What do you call the phenomenon of living somewhere for a long time but not visiting the sites until you no longer live there?
South Florida, my childhood home, has a few of those attractions.
Ever since I read a few years ago about the oldest building in the Western hemisphere being in South Florida I have wanted to visit it. Of course, I probably knew about the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach as a teenager but was too jaded, disinterested, or unworldly to appreciate it then.
Spanish Monastery, North Miami Beach, Florida
Yes, it is somewhat sneaky to call the Spanish Monastery the oldest building in the Western hemisphere. It was built between 1133 and 1141 in Spain, bought by William Randolph Hearst in 1925, and reassembled here in 1953.
>>> For more historic South Florida buildings, see Opa Locka: Funny Name, Cool Architecture
The Ancient Spanish Monastery (and gardens) has appeared in many movies, television shows, and commercials. It also is popular for wedding photos and ceremonies.*
See also this travel article about amazing and fun Florida road trip stops.
McCool Travel tip: a wonderful place to eat in North Miami Beach and near the Ancient Spanish Monastery is Laurenzo’s Farmer Market and Italian Center. Yes, that is a long name but everyone just calls the place Laurenzo’s. While you can buy enough fresh pasta and Italian treats to serve hundreds of people at this old school South Florida institution, you can also order a lunch sandwich (but make sure to also buy a cannoli). While waiting for that sandwich, stroll around and look at the amazing photos on the walls. McCool Travel note: Laurenzo’s closed in August 2019. Please support your favorite independent eateries and businesses so that they stay open.
For more South Florida road trip fun, please see 8 Great Places to See Miami Like a Native.
* In fact, that evening, I discussed my day’s Miami travel activities with my high school classmate Luis Sousa, the architect who designed the Lynn University memorial. “Our wedding was at the Spanish Monastery,” Luis said. How cool is that?
Have you visited the Ancient Spanish Monastery in North Miami Beach?