The pink hibiscus of heated tropical fantasies, a spiky Louisiana iris with yellow burning at the core of its alabaster flower, luscious bougainvillea, sexy bromeliads. Okay, the profusion of greenery for sale at this sprawling complex, which fills the block between 81st and 82nd streets, isn't much different from that of other run-of-the-mill South Florida nurseries. Log Cabin is unique less for its considerable selection than for its community function. Even serial plant killers can feel good about spending money here on yet another bid at nurturing. Open daily until 5:00 p.m. (10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Sundays), this nonprofit organization was founded in 1983 to help the developmentally disabled become independent and employable. More than 40 adults attend the program, arriving at 9:00 a.m. to water, fertilize, weed, and help customers. In the afternoon participants study conundrums such as counting change, cleaning, and cooking. Log Cabin graduates also get a hand finding employment. Approximately fifteen alumni currently are working for the Miami Beach parks department and at the nursery, as well as at service-industry jobs in places like McDonald's and Publix. And come December, if you're in the market for a Christmas tree, Log Cabin sells those, too.

Next to a building painted in eye-battering yellow and green, Mr. Pocketbook's bright yellow sign lures you in: "Bags $2.99 & up." Inside, a sea of vinyl, leather, and fabric awaits -- everything from the stylish leather handbags that would set you back $60 in the mall to more affordable knockoffs of high-end brand names like Fendi and Coach, to el cheapo cloth and plastic varieties that spill off tables at the flea market. The store also stocks luggage, as well as children's backpacks adorned with cartoon characters. Open Monday through Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., Mr. Pocketbook encourages bulk shopping, offering deep discounts (a third of retail prices) when you buy a dozen or more bags. And you can mix and match your quarry from any of the boxes and still pay wholesale for each. Those opting to buy fewer purses also can save a little, especially if they're lucky. One saleswoman notes Mr. Pocketbook's prices can fluctuate, depending on the day and "how my boss is feeling."

Driving into CocoWalk's garage is not unlike driving into the ninth circle of hell, especially on weekends, when college students, teens, and South American shoppers jockey for limited spaces that go for ten dollars a pop. Worse still is navigating through the garage's cramped driving lanes, which are well-suited for someone piloting a teeny Toyota Echo but not the hulking SUVs that seem to be the vehicle of choice for CocoWalk shopping aficionados.

Yes, Blue Note is a pretty darn good music store. Ample evidence of that can be found in past editions of Best of Miami. But it's time to retire its number. In order to do that, however, something just as good or better will have to come along. So consider this a protest award: It's ridiculous that in an area the size of Miami-Dade County, with so many music-buying souls who have diverse tastes and expendable cash, Blue Note for years has been the only game in town. What else is there? Chain stores have anemic selections and painfully inept staff. Virgin has a slightly better stockpile but its prices are way too high. With any luck, some aspiring entrepreneur will read this, recognize that Miami badly needs more music, and next year the award for Best Record/CD Store will have a different name attached to it.

Readers Choice: Specs Music

Not much separates scooter rentals. Most are located on South Beach, often in small storefronts, and rental rates don't vary that much. Groov-E-Skootz, however, stands out for its selection of scoots for sale, in-store and online. In the gas-powered arena, they carry lots of Kymco's models, but also have Moskito and Hyosung. Among the electrics you'll find Bladez, City Bug, X-port, Currie, Charly, Schwinn, and X-Caliber. Also mini-gas scooters from Bladez and Go-Ped, plus electric bikes by E-Go and Voloci. As if that weren't enough, Groov may be unique in that you can also dance for your scooter. That's right. Every few months the store sponsors a break-dancing contest and the winner (these guys are really good) takes home a scoot.

The ubiquitous Goodwill store -- there are eighteen in Miami-Dade -- is always a decent option for secondhand shopping. The Quail Roost Goodwill stands out for its atmosphere and selection. The store is huge, although slightly less than the warehouse-size "superstores," yet somehow manages to maintain the cleanliness and order of a department store. As opposed to other secondhand stores, where incoming donations litter the storefront and clothing is strewn around haphazardly, the staff at the Quail Roost Goodwill keeps the clothes neatly divided into easily understandable sections, separate from the books, household wares, and the surprisingly well-stocked electronics section. Parents take note: The kids section is excellent, stuffed with a good supply of clothing and toys.

Far from being discreet, Megaplexxx, with its huge XXX sign fronting I-95, is proud to announce its presence. Its inventory of sex toys is huge as well. For the men there is an impressive array of vaginas, from the strawberry-flavored pocket model to the industrial-strength Futurotic Sucking and Vibrating Vagina and Ass. Prices range from $15 to $50. For those gentlemen wishing to enhance their package, Adult Video stocks a wide variety of penis pumps, including our favorite, the Legendary XXX John Holmes Pump. Near the magazine rack, filled with fetish titles, is a wall and a counter loaded with paddles, whips, complete bondage kits, choke balls, and every kind of lubricant known to man. Megaplexxx is open from noon until 2:00 a.m. Monday through Thursday, and from noon until 4:00 a.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Think of this as a real-man's facial. The barber places you in a leather reclining chair and soaks your face in a hot, scented towel. Then he rubs hot oil on your whiskers, followed by warm lather massaged into your cheeks. When he takes the straight-edge carbon-steel blade to your face, the stubble comes off like the limp and soggy follicles they are. Art of Shaving, a chain of high-end shaving products, only recently opened this "barber spa." Another is in the Browne & Co. Apothecary on Lincoln Road. We chose the one at Bal Harbour because they will also shave your head if you so choose. That option wasn't available elsewhere. Overall a soothing experience in an elegant surrounding. Traditional shave runs $25. The "royal shave," which comes with a mask treatment at the end, costs $45. Haircuts, mustache trims, and aromatherapy skin treatments also available. Make an appointment first.

Think of this as a real-man's facial. The barber places you in a leather reclining chair and soaks your face in a hot, scented towel. Then he rubs hot oil on your whiskers, followed by warm lather massaged into your cheeks. When he takes the straight-edge carbon-steel blade to your face, the stubble comes off like the limp and soggy follicles they are. Art of Shaving, a chain of high-end shaving products, only recently opened this "barber spa." Another is in the Browne & Co. Apothecary on Lincoln Road. We chose the one at Bal Harbour because they will also shave your head if you so choose. That option wasn't available elsewhere. Overall a soothing experience in an elegant surrounding. Traditional shave runs $25. The "royal shave," which comes with a mask treatment at the end, costs $45. Haircuts, mustache trims, and aromatherapy skin treatments also available. Make an appointment first.

Tucked away in Wynwood's fashion district, Control is a Miami street skater's dream come true -- a gritty 8000-square-foot warehouse equipped with everything from a 5'5" x 20' half-pipe to a killer street setup, highlighted by nasty handrails and makeshift park benches for some serious grinding and sliding. Plans are in the works to build an outdoor street course in time for summer. And if you break your board, bust a truck, or lose your wheel bearings, Control's skate shop has a full stock of brands such as Zoo York, Flip, and Zero. It costs seven beans to use the skate park, which is open seven days a week from 11:00 a.m. till midnight. Directions: From I-95 connect to I-195 east and exit at North Miami Avenue. Head south to NW 29th Street, then east (right turn) on 29th to NE Fifth Avenue. Turn left (south) on Fifth four blocks to NW 24th Street. Turn left. Control is half a block ahead on the right. Skater moms need not fear the neighborhood. Right next door is a City of Miami police substation.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®