open space for their pets to play in, as well as the aforementioned cats for them to play with—don't worry, they're friendly. At the gate of the village, a large aviary stocked with exotic birds will provide hours of exploration for those who can tolerate the ceaseless cawing; they even have a feeding station. In contrast to the noise, past the main square, you'll find a semi-abandoned chapel, as well as several art galleries and shops that range from a florist to a seller of mystic stones.

If animals aren't your thing, you'll find great beauty under the canopy of the trees: stone statues, cottages rich in Spanish architecture, and fountains out of a Romanesque dreamland. For foodies, the Tea Room provides a variety of fine teas served in even finer china, and the Village Chalet restaurant has the best spinach soup this side of South Florida. On Saturday nights, the trees are decorated with fairy lights, the old gas lamps (now replaced with electric bulbs) are lit, and live music fills the square and its surrounding area. It's so beautiful that Cauley Square has become known as a popular wedding locale for all tastes.

This veritable fairytale wonderland brings all of these seemingly disparate elements under the shade of a huge forest, providing shade from the infamous Miami heat. You won't want to leave, and with all there is to do, you won't have to.

Plan your visit to Cauley Square by visiting their official website.

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