True story: Vacationing Miami Beach homeowner returns to find house ransacked. Not much missing except one thing -- valuable painting, lifted off the wall and hustled away. Chances of recovery approach zero. Weeks later, somewhere in California, man purchases laptop computer via eBay. Receives computer. Turns it on, discovers many files, some personal. Thinks: Uh-oh ... must be stolen. Snoops around hard drive, uncovers likely owner's name and phone number. Calls. Miami Beach resident answers, confirms it's his computer, stolen weeks earlier. Beach guy calls cops, who contact California buyer, who leads them to eBay, which provides identity of seller. Cops contact seller -- a Miami pawnshop. Pawn broker, following Florida law, has record of kid who pawned stolen computer. Cops nab kid. They have a nice little chat. Kid decides to cooperate. They go for a drive. Kid points out various places he's pawned stolen goods. Cops pay a visit to one of them, I-95 Pawn. Caged in by bulletproof glass and iron bars, pawn broker, a burly biker with Glock semiautomatic strapped to his bountiful waist, displays surprising proficiency on computer. Quickly pulls up items kid has pawned. Cops scan printout, match items to stolen-property list. Start making calls. Burglary detective and owner of ransacked Miami Beach home drop in on I-95 Pawn. Gun barely visible beneath prodigious belly, pawn broker fires up computer, strokes chin whiskers, disappears into office, returns with large framed object, asks: Is this it? Homeowner smiles. Detective smiles. Pawn broker smiles. Yes, that's it. One last thing. Homeowner by law must buy it back for same price pawn broker paid: $55. Homeowner does so happily. Value of (undamaged) painting: $5000.

Cutz Barbershop
A clean crop is very important among the increasingly metrosexualized male population. Even the ghetto-fabulous hip-hop sect is all about looking so fresh and so clean these days. But that doesn't mean you have to leave behind your gansta' flair for a fine fade. Cutz, located on Biscayne Boulevard on the Upper East Side and co-owned by ex-Heatster Alonzo Mourning, has the flavor of an urban hangout, but with the polished appearance of a high-end salon. Wood floors, old-style stools, and portraits of black icons adorn the place as BET and rap tunes entertain those waiting. And wait you will, because these guys take their time, making sure the cut is just right. But it's always worth it -- ask any player on the Miami Heat roster. On any given day you can catch Dwyane Wade, Loren Woods, or Rasual Butler getting a pregame buzz. This place is so popular that not even the gangland execution of a hip-hop label exec, XELA Entertainment's Alexander Bernard Harris, as he sat in a stool at Cutz one fateful night last summer, deterred its faithful clientele; in fact business increased. But the real reasons for Cutz's success is the quality of its barbers/stylists, especially Jason, a Cuban link from Jersey, and Claude, a Haitian Biggie Smalls look-alike with a bellowing laugh. Just make sure you tip them, or your next do might be uneven.

A clean crop is very important among the increasingly metrosexualized male population. Even the ghetto-fabulous hip-hop sect is all about looking so fresh and so clean these days. But that doesn't mean you have to leave behind your gansta' flair for a fine fade. Cutz, located on Biscayne Boulevard on the Upper East Side and co-owned by ex-Heatster Alonzo Mourning, has the flavor of an urban hangout, but with the polished appearance of a high-end salon. Wood floors, old-style stools, and portraits of black icons adorn the place as BET and rap tunes entertain those waiting. And wait you will, because these guys take their time, making sure the cut is just right. But it's always worth it -- ask any player on the Miami Heat roster. On any given day you can catch Dwyane Wade, Loren Woods, or Rasual Butler getting a pregame buzz. This place is so popular that not even the gangland execution of a hip-hop label exec, XELA Entertainment's Alexander Bernard Harris, as he sat in a stool at Cutz one fateful night last summer, deterred its faithful clientele; in fact business increased. But the real reasons for Cutz's success is the quality of its barbers/stylists, especially Jason, a Cuban link from Jersey, and Claude, a Haitian Biggie Smalls look-alike with a bellowing laugh. Just make sure you tip them, or your next do might be uneven.

Some people say the measure of a man is best assessed by the clothes he wears. In Miami, where physical appearance often outweighs substance, that sentiment rings true. But a well-dressed man doesn't have to break the bank to sport dapper duds. And you can forget the sales rack at Burdines. In Miami, National Apparel provides its male customers with a warehouse full of ensembles for the everyday banker to the part-time hip-hop DJ. You will find name-brand dress shirts from Calvin Klein and Geoffrey Beene for no more than $25 a pop. For the players, the warehouse features complete collections from Sean John, Phat Farm, and other hip-hop clothing labels at flea-market prices. And whether you're counting money or mixing records, no man can go wrong with underwear and socks at prices that beat Wal-Mart. The easiest route to National Apparel is to take I-95 to the 103rd Street exit, head west, then make an immediate right onto Seventh Avenue. After traveling one and a half blocks to 105th Street, make another right and head left to the brown warehouse at the end.

Some people say the measure of a man is best assessed by the clothes he wears. In Miami, where physical appearance often outweighs substance, that sentiment rings true. But a well-dressed man doesn't have to break the bank to sport dapper duds. And you can forget the sales rack at Burdines. In Miami, National Apparel provides its male customers with a warehouse full of ensembles for the everyday banker to the part-time hip-hop DJ. You will find name-brand dress shirts from Calvin Klein and Geoffrey Beene for no more than $25 a pop. For the players, the warehouse features complete collections from Sean John, Phat Farm, and other hip-hop clothing labels at flea-market prices. And whether you're counting money or mixing records, no man can go wrong with underwear and socks at prices that beat Wal-Mart. The easiest route to National Apparel is to take I-95 to the 103rd Street exit, head west, then make an immediate right onto Seventh Avenue. After traveling one and a half blocks to 105th Street, make another right and head left to the brown warehouse at the end.

Ask a soccer mom around these parts about the best place to get a pair of Mitre spikes, Umbro apparel, or Diadora soccer balls for any young, happy-footed athlete who hopes to be the next Pelé or Mia Hamm, and her answer will always be Soccer Locker. That's why the place continues to win best soccer shop year after year, aside from the fact that there is no other store in South Florida completely dedicated to the most popular sport in the world. The store in East Kendall not only has the most complete selection of soccer stuff, it's the place where you can get info on junior and adult leagues and purchase tickets to professional matches that come to town. Store hours are 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday it's open until 5:00 p.m.

Ask a soccer mom around these parts about the best place to get a pair of Mitre spikes, Umbro apparel, or Diadora soccer balls for any young, happy-footed athlete who hopes to be the next Pelé or Mia Hamm, and her answer will always be Soccer Locker. That's why the place continues to win best soccer shop year after year, aside from the fact that there is no other store in South Florida completely dedicated to the most popular sport in the world. The store in East Kendall not only has the most complete selection of soccer stuff, it's the place where you can get info on junior and adult leagues and purchase tickets to professional matches that come to town. Store hours are 10:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday. Sunday it's open until 5:00 p.m.

While references to scuba diving plus spearfishing equal cinematic half-hallucinations from Jaws and The Deep for many, truth is that diving, like its unrefined cousin swimming, is a skill that can be learned as well as taught. The teaching part is where Aquaknots comes in -- the dive shop has a loyal, three-decades-worth following of those who, like mermaids and mermen, would dwell if they could all the time beneath the waves. Mario Ginoris, with partner Manny Seoane, bought Aquaknots nearly fifteen years ago after working on the store's sales staff for some time beforehand.

Seoane and Ginoris maintain one of the largest inventories of dive supplies in town, along with the unique sideline of custom-made spears for the avid, and experienced, spearfisher.

For the beginner, Professional Association of Diving Instructors classes are offered. Don't worry about being an oceangoing fledgling, though. Even entry-level students get out of the tank and into the open water for a fair number of classes.

Best Local Landmark
The Freedom Tower

Best Sanctuary From the Fast Track
Scotty’s Landing in Coconut Grove

Best Month
August

Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill
Solid gold

Best Cheap Thrill
Walk South Beach on Friday night

Best Reason to Live in Miami
The best weather and the best people

While references to scuba diving plus spearfishing equal cinematic half-hallucinations from Jaws and The Deep for many, truth is that diving, like its unrefined cousin swimming, is a skill that can be learned as well as taught. The teaching part is where Aquaknots comes in -- the dive shop has a loyal, three-decades-worth following of those who, like mermaids and mermen, would dwell if they could all the time beneath the waves. Mario Ginoris, with partner Manny Seoane, bought Aquaknots nearly fifteen years ago after working on the store's sales staff for some time beforehand.

Seoane and Ginoris maintain one of the largest inventories of dive supplies in town, along with the unique sideline of custom-made spears for the avid, and experienced, spearfisher.

For the beginner, Professional Association of Diving Instructors classes are offered. Don't worry about being an oceangoing fledgling, though. Even entry-level students get out of the tank and into the open water for a fair number of classes.

Best Local Landmark
The Freedom Tower

Best Sanctuary From the Fast Track
Scotty’s Landing in Coconut Grove

Best Month
August

Best Not-So-Cheap Thrill
Solid gold

Best Cheap Thrill
Walk South Beach on Friday night

Best Reason to Live in Miami
The best weather and the best people

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®