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How to Have the Best Miami Summer Ever

Conventional wisdom says summer is the worst time to be in Miami. But when has conventional thinking ever applied to this town?  If you know where to go and what to do, you can celebrate a summer season to rival any high-season arts convention, music conference, or food fest. We went through our picks from the 2016 Best of Miami issue to plot out your itinerary for the months ahead. Get ready to have the best summer ever.

Hit up Happy Hour at El Patio
It took this Wynwood bar all of about five seconds to become one of the neighborhood's most popular spots. The night of El Patio's official grand opening, a line stretched down the block. If you were lucky enough to get inside, you instantly understood why. El Patio is exactly what you pray your backyard looks like one day. Furnished with mismatched vintage pieces of furniture and knickknacks shipped from Colombia — the homeland of co-owner Nicolas Hoyos — El Patio is a living example of why Miami's Latin-fusion culture makes this city great. With tropical music curated by local favorite Mr. Pauer, there's no shortage of hip-shaking going down during any given happy hour, which features some pretty insane deals, such as $4 cocktails and a bucket of four beers for only $4. We'll give that a moment to sink in. It's hard to think of a place more fitting to toast to the Miami sunset than El Patio. And if you make it till the night, be prepared to dance.

Browse the wares at the Miami Flea
The colors are the most alluring part of any flea market. Vibrant, flashy hues in every direction attract the eye and leave patrons squinting into jam-packed booths. Are those vintage unicycles for sale? Hand-painted surfboards? Knit pants for Chihuahuas? At the Arts & Entertainment District's monthly Miami Flea event, vendors and guests form the perfect combination of a visual spectacle. From the items on the tables to the natural backdrop to the attendees themselves, it's a combination of people-watching at its finest and a great hunting ground for unique finds. Organized by the A&E District, the Miami Flea takes place once a month, either the third or fourth Sunday. The market brings together dozens of vendors selling vintage and handmade items, as well as locally crafted food and drinks. Plus, there are workshops and live music. Earlier this year, one vendor displayed a table full of multicolored fluorescent burlap booties next to local frozen-treat shop Lulu's Ice Cream, which had a red-and-white-checkered cloth draped over its table with matching large red KitchenAid mixers. Add in the leafy-green tree cover, the azure sky, and the usual patchwork of Miami characters, and it's visual heaven.

Indulge your sweet tooth at HipPOP's
Imagine a vanilla-bean popsicle dunked in milk chocolate and topped with pretzels, hazelnuts, and chocolate sprinkles. HipPOP's, a South Florida-born gourmet icy dessert truck, brings sweet and savory handcrafted popsicles using a bevy of innovative flavors, dips, and toppings. Customize yours by choosing from gelato, sorbet, or yogurt varieties in flavors such as hazelnut, pistachio, pineapple, strawberry, Mexican chocolate chip, and gianduia, a mix of chocolate and hazelnut. Then dip your stick into milk, dark, or white chocolate and choose a topping, including shredded coconut, crushed pistachios, or rainbow sprinkles. Voilà! You've created a 100 percent all-natural and gluten-free artisanal treat for $5. The truck sells POPshakes ($8) too, transforming any pop into a shake and adding whipped cream. There's also frozen hot chocolate, which blends Belgian chocolate gelato, cocoa powder, and a dash of sea salt topped with mini marshmallows and whipped cream. The truck can be found driving around town and frequenting food truck get-togethers in local neighborhoods.

Take a chance on Secret Garden
Let's face it: Wynwood's acclaimed Art Walk ain't for everyone. For every art fiend who feeds off the giant crowds and jam-packed galleries, there's a claustrophobe who prefers fewer selfie sticks with his modern art. There's hope for the shy art patrons of the Magic City. It's called Secret Garden. The semisecret monthly gathering takes place at various venues throughout Wynwood but always brings that right mix of the bizarre and the captivating for which Art Walk was once known before becoming Miami's biggest monthly party. Admission is usually free if you RSVP early enough, but at most will cost you $10 to get in the door. The event and locale vary from month to month. Recently, Secret Garden hosted techno wizard Audiofly for its carnival-inspired fest, Flying Circus, where strongmen and fire-breathers mingled to thumping tracks. Other months have brought microfestival Desert Hearts. One never quite knows what to expect when walking into Secret Garden. But whatever greets you inside, it's better than staring at some boring painting you can't afford.

Take a dip at the Venetian Pool
When summer temps threaten to hit triple digits, there's one place in Miami that stays a consistent 76 to 78 degrees: the historic Venetian Pool in Coral Gables. Fed by a natural spring and drained nightly, the 820,000-gallon pool built in 1923 is ideal for a midday soak if your backyard is waterless or you find yourself terrorized by obnoxious drunks when you venture downstairs to your apartment's pool. This isn't just any neighborhood pool, either — with waterfalls, rock features, and faux Mediterranean ambiance, it's the only swimming hole in America on the National Register of Historic Places. For $13 for adults and $8 for kids (with extra discounts for Coral Gables residents), you'll get the most bang for your buck if you get there early and make a day of it. Bring your own snacks to avoid the lines at the concession stand, and put the money toward a chair rental so you'll have a place to sprawl out and stash your sunscreen. Take one last dip before the pool closes (around 4:30 to 6:30, depending upon the day and time of year) and ride home with the windows down so you can feel the hot wind against your wet hair. And if even that fails to shake your stubborn summertime blues, you have full permission to pull into the nearest parking lot and rock back and forth in the air conditioning.

Bust a gut at Shirley's
Some comedy venues ask that revelers stick to a two-drink minimum. But visitors to Gramps' monthly showcase, Late-Nite Comedy, are lucky if they can leave standing up. That's an exaggeration, but honestly, what better place is there for locals to cut their teeth in comedy than in front of a dive-bar crowd? Every last Tuesday of the month, drinkers warm up at happy hour and file into Shirley's back room for standup that runs the gamut from laugh-out-loud to totally avant-garde. It's a rad scene, something fresh and hot in South Florida. It's so hot, in fact, that it inspired Hannibal Buress to hang around and perform a surprise set the next day. Quincy Jones used the venue to deliver an uproarious good time. So Shirley's continues to expand in the funny direction. It's warm and inviting, and with a capacity of about 100 standing, it offers the chance for once-in-a-lifetime intimate comic experiences. Just try not to heckle. They'll totally kick you out.

Vogue at Gio's Total Split Show
When you first watch John Waters' cult classic Pink Flamingos, you're bombarded with so much gross goodness that you're left wondering why exactly Divine ate that dog shit but also loving him intensely for doing it. It's easy to conclude that maybe you just had to be there in that unique time and place to really get it. But then you see the fantastically trashy Miami drag duo Juleisy y Karla in person, and you realize this is that time and that place again, the perfect moment to shock with raw humanity and wildness. You see that the beauty in the truly raunchy is again revealed and updated for a new generation. Every second Monday of the month, Juleisy, also known as Gio Profera, hosts a particularly notable gay party with cohost Pin Tits at Basement Miami at the Miami Beach Edition. Called Gio's Total Split Show, the bash gathers gays to vogue and party to musical acts such as Otto Von Schirach at the bowling lanes at this downstairs club. The anything-goes attitude is what makes this party and its hosts so special. And the fact that it keeps Miami Beach gay and weird amid ever-slicker commercialization warms the heart of any nostalgic old queen. But the crowd is hot, mixed, young, and old. Whatever your bag, you're guaranteed to be delightfully horrified and refreshed by the end of a long, sweaty, colorful night.

Catch a show at Villain Theater
Jeff Quintana, cofounder of Miami's Villain Theater, woke up on a Central Park bench every morning for two weeks in the dead of New York City's winter. It was 2009, and he had just left Miami to pursue his love of comedy — a passion not readily supported in the Magic City. He was on a mission to learn from some of comedy's greats and then bring that knowledge back home. Last August, Quintana and Peter Mir cofounded the Villain Theater, a microtheater that operates in the back of Made at the Citadel in Little River. The budding playhouse hosts Chicago-style improv, sketch, and standup shows while also offering workshops for aspiring performers. The select improv groups include the all-female Orange Is the New Wack, headed by Jannelys Santos and Sheela Dominguez. It provides a wry take on female inmate culture. Each set lasts an hour, surpassing what most comedy clubs in our city can offer in both quality and quantity.

Get drunk at the movies at Sunset Place
The Shops at Sunset Place was your high-school hangout. Remember those dorky manifests about groups of ten or more not allowed to loiter? You and your crew laughed at them. And because those were the days before Snapchat, you didn't really take pictures of the signs. If only you could have added a witty pic to your local story with a few emojis floating around! Alas, these days, you don't hang out as often at the mall as you used to. But there's one thing that has remained constant: the movie theater. AMC Sunset Place 24 is one of the few commercial theaters that shows more than the new releases. It also puts on works of small independent studios. The theater entrance is hidden on the third floor of the towering shopping center, and its ticket booths are located a level below. The seats might be a little old and worn, but the fact that there's a new bar in the lobby allows you to fully enjoy that you are now an adult. Booze while you watch a flick? You would have never thought this possible ten years ago when you were hanging out on the roof of the parking garage.

Blow your life savings at LIV
Partying with the proletariat isn't a VIP's idea of a good time. That's not to say they aren't needed. After all, if a champagne sparkler lights up a room and nobody is there to Instagram it, did it really happen? That's why any self-respecting bourgeoisie knows you need an audience to show off to. That's where LIV's skyboxes come in. Soaring above the central dance floor, almost high enough that the space's lighted domed ceiling seems within reach, the skyboxes provide the ultimate in VIP partying. It's private enough that if you want to get a little crazy without everyone witnessing the debauchery, you can do that, but it's still open enough for your own Eva Perón "Don't Cry for Me Argentina" moment playing to the cheering crowd below. What's the price? If you have to ask, you can't afford it. OK, we'll spill. According to LIV, the cost dependsupon who's DJing, whether it's high or low season, and the day of the week, but expect anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000 plus service charges and taxes. Chump change, really.

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Slum It Up at Round Table Sportsbar
When you finally find this windowless North Miami castle swollen with cheap beer and booze, Round Table Sportsbar & Lounge will make you feel like Indiana Jones unearthing the Holy Grail of dives. The exterior is gray and stately, and the roof even features a battlement detail. But once inside, you'll feel like you've stepped into another time and place. And you won't want to leave. Like every smoky watering hole, this place has games to distract you and beer that is cheaper than bottled water to keep you dehydrated. There's the requisite pool table and a fantastic tabletop shuffleboard that will hypnotize the competitive drunks in your group. While other classic dives like Fox's and Magnum have shuttered their doors forever, Round Table keeps Miami grounded and guzzling cheap beer like a good Southern city should.

Get cultured at the Wolfsonian-FIU
Before a certain developer got a museum on the bay named after him, and before Miami's one percent broke from a certain city to form its own art institution, there was the Wolfsonian-FIU. Founded in 1986 and opened to the public in 1995, the museum focuses on the role of design from the 1850s to the 1950s thanks to the Mitchell Wolfson Jr. Collection of Decorative and Propaganda Arts. Housed in the fortress-like former home of the Washington Storage Company, the museum is a beacon of culture in an area better known for late-night partying and barely there swimwear. With 30 years under its belt, the space continues putting on some of the best programming, including 2015's "Philodendron: From Pan-Latin Exotic to American Modern," which examined beloved South Florida greenery as an icon in design. The Wolfsonian is open daily except Wednesday, and admission costs $10 (members get in free). A complimentary tour of the collection begins at 6 p.m. every Friday — it's highly recommended if you want the museum's knowledgeable staff to put the works into context.

Belt It Out at Seven Seas
Karaoke is like a sex joke dropped in a stuffy business meeting — it'll either be a raging, knee-slapping riot or a horrible, cringe-worthy embarrassment. For 12 years running, Seven Seas Bar has hosted a karaoke night that consistently hits the highs and avoids the awkward lows. Host Bernie holds the scene together three days a week, offering thousands of jams ranging from all genres and styles for silly crooners to attempt — for better or worse. The nautical-themed bar provides a laid-back atmosphere devoid of pretentiousness, a place where everyone is welcome and no judgments are cast. The drinks flow cold and crisp, ready to lower your inhibitions and loosen up those belting muscles. Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday, the mike is open from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m., and while Saturday is usually the busiest and Tuesday is often more of a locals affair, Bernie says every week is different. A karaoke night doesn't thrive in Miami for 12 years without bringing something special to the table.

Cool Off at Drinkhouse
Sure, we have palm trees and the ability to wear bikinis year-round. The flip side, however, is the radioactive-intense sun and 99 percent humidity we get during Miami summers. And it's a good day when we're not being carried off by some tropical storm. So when the mercury hits 90 degrees, get thee to Drinkhouse Fire & Ice. Before you even walk inside, your core temperature seemingly drops at the sight of the cool blue lighting and pictures of what looks like a snow queen. Inside, you'll don a faux fur coat and hat before walking into what looks like a meat locker. Surprise! It's like being inside the Disney movie Frozen — except with cocktails! Sidle up to the ice bar (made of ice) and order a shot of vodka or a cocktail — served in a glass made of (what else?) ice. Sculptures change colors to the music, bathing you in a sea of frozen green and red. Admission to the ice bar costs $17 ($34 includes two drinks), and it's recommended you stay no longer than 45 minutes because your pampered Miami blood can't take the 23-degree freeze. But, oh, how delightful those 45 minutes in a crystalline wonderland will be.

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