One would hardly expect to find a little piece of Paris in a strip mall, even a relatively upscale one like the Biscayne Harbour Shops, but that's exactly the place to go when you're feeling trés français. Pierre Books contains everything the frenzied Francophile might crave: books in French, movies in French (for sale and rental), French tapes and CDs, as well as French magazines and greeting cards. An in-store café serves up coffee, brewed in a French press. The whole place is so utterly, gloriously French, it's a miracle the Germans haven't marched in.
We were getting our tennis racket strung here, and while we were waiting we talked to a young sales guy about buying some golf clubs. He had an excellent grasp on the equipment. He also had a good handle on its recent history, to wit, how leading manufacturers in the Eighties lost their grip on the market when new companies strolled in with new designs such as bigger heads on drivers. Ping, Yonex, and Callaway outdrove industry leaders like Top Flight and Dunlop. But our salesman really hooked us by proving to be a straight shooter. He was able to slice through all the marketing hype associated with name brands and pros. "Let's face it," he said. "The pros get paid to play with certain equipment." Consequently it can be quite expensive. For instance Don's deal on a set of eleven graphite-shaft Honma clubs with titanium-head irons (pitching wedge included) can cost you less than $1700. But you also can avoid handicapping your bank account that much, our salesman pointed out. For instance you can get a decent set of graphite-shaft woods and metal-shaft irons for $300. You can check out how they feel with a couple of chip shots from a patch of AstroTurf into the net that hangs from the ceiling. Just a short drive by car from the Miami Shores golf course (or a long drive if you're using a one-wood), the store has been here for 32 years. Owner Don Barker has an autographed photo of Seventies champion Billy Casper on a wall in the corner to prove it.

So you want to buy a pistol, but you're not sure which one will satisfy your trigger finger? Can't find a shop where you can try the firearms before you buy them? Check out Ace's, tucked safely away in the grid of corporate parks and warehouses north of Sweetwater. By the time you get off the highway and find your way through the monotonous sprawl, you'll be ready to fire off some rounds with that Beretta. There's an entire arsenal of rifles, shotguns, and revolvers from which to choose and sixteen lanes from which to fire. Rent a gun for a day or just buy; the staff is friendly, professional, and welcoming to bumbling beginners. Go ahead, make your own day.
So you want to buy a pistol, but you're not sure which one will satisfy your trigger finger? Can't find a shop where you can try the firearms before you buy them? Check out Ace's, tucked safely away in the grid of corporate parks and warehouses north of Sweetwater. By the time you get off the highway and find your way through the monotonous sprawl, you'll be ready to fire off some rounds with that Beretta. There's an entire arsenal of rifles, shotguns, and revolvers from which to choose and sixteen lanes from which to fire. Rent a gun for a day or just buy; the staff is friendly, professional, and welcoming to bumbling beginners. Go ahead, make your own day.
Standing in the midst of Elva's Nursery, the plants seem to go on forever. Both inside and outside, the rows stretch from bougainvillea to bonsai to baby roses to staghorn ferns and coffee trees. Well over 100 species can be found on about twenty acres of land. The selection also extends to garden accessories, the tremendous assortment of which is testimony to Miami's multiculturalism. In addition to the benches and tables that come in metal, wood, and stone, there is a little something for every race, culture, and ethnicity. Statues of the Virgin Mary standing both free and encased are prominently displayed in front. Inside, stone black angels face Buddhas and miniature statues of Confucius. Dignified native Americans are not far from Aztec sun calendars. For those who are just thankful to celebrate the good fortune of all this natural greenery and sunshine, there are stone manatees, giant sea horses, and ceramic farm animals.
Leroy Robinson, owner of this Jamaican pulp bar and take-out joint, likes to add ginger to most of his freshly squeezed juices. In his island home the pleasantly pungent spice is used as a remedy for all types of ailments. Try it with tamarind juice to give it a slightly piquant twist or with the sour-tasting sorrel concoction, a good source of fiber, iron, and vitamins A and C. Robinson also packs a powerful peanut punch and serves a damn good ginger beer, if you like the stuff straight up. Even his carrageenan juice, made from a stubby, purplish seaweed more commonly known as Irish moss, goes down smooth. Coconut, pineapple, grape, carrot, melon, strawberry, cane, and mango juices are available, as well, at the low price of one dollar for small drinks, two dollars for medium, and four dollars for large and combinations of liquids. This righteous juice bar even stocks a full line of Caribbean foods, spices, fresh fruit, and Bob Marley paraphernalia. Give thanks and praises.

In the midst of the marine industries on the Miami River lies the junker's mother lode. Weird and unusual salvage from the land and sea is stuffed, stacked, and crammed into every nook, shelf, and cranny of Stone Age Antiques. What didn't fit there is hung from rafters and walls. Among the booty: rusty cannons that date from the 1700s; deep-sea-diving suits with copper and brass bubble helmets; a harvest of huge green glass floats that marked fishing nets in Asia; enough portholes to outfit a cruise ship; and spooky reproductions of sailing ship figureheads. The difference between Stone and someone who can't throw away cardboard toilet-paper tubes is that Stone has an eye. He has culled through the flotsam and jetsam that have floated his way over the past 30 years. In addition to the nautical artifacts, there are stacks of fancy rusting metal bed heads; stuffed llamas; an 1899 bell from a church in Troy, New York; reproductions of African masks; old metal store signs; B-movie posters; and much, much, much more. Because there is so much, this is a place that will make you slow down and open your eyes. Just be careful not to break anything as your jaw drops.

Whatever Tio's lacks in selection, it makes up for with a knowledgeable staff. Walk in and ask for a moderately priced champagne, and they'll direct you to the Domaine St. Michelle, on sale for seven bucks. Sure they've got all your old favorites -- Johnnie Walker, Captain Morgan, and Stoli. The wine and beer choices are decent, and there are even kegs for sale. But it's the imported hard stuff that sets Tio's apart. We're talking several types of Russian potato vodka, including a triple-distilled, wild-berry variety made by Luksusowa, plus more than 50 types of tequila, gin, and liqueur from around the world. Best of all, if you happen to be flush, plunk down cold hard cash on the counter for a ten-percent discount. Not in such a hurry to leave? Spend the afternoon watching TV with the proprietors and supping on sandwiches at the in-house deli, which stocks Boar's Head cold cuts.
Your granite horse fountain no longer reaches toward the heavens, but your obelisk with a capital D beckons huddling masses to spend, spend, spend. You put Kendall on the map when you first opened more than 40 years ago and set the standard for frivolous buying sprees long before ATMs and credit cards made spending convenient. You survived recessions, a gas crisis, inflation, and cocaine-cowboy shootouts in your parking lot, and still you look well. The booming economy of the Clinton years has been good to you. Your promenade, tiled in cool blues and whites, features kiosks of the finest coffees, sunglasses, and caviar. But looking to the future, your prosperity once again is challenged. As consumer confidence wanes and the bubble of the new economy bursts, competition raises its ugly head. The supersize Dolphin Mall, a tract of discount outlets that opened in March, seeks to tap into your well. Next year the Village of Merrick Park in Coral Gables will do the same. But you've seen other malls, full of shine and fury, come and go. You've beat out the Bakery Center and its new incarnation, Sunset Place. You thrived while the once praised Omni declined into downtown decay. Even with your double cinema gone, you make the once-hip CocoWalk look like just another mob scene with bad parking. You continue to lure and lull the people with your ever-expanding free parking lots and your own entrances and off-ramps from the Palmetto. You're going to make it, after all. You're Dadeland, the granddaddy of Miami malls.
Why does the miracle of new life have to leave you feeling like you won the egg-eating contest in Cool Hand Luke? Take comfort in sheathing your gravid form in snappy capri pants in any shade you like. Shirts, skirts, and dress styles in this spacious Miracle Mile shop run the gamut from fun, flowery, and slightly retro-Sixties to understated and elegant. There's an old-fashioned standing scale on which you can confirm your worst fears, and a small box of children's toys placed strategically near the dressing rooms. Plus Mimi and her crew offer helpful appraisals and advice on everything from bras to cocktail dresses.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®