This partly hidden bayfront park underwent extensive renovations but remains, fortunately, something of a mystery to the public, which tends to neglect the outstanding space. Not for long, though. As soon as all the condos scheduled for development along the neighboring Biscayne Boulevard corridor are completed, crowds will become the issue. Until then, this park remains the choice for a quiet day of tugging kite strings as your balsa and paper contraption glides over shimmering bay waters and the verdant expanse of the park itself. If the winds are light, you can try out the new tennis and basketball courts or soccer fields. Just stay out of the way of kiters.

This partly hidden bayfront park underwent extensive renovations but remains, fortunately, something of a mystery to the public, which tends to neglect the outstanding space. Not for long, though. As soon as all the condos scheduled for development along the neighboring Biscayne Boulevard corridor are completed, crowds will become the issue. Until then, this park remains the choice for a quiet day of tugging kite strings as your balsa and paper contraption glides over shimmering bay waters and the verdant expanse of the park itself. If the winds are light, you can try out the new tennis and basketball courts or soccer fields. Just stay out of the way of kiters.

Between early January and the end of March a farmers' market fills the circle in front of city hall, where bells chime the time in the maligned city Merrick built. Coral Gables has many an asset. The market includes a farmer named Richard Lyons who speaks Latin, or at least offers up genus-species names instead of "yeller flower," and other friendly experts in their fields happy to chat; informational displays; high-end edible goodies including exotic and organic veggies, heirloom tomatoes, imported oils and pasta, stone crabs for ten dollars per pound, real key limes, labneh spread (which mainly contains milk and salt but still tastes fine), jams and preserves of canistels, sapodilla, mango, tangerine. Winter's best, but natives used to the heat can travel anytime to the allegedly anal community's main drag, along which an entire day disappears into a beau monde of window shopping for Lotto-ticket dreamers. Bring meter quarters and park on a side street at the west end of the Mile (called Coral Way outside the Gables). Go over to the two corner fountains and walk east. Peer into three coiffure shops, five outlets offering fancy bric-a-brac, fourteen jewelry stores, four formal men's and fourteen women's clothiers, four potion shops. See the famous Miracle, a two-tiered cinema turned live theater. Check out wigs, health food, shoes, leather goods, baby stuff, art, and, yes, of course there's a Starbucks. And all that's a mere fraction of the mile. You might want to visit one of the ten restaurants before moving on to the next block.

Between early January and the end of March a farmers' market fills the circle in front of city hall, where bells chime the time in the maligned city Merrick built. Coral Gables has many an asset. The market includes a farmer named Richard Lyons who speaks Latin, or at least offers up genus-species names instead of "yeller flower," and other friendly experts in their fields happy to chat; informational displays; high-end edible goodies including exotic and organic veggies, heirloom tomatoes, imported oils and pasta, stone crabs for ten dollars per pound, real key limes, labneh spread (which mainly contains milk and salt but still tastes fine), jams and preserves of canistels, sapodilla, mango, tangerine. Winter's best, but natives used to the heat can travel anytime to the allegedly anal community's main drag, along which an entire day disappears into a beau monde of window shopping for Lotto-ticket dreamers. Bring meter quarters and park on a side street at the west end of the Mile (called Coral Way outside the Gables). Go over to the two corner fountains and walk east. Peer into three coiffure shops, five outlets offering fancy bric-a-brac, fourteen jewelry stores, four formal men's and fourteen women's clothiers, four potion shops. See the famous Miracle, a two-tiered cinema turned live theater. Check out wigs, health food, shoes, leather goods, baby stuff, art, and, yes, of course there's a Starbucks. And all that's a mere fraction of the mile. You might want to visit one of the ten restaurants before moving on to the next block.

Anyone can skate Ocean Drive, but it takes a real thrasher to backflip off a ten-foot ramp and land, grinding, on a rail. Monday is BMX night and Saturday draws crowds, but every other night Control Skate Park is in the business of letting skateboarders and rollerbladers jump quarter-pipes, half-pipes, or simply (ha!) slide down rails. The indoor park features a toyland of cool stuff made by 25-year-old owner Matt Cantor. An all-day session costs seven bucks and entitles customers to jump anything and everything in the place. During February, Control expanded by adding a second warehouse, doubling the size and making way for a "beginner" course to ease neophytes in. Because 'blading here can get aggressive, novices will be grateful not only for the extra room, but for the chance to expand their rollerblading skills by rolling with more experienced thrashers.

Anyone can skate Ocean Drive, but it takes a real thrasher to backflip off a ten-foot ramp and land, grinding, on a rail. Monday is BMX night and Saturday draws crowds, but every other night Control Skate Park is in the business of letting skateboarders and rollerbladers jump quarter-pipes, half-pipes, or simply (ha!) slide down rails. The indoor park features a toyland of cool stuff made by 25-year-old owner Matt Cantor. An all-day session costs seven bucks and entitles customers to jump anything and everything in the place. During February, Control expanded by adding a second warehouse, doubling the size and making way for a "beginner" course to ease neophytes in. Because 'blading here can get aggressive, novices will be grateful not only for the extra room, but for the chance to expand their rollerblading skills by rolling with more experienced thrashers.

Coconut Grove's jewel of a public space, David T. Kennedy Park, accommodates people-accompanied dogs on leashes with verdant paths through palm groves and ad-hoc soccer sessions (dog chases ball, kids laugh). The northeast corner of the park provides the ultimate, though, with a lovely fenced area where dogs are welcome to ditch those leashes (and their owners) to engage in dog life with the pack of canines cavorting there. Vigilant humans keep the area free of refuse, and the antisocial behavior of the occasional lumbering wolf hybrid or illegal pit bull is dealt with politely but firmly through peer coercion. After the four-pawed running around like crazy and sniffing butts and breath comes exhausted panting. Soon you and your pooped pooch reunite, all wags, wet kisses, and muddy-paw pouncing upon your clean white T-shirt. Sit with your furry best friend on one of the park's many benches, where the bay winds blow, and imagine what the mutt must be thinking: "That chihuahua acted so macho until he saw me" ... "What a dork that white mongrel was" ... "When do we eat?"

Coconut Grove's jewel of a public space, David T. Kennedy Park, accommodates people-accompanied dogs on leashes with verdant paths through palm groves and ad-hoc soccer sessions (dog chases ball, kids laugh). The northeast corner of the park provides the ultimate, though, with a lovely fenced area where dogs are welcome to ditch those leashes (and their owners) to engage in dog life with the pack of canines cavorting there. Vigilant humans keep the area free of refuse, and the antisocial behavior of the occasional lumbering wolf hybrid or illegal pit bull is dealt with politely but firmly through peer coercion. After the four-pawed running around like crazy and sniffing butts and breath comes exhausted panting. Soon you and your pooped pooch reunite, all wags, wet kisses, and muddy-paw pouncing upon your clean white T-shirt. Sit with your furry best friend on one of the park's many benches, where the bay winds blow, and imagine what the mutt must be thinking: "That chihuahua acted so macho until he saw me" ... "What a dork that white mongrel was" ... "When do we eat?"

The local avian population has been spreading wings with excitement spawned by the people-watching at the Frog Pond lately. There's been so much activity, they've been inviting their out-of-town cousins to the area for an aerial glance. Actually "Lucky Hammock," as it's known to birders, is a popular location thanks to the variety of birds found there, including several species that technically don't belong in South Florida. It's a Wildlife Management Area run by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which means it's property set aside specifically for conservation and recreation, which means living wildlife for your viewing pleasure. Best bet: About a half-mile before the Everglades National Park boundary, turn south onto Aerojet Road and park about a quarter-mile south of Palm Drive. Welcome to Lucky Hammock, and happy hunting.

The local avian population has been spreading wings with excitement spawned by the people-watching at the Frog Pond lately. There's been so much activity, they've been inviting their out-of-town cousins to the area for an aerial glance. Actually "Lucky Hammock," as it's known to birders, is a popular location thanks to the variety of birds found there, including several species that technically don't belong in South Florida. It's a Wildlife Management Area run by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, which means it's property set aside specifically for conservation and recreation, which means living wildlife for your viewing pleasure. Best bet: About a half-mile before the Everglades National Park boundary, turn south onto Aerojet Road and park about a quarter-mile south of Palm Drive. Welcome to Lucky Hammock, and happy hunting.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®