Robert Burr was raised in the county of Dade. His family came to Florida in 1876, and traces of his ancestors' hard work can be found from Arch Creek Park to Burr's Berry Farm. As you might expect from a seventh generation member of a pioneering family, he knows the nooks and crannies of this city like the back of his hand.
On any given weekend Burr is leading one of the many walking and driving tours he's created. He has introduced thousands to the pleasures of the Redland and Coral Gables through his ever-popular Redland Riot tour, as well as his Coral Gables Wine Walk, Gallery Stroll, and Pub Crawl. He's done this in person by leading the procession, although the front-and-center position isn't necessarily his favorite.
"I really don't want everyone to go with me, per se. In the Gables, we're doing a wine walk tonight. And people will call and say, 'Oh no, it's already sold out.' And I respond 'You know what? Go do a wine walk with you and your friends!' Ultimately I hope to set an example for how to go do this stuff yourself," explains the affable, silver-haired gent.
Burr has single-handedly reinvented the concept of locals discovering South FLorida on their own. His comprehensive websites and weekly newsletters offer print-it-yourself maps that highlight special events and hidden gems in neighborhoods that people usually just drive through.
The Gables tours focus on the area's rich dining and boozing prospects, and the Redland Riot Tour (and Redland Riot Road Rallye) leads groups of explorers into the still-lush corners of Miami's rapidly developing back yard.
Exploring the Redland is a Burr family tradition. "When I was a kid, when they said, 'Hop in the station wagon, we're going to the Redlands.' That meant we'd get to go see Uncle Charlie and pick some strawberries," Burr recalls. "One of the simple pleasures in life is to pick your own fruit. Someday it's going to be something that's just in the past, picking your own strawberries."
The U-Picks are disappearing and the farmland is being converted into little boxes made of ticky-tacky that all look just the same. But thanks to the efforts of Robert Burr, urbanites seeking a weekend getaway will continue to discover the pastoral pleasures of the Robert is Here produce stand, R. F. Orchids, Schnebly Redland's Winery, historic Cauley Square and other gems of the countryside, thereby preserving what's left of Miami's verdant past.
Miami New Times - Best Of Miami
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