Umbrella Sky is coming down: Time to get those photos while you still can

Umbrella Sky in Coral Gables ends Sunday


Update: The Umbrella Sky project comes down at 11:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 16.

Surely you’ve seen them on Instagram, the joyous raft of umbrellas floating above a cobblestone street in Coral Gables. As handy as they might seem during the afternoon downpours, they’re actually just for show, a summer-long art installation called Umbrella Sky. 

And if you want to see them, you have about three weeks before they come down. Worth the visit? Absolutely. Go for the umbrellas. Stay for the food, drink and strolls. (See our guide below.) 

The vibrantly colored patchwork of umbrellas filters the sky above Giralda Avenue, a restaurant-lined pedestrian street in the heart of the city. There are about 720 umbrellas hoisted above the treetops, but it feels like there are many more – they’re reflected in storefront windows, in the sunglasses of rainbow-seeking visitors and, yes, upon every cellphone screen. 

Spend a morning at “the umbrellas” and you’ll see the world – tourists and locals alike drift through to gaze upward, snap artistic shots and pose in the splendor of it all. 

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On a recent morning amid the shuffle of visitors, I overheard one young mom call out to her toddler: “Okay, mama, do your Fancy Nancy pose!” 

Her little girl propped a hand on her hip and flashed a huge smile while the mom snapped cellphone photos. It was one in thousands of vignettes these umbrellas have witnessed since the exhibit’s July opening. The stars of these street scenes: lovebirds, families, peace-sign flashers, dancers, impromptu models, accidental wanderers, huggers, yoga practitioners and bandana-wearing pups. The planet on a promenade. 

Umbrella Sky is not unique to Coral Gables. Part of Portuguese-led project, such installations have been staged in cities such as Madrid, Paris and Lisbon. In the Gables, which calls itself “The City Beautiful,” the umbrellas have added a layer of whimsy to an area in transformation. Even after the art installation is gone, Giralda Ave will remain a walkable promenade, thanks to the city’s Miracle Mile Streetscape project, which revamped area streets. 

While no specific closing date has been announced, the Downtown Coral Gables Business Improvement District says the umbrellas will be up and smiling until mid-September. 

Planning a weekend or day trip? Here are some tips on where to go.


UMBRELLA SKY 

Find the umbrellas: 

On Giralda Avenue, between Ponce de Leon Boulevard and Galiano Street, a few blocks north of Miracle Mile in Coral Gables. 

Getting there: 


EAT AND DRINK

There are plenty of places to grab a bite with an umbrella view on Giralda Ave, a cobblestone-lined pedestrian street. 

  • Threefold Café: Terrific spot for breakfast, brunch and lunch, serving comfort food with some hipster twists. Open daily to 4 p.m. (Mondays to 3 p.m.) at 141 Giralda Ave.; 305-704-8007
  • The Local Craft Food & Drink: popular local bar with decadent gastro-pub grub. Open daily for lunch and dinner, plus weekend brunch, at 150 Giralda Ave.; 305-648-5687
  • Mara Basque Cuisine: Upscale Spanish restaurant with stylish sidewalk tables, serving traditional tapas, paellas and meats. Open daily for lunch and dinner (Saturday dinner only) at 112 Giralda Ave.; 305-504-9274
  • Divino Ceviche: Peruvian favorites, from ceviche to causas (potato terrine) to chicha morada (purple corn drink), served in a casual setting. Open for lunch and dinner at 160 Giralda Ave.; 786-360-3775
  • Pasion del Cielo: Your corner coffee-and-chill shop, serving interesting brews and locally made pastries. Open daily from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. (Sunday 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.) at 100 Giralda Ave.; 305-448-0007
  • Rice Mediterranean Kitchen: A casual, build-your-own-meal spot with a range of Med flavors, from harissa chicken to falafel. Open daily from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. at 164 Giralda Ave.; 305-665-4370
  • Talavera Cocina Mexicana: An upmarket restaurant serving mainstream Mexican fare on the prettiest plates on the promenade. (No wonder – they’re Talavera pottery from Puebla.) Open daily for lunch and dinner at 2299 Ponce de Leon Blvd. (at Giralda); 305-444-2955

STROLL

  • Miracle Mile is about three blocks south. That’s the stretch of Coral Way that runs between Douglas and LeJeune roads, and it’s chockablock with shops, bars and restaurants. 
  • Books & Books, the best indie bookshop around, is a five-minute walk away. Peruse the shelves, sip a cappuccino, scribble in your journal. Open daily at 265 Aragon Ave.; 305-442-4408
  • Ponce de Leon Boulevard boasts plenty of art galleries. CoralGables.com lists a nice batch of them.

STAY 

  • There are some good summer rates at the Hyatt Regency (50 Alhambra Plaza; 305-441-1234) and the Hotel Colonnade (180 Aragon Ave.; 305-441-2600). Both hotels are within easy walking distance from Giralda Ave.


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