Best of Miami®

Best Of 2000

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Best Of :: Sports & Recreation

Best Day Trip

Next time the urge to leave town strikes, hop on Tamiami Trail and head west. That's what Joanie Griffin did, and she didn't bother to return. Twenty years ago she took over an old restaurant in the swampside hamlet of Ochopee, about 70 miles west of downtown Miami. You needn't repeat her experience, but we recommend this arrow-straight little journey into the Everglades. Griffin's lunch menu features steamed blue crabs as well as alligator fritters laced with chopped onion and three kinds of peppers (red, green, and yellow). To ensure you have enough time for a couple of scenic detours before you eat, hit the road by 9:00 a.m. Once you cross Krome Avenue, you'll find several options for pulling over and viewing the wild and weird life. First are the airboat tours. The Anglo operators along the southern edge of the road wax profusely about animals and feds. Their Miccosukee counterparts, stationed further west on the north side, loquate less but locomote more as they buzz you to a traditional camp. (We recommend obeying the reduced speed limit while driving through the reservation, or you may not have lunch at all.) Don't tarry because you still have another half-hour haul to Joanie's. Note the Dade-Collier training runway on your right; it was the first slab of a planned commercial airport until conservation-minded souls spoke up in the late Sixties. Once you reach Joanie's, you will join the ranks of other exotic visitors who have made the trek. Among them: the elderly Northerner who left a collection of plastic bottle-art hanging from the rafters and the Sioux-Eskimo gentleman who gave the proprietor a spirit arrow that hangs on the wall. After lunch head a quarter-mile west and check out the pride of Ochopee: a tiny post office. Then it will be time to head back toward the Magic City. But you won't want to miss swamp photographer Clyde Butcher's Big Cypress Gallery (open Wednesday through Saturday), about twenty miles east of Joanie's. If you're in the mood for more amusement, visit the Miccosukee Cultural Center on the reservation. There you can witness a man wrestle an alligator in an ersatz traditional village for a measly five bucks. About a mile east you can stalk birds, ride bikes, and jump on the trolley at the Shark Valley Visitor Center in Everglades National Park. If you putz around long enough before getting back into your automobile, you'll arrive just in time for supper at the psychedelically decorated Miccosukee Resort & Convention Center at Krome Avenue and Tamiami Trail, where employees will be waiting to serve you in any of three dining areas.

Best Martial Arts School

If quality time at your house feels more like Mortal Combat, it's time to drag the kids to family tae kwon do class with ninth-degree black belt grand master Joong Keun Suh. Head coach of the U.S. Olympic team during the first half of the 1990s, Suh and his son, master Jay, give new meaning to the old adage "father knows best." As the white-robed parents that pack this Kendall studio know, there's nothing like a roundhouse to the chest to teach tykes to respect their elders. But watch out, Mom and Dad, the grand master has trained his share of black belts under age six. By bringing out the best in young and old alike, grand master Suh helps his students to fully comprehend the ancient Korean maxim: The family that kicks together, sticks together.

Best Hole At A Golf Course

This is a tricky par three. A very narrow fairway is surrounded on one side by an inlet of Biscayne Bay; on the other by mangroves. If your name isn't Tiger, make sure you have an extra ball or two. A hook off the tee (or a slice if you're a southpaw) and you're all wet. Once you make the green, the vista is all mangrove. "You do really feel like you're in the middle of the jungle," says one attendant at this county-run championship course designed in 1972 by architect Robert von Hagge and pro golfer Bruce Devlin. Keep an eye out for iguanas, which may interfere with your twenty-foot putt. As you walk off the green, check out the view and ponder von Hagge's words, as immortalized in the Arizona Republic: "The only thing that is eternal in life is light. The light will remain, and that's why we believe that everything on a golf course must be done with vertical expression." Make sure your drives are mostly horizontal, though.

Best Martial Arts School

If quality time at your house feels more like Mortal Combat, it's time to drag the kids to family tae kwon do class with ninth-degree black belt grand master Joong Keun Suh. Head coach of the U.S. Olympic team during the first half of the 1990s, Suh and his son, master Jay, give new meaning to the old adage "father knows best." As the white-robed parents that pack this Kendall studio know, there's nothing like a roundhouse to the chest to teach tykes to respect their elders. But watch out, Mom and Dad, the grand master has trained his share of black belts under age six. By bringing out the best in young and old alike, grand master Suh helps his students to fully comprehend the ancient Korean maxim: The family that kicks together, sticks together.

Best Topless Beach
Haulover Beach Park

What better place to discard your bikini top than a beach where you don't have to think twice about baring your bottom? Clothing is optional at Haulover, though the less you wear here, it seems, the better. Ensconced among naturists who don't care about your age or pear-shape body, even the rare lurking and leering pervert fades into oblivion. Let the sun shine upon all of you, all the time, the multitude of nudists seem to say. Whether buff or bulbous, wiggling extremities on the volleyball court are always welcome. Weekdays are best if you seek serenity; nonlocals and vacationing Europeans pack the beach Saturdays and Sundays.

10800 Collins Ave., Sunny Isles Beach, 33160
MAP
305-944-3040
Best Bowling Alley

On Friday and Saturday nights, Cloverleaf sponsors glow-in-the-dark bowling, complete with ultraviolet lights. There are 50 refurbished lanes and a variety of leagues that include bowlers from three to ninety years old. And there's a bar, a restaurant, a billiards room, and a game room for the kids. In true Miami fashion, Cloverleaf is an international mecca, bringing aces from all over the Latin world for the Tournament of the Americas in August. We think they rock ... and roll. The place is open Sunday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Daytime rates are $12 per hour or $2.50 per game for adults. After 5:00 p.m. on weeknights the cost is $16 per hour or $3.50 per game. Friday and Saturday night rates are $20 per hour or $4.50 per game.

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Best Day Trip: Lunch at Joanie's Blue Crab Café

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