Photograph taken by Lucy Logan/CC by 4.0
Carolina Echeverri Valle is a senior pursuing a double degree in International Relations and PRAAC, with a minor in Political Science and a certificate in Human Rights and Political Transition at Florida International University. Being a passionate advocate for human rights, she aspires to work in a non-profit aimed at helping children and/or women. After graduating from her two majors, she plans on attending graduate school. She has had the privilege of working for the Spanish Ministry of Education, the German American Business Chamber of Commerce, UNICEF, Hillel at FIU, CARTA in DC at FIU, Broward County and is currently working in the Live Like Bella Foundation. She’s been a peer advisor at FIU, served in many leadership positions within her sorority of Alpha Omicron PI and created a project for the Millennium Fellowship. As a student who grew up in Colombia, she desires to learn more about the culture and history of one of the most diverse cities in Florida: Miami.
Image taken from Google Maps
Doral is a city located in Miami-Dade County, in the state of Florida, in the United States of America. It is located at 25°49’10″N 80°21’19″W (25.8195400, -80.3553300) (Mapsofnet). Doral is one of four municipalities that’s located just one mile away from the Miami International Airport, and seven miles from Downtown Miami. “According to the United States Census Bureau, Doral has a total area of 39.37 km², of which 35.94 km² is for land and 3.42 km² is for water (8.7%).” (The Doral Grid). Doral is a central area, bordering Florida’s Turnpike to the west, the Palmetto Expressway to the east, the Medley to the north, and the Sweetwater City to the south (The Doral Grid). Doral has a population density of 5,478 people per square mile (World Population Review).
In 2021, Doral is a fast growing urban landscape, filled with restaurants, shops and residential housing. You can also see some plots of land used for agriculture, as they have grass and livestock. However, most of Doral has residential homes which are modern and luxurious, as they have been recently constructed. Between NW 12st Street and NW 41st Street, you will find a lot of industrial areas, which can range between shops, restaurants and many warehouses. Past NW 41st street, you will locate many homes, ranging from apartments, houses and townhouses that have been built or are currently being built. In the past years, there has been an increase in the development of the city.
“From Everglades to Industrial Center to Hometown – The City of Doral” (CityofDoral).
In the late 1950s, polish real estate developer Alfred Kaskel and his wife Doris purchased 2,400 acres of swampland between NW 36 Street and NW 79 Street and from NW 79 Avenue to NW 117 Avenue. Their dream came true when in 1962, they built a hotel and country club that featured the Blue, Red and Par 3 golf courses. The name “Doral” came from the combination of Doris and Alfred. This was Doral’s first structure and it became a hit after its second year of operation. The Kaskels hosted the first Doral Open Invitational, Florida’s major PGA event (CityofDoral).
In the 80’s, Kaskel’s grandson Bill developed the Doral Estates, followed by a joint business with Lennar Homes to build Doral Park. These communities were named after the hotel. Younger families started to come to the area, purchasing these investment properties or second homes, with low cost and high quality of life (even though there were no stores, schools or parks close by). This started forming the first community in the area. There were many farms in the area. Hence, there was very little traffic (CityofDoral).
After the 1983-85 building moratorium to protect the well fields, Doral started growing rapidly. In 1989, Morgan levy led The West Dade Federation of Homeowner Association, which was formed to protect the welfare of the community. That’s how a police station was built. Plus, lighting, roads and landscaping started to be prevalent in the area. In 1996, the first election of the Community Council took place, and soon-to-be County Commissioner Jose “Pepe” Cancio, Sr. Mario Pita, and Barbara B. Thomas were elected, as well as three other members were appointed. This council met up every month to address what the community needed and work on various projects (CityofDoral).
In 2002, the Governor appointed Cancio to fill in for Commissioner, as former commissioner Miriam Alonso had been suspended after an arrest due to felony charges. Juan Carlos Bermudez won the seat, as he intended to create a transparent government in Doral. After 7 years, in 2003, 85% of the voters in Doral voted for its incorporation, making it its own city. After this, they got their City Charter and elected their first mayor and City Council and they then took their oath of office (CityofDoral).
In the present day, Doral is attracting over 100 corporations, businesses, young families and retirees. It continues to develop, especially in places such as Downtown Doral, City Place Doral and Midtown Doral (CityofDoral).
According to The United States Census Bureau, as of July 1, 2019, there was a population of 65,741 people in Doral. In terms of age and sex, there are 6.8% persons under 5 years, 26.5% under 18 years, 7.2% 65 years and over, and 52.1% female persons. The highest percentages when it comes to race and hispanic origin are: 91.2% white alone and 85.0% hispanic or latino. 66.8% of the population are foreign born persons. The median household income is $77,493, the per capita income in the past 12 months (of 2019) is $28,702, and the persons in poverty are 12.8% (United States Census Bureau).
Interview with Yuliana Valentina Amaya (A Doral Resident)
Carolina: “Hi, can you please introduce yourself?”
Valentina: “Hi, my name is Valentina Amaya and I’m an FIU student majoring in international business. I’m from Bogotá, Colombia and I’m 19 years old.”
Carolina: “How did you end up in Doral?”
Valentina: “I came to Miami to study and when I was searching where to live I wanted a place that was close enough to FIU and that could offer me accessibility to different places such as restaurants, supermarkets, etc. Given this, I started looking and Doral was the place that could offer me everything I was searching for.”
Carolina: “How would you describe Doral?”
Valentina: “I would describe Doral as a residential area, where you can find different types of housing and which has a very convenient location given its proximity to the airport and downtown Miami. In this way, Doral is a city that allows you to enjoy the entertainment of Miami, while at the same time it also offers a totally quiet residential life.”
Carolina: “Are there any differences that you’ve noticed in your time living here?”
Valentina: “I haven’t really lived in Doral for very long, but I would say that one difference I have noticed is that the area has more and more buildings and therefore more residents.”
Carolina: “What’s your favorite thing about Doral?”
Valentina: “My favorite thing about Doral is downtown since it is a place that offers a great culinary variety, with nice decorations and different entertainment that makes it a great place to go at any time of the day.”
Carolina: “What’s your least favorite thing about Doral?”
Valentina: “I would say that my least favorite thing about Doral is the traffic that sometimes occurs given perhaps the number of residents or the entertainment areas that are close by.”
Carolina: “Thank you so much for your time!”
Doral is home to many museums, landmarks and monuments that make it a beautiful place to visit. Some of these are: The Trump National Park, Downtown Doral Park, CityPlace Doral, Doral Government Center, Miami Selfie Museum, Doral Contemporary Art Museum, among others.
Trump National Doral
When going to Doral, it’s very hard to miss seeing this enormous plot of land, filled with different services. As Alfred and Doris Kaskel once were able to do, this plot of land features a hotel and a golf course. In 2012, Donald Trump purchased the land and changed the name of the hotel. It now not only offers those services, but it offers a variety of dining options, spa and fitness, and spaces for weddings, meetings and events (Trump National Doral). Plus, Donald Trump stayed there on several occasions during his time as President of the United States. Famous events, such as Miss Universe, have taken place here. It’s a historic landmark, but also a visual representation of the progress and development of the city.
Downtown Doral is a crucial section of this city. Located at the heart of access to almost everywhere, this 250-acre mixed-use development has offices, homes, restaurants, shops and an award-winning school (Miami and Beaches). The Shops at Downtown Doral are almost 70 trendy shops and restaurants, almost 1 million square feet of office space, 5,000 luxurious residential units, Downtown Doral Charter Elementary School, Downtown Doral Charter Upper School, Doral Government Center, and many different green spaces with upper-class artwork (Miami and Beaches). Everything is walking distance in Downtown Doral, having activities for the young population, all the way to senior citizens. It’s a very peaceful place to be, surrounded by businesses, as well as green spaces; a place to remember.
This “mall” is a must when visiting Doral. Many people from other neighbourhoods in Dade visit this area, looking to have leisure time. CityPlace offers different services that include shopping, dining, entertainment and events. They’ve brought boutiques from all over the world to sell their clothes, coffee shops that attract Latin communities, elite nail salons, bowling alleys, grocery-market stores, upper-scale movie theatres and dancing bars that are not present in many parts of Miami. Likewise, they host events, such as stand-up comedy, live music and festivities dedicated to the time of the year; some are free, whilst others have a charge. Not only this, but there are also apartments located in the top of these businesses, and are very popular, due to their proximity to so many services (CityPlace Doral). With so much to offer, this is definitely a place to highlight that Doral has been successful in.
Doral has many green spaces around, which include parks and lands used for cattle farming. One of these parks is Downtown Doral Park, Doral Glades Park, Doral Central Park, among others.
Downtown Doral Park
This park is adjacent to the City of Doral Government and is made up of 3 acres of land. It’s located in the heart of Downtown Doral. Since it was completed in 2012, it’s a very modern and elegant looking park, being ideal for family picnics or evening strolls. It features a children’s playground, picnic tables (which are very convenient, because there are restaurants all around the park), a walking/jogging path (that are suitable for the families that live in the area), and a large open lawn. It’s open Monday through Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to sunset. (CityofDoral).
Doral Glades Park
Doral Glades Park is located on NW 74th Street between NW 97th Avenue and NW 107th Avenue, and it comprises 25 acres. It’s a place where the community gathers to enjoy nature, while being in an extremely safe space. This park has 12 acres of a lake with a natural preserve, a lighted boardwalk and nature trail which encompases the lake, and a viewing pier in the natural preserve. This park allows its visitors to fish and kayak. In addition, it includes a shaded nature themed playground, an open lawn, two tennis courts, a sand volleyball court, a basketball court, a nature center with interactive nature exhibits, an e-library, many indoor multipurpose rooms, and an outdoor pavilion which people can rent (CityofDoral).
Doral Central Park
Doral Central Park is the largest park in the city, being made up of 82 acres. It’s home to some of the major events, such as the Independence Day Celebration. Since it has open green spaces and scenic lake views, many corporate gatherings and community events take place here. It’s located in the commercial heart of Doral, next door to Carnival Cruise Lines, United States Southern Command. Some of the amenities that it has are: grills, an exercise station, picnic benches available for rent and a 0.9 mile walking/jogging trail. It’s open Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to sunset (CityofDoral).
The city of Doral has a Doral Trolley, which works as a local transportation to shopping centers, parks, restaurants and recreational places. It connects to the metrorail. It has an app, called The Doral City App, where you can track the real-time trolley and information regarding the trolley’s routes and actual status. It covers some of the most significant landmarks, including Midtown Doral, the Doral Government Center, CityPlace, Dolphin Mall, Miami Dade College West Campus, Miami International Mall, and Florida International University (CityofDoral).
Furthermore, Doral has the Freebee, which is a free, door-to-door, on-demand transportation service. It’s 100% electric and emission free, being eco friendly. You can request a ride through the Ride Freebee app, you set up your pickup location, you select your destination, and then you enjoy the ride! It shares the latest and greatest happenings in the City of Doral, which is an amazing idea, as many times, the population of Doral don’t know what’s happening in their own city. Freebee caters to all ages, from infants to senior citizens, as well as all types of pets. The hours of operation are; Monday through Thursday from 11:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., Friday through Saturday from 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m., and Sunday from 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. (Freebee in Doral).
Doral is known for the variety in its cuisine. There are many cultures that are exposed in the gastronomy of the city, including Peruvian, Japanese, Colombian, Cuban, American, Mexican and Venezuelan. It’s easy and fast to drive or walk from one restaurant to the next, and enjoy the variety offered.
Mondongo’s is a Colombian restaurant, located on 3500 NW 87th Avenue. It’s a popular place to visit, as it offers traditional Colombian food, such as Mondongo, Bandeja Paisa, and Ajiaco. Mondongo’s is only located in Medellin, Colombia and in Miami. Hours of operation are Monday through Sunday from 11:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. and 9:00 p.m. on Friday’s and Saturday’s (Mondongo’s Restaurante). As a Colombian who moved here three years ago, I can testify that it’s one of my favorite and more authentic places to visit.
This is by far my favorite restaurant in Doral, offering Italian food. Divieto means “prohibition” in Italian, and it offers a New York 1920’s decor and environment. It’s a more upper-class restaurant. It offers over 70 signature Italian dishes all made from scratch, using local ingredients. One of their most popular dishes is the Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese wheel, which is pasta made inside of a huge cheese bowl. There’s also a variety of cocktails and 1920s inspired drinks custom created by their mixologist. They have locations in Doral, Estero and Aventura, opening for lunch and dinner (Divieto Ristorante).
This restaurant, located in CityPlace, is Mexican, and uses local ingredients as a way to design elevated cooking techniques. It’s open 7 days a week for Dinner and on the weekends for Late Night and Brunch, as well as offering happy hour. There’s one located in Doral and another one in Phoenix. It’s a fairly new restaurant that has gained a lot of popularity. It has a beautiful entrance that allows for “instagram worthy” pictures and a wide selection of food. It also has unlimited mimosas, margaritas and draft beer on the weekend mornings, which has attracted a large group of younger adults who enjoy brunch. They also offer “Taco Tuesday” that features its own separate menu (Chico Malo).
Doral is home to over 10,000 local and international businesses. It offers many different services, which include nail and hair salons, adult day cares, car dealers, barber shops, dance studios, home services, pet services, law firms, realtors, fitness, home services, and many others open to residents as well as non-residents.
Tranquility At Doral Salon & Spa
This salon and spa is located at 9566 NW 41st Street, and offers a variety of services. Ranging from facials to nail salon, this business is in-demand and is growing exponentially its customer base. They don’t only offer competitive prices, but they also have specials that vary every month. When you’re inside of the business, the atmosphere and customer service is amazing, offering free coffee for the clients and having a beautiful and aesthetically pleasing environment. The staff is also very professional and efficient (Tranquility At Doral).
Born 2 Swim
This aquatic academy is located on 1955 NW 108th Avenue, and offers swimming classes for children, starting at months old and up. Their training can be done in Spanish as well, which really helps with the diversity in the city. They offer Aquatic Survival Programs, Rolly Polly Floaty, Aqua Tots, and Aqua Club. These all ensure that children successfully acquire life saving skills when they’re in the water. The children will learn to float from any position and swim to and from their parents, poolsteps or wall (Born2Swim).
This boutique bridal shop “make your dream dress come true” (TG Bridal). Located in Downtown Doral, they allow you to buy or rent (used or new) your bridal dress, and have a personalized experience when doing so. You have to make an appointment to be able to look through the dresses and try them on. Their collection of dresses is wide, allowing you to be able to have a variety to choose from. They’ve had clients in Medellin and Bucaramanga, as seen on their instagram. Make sure to check them out @tgbridal.
The city of Doral has developed and progressed at a rapid pace since the 1950’s, causing many people to move here, businesses to open, green spaces to be made and restaurants to open. The city has populated rapidly, making the city’s prices high, but also affordable compared to other neighbourhoods in Dade. It offers many services that are close together, making it a great place to raise a family, considering the many family-friendly amenities. Apart from this, many businesses have been opening here, not only for chains, but also local ones that see the city as an opportunity for growth.
The city is doing a great job when it comes to alternative forms of transportation, but could definitely work on the traffic. Likewise, their multiple green spaces, parks for the children and amenities for adults give it a friendly vibe that attracts many people to come and enjoy them. It’s a very safe city that hosts events for different audiences, bringing a boost in the economy and job opportunities as well. Whether you’re a resident or visiting, it has many business, dining options, landmarks that can entertain you, and shopping centers that you can buy at. In addition, there is development happening all throughout the city. Recently, the Baptist Health Hospital in Doral just opened, which is an enormous step closer into investing and building for the people, leading to overall progress of the city.
Whether you want to enjoy a drink at a bar in CityPlace, or go buy clothes at Dolphin Mall, this is the place for you. It’s growing population (which brings in new modern homes) and economy (which brings in more businesses and an overall progress for the city), allows individuals who go there or already reside there to enjoy it all at a close proximity. I can’t wait to see the development that Doral will have in the upcoming years.
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