Best Of :: Sports & Recreation
BEST PLACE TO HIKE Big Cypress National Preserve Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41) approximately 54 miles west of downtown Miami
www.nps.gov/bicy/sandytrail Why drive more than an hour just to find a place to hike? Because the drive across the Everglades is itself engrossing, and because Big Cypress boasts far more hiking trails, and a greater variety of trails, than anywhere else in South Florida. The Website address above will take you directly to the preserve's hiking page. You'll be surprised what you find, not least of which are the warnings: difficult terrain, waist-deep water, disorientation. There are a number of trail options for light hikers, including some that stay high and dry all year. But you know you're in marvelously challenging territory when park service experts practically scream at you to carry a GPS unit with extra batteries -- and you'd better know how to use it!
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 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
Readers´ Choice: South Beach
BEST PLACE TO TRACK BIKE The Velodrome at Brian Piccolo Park 9501 Sheridan Street
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.