Miami-Dade Transit's Route B is a study in contrasts. Originating downtown, your bus soon offers a postcard view of the concrete jungle you left behind and of the Brickell skyline as it crosses the Rickenbacker Causeway on the way to the manicured municipality of Key Biscayne. This trip affords access to several of Miami's prime recreation locales. You can hop off to visit Virginia Key's sandy coves or Seaquarium; the golf course, tennis courts, and beach of Crandon Park; or stay to the end of the line to reach Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park (for the park, the bus sign must indicate "Key Biscayne by Way of Crandon Boulevard"). By taking public transport you also save on the Bill Baggs admission fee.

Nestled in a classy residential neighborhood just south of Sunset Drive, this designated historical landmark is the last resting place for more than 200 Miami pioneers, many of them unidentified, most buried in the late Nineteenth and early Twentieth centuries. It officially became a cemetery in 1906, but settlers south of the Miami River were buried there as early as 1855, making it the oldest cemetery in the region. (Prior to Miami's 1896 incorporation, people living north of the river buried dead kin on their properties.) Not long ago a Boy Scout troop cleared out a lot of the overgrown brush as part of a renovation project, but the place is still dense and lush. Depending on your frame of mind, it's even a bit spooky in its lonely silence. Some tombstones have been restored or replaced by preservation societies and living relatives, while others are weathered beyond recognition. Confederate soldiers are among those interred here, and you can see the C.S.A. insignia along with the Stars and Bars on some markers. A section along the east side mutely testifies to an intriguing family tragedy. This is where the Brook family buried their young. The firstborn, Virginia, died in 1921 before she turned two. Beside her lie siblings Patrick (girl), Patrick (boy), Brown, and Scott, all born between 1923 and 1934, none having lived more than two years.

The Calle Ocho street festival isn't just sweaty Spandex, lip-synching, hip-swinging, and flag-waving. It's also a multimillion-dollar fundraiser that allows the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana to provide desperately needed services to the neediest residents of the poorest city in the United States. With more than 150 volunteer members and a full-time staff of five, Los Kiwanis are busy year-round: running basketball, soccer, and baseball leagues for inner-city kids; building playgrounds and parks throughout the city; caring and feeding for senior citizens and the homeless; funding a scholarship program that currently puts 48 students through Florida universities. But the list doesn't end there. The Kiwanis Club runs voter-registration drives, plants palms along city streets, and passes out presents to kids at Christmastime and school supplies come September. They send cash-strapped softball teams to championships, urban teens to camp, and drug addicts to treatment. There is hardly a charity in town that has not benefited from Kiwanis largesse, from the Catholic Home for Children and Boystown to the Children's Miracle Network, Capernaum House, Deed Cancer Clinic, and Dade County Public Schools. Chances are if somebody needs help in Miami-Dade County, the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana will figure out a way to lend a hand.

The Miccosukee Resort's Café Hammock has the best steak-and-lobster dinner deal in town: $6.95 for surf and turf at the tribe's Eighth Street and Krome Avenue gaming palace on the edge of the Everglades. After the bargain meal you can lose all the money you saved on the food by sitting down at the casino's poker tables, slot machines, or in the cavernous bingo hall.

Three years ago we said Ricker was our Best Gadfly. Given his dedication and perseverance, this new honor, Best Citizen, is well deserved. Ricker goes to 2500 mind-melting meetings annually, from the Public Health Trust's purchasing subcommittee to the Efficiency and Competition Commission to the Alliance for Human Services' nominating council to the school board's audit committee. Sometimes he's the only public observer. Object: to be the Public Citizen for all those out there who can't attend, and to connect and serve as an information bridge among the special-interest-dominated Miami-Dade governmental institutions that seem so problematic and indifferent to the democratic process. This month his e-mail newsletter, The Watchdog Report, celebrates its fourth anniversary. In a former life Ricker made a handsome living as an international salesman of heart pacemakers. As the hard-working publisher of Watchdog, though, he's struggling financially -- this despite the fact that his weekly compendium of meeting summaries, analysis, interviews, and commentary has become essential reading for anyone involved in public affairs. What his written work may lack in polish, it more than makes up for in comprehensiveness. So raise a toast to the man whose official slogan says it all: "A community education resource -- I go when you cannot!"

Ever since the Miami Herald killed Balmaseda's column last June, the paper just hasn't been the same. Frankly, we miss the flood of woeful tales about hapless Cuban immigrants who pine for the homeland. Her weepy prose was like a warm blanket. We also miss the fact that when it was pointed out she wrote endless columns about hapless immigrants who miss Cuba, she reminded us she won a Pulitzer Prize. And of course we miss the way she injected herself into the story, like the time she joined a prayer vigil at Elian Gonzalez's house. But we understand, however reluctantly, that change is good and necessary, though Balmaseda is quick to point out she's still writing for the paper, as well as working on screenplays. There was a time when her writing had genuine intensity. And she did kick butt years ago with her immigration reporting. So here's hoping that a newly invigorated Balmaseda emerges from the ashes of the old one.

Ever since the Miami Herald killed Balmaseda's column last June, the paper just hasn't been the same. Frankly, we miss the flood of woeful tales about hapless Cuban immigrants who pine for the homeland. Her weepy prose was like a warm blanket. We also miss the fact that when it was pointed out she wrote endless columns about hapless immigrants who miss Cuba, she reminded us she won a Pulitzer Prize. And of course we miss the way she injected herself into the story, like the time she joined a prayer vigil at Elian Gonzalez's house. But we understand, however reluctantly, that change is good and necessary, though Balmaseda is quick to point out she's still writing for the paper, as well as working on screenplays. There was a time when her writing had genuine intensity. And she did kick butt years ago with her immigration reporting. So here's hoping that a newly invigorated Balmaseda emerges from the ashes of the old one.

When a guy can afford to donate his salary to charity, you know he's loaded. Arriola, Miami's blue-eyed angel of death -- er, city manager -- made off with a cool $42 million when he sold Avanti/Case-Hoyt, his family's printing business, two years ago. Since then he's done a magnificent job of flaunting his wealth. First he joined Merrett Stierheim's team trying to straighten out the public-school system (salary: one dollar), then quit in a huff, but not before insulting Stierheim by calling him a "horrible leader" who "doesn't respect women, or blacks, or Hispanics." More recently Arriola publicly insulted the reform-minded chairman of the county's Public Health Trust, attorney Michael Kosnitzky, labeling him a "cancer" in that organization. Then he accepted Miami Mayor Manny Diaz's offer to become city manager and loudly proclaimed he'd donate his six-figure salary to the United Way, but not before unceremoniously, gleefully, firing several veteran city officials. Is this what it means to be filthy rich?

The terrible situation that has befallen the country that was once the most solidly middle-class in Latin America has resulted in an exodus. Many Argentineans, especially the younger generation, have relocated to Miami. It is our gain and their homeland's unfortunate loss. Yes, we recognize that a hefty percentage are here illegally, but like other immigrant groups before them, we appreciate their willingness to work (it seems every valet and restaurant hostess hails from Argentina) and the cultural and culinary sensibilities they carry with them. Argentineans have long embraced café culture; even the most humble of their establishments here will have tables and chairs inside as well as outside if there's room. Plus they have a special way with a number of key food groups: beef, pasta, pizza, gelato, dulce de leche, and coffee. ¡Che, bienvenidos!

Nothing like it has ever happened here -- a spectacular success for both Miami and the world that came to see it. It was also a quince of sorts, our own coming out and maturing party. We were ready to host the planet's biggest international art fair and to impress those who followed it here. The Switzerland-based event dropped into the Miami Beach Convention Center with thousands of pieces of the most vaunted contemporary art; local collectors opened their doors and were received with international applause; local artists put their very best faces forward at the Design District's ancillary event -- and everyone smiled. Did people party? Yes. Did art sell? Yes. Were the well-heeled global art-setters awed? Yes. Will the fair return bigger and most likely better next year? Yes.

Readers Choice: Coconut Grove Arts Festival

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®