Best of Miami®

Best Of 2005

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Best Of :: Sports & Recreation

BEST FAMILY OUTING
Larry and Penny Thompson Park

BEST FAMILY OUTING Larry and Penny Thompson Park 12451 SW 184th Street

South Miami-Dade

305-232-1049 Two words: water slides. Six Flags Atlantis has been gone for more than a decade, and it's a long haul from Miami to West Palm Beach for a steep slide-induced wedgie and a close-to-drowning experience in the wave pool at Rapids Water Park. For an aqua-inspired good time that won't leave your wallet dry (five dollars for adults, four for children), drop into Larry and Penny Thompson Park and then drop down the slides a few times, or a few dozen times. In addition to the rapid hydro descents, you can take advantage of the campground and nature trails. The park, named after a long-ago Miami Herald columnist and his wife, boasts three water slides and other ways to get all wet: a beach, a freshwater lake, paddleboats. There's a snack stand with ice cream, hot dogs, and other fun food you'd expect, and a picnic area. This is a summer classic, the ice cream melting down your chin and the seriously soaking slips down the chutes washing away the steamy heat and the layabout doldrums.

12451 SW 184th St., Perrine, 33177
MAP
305-372-6586
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.

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.

BEST PEDESTRIAN EXPERIENCE

BEST PEDESTRIAN EXPERIENCE Miami Springs Glenn H. Curtiss Memorial Circle and Westward Drive Demure, lovely Miami Springs is the kind of town you rely on for comfort after other South Florida neighborhoods have drained your wallet and soul. Its quiet elegance makes the city perfect for a peaceful, contemplative stroll. While it may seem obvious to use the Curtiss Parkway pedestrian trail, leave that for the bicyclists and skateboarders or for a longer ramble. Begin your walk at the historic Stadnik's Drugstore and wind your way around the traffic circle. Consider walking across the street to visit the Glenn H. Curtiss Memorial Circle (honoring the town's founder) where a gazebo is a focal point for many gatherings. When you reach Westward Drive, turn onto it. The median has a nice pedestrian walkway, and the traffic here is so light you can almost cross at will. Shops, cafés, and offices line this strip, but it is the intoxicating atmosphere that recalls how Miami was some 30 to 40 years ago that is the draw. At Esplanade Drive you can stop to feed the ducks roaming Cinema Park, or just turn around and return to your starting point. Believe it or not, the parking is free.

BEST PEDESTRIAN EXPERIENCE

BEST PEDESTRIAN EXPERIENCE Miami Springs Glenn H. Curtiss Memorial Circle and Westward Drive Demure, lovely Miami Springs is the kind of town you rely on for comfort after other South Florida neighborhoods have drained your wallet and soul. Its quiet elegance makes the city perfect for a peaceful, contemplative stroll. While it may seem obvious to use the Curtiss Parkway pedestrian trail, leave that for the bicyclists and skateboarders or for a longer ramble. Begin your walk at the historic Stadnik's Drugstore and wind your way around the traffic circle. Consider walking across the street to visit the Glenn H. Curtiss Memorial Circle (honoring the town's founder) where a gazebo is a focal point for many gatherings. When you reach Westward Drive, turn onto it. The median has a nice pedestrian walkway, and the traffic here is so light you can almost cross at will. Shops, cafés, and offices line this strip, but it is the intoxicating atmosphere that recalls how Miami was some 30 to 40 years ago that is the draw. At Esplanade Drive you can stop to feed the ducks roaming Cinema Park, or just turn around and return to your starting point. Believe it or not, the parking is free.

BEST PLACE TO ROAD BIKE

BEST PLACE TO ROAD BIKE Key Biscayne If you live in South Florida, you won't find climbs to help in your quest for the yellow jersey, but if you crave a challenge, ride toward Key Biscayne. The closest thing you'll find to Alpe d'Huez in Miami is the big bridge on the Rickenbacker Causeway. It may not be much, but cyclists still use it to train for competition. Try pedaling up and down it a few times, and then see how energetic you feel. Beyond the bridge, the key itself has great bike lanes. You might encounter a motorist honking and yelling out the window ("get off the road" or words to such effect), but this breed of driver is less common in the Key Biscayne area than in, say, Kendall. Ocean views and mangrove forests line the way as you trek beyond the bridge. If you prefer a ritzier scene, travel through the streets of the island, where mansions and expensive cars abound.

BEST PLACE TO ROAD BIKE

BEST PLACE TO ROAD BIKE Key Biscayne If you live in South Florida, you won't find climbs to help in your quest for the yellow jersey, but if you crave a challenge, ride toward Key Biscayne. The closest thing you'll find to Alpe d'Huez in Miami is the big bridge on the Rickenbacker Causeway. It may not be much, but cyclists still use it to train for competition. Try pedaling up and down it a few times, and then see how energetic you feel. Beyond the bridge, the key itself has great bike lanes. You might encounter a motorist honking and yelling out the window ("get off the road" or words to such effect), but this breed of driver is less common in the Key Biscayne area than in, say, Kendall. Ocean views and mangrove forests line the way as you trek beyond the bridge. If you prefer a ritzier scene, travel through the streets of the island, where mansions and expensive cars abound.

BEST PLACE TO DITCH THE KIDS FOR A FEW HOURS

BEST PLACE TO DITCH THE KIDS FOR A FEW HOURS Miami-Dade Public Library System South Miami Branch

Anime Addicts Club

6000 Sunset Drive

South Miami

305-667-6121 It's hard to keep anything anime out of the hands of young people. Savvy librarians are hip to that. "It's really been the best way so far to get the kids into the library," says programming librarian Samantha Haber. The South Miami branch hosts a weekly club for anime enthusiasts thirteen and older to watch films, discuss graphic novels, and practice drawing in the Japanese style. The downtown branch also hosts a club for younger fans (ages nine and older). From Akira to Cowboy Bebop and Peach Girl to Ranma, there's plenty to check out and discuss at the library.

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BEST FAMILY OUTING: Larry and Penny Thompson Park

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