BEST SANCTUARY FROM THE FAST TRACK - 2004
Miami Beach Botanical Garden
A daily existence in which a simple walk down the street can be life-threatening, where the boom-boom-boom of bass music seems to emanate continuously from cars to bicycles, where all of humanity appears to be simultaneously marching toward you -- an existence like that can push even the most placid creature to the verge of homicide. But before you're condemned to death row, step off, ease up, relax. Enter the verdant haven that is the Miami Beach Botanical Garden. Founded in 1962, floundering in the Eighties, rescued in the late Nineties by a nonprofit group named the Miami Beach Garden Conservancy, the botanical garden sits on a five-acre plot across from the Miami Beach Convention Center. Aside from housing orchids, topiary, herbs, bromeliads, a Japanese water feature, and palms of all sorts, the garden hosts tai chi and Asian cooking classes, horticultural lectures, and even classical music concerts. Every year a week's worth of events pay homage to the venerable palm tree. Tending the land helps ease a troubled soul and is always welcome. If digging in the dirt becomes a habit, you can show support by becoming a member of the conservancy. It's a serene green space in the center of a hectic city better known for its sun, fun, and surf. And best of all, admission is always free.