GameWorks
More than a video-game store, GameWorks is a virtual theme park in which the latest technology is offered exclusively in the service of fulfilling your kid's wildest fantasies. Not only is a youngster's nervous system zapped into a frenzy by the blinking lights, jingling bells, firing laser guns, and the sensation of being on another planet, but the payment system encourages wanton indulgence in this cornucopia of stimulation. Instead of coins game credit cards are issued. Twenty dollars buys you or your child a one-hour pleasure spree. Other payment packages also are available. Games and rides range from the quaint, dot-gobbling Ms. Pac-Man to a virtual roller coaster guaranteed to rattle your grown-up cookies. The store's VIP section, party room, restaurant, and two bars are designed to spoil any adult's inner child.
Paula Vogel's 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning How I Learned to Drive is not an easy play to sit through. Incest, alcoholism, self-destruction, and probing questions about the nature of love are the subjects it takes on. Told through the eyes of Li'l Bit, a woman who looks back at her youth and girlhood to recount how she was molested by a favorite uncle, the drama requires actors to portray fully fleshed people (Li'l Bit and Uncle Peck), as well as a Greek chorus of family members and secondary characters. The excellent Caldwell Theatre Company cast featured Kim Cozort and David Forsyth as the protagonists, both of whom gave subtly multifaceted and complex performances. Supporting them, and acting with much broader strokes, were the magnificent Dan Leonard, Jessica K. Peterson, and Viki Boyle. Director Kenneth Kay couldn't have asked for happier chemistry or more galvanic talent. And neither could we.

Best Reason To Stay In Miami For The Summer

Venetian Pool

Venetian Pool
Photo courtesy of the GMCVB
(1) Cool spring water. (2) Two waterfalls. (3) None of those irritating models who pose like bags of bones over the loggias, under the porticos, on the cobblestone bridge. And no professional photographers who consider this particular locale indispensable. Summer in Miami, when the locals come out to play, is the ideal time to take advantage of this historic 1923 pool, which originally was a coral rock quarry before being transformed by architects Phineas Paist and Denman Fink, uncle of the City Beautiful's George Merrick. In the wintertime it's nearly impossible to get near the place, what with all the photo shoots and curious visitors. But when temperatures and humidity exceed those of most saunas, the Venetian Pool is a great place to hang all day. You can even procure snacks and meals from the café, which features (among healthier items) figure-threatening fare such as lasagna of the week and mozzarella sticks. And if you do indulge too much -- or perhaps you're just looking for shade -- you can always hide in the coral caves.
Step into this 7400-square-foot space and you are assured an intense visual experience with a mood somewhere between SoHo and Sofia, Bulgaria. Facchini, a São Paulo native, opened her Design District gallery in November 1999. She seems to have a taste for large paintings with an "elegant use of colors," as she likes to say. She also is fond of expressionistic human figures, be they of paint, clay, or stone. Giant ceramic totem poles were among the items standing on the polished concrete floor earlier this year. The renderings inside her walls can range from photorealistic to Rothkoesque. How does she decide what works to display? "What I love," Facchini answers in her Portuguese-tinged English. She also favors "strong" works with intense emotion. In an exhibition titled "Everything but Modern," she assembled sculptures and paintings by artists working in two very different places: Bulgaria (Krum Damianov and Svetlin Russev) and South Beach (Gregory Herman, Robert Fitzgerald, and Seth Bernard Minkin). Despite the radical difference in location, some of the pieces were uncannily similar, as if their creators came from the same strange universe. This unusual geographical mix suggests dramatic possibilities for future shows. Facchini has the capability to bring in heavyweight artists from far away. Damianov, for example, was commissioned to do a large outdoor sculpture for the 1988 Seoul Olympics, and the Bulgarian countryside bears many of his monumental creations. Unlike many local galleries presenting interesting art (such as Locust Projects, Dorsch Gallery, and lab6), you don't need an appointment at Facchini's place.
Be they from purple mountains, fruited plains, or anywhere else, just about all your visitors will appreciate the shining turquoise sea visible from this southern point of Key Biscayne. The only edifice obstructing the splendid ocean view is the restored Cape Florida lighthouse, erected in 1825 by some of our first out-of-towners, including a builder from Boston. It was burned down by some churlish locals from the Seminole tribe in 1836 and rebuilt ten years later. When your guests tire of the tower and beach facilities (which include picnic areas with pavilions and barbecue grills), take them along the sea wall path for a gander at old Stiltsville, which dates back to the late Thirties. The seven aquatic getaway cabins hovering above the Biscayne Channel have withstood Hurricane Andrew and blowhards at Biscayne National Park, who are pushing for removal of the stilt houses because they lie inside the park's boundary. Turning your gaze inland, you might have the fortune of showing your nonaccidental tourists a crocodile that resides in the restored tidal marsh, along with various bird species. As you inhale the sea breeze, you also can breathe a sigh of relief while telling your friends of the battle, led by former Miami News editor Bill Baggs in 1966, that prevented Cape Florida from becoming a vast burg of condominiums.
Is your home office lacking some gadgets? Maybe your computer blew a chip and Web withdrawal is taking its toll? Perhaps you've never had a computer and want to see what all the fuss is about? Internet access is not only available at Kafka's, it's cool. Long a ramshackle used bookstore and coffee bar with a European beatnik feel, the place has added about twenty Pentium II and III Hewlett-Packard computers. Amid the books and magazines are a color laser printer, scanners, equipment to duplicate CDs, and even the stuff you need to video-conference. Translation programs for French, German, Spanish, English, and Italian also are available. Open from 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m., this is a low-budget nerd's dream. The first hour of surfing costs nine dollars, and then the price drops on a sliding scale. You have to pay but a buck to log on for the minimum. To maximize your typing speed, you might want to get jacked on some strong espresso before beginning. If it's all too 21st century for you, read a book.
The Shops at Sunset Place
Keep in mind that this behemoth contains more than 502,000 square feet of retail space. Then consider the multitude of twists and turns it takes to find your way from one location to another -- say, from the parking garage to the IMAX theater. (Did M.C. Escher design this place?) Finally take note of the mall anchors: NikeTown, GameWorks, the Virgin Records megastore that frequently hosts teen icons such as Ricky Martin and Britney Spears. Add it all together and it's practically impossible not to lose, um, we mean ditch, the kids for a few hours, if not permanently. Throw in some funds, maybe a roll of quarters, or hell, just relinquish the credit card and send those ever-growing feet to NikeTown, and you've bought yourself a free afternoon. What you do with it is up to you. But we wouldn't recommend dining at Sweet Donna's or Wilderness Grill, two eateries at which it's pretty darn difficult not to run into the very kids you just jettisoned.
The lanky swingman has been a Heater his entire professional career, mostly lingering at the end of the bench but hanging around because of his defense, rebounding, occasional three-pointers, and perpetual hustle. To make room for some younger players, Pat Riley cut Askins before this season. Instead of continuing to ply his trade in a lower-echelon league, Askins decided simply to chill out in Miami. Why? Because he has a guaranteed 1.75 million clams coming in from the Heat this year, that's why. The New York Knicks offered him a ten-day contract at one point, but he turned it down. Who can blame him? Would you rather chase Latrell Sprewell for a week in practice or take lunch at Soyka with Johnny Dread -- and still get paid? Yeah, thought so.
Lyric Theater
This Overtown theater mirrored its dilapidated surroundings when the Black Archives History and Research Foundation took possession in 1988. The roof bore a massive hole. A fire caused extensive damage to the interior. Birds claimed the abandoned rafters. Thanks to $1.5 million in grants and a ton of elbow grease, the 400-seat venue, built in 1913, celebrated its grand reopening this past March. Roof repairs keep the elements out and fresh paint adds a sparkling touch. A large mural on the south exterior wall depicts 27 black leaders. Inside, metal seats and clear sightlines invite patrons to relax in air-conditioned comfort. It's an invitingly intimate space. You can almost imagine what it must have been like when, in its heyday, the Lyric anchored an entertainment district frequented by legends such as Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and many others. "Progress" in the form of I-95 and I-395 destroyed the neighborhood and threw it into poverty. The Lyric's restoration is a source of pride in black Miami and should serve as inspiration for Overtown's long-overdue revival.
Everglades Alligator Farm
Forget all your nightmares about big toothy beasts that threaten pets and small children from back-yard canals. Alligators can actually be quite cuddly -- at least newly hatched babies are. Don't believe it? Find out for yourself at this alligator farm and airboat attraction, which has been breeding alligators since they were an endangered species. There was a time when owner John Hudson released the reptiles into the swamp when they were big enough to take care of themselves (say, three feet or so). Now that they've rebounded throughout Florida, alligators are bred here to be turned into tasty fried nuggets and expensive shoes, not to mention a tourist destination. Despite the commercial aspects of the place, it's still fascinating to tour the breeding ponds, filled with fourteen-footers, and visit the hatcheries and grow-out pens. The latter are where you'll find the wee ones, which have teeny teeth and are cute enough to briefly be considered as pets. Tamp down that urge, but do take the opportunity to plant one on the little smiley face, the only time you're likely to encounter a gator when it's safe to do so.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®