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Sports & Recreation

  • Best Public Park

    Morningside Park

    In a town in which park often is synonymous with ball field, and in which much of the public green space is rendered inhospitable by a lack of shade, Morningside Park is a revelation. Indeed it may be one of Miami-Dade's few "big-city parks," the kind envisioned by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted when he created New York's Central Park… More >>
  • Best Public Park No One Knows About

    Oakland Grove Mini-Park

    This isn't so much a park as it is a small oasis. Located on a canal and squeezed between two residential lots on a quiet, secluded street, this little patch of green can't really accommodate more than a dozen or so people at a time. Luckily it's usually empty (who else but the neighbors would even suspect it's there?). The… More >>
  • Best Jiu-Jitsu Academy

    Gracie Jiu-Jitsu Academy

    Many jiu-jitsu schools claim some connection to the Gracie family, a legendary clan of Brazilian fighters whose unique martial arts style continues to reign supreme in famous no-holds-barred confrontations, such as the Ultimate Fighting Competition (UFC). But South Florida has only one school with official accreditation from Helio Gracie himself, founder of the sport and father of an entire family… More >>
  • Best Place To Dance In Your Speedos For A Cause

    The Winter Party

    Don't worry that gyrating in those curve-hugging microbriefs you indulgently purchased during the holidays will make you look like a floozy. At the Winter Party (which is held in March) you can writhe on the beach with a throng of thong-clad dudes until the sun goes down and support equal rights at the same time. Since its 1993 inception, this… More >>
  • Best Swimming Pool (Public)

    Josť Martí Park

    Tugboats and freighters cruise by on the Miami River as you butterfly and breaststroke in the City of Miami's José Martí pool. Overhead the dramatic arch of the I-95 overpass, humming with the fierce pace of city life, reminds you just how far from the rat race you really are. Just minutes from downtown and Brickell Avenue, this pool offers… More >>
  • Best Swimming Pool (Private)

    The Raleigh Hotel

    Fashion mavens and wannabes now splash and lounge where Esther Williams once fluttered and kicked in lavish synchronized-swimming numbers. Decades later the faux tropical lagoon remains the coolest place to be seen cooling off in Miami. A shallow ledge hugs the pool's Moroccan-style curves so you can immerse yourself in this chlorinated oasis without mussing your hair. Dive into the… More >>
  • Best Place To Hike

    Rowdy Bend Trail

    It doesn't take very long on Rowdy Bend before our busy metropolis melts away. Located three miles north of Flamingo, it's a great place to fully appreciate the coastal Everglades. As you pass through open-salt prairie and canopies of shady buttonwood, the stresses of traffic and a hundred daily incivilities lose their weight. Soon rabbits scampering ahead on the trail,… More >>
  • Best Place To Kayak

    Snake Bight

    Heading east toward Snake Bight from the marina at Flamingo, the park's southern outpost, a paddler can pretty much be guaranteed a rewarding experience. Once past the small village for employees, it's wilderness for as far as you'd care to travel. Along the shore, on the ground and in the tall mangroves, teeming flocks of birds congregate -- herons, egrets,… More >>
  • Best Place To Canoe

    Upper Keys

    There will likely be a moment, perhaps as you pass through a mangrove forest into bright sunshine, when canoeing in the Upper Keys will qualify as pure, unadulterated bliss. It might happen when you've bailed out and are happily snorkeling among the coral, or while you're listening to a naturalist describe the flora and fauna of Lignumvitae Key. To access… More >>
  • Best Place To Birdwatch

    Anhinga Trail

    The best place to see hundreds and hundreds of birds of dozens and dozens of species doesn't have to be on the most obscure, hard-to-reach passage in South Florida. No, the very short, very accessible, very easy Anhinga Trail, just four miles inside the park, offers the most spectacular sightings around. Especially in drought years -- as this most certainly… More >>
  • Best Place To Play Shuffleboard

    Griffing Senior Citizens Center

    These days hipsters are eyeing Miami's Sixties motels with new appreciation for their soaring space-age appendages and extravagant neon lettering. Florida-tourist chic is stylish again. Can shuffleboard's comeback be far behind? This sociable sport once drew scores of visitors to the Sunshine State. People even considered the proximity of courts when hunting for a place to live. In those days,… More >>
  • Best Basketball Court

    Flamingo Park

    Graceful dreadlocked dunkers, court hustlers, and boys as skinny and loose as spaghetti noodles make pickup basketball a thing of fierce beauty at this Miami Beach park. The action is brutal, the competition rough, and the two outdoor courts are lit at night, a prerequisite for basketball in steamy South Florida. Flamingo Park usually is packed with game. For that… More >>
  • Best Escape To Another Time

    Spanish Monastery

    Along a winding stretch of West Dixie Highway, in the condo and strip-mall enclave of North Miami Beach, sits the oldest building in North America, a twelfth-century monastery originally erected in Segovia, Spain, and moved to South Florida in the mid-Twentieth Century by newspaper magnate and yellow journalist William Randolph Hearst (the same guy who brought us the Spanish-American War).… More >>
  • Best Tennis Courts

    Ashe-Buchholz Tennis Center

    These inner-city courts at the crossroads of Allapattah, Wynwood, and Liberty City once were parched and cracked. Thanks to donations from the Ericsson Open tennis tournament, the neglected center recently has come back to life with a million-dollar facelift. New nets and repaved and painted courts currently open only till noon, but with plans to extend hours to seven o'clock… More >>
  • Best Cheap Romantic Outing

    Moon Over Vizcaya

    Candles, shmandles. Wine, shmine. Italian gardens, Biscayne Bay, and moonlight, baby, plenty of moonlight. Now that's romantic. And it all can be yours October through March, when Vizcaya throws open its gates to visitors on nights when the moon is full. After a brief history lesson on the origins of the property, guides take small groups on a tour of… More >>
  • Best Bowling Alley

    Bird Bowl

    First get everything else out of your system. Have a few beers at the Rabbit Lounge. Play some video games at the arcade. Shoot some pool on one of Bird Bowl's eighteen tables. After you've tried it all, now try slipping your fingers into a bowling ball and letting it roll down one of this alley's 60 lanes. The sound… More >>
  • Best Capoeira Academy

    Capoeira Abolicão Academy

    It's a Friday evening in Mestre Delei Kacula's capoeira academy, and his students are preparing to enter the circle. Soon the deep drone of the berimbaus, traditional West African string instruments with a gourd at one end, begins, and the students scatter to form a ring. On a wall hang the portraits (poor renderings, to say the least) of capoeira's… More >>
  • Best Dog Park

    Kennedy Park

    This 21-acre city park on Biscayne Bay is so darn dog-friendly it features a new fenced-in, leash-free pooch playground. The dog park, which opened February 15, is big enough for ball throwing or disk tossing, and there's plenty of room for romping from sunrise to sunset. When work is complete, the grassy canine confines -- sponsored by Ralston-Purina, the Miami… More >>
  • Best Place To Rollerblade

    North Bay Road, from Twentieth Street toward La Gorce Island

    Tired of dodging blue-haired ladies, aggro skaters, and pink poodles on Lincoln Road? Sick of nursing festering knee scabs and raw elbows, no doubt garnered when, on a nice leisurely skate, the asphalt below suddenly resembled a San Fransisco sidewalk after a level-nine earthquake? Must one drive to paved-over Kendall to Rollerblade without mortal fear? Not that we doubt you… More >>
  • Best Snorkeling Spot

    Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary

    The sea is cool and relatively calm, and visibility is clear on a Saturday in March. The coral reef in this 5.3-square-mile sanctuary is vibrant with life, thanks to twenty years of protection from spearfishing, coral collecting, and lobstering. A diverse marine society -- sea turtles, sharks, barracuda, tropical fish, crustaceans, and eels, just to name a few -- roams… More >>
  • Best Natural High

    Frolicking in the ocean at sunset

    As light begins to fade from the sky, jump into the sea and indulge yourself in a mind-altering experience that would make Timothy Leary proud. Plunge into the warm water and imagine that Yemaya, Santería goddess of the ocean, is pulling you safely to her bosom. Let the waves suck you up and shoot you forward while jets of water… More >>
  • Best Reason To Go To The Everglades

    Because it's still there

    Raised not 50 miles away, and sadly, as of last year, she could still count on one hand the number of times she'd been to the national park and its surrounding wild areas. Since then, though, she's been making up for lost time, exploring what she soon could be missing. She's bumped along Loop Road with only the vultures for… More >>
  • Best Day Trip

    Loop Road

    About four miles past the Shark Valley entrance to Everglades National Park, the Tamiami Trail (SW Eighth Street) makes a sharp bend to the northeast. Just at that point (look for a small church) an unmarked road peels off to the south and then veers eastward. This is the Loop Road, so named because it curves around to rejoin the… More >>
  • Best Place To Mountain Bike

    Oleta River State Recreation Area

    You can bet a hand brake this bike path never would have been allowed in a hardwood hammock. In the Seventies developers dug a large swath of land off the MacArthur Causeway. When their plans for an Epcot-like trade center were abandoned, the State of Florida stepped in and bought the 1043-acre site. Opened to the public in August 1986,… More >>
  • Best Place To Jog

    Curtis Park

    On a spring morning, eight o'clock or so, sun still low in the pale sky and the traffic on Twentieth Street only beginning to get noisy, the track is a peaceful proving ground. It is Curtis Park's well-maintained central attraction (there also is a great basketball court and a swimming pool). Two banks of stadium seats rise on the track's… More >>
  • Best Beach

    Second Street

    Okay, okay, the experts haven spoken, and even we, professional naysayers that we are, can't deny it: South Beach is one of the nation's best beaches. It possesses miles and miles of shimmering white sand, a travel-poster blue-green slice of the Atlantic Ocean, not to mention a herd of hard, sweaty, beautiful bodies absorbing the rays. Fine. But does going… More >>
  • Best Topless Beach

    Miami Beach, between 65th and 78th streets

    Under a yellow umbrella on the 66th Street beach, a topless French woman serenely sits on her folding chair and reads a novel; nearby her naked toddler dumps sand into an orange plastic bucket of water. A little further up on 73rd Street, a curvaceous lady with a tattoo of an Aztec bird on her well-toned stomach plays paddleball with… More >>
  • Best Place To Jet Ski

    Turkey Point Inlet

    Point your waterborne migraine machine south toward those blinking red-and-white towers on the horizon. The warm water around pressurized reactor units three and four is perfect for your radical Jet Ski acrobatics. The yellowish-green foam floating on the surface flies so beautifully when you blast through at full throttle. Live your Waterworld fantasy. Run your screaming engine until it melts.… More >>
  • Best Surf Spot

    Third Street

    If you're a surfer, this is not exactly news: There is no surf here. Or virtually never is there surf here. With the exception of the occasional surge of storm swells during hurricane season, about the best anyone can hope for is a muscular easterly wind kicking up sloppy but surfable sets now and then. Under those conditions Third Street… More >>
  • Best Place To Play Pinball

    Boomers (formerly Grand Prix Race-O-Rama)

    So you think you were quite the pinball wizard way back when? Maybe you've even been bragging about just how good you were? Of course you have -- because in this day and age you can't find a pinball machine anywhere. Okay, maybe there's one or two crammed into a few dismal bars, local arcades, and bowling alleys -- but… More >>
  • Best Picnic Spot

    Alice Wainwright Park

    Alice Wainwright has an amazing view of Biscayne Bay. Not Alice herself; the venerable lawyer and devoted conservationist left this world in 1991 at age 83. But the 25-acre park aptly named in her honor in 1974 is one of the only waterfront havens left that offers a glimpse of pre-bulldozer Miami. With just a short drive or healthy walk… More >>
  • Best Fishing Hole

    Island View Park

    By the mangrove bushes at the southern edge of the park runs a little catwalk. Beneath the catwalk are the fast-running waters of Biscayne Bay. A low bridge just to the south blocks boat traffic, while the currents bring baitfish through. Waiting for the baitfish are any number of lunkers, snook, tarpon, snapper, sea trout. And you're standing over it… More >>
  • Best Hole At A Golf Course

    Number six

    Now that Bill Clinton is out of the White House, he'll probably spend a lot more time golfing in South Florida, and you can be sure one of his priorities will be improving his approach to the sixth hole at the Biltmore. Hole number six is deceptively difficult, playing 401 yards from the blue tees, 383 from the white tees,… More >>
  • Best Place To Ditch The Kids For A Few Hours

    Matheson Hammock Park and Marina Atoll Pool

    With its calm waters, lifeguards on every corner of the beach, and depths that don't exceed nine feet, it's pretty safe to say this manmade atoll pool, open daily till six or seven, is the only playa in town where kids can frolic in the sand unattended. Tidal action from bordering Biscayne Bay flushes the pool's warm waters naturally, keeping… More >>
  • Best Place To People-Watch

    La Carreta Restaurant

    There's something inherently interesting about watching people in transit, in the very process of movement, change, adaptation. And people around food? Always revealing. This is one of seven La Carreta Cuban restaurants in the Miami area, though this particular location has blended in to its airport setting by being a self-serve, overpriced, eat-and-run-and-fly cafeteria. The whole mundane panorama is here… More >>
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