Following a 2002 incident when a Key Biscayne resident drove into a parking lot via the exit and punctured all four tires on those mean-looking spikes they have at rental car outfits too, this flea market's general manager, Scott Miller, put up "about 500 traffic signs" so navigating the streets and parking lot "is no longer an adventure," he promises. Once you get inside, however, that's a different story. Open seven days from 6:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., the market -- eighteen years and going strong -- is teeming with more than 1000 vendors, including 70 offering farm-fresh produce, plus thirteen eateries. Shoppers and sellers come from around the world, and these days record crowds are pouring in, mostly on weekends, with an average of 85,000 hunting the sprawling grounds over two days. You can find most anything at this flea, but Miller notes, "We do not do gold-filled teeth." That was at a flea market across the county line in Broward, and supposedly those parking-lot dentists were shut down.

No one along the Boulevard of Broken Dreams that is Biscayne has done more to beautify the strip than florist Geraldo Rios. While the police mount sweeps of hookers and tricks and pimps, and city bureaucrats issue code-violation fines, Rios has taken his own initiative to improve his block by decorating the two-story building that houses his shop with hundreds of stuffed bears and other fuzzy friends to celebrate Valentine's and Mother's Day. Rios's decorations are not just beautiful, they're a kind of public service for all of us who forget about our sweeties and, heaven help us, even our mothers on these special days. The sheer excess of Rios's decorations reminds us of the approaching holiday -- and his special 24-hour schedule allows any errant son, daughter, or lover to drop in and pick a bouquet on the fly.

Readers Choice: Trias Flowers, Antiques & Gifts

This place carries more than just guitars. You can find musical instruments of all types, plus electronic gear like synthesizers, samplers, mixing boards, and DJ equipment. The guitar selection is huge, acoustic and electric, featuring brand names like Gibson, Fender, Korg, and Roland. What makes Guitar Center unique, though, isn't so much what they sell but who's selling. The sales staff are all experts, mostly musicians themselves, so you won't enter looking for something that sounds like raaa and leave with a piece that goes clang. While some music stores are paranoid about their inventory, Guitar Center allows you to touch everything. In fact it commonly attracts lots of folks who just want to fiddle around. Many resemble Wayne's World types who, like Wayne and Garth, obsess over instruments they can't afford. But most customers here can take home their dream Stratocaster because GC guarantees the lowest prices in town. On the other hand, who puts a price on dreams?

Are you ready for the End Times? They're coming. People ascribe different causes to the approaching apocalypse, but everyone knows it's nearly upon us. Whether the bottom drops out of the economy, terrorists turn our streets into Beirut, or God checks out Married by America and decides it's high time for the final reckoning, the few poor souls left to roam our city's blasted-out streets will stay alive only by dint of their preparedness. Miami Police Supply has all the gear you'll need for urban warfare and survival: camouflage and SWAT uniforms, emergency lights and sirens, bulletproof vests ($359 for a Triflex Level IIA), and brand-new .40-caliber Sig Sauer handguns (around $700, chicken feed for a gun described by a Miami Police Supply salesman as "the Mercedes of handguns"). The eager and knowledgeable black-clad pistoleros who staff Miami Police Supply will also be happy to show you their supply of cheaper weaponry, like the infamous Intratec 9mm, known as the cheap gun of choice for crack warriors in the Nineties and one of the weapons used in the Columbine school massacre.

Joey B runs the fastest-growing cigar-store empire on the Beach. He and junior partner Robert, from the NYC area, started with one shop last year (1136 Collins) and quickly expanded to locations at 1650 Meridian Avenue and 1639 Washington Avenue, as well as the Ocean Drive shop. On Ocean, their Cuban roller, José Castro, working in the traditional way, can whip up a 45x6 (45 millimeters round, six inches long) corona, or a 5x50 robusto in several minutes using fine Honduran wrapper leaf and flavorful, medium-bodied Dominican filler, imported by Joey and Robert. "Rolling a cigar from scratch, without the use of presser machinery, is an art, not a craft," Robert says. "If you misuse that chaveta knife, you can ruin a cap and so ruin the smoke." Deco Drive is famous for its popularity among Italian character actors, from the movies and from the Sopranos, but under pain of nonfatal arm injuries, we've been sworn not to name them.

Palacio de los Jugos is a sprawling and colorful Flagler Street produce market and juice bar. That location's little brother -- Segundo Palacio -- is perfect for those who live too far south to make it to Flagler on a regular basis. There is something joyful and indulgent about sipping fresh mango juice at Segundo Palacio, or sucking coco frio right out of the shell, as opposed to the antiseptic, health-obsessed juice bars where exercise freaks line up like flagellants to gulp down their spinach and wheat-germ concoctions. Enjoy your juice in the sunshine (and fresh mango juice is undoubtedly the closest thing on earth to liquid sunshine) at one of Segundo Palacio's picnic tables. Yes, you'll smile to yourself, you do live in a tropical paradise.

You can get sofas, chairs, beds, tchotchkes of all kinds, and from every country. A recent scene: Hairstylist who frequents the place had her eye on one of those darkly tarnished replicas of Donatello's David, about a foot high, bronze-going-green. "That lidless, lipless decadence," she whispered mischievously. "Donatello would have gotten down on the Beach!" After some haggling with Amelia the salesgirl, the price was right, coming down from $45 to $25. "We're the best!" Amelia bragged. "You can spend hours in here. Look! Real aluminum ice-tea glasses from the Fifties in fruit colors -- creamsicle orange, Saturn red, TV yellow ... snowsled silver!"

Crown, a frequent Best of Miami winner, relocated its Coral Gables store in September, and the new spot -- just a couple of blocks away from the old -- lives up to Crown's well-deserved reputation. Whether you're interested in wines (Crown took advantage of the increased shelf space at the new location to improve on its heralded selection), booze, or beer, the place remains in a league of its own. For a little something to go with your beverage purchase, check out the food. "We have a huge deli counter, with fresh baked bread and eight artisanal cheeses," says Crown wine consultant Fred Barger. "Pâté, fresh caviar -- you name it."

Readers Choice: Crown Wine and Spirits

This is the Alhambra of local shopping malls. Village of Merrick Park could put CocoWalk in its back pocket. It is a step up from Aventura Mall, and you're outside. Located a stone's throw from South Dixie Highway and Ponce de Leon Boulevard, the Village is a three-level, open-air fortress containing 115 "designer boutiques," which means stores full of a lot of high-quality stuff that a lot of thought went into. Neiman Marcus and Nordstrom's hold down the fort. Beyond merchandise, the Village also has towering palm trees, a kid-friendly fountain, and one adult sanctuary, the Elemis Day Spa. Bring plenty of money, for shopping is nothing without money. Even if you have none, you can still feel that sense of well-being the high-rollers do here. Abundance, style, quality, and glamour abound. Maybe someone will invite you to enjoy some pricey cuisine from chef Norman Van Aken's Mundo or chef Peter Hansen's Pescado.

Original maternity gear from one of Miami's brightest stars, Debbie Ohanian. When pregnant women make the trek to this store from Boca Raton and New York City in order to buy clothes, you know you have yourself a winner. By appointment only, Ohanian offers her clientele personalized service not found at any other maternity retailer. Plus she serves a killer cup of java. "I would come every week if I didn't live so far away," says Alissa Goldman, a bubbly Boca Raton resident who was making her second trek to Ohanian's private showroom. In addition to helping her customers select styles, Ohanian will recut the clothes until her clients are satisfied with the fit. Ohanian enjoys the feedback from people like Goldman. "Their comments help," she says. "It's almost like a consumer study." Ohanian has also branched out, selling her line in more than 100 retail stores around the nation, not to mention accounts in Ireland and Singapore. Average prices for Meet Me in Miami couture range from $40 to $100.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®