On Friday and Saturday nights, Cloverleaf sponsors glow-in-the-dark bowling, complete with ultraviolet lights. There are 50 refurbished lanes and a variety of leagues that include bowlers from three to ninety years old. And there's a bar, a restaurant, a billiards room, and a game room for the kids. In true Miami fashion, Cloverleaf is an international mecca, bringing aces from all over the Latin world for the Tournament of the Americas in August. We think they rock ... and roll. The place is open Sunday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Daytime rates are $12 per hour or $2.50 per game for adults. After 5:00 p.m. on weeknights the cost is $16 per hour or $3.50 per game. Friday and Saturday night rates are $20 per hour or $4.50 per game.
This is a tricky par three. A very narrow fairway is surrounded on one side by an inlet of Biscayne Bay; on the other by mangroves. If your name isn't Tiger, make sure you have an extra ball or two. A hook off the tee (or a slice if you're a southpaw) and you're all wet. Once you make the green, the vista is all mangrove. "You do really feel like you're in the middle of the jungle," says one attendant at this county-run championship course designed in 1972 by architect Robert von Hagge and pro golfer Bruce Devlin. Keep an eye out for iguanas, which may interfere with your twenty-foot putt. As you walk off the green, check out the view and ponder von Hagge's words, as immortalized in the Arizona Republic: "The only thing that is eternal in life is light. The light will remain, and that's why we believe that everything on a golf course must be done with vertical expression." Make sure your drives are mostly horizontal, though.
Biscayne National Park
Five times since 1992 we've tooted the horn for Biscayne National Park, always for the right reasons. Mind if we do it again? (1) Unlike John Pennekamp Coral Reef and State Park in Key Largo, this national park severely restricts the number of commercial operations carrying people to the reef. In fact only a single concessionaire (Divers Unlimited) is allowed to launch one boat per day with a maximum of 45 people. Compare that to the estimated one million divers annually who swoop down on Pennekamp. (It's the same reef system, by the way.) So you'll never have to fight sunburned tourists for reef space at Biscayne. (2) Because Pennekamp is essentially unrestricted, it has suffered badly at the hands (and flippered feet) of well-meaning but ignorant novices. Not so Biscayne. Dive operators there are fond of saying their reef looks like Pennekamp 20 or 30 years ago. And a healthy reef means lots of sea life: clown fish, triggerfish, parrotfish, barracuda, eel, the occasional shark, and much more. (3) The total Biscayne experience is simply more pleasant than Pennekamp. Departing daily at 1:30 p.m. sharp, the boat cruises across the bay toward its passage between Elliot and Boca Chita keys, then out to the reef and the open Atlantic. It's a relaxing and beautiful journey, both ways. You arrive back at park headquarters between 4:30 and 5:00. (4) At $27.95 the price is right and includes rental of all equipment: mask, snorkel, fins, and safety vest (wet suit extra). You can also bring your own, of course. (5) Biscayne National Park is much closer to Miami than Pennekamp, which makes for a leisurely day trip, and you don't have to hassle with traffic heading to the Keys. Note that reservations are strongly recommended.
Next time the urge to leave town strikes, hop on Tamiami Trail and head west. That's what Joanie Griffin did, and she didn't bother to return. Twenty years ago she took over an old restaurant in the swampside hamlet of Ochopee, about 70 miles west of downtown Miami. You needn't repeat her experience, but we recommend this arrow-straight little journey into the Everglades. Griffin's lunch menu features steamed blue crabs as well as alligator fritters laced with chopped onion and three kinds of peppers (red, green, and yellow). To ensure you have enough time for a couple of scenic detours before you eat, hit the road by 9:00 a.m. Once you cross Krome Avenue, you'll find several options for pulling over and viewing the wild and weird life. First are the airboat tours. The Anglo operators along the southern edge of the road wax profusely about animals and feds. Their Miccosukee counterparts, stationed further west on the north side, loquate less but locomote more as they buzz you to a traditional camp. (We recommend obeying the reduced speed limit while driving through the reservation, or you may not have lunch at all.) Don't tarry because you still have another half-hour haul to Joanie's. Note the Dade-Collier training runway on your right; it was the first slab of a planned commercial airport until conservation-minded souls spoke up in the late Sixties. Once you reach Joanie's, you will join the ranks of other exotic visitors who have made the trek. Among them: the elderly Northerner who left a collection of plastic bottle-art hanging from the rafters and the Sioux-Eskimo gentleman who gave the proprietor a spirit arrow that hangs on the wall. After lunch head a quarter-mile west and check out the pride of Ochopee: a tiny post office. Then it will be time to head back toward the Magic City. But you won't want to miss swamp photographer Clyde Butcher's Big Cypress Gallery (open Wednesday through Saturday), about twenty miles east of Joanie's. If you're in the mood for more amusement, visit the Miccosukee Cultural Center on the reservation. There you can witness a man wrestle an alligator in an ersatz traditional village for a measly five bucks. About a mile east you can stalk birds, ride bikes, and jump on the trolley at the Shark Valley Visitor Center in Everglades National Park. If you putz around long enough before getting back into your automobile, you'll arrive just in time for supper at the psychedelically decorated Miccosukee Resort & Convention Center at Krome Avenue and Tamiami Trail, where employees will be waiting to serve you in any of three dining areas.
What better place to discard your bikini top than a beach where you don't have to think twice about baring your bottom? Clothing is optional at Haulover, though the less you wear here, it seems, the better. Ensconced among naturists who don't care about your age or pear-shape body, even the rare lurking and leering pervert fades into oblivion. Let the sun shine upon all of you, all the time, the multitude of nudists seem to say. Whether buff or bulbous, wiggling extremities on the volleyball court are always welcome. Weekdays are best if you seek serenity; nonlocals and vacationing Europeans pack the beach Saturdays and Sundays.
If you want to do more than weave in and out of the pedestrian obstacle course on South Beach -- a thrill in its own right -- Key Biscayne's Crandon Park Beach offers a chance to spread your skates. Children may do well to begin at the roller rink that's accessible from parking lots three and four. A nearby carousel offers a welcome diversion while a fountain with water-spewing sea horses is the perfect finish to a hot day's activities. Between the rink and the beach there is plenty of smooth pavement and shade. Coast along the pavement adjacent to the sea wall while you take in a soul-calming view of white sands, palm trees, and lulling ocean. Long-distance skaters seeking a breathtaking vista at a higher elevation may want to begin skating on Virginia Key. These explorers should take the Rickenbacker Causeway to the parking lot at Mast Academy Drive, then blade southeast over the bridge between the University of Miami Marine Lab and the Crandon Park Marina. From there you can enter a shaded park path or continue along the causeway's bike lane all the way into Key Biscayne village and Bill Baggs State Park. This circuit, from parking to Bill Baggs and back, is about twelve miles. Only the truly expert should try skating the bridge between the mainland and Virginia Key.
On Friday and Saturday nights, Cloverleaf sponsors glow-in-the-dark bowling, complete with ultraviolet lights. There are 50 refurbished lanes and a variety of leagues that include bowlers from three to ninety years old. And there's a bar, a restaurant, a billiards room, and a game room for the kids. In true Miami fashion, Cloverleaf is an international mecca, bringing aces from all over the Latin world for the Tournament of the Americas in August. We think they rock ... and roll. The place is open Sunday through Thursday from 9:00 a.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. Daytime rates are $12 per hour or $2.50 per game for adults. After 5:00 p.m. on weeknights the cost is $16 per hour or $3.50 per game. Friday and Saturday night rates are $20 per hour or $4.50 per game.
X-treme Rock Climbing
South Florida's topography does not lend itself to extreme sports. It's flat, flat, flat. But don't give up. This 12,000-square-foot Kendall warehouse has been converted into an air-conditioned climbers' paradise. The faux cliffs, boulders, and rock ledges are arranged into everything from a novice, 30-foot climb to an ascent that requires hanging upside down from the 45-foot-high ceiling. Safety ropes and mats help prevent serious injury, but not that next-day burning sensation in the muscles. The entrance fee is $12. Rookies are required to take a $30 training class. X-TREME is open seven days a week. On weekdays you can start suffering at 3:00 p.m. On weekends doors open at 10:00 a.m. Why drive to the suburbs to scale a fake mountain? Because it's there.
Mount your trusty metal steed at the Venetian Pool and head north on De Soto Boulevard, which merges into Biltmore Way. Stay to the left at the fork, pass Coral Gables City Hall, and ride east on Miracle Mile. Watch out for the BMWs and Cadillacs backing out of the metered parking spaces. Continue down Coral Way, where the four-lane road's tree-covered median provides cool shade. Make a left on to SW Third Avenue, pass the impressive Beth David Congregation synagogue, then hang a right on to SW 25th Road. Go under the interstate and then north on South Miami Avenue. Observe the eclectic architecture in the Roads, one of Miami's oldest neighborhoods. As you make your way toward the Miami River, notice the ambiance changing to small offices and restaurants. Once you've crossed the newfangled bridge, hang a right and pass through the entrance to the James L. Knight Center and ride in front of the Dupont Plaza. Stay to the right and move to the sidewalk along the bay. Dismount at the Mildred and Claude Pepper Fountain. Relax on the return trip by grabbing a cold one at Tobacco Road, window shopping at Alba Antiques, or browsing the CDs at Carjul Records. The payoff at the end of the fifteen-mile jaunt is a dip in the Venetian Pool, one of South Florida's aquatic wonders.
José Martí Park
The trash-talking begins around the office water cooler. "Your players are so blind, they couldn't hit the broad side of chickee hut!" "My arthritic grandma can take you to the hole, do a 360-degree spin, and dunk!" comes the retort. Then it's agreed: The challenge will be settled on the court after work. When you reach the nearest lighted park, there are too many slick sixteen-year-olds. So try José Martí Park. The well-lit courts are rarely used, so you will have the time and privacy to settle your score. Sure there are some peccadilloes, such as the roaring traffic of I-95 and the occasional large freighter floating down the river. And maybe the backboards could use reinforcement. But the striped surface with a college-style three-point line is devoid of the usual cracks and slippery spots found on most outdoor courts. And the wonderful views of the downtown skyline can't be beat. Street parking keeps the cars in plain view. And if you need a little water recharge, the fountain occasionally works.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®