Want to know what a "Dead Rat Tree" looks like? Want to know how the "Old Man Palm" and the "Shaving Brush Tree" got their names? How about strolling through a simulated rain forest or watching iguanas bask in the sun? You can do all this at Fairchild Tropical Garden, as well as find the perfect spot for a quiet picnic. The best way to get an overview of the garden's 83 acres (and learn tons of fascinating plant trivia) is to hop on a guided tram tour. They depart on the hour. After the tour, which will leave you back at the main gate, you can grab your blanket and picnic basket and take a long, leisurely walk on shady paths or through wide-open stretches of grass dotted with native and exotic botanicals until you find a little patch of serenity to call your own. Sit under a tree on the banks of one of Fairchild's lakes, sink your toes into the cool, spongy grass, and relish the only sounds breaking the silence: chirping birds, rustling leaves, lizards scurrying through the underbrush. But leave your charcoal at home. No grills permitted. And just as well, really. Once you stray from the visitors' center, there's virtually nothing artificial to come between you and a splendid day amid nature's wonders. Open daily 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Admission is eight dollars for adults, four dollars for children ages three to twelve, and free for members and children under three.
Hard-core mountain bikers will understand why Oleta has won for the third straight year. It's by default. There isn't any real competition in Miami-Dade County. (Amelia Earhart Park has drawn too many complaints about reliability and availability to be a contender.) So that leaves Oleta, which isn't bad at all, given that South Florida mountain bikers must do without actual mountains. It's just that it's so crowded. And it's inconvenient if you happen to live down in Kendall or Pinecrest. (Many bikers are irked at the lack of any sanctioned tracks in South Miami-Dade. To get an eyeful check out Roger Sunderland's mountain-bike Website and click on Snapper Creek under the listing for Miami-Dade: http://members.aol.com/ cyclerog/page4.html.) On the plus side, Oleta is well organized and maintained, and it gives novices a chance to get the hang of the sport. Helmets required, a rule that is enforced.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®