BEST URBAN BIKE RIDE Miami 2002 -
This twelve-mile ride is far from the well-beaten tourist paths, which is precisely the point. Unless you live in one of these vibrant neighborhoods, you may not be familiar with their charms. Here's your chance. Begin at the Torch of Friendship on Biscayne Boulevard at Third Street, in Bayfront Park. Head north on Biscayne (beware the traffic squeeze between American Airlines Arena and the I-395 overpass). At the old Sears Tower (site of the new performing arts center), turn left one block to NE Second Avenue. Head north to 29th Street (Enriqueta's Sandwich Shop, a "Best of Miami" multiple winner, is on the corner) and turn left or west. Now you're in the Puerto Rican enclave of Wynwood, home to the old Fashion District (south of 29th Street) and a burgeoning art and design neighborhood. Many new residential lofts and art galleries are opening among the warehouses and thrift shops. Continuing west, you'll pass under I-95 and enter Allapattah (the name comes from the Seminole word for alligator), a neighborhood first settled in 1856 by William P. Wagner, whose 40-acre spread included the land now occupied by Miami Jackson High School. At NW Seventeenth Avenue pedal up to La Mia Laundry's cafecito window for an espresso jolt. Here 29th Street ends its uninterrupted westward march, but you should continue west, wending your way through the neighborhood streets till you reach NW 22nd Avenue. Turn left or south through the heart of Allapattah to Twentieth Street, where you'll find El Camello, a former gas station transformed into an outdoor lunchstand. (You'll know you're there when you see the rotating camel.) This is the perfect spot for a $1.99 breakfast, fruit shake, or coco frio. Now bike east on Twentieth Street back to Seventeenth Avenue. Go south on Seventeenth and cross over the Miami River. Look down to the south bank and behold Sewell Park (see "Best Public Park for Santería Rituals"), a lovely pit stop accessible from South River Drive off Seventeenth Avenue. Continue south on Seventeenth to the epicenter of Little Havana, where, on SW First Street between Seventeenth and Sixteenth avenues, you'll encounter a wonderfully rustic restaurant called Yambo. Take note: Yambo is Nicaraguan, not Cuban. Here's what our restaurant critic had to say: "Yambo offers one of those 'out-of-country' experiences that alone is worth the price of admission." Take time here for lunch and a cold cerveza, then push on to a unique museum just a few blocks north and west. The modest house at 2319 NW Second Street is the former Miami home of little Elian Gonzalez. Today it is a museum, open Sundays from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. (free admission). After reliving that turbulent chapter of Miami history, go east on Calle Ocho, through the historic center of Little Havana, to upscale Brickell Avenue. Turn north on Brickell and be sure to stop at the Miami River bridge and pay your respects at the mysterious Miami Circle, which someday (we hope) will be fully accessible and smartly developed as the cultural treasure it most surely is.