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One of the top things to do in Coral Gables is visit the one-of-a-kind Venetian Pool. Founded in 1924 by real estate developer George Edgar Merrick and artist Denman Fink, the pool is carved into a rock quarry and features grotto caves and fountains.

The pool is drained and refilled each day, and the water is recycled back into the Florida aquifer using natural ground filtration. The pool has also hosted symphony concerts that take advantage of the quarry’s wonderful acoustics. Read this first!

The History

Opened in 1924, the mammoth city pool – 820,000 gallons – occupies a quarry that once supplied oolitic limestone for many of Coral Gables’ early buildings. Designed by architect Phineas Paist and landscape designer Denman Fink, the pool was built to evoke a Venetian lagoon with water cascading over a bridge, into an island, and through grottoes. Gondolas once docked here, and the pool would often be emptied for orchestra concerts (the walls provided amazing acoustics).

The pool’s natural filtration system allows for fresh and clear water every day, but it must be drained and replaced during the spring and summer – a process that caused controversy when the city was first developing. Today, the pool is drained and filled with water from an underground aquifer, using a new, environmentally-friendly system that has the added benefit of saving the city money.

To help preserve the pool, its lifeguards use the lowest dose of chlorine allowed by law – one part per million gallons. This is easier on the eyes, the aquifer, and city budgets, and also means that kids must be potty trained and 3 years or older to enter (bring proof).

The Location

Located in the heart of Coral Gables on De Soto Boulevard, this iconic pool is a unique landmark that stands out as one of the most popular places to visit. It’s also a symbol of the city and reflects its Mediterranean Revival aesthetic, with porticos, waterfalls, and grottoes.

It was designed by real estate developer George Edgar Merrick with architects Phineas Paist and Denman Fink. The pool was built on a rock quarry that had been used for construction in the early years of Coral Gables and was drained every night during the summer to recirculate its water.

The stunning emerald green water is fed from the Biscayne aquifer, and it feels softer on your skin than regular chlorinated pools. The pool is surrounded by lush tropical foliage and palm trees, which creates a romantic atmosphere that is perfect for couples or families. The pool’s grottoes are carved out of the rock, and visitors can explore a waterfall or relax in a cave. Browse around this site to check more places to visit.

The Water

Few pools are as pristine and crystal-clear as the 820,000-gallon aquifer-fed beauty in Coral Gables. This one-of-a-kind water feature is emptied and refilled daily during the summer to keep it looking fresh and clean. Its lush surroundings of wrought iron balconies and stucco buildings with terra-cotta roofs make it easy to forget you’re just a short drive from Miami.

Two waterfalls, a grotto, and a scenic bridge are accented by a lush Mediterranean landscape of Royal Poinciana, Bougainvillea, and coconut palms. The pool also includes a lagoon-style section with high diving platforms. It’s designed to resemble a natural lagoon in a Venetian setting and was created by Phineas Paist with Denman Fink. During its heyday, the pool was visited by such notables as orators William Jennings Bryan and Paul Whiteman. Olympian Esther Williams and swimming star Johnny Weissmuller from the 1930s Tarzan films also spent time here.

The Facilities

The 820,000-gallon pool features a scenic bridge, Venetian-style mooring posts for gondolas (which are no longer in operation), and grottoes that swimmers can explore. It also has two three-story observation towers, a sandy island, and fountains. The pool’s Mediterranean aesthetic is further accentuated by porticos, loggias, and beautiful, stately palm trees.

The water is a pristine shade of blue and ranges in depth from 4 to 8 feet. The pool’s unique natural filtration system ensures that the water is always clean and fresh. In the pool’s early years, the water was drained and freshly filled each day from artesian wells on site. However, this practice came under criticism from water conservationists who worried that it was depleting local aquifers. The pool was retrofitted in 1998 to drain and recycle the water using injection wells, which conserves Florida’s freshwater supply while ensuring that the pool has a constant source of clean water.

Admission to the Venetian Pool is free for Coral Gables residents and is only $10 per non-resident adult. The pool is open from April through October. Click here for more interesting articles.


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