As any serious bibliophile will tell you, the first mark of a good used bookstore is the presence of dust: The more you feel like running home for a shower after digging through its stacks, the greater your chances of scoring a true find there. So try not to hold Eutopia's well-lit and neatly scrubbed interior against it -- plenty of out-of-print titles abound, from K.S. Karol's still-unmatched field study of Castro's Cuba, Guerrillas in Power, to a wall's worth of collectible photography tomes. Although shop hours are slightly truncated (2:00 to 9:00 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday) and there are other formidable used bookstores around South Florida (Kendall Bookshelf continues to impress and Robert A. Hittel, Bookseller is well worth the schlep up to Fort Lauderdale), there's still something delightfully perverse about this oh-so-idiosyncratic tribute to the literary world being located just off the now-defunkified Lincoln Road, within spitting distance of the Gap and Williams-Sonoma.
There is a school of thought that it's cruel to keep a dog in the city where it will be locked up during the day in a small apartment or house. If Fido has too much energy and the twice-daily walk is not doing the job, finally there is an answer. You can send the little hound to day camp! Better yet, the camp counselors will pick the pooch up in the morning in a school bus and return in the afternoon a happy and exercised canine. Totally Dog is located in the Redland and can only be visited by appointment. It sits on more than two acres of land and features a four-foot-deep bone-shape pool, an obstacle course, beach sand, and doggy toys galore. Each day your animal will get chewy pig ear as a snack and even take a group nap to break up all that joyful running around. Campers usually number about 30 a day and must be neutered, housebroken, at least four months old, have all their shots, be flea-and-tick protected, and know how to play well with others. All the dogs are screened. Every dog goes through a $200 four-day training during which they learn the rules: how to get into the pool, voice response, and how to ride on the bus. Each day of camp after that costs $35. Call in advance because slots fill up quickly.

Everything's on the Internet now, you say. No reason to go digging for obscure magazines in something as old-fashioned as a newsstand. You'll just read it all online, right? Wrong. Take a stroll up and down Worldwide's browser-friendly aisles, and you'll find title after title that has declined to join the, ahem, new-media revolution. How about everyone's favorite chronicler of ecoterrorism and environmental monkeywrenching, Earth First! ("No compromise in defense of Mother Earth!"), or the recent issue of Fishwrap, devoted to the legendary "lost" 1967 Beach Boys album Smile. Even die-hard computer phreaks have to leave their basements and sully their hands with fusty ol' stapled-together paper if they want to keep up on all the latest code-breaking info and juicy hacking gossip. The shadowy staff behind 2600 -- The Hacker Quarterly (which was being sued in federal court by the Motion Picture Association of America for figuring out how to crack a DVD's copy protection at the time this was written) may have a Website, but they save the "good stuff" for their print edition. True, in addition to these curios, Worldwide has Vanity Fair and Der Spiegel, but why waste your money on fluff when you can buy UFO Magazine and discover "the truth!"

The weekend bazaar at the Flagler Dog Track features the same sprawling grid of junk and gems that could be found at most other flea markets. But no other pulguero in town has the sonic boom of the jetliners that land at the airport nearby. And the rows of goods are treasure troves of the cheap and cheesy. To be found in its ample aisles of vendors: five-dollar shoes, kung fu sabers, roosters, fruit stands, bongs, computers, polyester lingerie, baptismal gowns, corn dogs, snow cones. An eclectic mélange set to the beat of hip-hop, bachata, and merengue emanates from the myriad music stands. Fifty cents gets you in the door; parking is free. Bring dollar bills to haggle. Go home with accouterments for the new you.

If you're serious about movies, there're really only two choices in town for renting a video. Coral Gablers head for Lion Video, while South Beach-ites opting for a night spent curled in front of the VCR swing by New Concept Video. Both feature a wide array of foreign flicks and indie offerings (many notably absent from your local Blockbuster), but for the geographically ambivalent pondering which way to turn, New Concept gets the nod if only for its sprawling selection of gay cinema. Therein you'll find just about everything, from the original British version of Queer as Folk (decidedly racier -- and wittier -- than the Americanized remake presented by Showtime) to Cruising, the 1979 cult classic featuring an oh-so-butch Al Pacino as an undercover cop making the NYC leather scene. Hoo-ah!
John Diaz takes incredible pride in the roast pig his supermarket provides on special order. Each one is fresh. Each is seasoned in bitter orange and garlic and then cooked for about five hours. Diaz charges by the pound for the pig and $35 to cook it. A 60-pound pig will run you about $125. If you are throwing a party, there is no better guarantee of guest happiness (next to the booze). After Diaz is finished roasting, the meat is so succulent and tender it practically melts in your mouth. Best to give him a couple of days notice though. If not he might have to use a frozen pig, and it's clear, perfectionist that he is, it breaks his heart to do so.

If you've ever stepped on a Lego block in the middle of the night, you probably have little desire to see one of the knubby little bastards again -- unless, of course, you're buying them for someone else's kid. If that's the case, wouldn't you like to patronize an independent local shop rather than some huge chain with an overgrown giraffe for a mascot? Welcome to Toy Town, where the staff is friendly and helpful. And since the people who work there aren't preoccupied chasing kids armed with hockey sticks and Koosh balls down runway-size aisles, they can devote plenty of attention to helping you find the perfect gift for a little loved one -- whether it's educational toys, craft projects, an addition to her Hello Kitty arsenal, or the latest robotic Lego set. Toy Town has some big-store conveniences, too: a merchandise catalogue, online ordering, and customer-service perks the megastores can't muster, such as gift wrapping and free delivery for Key Biscayne residents (but don't push your luck by asking them to drop off a single Beanie Baby).
Volume means choice. Divers Direct Outlet has both. The 5000-square-foot Florida City showroom is thick with masks, fins, wetsuits, buoyancy compensators, tanks, regulators, spear guns, underwater cameras, and diving computers. This is important because one needs to compare and contrast. Finding the right piece of equipment is absolutely essential with dive gear. No one can afford a leaky mask or an ill-fitting fin 80 feet underwater. Major brands carried include Aqua Lung (formerly U.S. Divers), Mares, Dacor, and SeaQuest. Because Divers Direct Outlet (formerly Divers Outlet) is part of a chain founded in 1984 and based in Deerfield Beach, it can afford to keep its shelves stocked deep. All the workers are certified in the sport, with a scuba instructor and dive master also on staff. The store does teach and certify divers, but they don't try to diversify too much beyond that. Repairs are done offsite in Key Largo. There are no charter trips based out of the shop. "We pretty much stick to retail," manager Candy Tamborrino says, and they do it daily from 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.
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.

This bike shop has been around since 1944; the oldest bike it carries -- a rare Packard found nowhere else in Florida, so they say -- dates to 1902. Yes, Broken Spoke specializes in antique bikes. For instance there's the toddler bike, circa 1920, that belonged to one of the Rickenbacker children. Chris Marshall, Broken Spoke's owner, says he purchased it from a former caretaker of the Rickenbacker home. Iggy Pop rented two Schwinn Sting Rays from Marshall for a music video. At the end of production, the aging punk rocker fell in love with the bikes, bought them, and had them transported to Europe. Marshall's bikes have even starred in Hollywood blockbusters such as There's Something About Mary. His peddled prizes have been featured in national magazines. Double Trouble, an ice-blue six-wheeler, wins the local low-rider shows every time, Marshall says. But Broken Spoke's most impressive bike hangs from the shop's ceiling. It's called Silver Bullet, and at first glance it almost looks like a Harley. How's that for a bike shop?

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®