A Weekend in Miami: Vizcaya

Completed in 1914, Vizcaya was the estate of industrialist John Deering, who built the mansion as an escape from Chicago winters.  Today Vizcaya is a museum, filled with the Deering's extensive art collection.  Each room was designed around architectural elements -- such as painted wall panels -- and antique furniture acquired on Deering's trips to Europe.  There are Renaissance tapestries and 17th century Venetian sculptures, paintings by John Singer Sargent (a friend of Deering's) and antique Japanese cloissone vases.  It's rather breathtaking.

The gardens surrounding the estate are lovely.  Though crafted to mimic the grand gardens in Europe, Vizcaya's gardens are filled with lush sub-tropical plants that thrive in the Florida weather.  

There's also a orchidarium to the side of the main house that's home to a variety of orchids, in patterns and colors I wouldn't have thought were real.

Located not too far from Miami, on Biscayne Bay, Vizcaya is worth a visit if you're in the area.