Best of Miami®

Best Of 2012


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Sports & Recreation


Best Of :: Sports & Recreation

Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill

There's only one reason we admire drug dealers, Saudi princes, and Russian Internet billionaires: their choice of pets. While we're out walking the Chihuahua, they're hanging out with lions, tigers, and ligers. Sure, cleaning up after a 400-pound carnivore that could kill you with a swipe of its paw poses some unique challenges, but admit it: Hanging out with a tiger — even for a day — would be totally boss. Quit dreaming, put on your favorite red tracksuit and gold chains, and rent a tiger from the Zoological Wildlife Foundation. It's a private zoo that rents out all kinds of wild animals, from alligators to camels to leopards. The creatures come with their own handlers (who have, we assume, some kind of dart gun just in case). Prices vary by size of the animal — and how exotic (and dangerous) they are. And yes, there are cuddly tiger cubs as well as awesome full-grown specimens for rent. It just depends on whether you want to play nice or go for the full Tony Montana effect.

16225 SW 172nd Ave., Miami, 33187
Best of Miami: Sports & Recreation
Kira Shaimanova

Click here for all Sports & Recreation winners.


Sports & Recreation

Best Coach: Erik Spoelstra

Best Dolphins Player: Matt Moore

Best Heat Player: Dwyane Wade

Best Hurricanes Player: Lamar Miller

Best Marlins Player: Giancarlo Stanton

Best Park: Kennedy Park

Best People-Watching Spot: Lincoln Road

Best Place to Take Out-of-Towners: Lincoln Road

Best Sportscaster: Dan Le Batard

Best Day Trip

Pack up the bikes and head west to Shark Valley, where there are no sharks but plenty of sunbathing gators lounging around the 15-mile looping path. It's a nature-filled workout with ample views of pristine saw grass and loads of migratory birds from January to March. What's that, you say? Pedal-pushing your way past gators and birds is sooooo touristy? Well, there's also a decent chance of spotting one of the much-hyped Burmese pythons that are grabbing national headlines. Park ranger Eric Riordan says five of the suckers were removed from the park in December, including one that was 16 feet long. If that's not motivation to keep pedaling, what is?

36000 SW 8th St., Miami, 33194
Best Kayaking
West Lake Park

Two minutes in West Lake Park is it all it takes to get away from the asphalt hell of South Florida sprawl. The trip begins with a light paddle down a serene mangrove tunnel — keep your eyes peeled for always-awesome manatees and some nice birds. When the trail empties out onto the lake, it's your choice. Let the boat float, and kick back to relax while soaking up the rays, or cut across the lake — a workout in itself on a windy day — and explore the mangrove-lined, color-coded trails. If it weren't for the not-so-distant skyline peeking over the trees, you might forget you're smack in between Miami and Fort Lauderdale. Prices aren't bad either: Drop $15 to rent a canoe for one hour, $20 for two hours, or $50 for the whole day.

751 Sheridan St., Hollywood, 33019
Best Tour Boat

The next time you have guests from the Midwest crashing at your pad, there's a sure-fire way to show them Miami like an undercover narcotics detective with an affinity for fine Versace suits. Head to Bayside Marketplace and board the Thriller SuperCat 55, a cigarette boat with room for more than two dozen people that takes riders on a high-speed adventure via Government Cut. After jumping through waves and doing water doughnuts on Biscayne Bay, the Thriller slows things down for a very informative tour of Star Island. The captain provides Trivial Pursuit-style tidbits of information about the wealthy, famous people who own mansions there. For instance, you'll learn that Ivax Pharmaceuticals founder Phillip Frost imported 50 date palms from South Africa at $9,000 a pop to decorate the landscape of his and his wife's $55 million estate. You'll also discover that the neighboring house was used in the 1955 movie Guys and Dolls, starring Marlon Brando and Frank Sinatra. It costs $35 per adult and $22 per child to ride the Thriller (or $32 and $19 if you buy tickets online).

401 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33132
Best Kids' Thrill
Super Wheels Skating Center

Sure, you can take the youngsters to the latest mega-arcade or crowded water park, or trudge three hours in traffic to the beach. Or you can introduce them to the kind of place you once hung out before the days of Xbox 360 Kinect and Twitter. Take 'em skating! OK, strapping on a pair of skates and rolling around in a giant circle with music pumped in the background seems a bit outdated. But that doesn't mean it's not fun. It's also amazing exercise and a great way to tire out the kids from all that pent-up summertime energy. Super Wheels Skating Center, which has been in operation since 2009, has 20 HDTV sets, five giant screens, a large music selection, and a "live text" broadcast. There's also an enormous arcade with old-school favorites like air hockey, plus a snack bar where you can stuff your face with pizza, chicken wings, fries, and Dippin' Dots. But the enormous hardwood skating rink is where the real excitement is to be had. Friday is Cheap Skates Day, where you can rent skates for $7 from 3:30 to 6 p.m. and $12 after that. And Super Tots sessions for the little ones cost only $8 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays. Yeah, skating isn't what it used to be. But it's still a kick-ass time for the whole family.

12265 Southwest 112th St., Kendall, 33186

Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill: Renting a tiger at Zoological Wildlife Foundation


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