Coconut Grove vs South Beach: Which Miami Neighborhood is Better?

Two of Miami’s older and more established neighborhoods are Coconut Grove and South Beach, which make them both very desirable. They both offer an incredible quality of life, especially for those who want to be close to the sea. But they are also very different Miami neighborhoods. So how can you know which neighborhood is right for you? Will the lush fauna and laid-back vibe of Coconut Grove and its family friendly atmosphere suit you? Or is being able to ride your bike to the beach (or better, walk) on your list? Here, we’ll compare Coconut Grove vs South Beach to give all the inside information so you can make the best decision.

Although both neighborhoods have had their share of history and fame, and have earned great reputations among tourists, living in them also has its perks. They share some similarities in walkability, art fairs, and waterfront activities, but the truth is each neighborhood has its unique charm and character. Let’s break down how Coconut Grove and South Beach compare to one another for those considering making either of them their home.

— Lifestyle: Coconut Grove vs South Beach

Coconut Grove is older than South Beach and older than the city of Miami itself. This historical neighborhood boasts a rich history and laid-back Caribbean lifestyle, surrounded by natural beauty, with direct access to Biscayne Bay. Coconut Grove has always appealed to artists and those who love to live outside the box, and now is home to many architects, developers, and design-related professionals. The Grove also attracts boating and sailing aficionados who want to enjoy a lifestyle of fun in the sun on the bay, and the several marinas here.

Coconut Grove, FL -- MarinaCoconut Grove, FL -- Marina

Coconut Grove Marina - FL

Majestic tropical trees line the shady streets with species ranging from banyans to grand poincianas. There’s also a lush display of flora and fauna featuring plenty of exotic birds like wild macaws, and quaker and Amazon parrots that have escaped the pet trade and set up colonies in the canopy. And living in “The Grove” means sharing your streets, driveways, and roofs with friendly, wild peacocks that roam the neighborhood (and your rooftop).

Sobe (Miami Beach) FL -- Ocean Drive
Ocean Drive - South Beach, FL

South Beach, on the other hand, was founded in the early 1900s and is one of Miami’s most colorful and lively neighborhoods, famed for its distinctive Art Deco architecture, boutique hotels, VIP party lifestyle, and of course, its stunning, sandy beaches. A haven for tourists from around the world, many celebrities and VIPs from around the globe have purchased vacation homes in some of South Beach’s most exclusive and glamorous neighborhoods, such as Fisher Island, the Venetian Islands, and
South of Fifth or SoFi, as the locals call it.

Both neighborhoods are relaxed and cater to a shorts-and-flip flops lifestyle that’s blended with a healthy dose of wellness and fitness. In both neighborhoods, you’ll see many people running, biking, exercising, doing yoga, and living la pura vida.

— Business: Coconut Grove vs South Beach 

Both Coconut Grove and South Beach are ideal settings for small businesses offering professional services such as attorneys, doctors, architects, or real estate agents, as well as major hotels. There are also retail boutiques and unique restaurants, as well as art galleries, fitness centers, yoga studios, spas, and health food stores.

Coconut Grove, FL -- Miracle Mile
Miracle Mile - Coconut Grove

Coconut Grove is a cozy neighborhood where residents walk their dogs or ride their bikes under the shady canopy and patronize the small businesses in the area. Adjacent to the
University of Miami in Coral Gables, The Grove is home to UM faculty and students alike, with plenty of excellent venues catering to college students.

Shopping on South Beach (Miami), FL
Shopping on South Beach

Meanwhile, as South Beach is more touristy, you’ll find big-name stores all along the open-air mall at Lincoln Road, as well as supermarkets, a Macy’s, Target, and the sort. In addition to this, there are many restaurants and nightclubs, as well as an array of day spas and beauty salons. Some of Miami’s most well-known hotels come with internationally known restaurants, glamorous bars, nightclubs, and specialty spas. 

Finally, there are also co-working spaces in each neighborhood, like Buro.

— Walkability and Transportation: Coconut Grove vs South Beach 

Both neighborhoods win in this category. Coconut Grove and South Beach have always been characterized by a highly walkable lifestyle, even when public transportation in Miami had not reached the level that it has today. In a city where few areas have allowed residents to enjoy living car-free, these two neighborhoods are a pedestrian paradise.

Miami Metro Mover
Metromover - a free public transportation system

The Grove is served by both the Metrorail and the free Metromover, as well as the free Coconut Grove Trolley. Several buses also connect Coconut Grove to other areas of Miami. Within the Grove, a bicycle will get you pretty much anywhere you need to go and if you don’t own one, you can also rent with the Citi Bike.

Biking on South Beach
Biking on South Beach

In South Beach, there are a lot of options for getting around the beach itself, such as the Free Trolley, several local buses, and Citi Bike stations, and everything in the neighborhood is within walking or cycling distance of most homes. The Miami Beach Airport Express (150) bus runs every half hour and provides service from 5:15 a.m. to 8:45 p.m. There are also plans to extend Metromover service to South Beach in the near future.

Looking to live car-free?
Don’t miss our article on other Miami neighborhoods where you can live without a car.

Parks and Greenspace: Coconut Grove vs South Beach

Coconut Grove offers access to a wide variety of out-in-nature experiences, including shaded streets that are ideal for walking, greenspaces such as Kennedy Park and Peacock Park, where you can enjoy outdoor sports like volleyball or flag football, and direct bay access where you can launch your boat, and sail, or rent a boat and enjoy a relaxed bay cruise. Other sports such as kayaking, paddleboarding, and snorkeling are also available.

Family playing in the park

There are also
excellent (public and private) golf courses and shady areas where dogs can enjoy being off-leash, and historic sites such as the beautiful Vizcaya Museum and Gardens and Barnacle Historic State Park provide unforgettable outdoor experiences that combine history, architecture, green space, and local culture.

In comparison, South Beach is all about beachfront living, with direct access to the Atlantic Ocean and beach parks such as South Pointe Park, where the ocean meets the bay. You can also try fishing, kayaking, and jet skiing, as well as swimming at various waterfront locations.

Miami Beach
Lifeguard station on South Beach

Flamingo Park has a great public pool as well as tennis, soccer, handball, and basketball courts, and Lummus Park features areas for skateboarding, rollerblading, and kids’ playgrounds, as well as direct ocean beach access. Finally, there’s also a public golf course.

Again, both neighborhoods have incredible outdoor spaces and foster an indoor-outdoor lifestyle. You can’t lose living in either one. It’s really a question of whether you prefer a lot of lush greenness or you’re a blue water and sand-in-your-toes kind of person. Hard call, we know.

— Arts and Culture: Coconut Grove vs South Beach

Both Coconut Grove and South Beach provide plenty to enjoy if you love arts and culture. Both neighborhoods feature great street fairs and local galleries, and while Coconut Grove is home to the lavish Vizcaya Museum, an architectural wonder that features a collection of amazing antiques surrounded by European-style gardens and a natural mangrove forest, South Beach is home to the edgy Bass Museum of Art, where regularly updated contemporary exhibits feature work by international visionaries and experimental creators, in addition to select Baroque and Renaissance pieces from the Museum’s permanent collection.

Coconut Grove, FL -- Vizcaya Museum
Vizcaya Museum - Coconut Grove

Art fairs and cultural festivals abound in both neighborhoods, including the Grove’s popular King Mango Strut, Goombay Festival, Coconut Grove Arts Festival, and The Coconut Grove Food & Wine Festival. On the other hand, South Beach wins for being the host of the annual
Art Basel Art Fair – an international art fête at the Convention Center for the world’s top collectors, Design/ Miami, The Food Network’s South Beach Wine and Food Festival, Fashion Week Miami, which features the latest in beachwear, and several fitness events and music festivals that happen several times a year.

Art Basel

Besides, South Beach is also home to
Oolite Arts, which hosts an array of subsidized artist studios that are open to the public and the Florida International University Wolfsonian Museum and Library. Finally, South Beach’s long-running Winter Antiques Mall on Lincoln Road has been a favorite for decades.

— Eating and Shopping: Coconut Grove vs South Beach

South Beach excels in both eating and shopping experiences, but Coconut Grove can also hold its own. The sheer number of tourists that visit South Beach each year means that you’ll have an endless variety of dining options year-round, including a couple of Michel-starred restaurants like Stubborn Seed and The Den. For a more relaxed environment, try the happy hour on the bay at The Standard Hotel.

The Den at Azabu Miami Beach, South Beach
Photo courtesy of The Den at Azabu Miami Beach

Besides being packed with restaurants and nightclubs, South Beach also has eclectic and brand-name shopping along the Lincoln Road promenade and around, including an Apple store, Macy’s, Anthropologie, Zara, and H&M, among many others. On 5th Street, you’ll find Target, TJ Maxx, Ross, and other big box stores.

Rendering of Cocowalk - shopping center in Coconut Grove
Cocowalk in Coconut Grove

The Grove, on the other hand, is known for its laid-back, outdoor cafes, sports bars, and boutiques, as well as the popular CocoWalk, with an array of food, retail, and entertainment.  Eateries range from upscale restaurants like Ariete or Los Félix to exotic Indian fare at Bombay Darbar.

— Schools: Coconut Grove vs South Beach

Coconut Grove is a densely residential area, with many single-family homes, and boasts having some of the best public and private schools in Miami-Dade County, including private Ransom Everglades High School, Carrollton School of the Sacred Heart, Saint Hugh, Saint Stephen’s, Coconut Grove Montessori, the Vanguard School, and Immaculata-LaSalle High School. Public schools in The Grove include Coconut Grove Elementary, Frances S. Tucker Elementary Magnet School, and George Washington Carver Elementary and Middle Schools.

South Beach, on the other hand, has many condos, vacation rentals, and hotels, and as such, has fewer schools. It is served by South Pointe and Fienberg Fisher Elementary Schools, Nautilus Middle School, Miami Beach Sr. High, and private schools such as St. Patrick’s and the Hebrew Academy.


For a list of Miami’s top-ranked private schools, see our blog here.

— Architecture and Housing Options: Coconut Grove vs South Beach 

Coconut Grove is a gorgeous mix of old and new, with high-rise and boutique condos, beach bungalows, spacious single-family homes in old Florida cottage style or new modern styles, as well as gated communities featuring waterfront mansions. For families looking for single-family homes, Coconut Grove is your best option.

Art Deco - South Beach (Miami), FL

South Beach also mixes colorful Art Deco architecture dating back to the 1930’s with glamorous new constructions. Luxurious condo living is what you’ll find in South Beach, with many options ranging from ultra-luxury high-rises to boutique low-rises, lofts, and renovated art deco delights. While single-family homes are less abundant than in the Grove, you can find multi-million dollar options on the Venetian Islands, Sunset Islands, and dotted here and there.

View available condo options in South Beach and Coconut Grove.

— Cost of Living: Coconut Grove vs South Beach

Both neighborhoods cater to higher-end buyers and those seeking luxury waterfront properties. Average listings in Coconut Grove range around $1,750,000 million or $789 per square foot and can run as high as $20,000,000 or $3,107 per square foot. South Beach listings average about $750,000 or $504 per square foot, but luxury properties may list for as much as $54,500,000 or $22,959 per square foot. Still, affordable options, as well as single-family homes, can be found in both neighborhoods.

— Which Neighborhood is Better? Coconut Grove or South Beach?

This really depends on you and what kind of lifestyle you prefer, as the two neighborhoods are vastly different in their pace of life. Coconut Grove is much more laid-back than South Beach and is anchored by its community feel of full-time residents. If you want to be on the water, enjoying a family-friendly residential lifestyle surrounded by gorgeous trees, while having access to all the perks of living in a big city, such as restaurants, bars, and great shopping, Coconut Grove can check off all of your needs.

But if you’re a beachgoer who likes to mix a high-low lifestyle with endless options, from riding your beach cruiser in flip-flops to partying like a rockstar shoulder-to-shoulder with a celebrity or two, or going to yoga on the beach and then dining at some of the country’s most exclusive restaurants, South Beach may just be perfect for you.

If you’re still on the fence and would like to know more about other neighborhoods, check out these comparisons to find your match

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No matter which one you choose,
Coconut Grove or South Beach, or any other for that matter, our expert local team can help you figure out which neighborhood is truly ideal for you. Give us a call or email us for more information on the perks and benefits of each location, and let us show you our many available properties in both Coconut Grove and South Beach. We’re here to help you choose your dream home in Miami!

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