You may forget you’re in Florida while swimming in the crystal clear, blue-green waters of the Venetian Pool. The wrought iron balconies, stucco buildings, and terra cotta roofs surrounding this watering hole will transport you to a faraway Mediterranean land even though you're just 20 minutes outside of Miami proper. The Coral Gables’ Venetian Pool has become somewhat of a staple for visitors to the area. Not only because it’s a great place to relax water-side, but also because it’s rich in history. The Venetian Pool is the only swimming pool on the National Register of Historic Places and has been serving the City of Coral Gables and many, many tourists since 1924.
Originally opened as the “Venetian Casino” back in 1924, the pool was created from an empty rock quarry that was used to harvest the limestone for building up the brand new city of Coral Gables. Real estate developer George Merrick, who funded the entire project, envisioned a community pool in the Mediterranean Revival style, which was a popular aesthetic at the time, especially in Coral Gables. When it first opened, the pool was a popular destination for Hollywood celebrities and the uber-rich.
In the early days of the pool, it would be emptied often and used for concerts. The orchestra would sit in the empty pool, using the pool itself for amazing acoustics. Today, the pool is still emptied often, but more often than not, it's done to clean and maintain the lining and walls.
What to Do There
Entering the Venetian Pool you’ll find photos and images from the pool’s long and elaborate history, so take some time to look at these on your way to the pool.
Once inside, the Venetian Pool is just one giant pool. The water is very refreshing though, as it’s pumped in and out of the pool daily through artesian wells and an aquifer. This is why the pool uses very little chlorine, making the water easy on the eyes and keeping it at a cool temperature.
Swimmers can hang out in one of the two grottos, or swim around the waterfall. There's also a short walking bridge that leads to a small island where visitors can relax in the sun or jump off into the water. Near the pool is a separate kiddie pool and a sandy beach area for sunbathers.
The pool offers all the necessary amenities that you’d see at a public pool, but bring your own towels, and although there are chairs, they tend to get taken up quickly. The bathrooms are kept relatively clean, but we suggest wearing your shoes.
Lockers are available for rent, and a café stand onsite sells light snack foods and lunches, hot dogs, hamburgers, and pizza. Outside food is permitted, but alcohol and coolers are not. There is a small picnic area to eat at as well.
The hours of operation and days of the week that the pool is open vary from season to season—in 2019, it's open February through Sept. 8. During low season, the pool is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. During the summer, the pool is open on Mondays as well. Check their website before heading over to confirm it is open. The pool does fill up fast, so get their early—once they have reached capacity, they stop letting people in.
There are a few strict rules the pool has that all guests must adhere to, so keep these in mind.
- Children under 3 will not be admitted in to the facility, and if your child is under 38”, you must prove their age. If you’re traveling with toddlers, this is not the place for you. The rule exists for a good reason—because the pool uses such a low dose of chlorine, if a young child were to have an accident in the water, they would have to get everyone out of the pool, drain the entire thing (which takes about four hours), and then refill it.
- Smoking, glass, alcohol, and coolers are also not permitted in the facility. They also don’t allow outside food deliveries.
- Guests are free to come and go as they please, but bring your receipt with you for re-entry.
Admission for Coral Gables residents is $6 for adults and $5 for children all year round. During peak season, Memorial Day through Labor Day, the non-resident price is $20 for adults and $15 for kids. The rest of the year it’s $15 for adults and $10 for kids. Seasonal and annual memberships are available as well.
How to Get There
The pool is located at 2701 De Soto Boulevard, Coral Gables, Florida 33134. From Miami, take US-1 South till SW 40thSt/Bird Rd. Drive about a mile and half until you hit Grananda Blvd, then make a right. You’ll see a traffic circle where you'll take the second exit onto De Soto Blvd, and the pool is right up the street on your right.
Although you can grab food at the Venetian Pool Café, head out into the city if you’re looking for a tasty lunch. Downtown Coral Gables, also known as the Miracle Mile, is a great outdoor shopping area filled with restaurants, boutiques, galleries, and plenty of shops.
Another great place to head for the afternoon is the Coral Gables Museum, which celebrates the colorful history of the city of Coral Gables. Coral Gables was one of the first planned communities ever built in the U.S. during the Florida land boom of the 1920s.
The Coral Gables Art and Cinema house is a great place to spend the evening. There is a running repertoire of independent films, documentaries, and international films. The theater has been open since 2010 and boasts being the highest grossing art house cinema in South Florida.