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Best Of 2005

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Best Of :: Sports & Recreation

BEST DOG PARK

BEST DOG PARK Amelia Earhart Park 401 E. 65th Street

Hialeah

305-769-2693

and

The City of Miami Beach There are a lot of good dog parks in the area, which, given the population density, may be surprising. Nonetheless, in a crowded, ruthless, and sometimes lonely city, dogs, aside from wanting to run your life and have you catch a delicious bass for them, don't ask much. Whether you share your recreation time snoozing on a bench with a drooling, pulmonarily incapacitated English bulldog or chasing Frisbees with an agile whippet, the time spent with a pooch is time spent in the company of somebody who loves you. So it's natural, even for a scofflaw, to want to show a canine a good time. Law-abiding citizens and their pets can find enjoyable, shady dog parks in Coconut Grove -- there's a little one on Virginia Street and a big one at Kennedy Park on Bayshore -- but the crme de la crme of Miami-Dade legal dog parkdom is at Amelia Earhart. The five-acre Bark Park is a puppy paradise, but humans love it too because it's completely fenced and thus safe for escape-minded, car-chasing beagles. There's even a special area for smaller dogs. Amenities include paved walkways, benches, shade trees, waste stations, and specially designed drinking and spray fountains for thirsty pooches and their owners. Better yet, Bark Park admission is free (after a four-dollar parking fee to Amelia Earhart). However, the Atlantic Ocean is nearby, and dogs love the sea. Though the law against dogs on the beach is in fact enforced when there are lots of humans there, Miami Beach is really the place to roam with a dog. Older dogs and dogs with joint problems can run on the sand without risking injury, and younger dogs can really zoom along the shore and sometimes even surf the waves or wade through the breakers. And there are lots of clumps of seaweed, the occasional dead fish, and many other interesting smelly things for dogs to unearth, bury in the sand, or just roll in. Lifeguards will not and cannot enforce the no-dogs law, but the cops will. A still beachy tried-and-true alternative is the informal "dog beach" on Virginia Key near the Seaquarium, a dog-friendly patch of sand for decades.

BEST URBAN BIKE RIDE

BEST URBAN BIKE RIDE Granada Boulevard Coral Gables You know those low-to-the-ground, white stone street signs that make Coral Gables so troublesome for unfamiliar drivers? Well, they work just fine for bike riders. To truly enjoy all of the pleasures a jaunt through this classy neighborhood provides, coast down Granada. Even though the wide, winding street is one of the Gables's main boulevards, it is typically lightly traveled. The shade from the spreading trees makes for a blessedly peaceful ride. Begin at the intersection of Granada and Ponce de Leon, near the University of Miami, and head away from the bustle of South Dixie Highway. Explore any of the side streets: They are all liberally studded with the type of houses upperclass dreams are made of, and their names read like poetry: Catalonia, Malaga, Andalusia, Paradiso. Unexpected canals reveal the back yards of the rich, with docked boats, quaint jetties, tiki huts, and thatched cabanas. Whiz past the Riviera and Biltmore golf courses and then turn onto Coral Way. Pass the historic and beautiful Merrick House; cross Le Jeune Road. Now you're cruising down Miracle Mile, the bustling heart of the Gables, where you can reap the refreshing rewards of an urban bike ride. Hoist a pint at JohnMartin's, enjoy gelato from Bacio, or sip a smoothie from Jamba Juice before getting back in the saddle again.

BEST URBAN BIKE RIDE

BEST URBAN BIKE RIDE Granada Boulevard Coral Gables You know those low-to-the-ground, white stone street signs that make Coral Gables so troublesome for unfamiliar drivers? Well, they work just fine for bike riders. To truly enjoy all of the pleasures a jaunt through this classy neighborhood provides, coast down Granada. Even though the wide, winding street is one of the Gables's main boulevards, it is typically lightly traveled. The shade from the spreading trees makes for a blessedly peaceful ride. Begin at the intersection of Granada and Ponce de Leon, near the University of Miami, and head away from the bustle of South Dixie Highway. Explore any of the side streets: They are all liberally studded with the type of houses upperclass dreams are made of, and their names read like poetry: Catalonia, Malaga, Andalusia, Paradiso. Unexpected canals reveal the back yards of the rich, with docked boats, quaint jetties, tiki huts, and thatched cabanas. Whiz past the Riviera and Biltmore golf courses and then turn onto Coral Way. Pass the historic and beautiful Merrick House; cross Le Jeune Road. Now you're cruising down Miracle Mile, the bustling heart of the Gables, where you can reap the refreshing rewards of an urban bike ride. Hoist a pint at JohnMartin's, enjoy gelato from Bacio, or sip a smoothie from Jamba Juice before getting back in the saddle again.

BEST PLACE TO ROLLERBLADE

BEST PLACE TO ROLLERBLADE Old Cutler Road from Cocoplum/Le Jeune Circle to Ludlam Road Coral Gables, Pinecrest Huge oaks canopy most of this stretch, on which you'll pass Matheson Hammock Park, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Gulliver Academy, and some of the most beautiful homes in Miami. The sidewalk is smooth and wide enough for bikers, runners, and 'bladers to share, which means you won't have to put your life in danger battling road traffic. Pocket a couple of bucks for roadside vendors selling lychees, mangoes, and other fresh fruit, and go in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday, when Old Cutler is at its most peaceful.

Readers´ Choice: South Beach

BEST PLACE TO ROLLERBLADE

BEST PLACE TO ROLLERBLADE Old Cutler Road from Cocoplum/Le Jeune Circle to Ludlam Road Coral Gables, Pinecrest Huge oaks canopy most of this stretch, on which you'll pass Matheson Hammock Park, Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden, Gulliver Academy, and some of the most beautiful homes in Miami. The sidewalk is smooth and wide enough for bikers, runners, and 'bladers to share, which means you won't have to put your life in danger battling road traffic. Pocket a couple of bucks for roadside vendors selling lychees, mangoes, and other fresh fruit, and go in the morning on a Saturday or Sunday, when Old Cutler is at its most peaceful.

Readers´ Choice: South Beach

BEST PLACE TO TRACK BIKE

BEST PLACE TO TRACK BIKE The Velodrome at Brian Piccolo Park 9501 Sheridan Street

Cooper City

954-437-2626

www.broward.org/parks/velodrome.htm Ever watched the riders at the Olympics as they circled a velodrome -- each trying to reach the other's starting point fastest on the inclined loop -- during the Individual Pursuit event and thought it looked like fun? That's because it is. If you're lucky enough to live in South Florida, you can try it yourself in the Velodrome at Brian Piccolo Park. For the amazing price of three dollars per session during the day, you can strap yourself onto your fixed-gear bike with no brakes and pedal as fast as you can up the velodrome's 28-degree bank. Centrifugal force is the only thing preventing you from falling prey to gravity, so don't stop pedaling or you'll hit the concrete. Be sure to bring sneakers and a helmet. If you don't own a track bike, that's not a problem. The park's friendly staff will rent you one for just five dollars per hour. You'll have to earn the gold medal on your own.

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BEST DOG PARK: Amelia Earhart Park

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