The minuscule municipality of Aventura, Florida, equidistant between Miami and Fort Lauderdale and a mile west of the Atlantic Ocean, came into being pretty much on the back of a napkin in the late 1960s. Southwest Airlines was also born with a paper napkin sketch. Sorry, off topic! The gleam in the developers' eyes stemmed from a quick idea for an upscale golf course and resort on some fill dirt, surrounded by man-made lakes and canals.
Those same developers probably envisioned other things as well. High-rise condominiums, perhaps. They were being built at the time on just about every other piece of available dirt in South Florida. What did eventually happen is that this community, which occupies only 3.2 square miles, grew to a population of about 36,000 people. That's dense by any standard, right? But, when you consider that one of the most popular (and expensive) malls in the area is also within the city limits, and an exclusive 18-hole golf course and upscale resort hotel occupy a good share of the ground space, you can see what has developed – pun intended – in the past five decades or so. Then there's the marina and the canals and a few streets.
Are You Willing to Pay the Price?
There are many levels to living in Aventura. Quite literally, the majority of the population density is vertical. The value of Aventura real estate is estimated to be in the billions. The high billions. If you're considering relocating to the rarefied surroundings of Aventura, just be aware that not all the buildings are new. Some, even some of the high-rises, have been here since the '70s. Do your homework, check out what's available, and know that you'll be paying high dollar for the higher floors. The better to see the view, don't you know! And there are some spectacular views if you can ignore the other tall buildings in the way.
Other than that, it's a pretty normal small city. Really? Okay, so there's nothing normal at all about Aventura – as its name suggests, it can be an adventure to live in here.
There is a city government center with a library, a police force and a fire department.
Back to the Good Things
Even though Aventura is considered a car-centric community, residents do have access to a free bus service. The parks and recreation department maintains a community center, a theater, and several parks for the exclusive use of residents. There's even a dedicated dog park -- assuming the dog brings its master along for exercise. A three-mile horticultural walkingand jogging trail winds through and alongside the high-rise condos and golf course. There are great views of the water and the adjacent boats. It's pretty, for sure.
While Aventura bills itself as a planned community, it's sometimes difficult to remember just what the plan was. Actually, the keystone golf course and resort hotel, named Turnberry Isle, was the initial name for the area. But later in its development, one of the main investors remarked on what an "adventure" it was becoming. The name stuck, with its Spanish twist. Aventura was incorporated in 1995.
Shop Till You Drop, Then Treat Yourself
Aventura boasts 2,708 businesses, according to the city's website. Where do they put them? Well, there's the big indoor mall, of course, where you can be in air-conditioned, opulent splendor as long as your pocketbook can stand it. It's the fifth largest indoor mall in the United States. Then there's an outdoor mall anchored by bargain-hunter's paradise Loehmann's, the delight of North Miami matrons, and several other malls. Spending your dough here is not a problem.
Grocery stores of all varieties, both the familiar market for staples, and upscale for natural, organic produce, prime meats, and imported cheeses, are nearby. So are medical centers and a local pharmacy.
Restaurants range from pancake places to burger joints to bagel shops with deli sandwiches; there are upscale steak restaurants and sushi bars, indoor diners and outdoor eateries. Within the city boundaries, there are expensive eating-out options, and there are the mall favorites and several popular chains represented -- but you won't find a McDonald's. Never fear, there are plenty close enough. And, yes, there is a Starbuck's.
To find an apartment in Aventura might take some time, but if you want to live in the center of an upscale community, with easy access to the wider Miami-Fort Lauderdale lifestyle, living here could be a perfect choice for you. You probably won't even miss the McDonald's.
Aventura is one of those places that probably should not even exist. It’s more a movie set than a real place, but real people live here. It’s a legend, though, and its manicured golf course and meandering paths can shield the community from the traffic-filled outside world but not quite shut out the Miami reality that lies beyond.