5 Things That Make Kendall a Great Place to Live and an Even Better Place to Raise Your Kids

Photo Credit: Lilian Solorzano
My eldest daughter at the Kendall U-PICK in the Spring of 2012

I have lived in Kendall on and off for most of my life, and I can tell you that it is a very different place from when I grew up here. The streets are cleaner and the people at Publix are much nicer, but the traffic only seems to get worse year after year when Lennar starts building a new complex, or developers decide to add another Latin fusion joint on Kendall Drive. Much of the congestion and stuffiness has scared the hipsters and nightcrawlers away, but that’s okay by me. I have to admit; I live in the suburbs for a reason.

Fortunately, now that I am a full blown adult, and mother of three young girls, I have really grown to appreciate the Kendall suburbs. We will always have a few not-so-nice things to say about our beloved Kendall, and for those of us who have seen it grow and burst beyond its seams, we have a good reason. More people have moved into the area and our growing population has brought with it new challenges, but it has also upped Kendall’s game!

If you haven’t noticed, we are something to talk about. Cool new restaurants and food trucks are popping up in every corner, and many of our local schools are making top ranks. We have markets like Trader Joe’s, Aldi’s and Lucky’s infiltrating Publix territory – competition means more options for the rest of us! We have coffee shops in every corner, and even the “Wawa” finally discovered us. We are on fire guys! And it happened so fast that we haven’t really stopped to smell the _____ (fill in the blank: Croquetas? Arepas? Coffee?)

It’s about time someone gives credit where credit is due. Let’s take a moment to appreciate 5 things that make Kendall a great place to live and an even better place to raise your kids:

1. Green Spaces

By nature, Kendall is green. There are parks near every school and some pretty well-known parks like Kendall Indian Hammocks Park, the traditional go-to spot for family BBQ’s and birthday parties on the weekend.

However, it’s the well-kept secrets like Westwind Lakes Park with their water park and skate park and Kendale Lakes Park with their beautiful hill and never crowded tables, that always awakens gratitude for the burby west.

I mean, how many suburbs do you know of that have a strawberry field and U-PICK on one of their main avenues? Even beautiful parks like Evelyn Greer and Pinecrest Gardens are less than a 20-minute drive. If you are up for a change of pace, the Everglades is not too far away for a fun weekend adventure. The outdoors keeps us active and connected to nature, and even takes the crazy out of our kids (well mostly.)

2. Restaurants

If you are anything like me, you like a good pop up restaurant. I say “pop up” because in Miami that is usually what they are, trendy and on fire, until the next trendy restaurant opens down the street and shuts that first place down.

Well, Kendall has a pretty good track record of keeping the good restaurants open for years, and better yet, our selection keeps getting better and better. Casual Hole in the wall restaurants like Rock a Bangkok and Jamrock are family favorites. Hip yummy spots like Tacos & Tattoos and Finka Table & Tap are always crowded, and at this rate, are probably here to stay. We see decent sushi restaurants in every other strip mall serving fresh fish, even though we are miles from the coastline. And local Peruvian joints like Aromas Del Peru, Dr. Limon, and Mr. & Mrs. Bun hold top spots in the Top 10 Lists of Peruvian restaurants in all of Miami. We certainly have options, and can easily venture to the more trendy restaurants across the City, but let’s face it, we’ll save those spots for the rare date nights sans kids. For now, I am content dragging our kids to eat sushi, Jamaican jerk chicken, Peruvian ceviche, new yorker style pizza, and other Kendall favorites.

3. Market Choices 

OK fine, Kendall is far from rural, but the amount of supermarkets in the area is astounding. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, 4.5 million Americans still live in food desserts, low-income rural areas that are at least 10 miles from the nearest grocery store. Therefore, consider yourself lucky! And speaking of lucky, Lucky’s Market decided to open its first location in the Magic City on 12500 SW 88th Street (Yay!) Just recently, another Aldi’s popped up on 137th Avenue and 120th St. and the race for who is the most popular Kendall supermarket is on. Other contenders that are still going strong (in no particular order) include Publix, Sedano’s, Sabor Tropical, Bravo, Presidente, Winn Dixie, Wing Fa Asian, and your abuela’s favorite: Navarro. Add to that the health conscious inspired lineup after a short drive just out of Kendall’s lines, and you have Trader Joe’s, Fresh Market, Milam’s Market, and Whole Foods. Let’s not ignore our Club markets: BJ’s and Costco. I, for one, am all about healthy competition – so I say, bring it on! (The discounts and free samples, that is.)

4. Schools

Ask a parent who has elementary aged children why they live in Kendall, and 9 times out of 10 they will say it is because of their kid’s school. Florida, in fact, remains a leader in public education. The U.S. Department of Education reports that more than one in four Florida public schools are either magnets or charters. That’s a higher combined percentage than any other state. Top rated ‘A’ public schools, charter schools, magnet schools, IB schools, Cambridge schools, we have them all. Just like the food desserts, there are also many “school desserts” in the U.S., and even in Florida. Ultimately, our daughters’ school (a Top 3 Elementary School in Miami) has kept us grounded in Kendall for many years to come. I am so proud of our Kendall schools and salute all the teachers and administrators that continue to work hard towards giving our kids the best possible education.

5. Cost of Living

Miami is not cheap! It is still a top travel destination, has great weather year round, and attracts the super wealthy investors to high-end areas like Miami Beach, Brickell, Coral Gables, and more. However, those of us who are long-time locals, enjoying the beach on occasion, who appreciate a nice brunch with friends, and look forward to our perfect Miami winters, we enjoy being close enough to all the #miamilife fun stuff, but not too close. Kendall is just far enough to remain free from tourist traps and celebrity inflation, but we still have plenty to see and do. I mean, Zoo Miami is practically in Kendall. We can escape to the beach whenever we want, without the high price tag of an oceanside abode. Plus, our properties are oldies but goodies, and many young families are coming to Kendall to remodel older homes, for the kid-friendly amenities and bigger yards, that are growing in extinction. Still, we are just one turnpike or palmetto drive away from where all the action is at – and that is priceless!

To connect with Lili and see more of her posts, visit her We Are Kendall page here.