How low can you go? At this underwater watering hole, you can go about twenty feet down, to the sandy floor of the ocean. Think of it this way: Even if you hit rock bottom, you'll never again have to moan, "How dry I am!" Here you're as likely to see a mermaid as a barmaid. In a marketing stunt that sounds more like a drunken prank, tequila magnate José Cuervo celebrated the Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo in 2000 by actually sinking a full-size bar, complete with six stools, about 200 yards off of the First Street beach on South Beach. But this $45,000 structure attracts more than potential consumers. Behind the bar a curved wall of interlocking tetrahedrons, made from recycled concrete by long-time artificial-reef builder Ben Mostkoff, promotes algae growth, promising sea creatures and divers a lush environment. So stick around for last call. Sometimes, round about 3:00 a.m., if you're really quiet, you can hear the shrimp sing: "José Cuervo, you are a friend of mine/I like to drink you with a little salt and lime."
Dade Heritage Trust
The county's architectural, cultural, and environmental heritage is precious and should be preserved. At least what's left of it should be preserved. For the past 25 years, the Dade Heritage Trust has worked to save historic sites (the Cape Florida lighthouse, the Miami Circle), restore historic properties, improve historic neighborhoods, and instill a sense of place and community in Miami's diverse environment. One of the trust's best functions is its annual Dade Heritage Days, a two-month spring celebration of Miami's cultural heritage that gives residents a chance to experience a bit of where their neighbors are coming from. The celebration includes hikes through the county's wild places, evenings of contemplating Haitian art or Miami Beach architecture, Miami River boat rides, and tours of the Miami Circle, Stiltsville, and the Biltmore Hotel. The list goes on.

The numbers alone are enough. This sophomore quarterback from Orinda, California, set a team record for pass attempts without an interception. He led the Big East in passing yardage and total offense, earning first-team all-conference honors ahead of Virginia Tech magician Michael Vick. The future alone is enough. In only his first full season as a starter, Dorsey played an instrumental role in the Canes' 11-1 record and near-miss of a national championship. But what about the drive? Ah, yes, The Drive. Fifty-one seconds. Seven plays. Six completions. Sixty-eight yards. When it was all over, when Dorsey raised his arms skyward in victory, Miami held a three-point lead over then top-ranked Florida State with less than a minute to play. And Dorsey had emerged as the most valuable player on a team full of talent.
All right, so the winner isn't actually in Miami. What's more important -- your children's happiness or simple logistics? Exactly. Drive eighteen miles west of West Palm Beach on State Road 441, and you'll be at Lion Country Safari, where the kids can observe beasts in their nearly natural environment, as opposed to watching out for them in school hallways. When it opened in 1967, the animal park was the United States' first drive-through cageless zoo, a place where you could drive right through into a herd of zebras and cruise by a few rhinoceros as they graze by the side of the road. These are wild animals, though, and you'll have to make sure the little ones don't roll down the windows to get a better look at the lions. In fact if you drive a convertible, the park will insist that you rent a car at the gate. After the kids get restless, you can park and step into Safari World, the walk-through portion of the park. Here's a tip: To catch the animals at their liveliest, get to the park in the morning, before the heat of the day takes its drowsy toll. The park is open 365 days per year, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Last car enters at 4:30. Admission is $15.50 per adult and$10.50 per child, but be sure to check local papers and visitor centers for discount coupons. Lion Country's Website also offers coupons. One more thing: Beware of the ostriches and emus. They have a thing for windshield wipers.
This year was a glorious one for the city's largest film festival. Getting off to a head start last December with the Miami premiere of Julian Schnabel's tour de force, Before Night Falls, the late-February event presented one of the best selections in the eighteen years since its inception. From the riveting French period drama The Widow of St. Pierre to the ambient Chinese study In the Mood for Love, the festival surveyed the best of contemporary trends in cinema. An especially strong Latin-American lineup included Barbet Schroeder's controversial existential meditation Our Lady of the Assassins; Andrucha Waddington's Brazilian feminist romp You, Me, Them; and Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's brash music-video-style Mexico City epic Amores Perros. In these films, as in the documentaries set in Cuba -- Jane Burnett and Larry Cramer's Spirits of Havana and Uli Gaulke's Havana, Mi Amor -- the music made as strong an impact as the celluloid. The felicitous synching of sight and sound climaxed in the festival anchor and audience-award winner, Fernando Trueba's documentary of Latin jazz, Calle 54. As if Trueba's loving portraits were not magical enough, the festival's after-hours Baileys Club brought the film to life with standout performances by Puntilla, Cachao, and the venerable Bebo Valdés.

While serving as the nation's first female attorney general, Reno appointed special prosecutors six times to investigate top officials in the Clinton administration, more than any other attorney general before her. Yes, she botched the raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, where more than 80 people died. And snatching Elian from his relatives in Little Havana didn't win her friends back home among Miami's Cuban community. But it's the way Reno left office that said something about where her heart lies. The former U.S. Attorney General bought a used pickup truck to tour the country, returned to the house her mama built by hand in 1947, and made plans to kayak the 100-mile Wilderness Waterway from Everglades City to Flamingo in Everglades National Park. Welcome home. Relax. Enjoy.

The Florida Marlins pitcher had to be scratched from his scheduled May 11, 2000, home start against the Braves because he strained his back while rising from a reclining chair in front of his clubhouse's television set.

New Yorkers have Miss Liberty towering above their harbor. Washingtonians have the noble Pocahontas perched atop the U.S. Capitol. And Miamians have a 21-foot-tall, virtually naked Tequesta Indian blowing into a conch shell on the grounds of the Three Tequesta Point condominium tower at the mouth of the Miami River. He stands on a nineteen-foot coral-rock pedestal surrounded by palm trees. Historians believe the last Tequesta died in the 1700s from diseases borne by the dreaded Spaniards, but this big bronze one will be impervious to such calamities. Commissioned by the Swire Group, which has developed most of Brickell Key (also known as Claughton Island), the statue, whose Spanish name translates to Sentinel of the River, was created by Cuban-born sculptor Manuel Carbonell and unveiled in July 1999. (Another Tequesta statue by Carbonell adorns the nearby Brickell Avenue bridge.) Our sentinel doubles as an ersatz lighthouse. The conch, which he holds pointed skyward, glows at night. The work is best seen from Biscayne Bay by boat, though it is visible from the northern seawall of the river near the Hotel Inter-Continental.

As the mayor of Coral Gables for the past eight years, Raul Valdes-Fauli treated the electorate as if they were serfs and he their lord and master. He was more than haughty. He was brazenly contemptuous of the public. Drunk with power, he did his best to turn the City Beautiful into the City Hideous by disregarding its history and tradition, throwing open the doors to one bloated eyesore of a development after another. But Valdes-Fauli and two other members of the city commission, Dorothy Thomson and Jim Barker, finally went too far. Last year they approved a $16.5 million construction project that included a 60,000-square-foot annex to the historic city hall. The plan also called for closing a portion of Biltmore Way. Their actions solidified public sentiment against them, and in April all three were voted out of office and replaced with a reform-minded slate of candidates that immediately halted construction on the new annex and promised to sharply regulate all future development.

Sixteen years after its original publication, Up for Grabs has been returned to print by the University Press of Florida, and it is as relevant as ever. As its author, John Rothchild, notes in the freshly written afterword to this enlightening local history, anyone pining for a more innocent era of our city's development needs to get a clue: "Miami rolled out the red carpet for Al Capone in the 1920s, became a playground for retired mobsters in the 1940s, was the target of a Senate crime committee in the 1950s, allowed bookies to operate openly in the lobbies of beachfront hotels in the 1960s, produced Watergate burglars in the 1970s, embraced the drug trade in the 1980s, and hosted the corruption epidemics of the 1990s." But forget about trying to pin all this chicanery on any one ethnic group or the elite. Rothchild offers a more compelling rationale for our hometown's ongoing loopiness: It's not nice to fool with Mother Nature. He reminds us that upon its founding, much of Miami was swampland, while Miami Beach was entirely manmade -- a strip of sand dredged from the ocean's bottom. Both common sense and the cosmos suggest that we just weren't meant to live here. Our city is a living testament to man's folly in the name of year-round sunshine and real estate speculation. And here you thought it was just something in the water.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®