Psssst. Reliable sources say the angling at the southeastern tip of Bayfront Park often is excellent. Right in the Magic City's own front yard. Maybe the groupers, grunts, snappers, and other coastal species just want to check out some well-heeled tourists. And even if the fish have decided to head to South Beach for a little club hopping, you and your pole will add a little rustic charm to our classy downtown waterfront. Live bait is available just a few minutes away by car from the fishmongers on Watson Island. Another unique perch for dropping a line is an old chunk of road, once part of the Rickenbacker Causeway, that became a pier when the county replaced the drawbridge with an elevated span. Take the first exit after the tollbooths. You're likely to hook big ones here without having to spend a mint on a boat, because you're practically in the middle of Biscayne Bay. No wonder they call this city magical.
It's a Thursday afternoon. Your busy downtown office is driving you insane. The 3:00 appointment cancels, and suddenly you have a free hour. Hit the road, Jack! Ten minutes away is a picturesque, deserted, tropical beach where you can lie under a shady Australian pine tree and listen to the waves lap against the shore. Feel the stress disappear. Back in Jim Crow days, Virginia Key was a blacks-only beach and it remains a refuge, though of a different sort. Thanks to activists' tenacity, it recently was rescued from private development -- again. Windsurfers cherish the place because it's sheltered by offshore reefs. But the further south one walks, the more secluded and exotic it becomes.
Okay, maybe Porky's isn't the best name for a gym, but you can't argue with the hours. The place never closes. Far from the distractions of sand and surf, a sea of mustard-yellow machines and no-nonsense free weights attracts serious lifters. Photocopies from bodybuilding magazines plaster the walls with stories of champions whom may you may spot in line at the drinking fountain or working the leg press. In the aerobics studio, a suspended wooden floor protects the knees, while the cool blue and cornflower-yellow walls soothe the nerves. And those nerves will need soothing after a Tae-Bo class with competitive fitness pro Maria Bellando or a toning session with onetime Reebok National Aerobic champion Gina Kourany-Aleman. If your limbs ache for a little tenderness, try flexing with the seniors weekday mornings during the Young at Heart workouts, which are taught by health-care professionals from Baptist Hospital. Weekend nights the gym is packed with the club-bound, eager to pump before they primp. In the wee hours, you may have the place to yourself. Just imagine what you and your workout partner could do with soft mats, soft lights, and a whole lot of mirrors. Porky's is open seven days a week, 24 hours a day.
This 8.75-acre spot, once a coconut-tree farm owned by Richard Nixon's buddy Bebe Rebozo, is a kids' wonderland. Ain't bad for adults, either. There are two tot lots, one for tykes under three years old and another for older children. Overall there are 32 pieces of equipment, including swings, jungle gyms, slides, rings, bars, and even a climbing dinosaur. Then there's our favorite thing: a splash fountain. Press a button and sea horses spit out streams of water while little ones prance around on a rubberized surface. It's great for the hot months. Finally there are two soccer fields, one adult size and the other pint size, as well as a half-mile-long running track. Hang around this place on weekends and you'll feel young again. That is unless you're all wet.
So rivers bore you? You hate those newfangled kayaks, yet you want to brave some big water? Try the ten-mile paddle from Flamingo to Cape Sable in Everglades National Park. If you have a tent, spend the night on a white sand beach in one of South Florida's most wonderfully secluded spots. When it gets dark, the motorboaters -- sparse during the day -- will disappear and you'll be able to crack a bottle of wine, gather some driftwood (or use a stove), and cook your dinner while looking out on a spectacular view of the Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Keys. If you must rent a canoe, call Flamingo Lodge (941-695-3101) and ask for the boat concession. Rental prices can be steep ($40 for 24 hours) but at least you get a real Old Town as well as paddles and life jackets. Two important pieces of advice: (1) Bring plenty of water, and (2) make sure the weather's calm. You wouldn't want to need a kayak.
Necessary elements for a perfect picnic: scrumptious food, fine wine, engaging company, cooperative weather, and a picturesque setting. You find the first four and we'll recommend the last one. This urban secret, which is nestled between tall condominiums, offers ample grass on which to drop that little-used, red-checkered tablecloth. Once you're seated in the glorious shade of the oak canopy, soak in the vista of Biscayne Bay's blue water, green mangroves, and the skyscrapers of Miami Beach. The city recently spent $100,000 to upgrade the park. There's a tot lot, three concrete chessboards, and six picnic tables with two nearby barbecues. Bring along a Frisbee; this place has ample room to toss a disk. After completing your hearty meal, lean back on the sheet, close your eyes, listen to the rhythm of the waves lapping against the shore, and succumb. If you are missing any of those important elements, dream about them.
At $11 per hour for a table, it's not cheap. But if you seek pure roll, it is hard to find a place as perfect as Jillian's. "We keep our prices high because we don't want the riffraff," says general manager Jason Klein. There are 26 professional-size, nine-foot tables. Each month two tables are stripped and re-covered with a new surface of fine, 21-ounce felt. Likewise the house sticks are regularly retipped and replaced at the first sign of warping. And there's a 35-foot-long, full-service bar where domestic draft beers go for three dollars. Yes it's a chain (there are 33 Jillian's in fifteen states), but Miami's place started up eleven years ago, just after the first location in Boston. Jillian's is open seven days a week, Sunday through Thursday until 2:00 a.m. and Friday and Saturday until 4:00 a.m. There is an $11 flat rate from noon until 5:00 p.m. After 5:00 the cost is $11 per hour. Friday and Saturday nights, beginning at 6:00, the hourly rate is $13 for a table.
This mangrove-lined inlet provides ample space for personal watercraft fans to get the rush associated with this noisome pastime. What's that you say? You don't have your own personal personal watercraft? Well isn't this convenient? Tony's Jet Ski Rentals is located just west of the marine stadium. For $45 you can splash around for a half-hour ($70 per hour). For the same price, you and your honey can mount a tandem unit. If you can afford to pony up a few more bucks, you and two honeys can ride a three-seater. To reach the marine stadium, take the Rickenbacker Causeway toward Key Biscayne and look to your left. If you're in the market to rent, follow the signs to Tony's.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®