Arrrr, mateys. Ya can join th' landlubbers over at Pennekamp or Biscayne National, sissy sinking it's called, or ya can have a real ol' time adventure down the way at San Pedro's grave. Way the hell back in 1733, a husky blow doomed a Spanish treasure fleet to Davey Jones's place, and another time a 270-ton ship of Dutch origin known as the San Pedro sank to her watery end a little more than a mile off Indian Key (in eighteen feet of sapphire-color seawater) at a place name o' Hawk Channel. While some dag-blamed scalawags have stripped her of her treasures, there remains a mother lode of excitement at this spot near Islamorada. Crusted ballast stones mark out the shape of the Dutch galleon (the wood body, like the golden age of seafaring, is long gone), while replica cannons and the ship's actual anchor add picturesque elements. At 271 years of age, the San Pedro might be Florida's oldest "artificial reef," but the fish and crabs judge not. Mooring buoys provide anchorage for schooners and kayaks alike, and if ya be without sails, hire a boat and captain at nearby Islamorada ("the purple island"). Have a mug or three of mead while ya wait.

Arrrr, mateys. Ya can join th' landlubbers over at Pennekamp or Biscayne National, sissy sinking it's called, or ya can have a real ol' time adventure down the way at San Pedro's grave. Way the hell back in 1733, a husky blow doomed a Spanish treasure fleet to Davey Jones's place, and another time a 270-ton ship of Dutch origin known as the San Pedro sank to her watery end a little more than a mile off Indian Key (in eighteen feet of sapphire-color seawater) at a place name o' Hawk Channel. While some dag-blamed scalawags have stripped her of her treasures, there remains a mother lode of excitement at this spot near Islamorada. Crusted ballast stones mark out the shape of the Dutch galleon (the wood body, like the golden age of seafaring, is long gone), while replica cannons and the ship's actual anchor add picturesque elements. At 271 years of age, the San Pedro might be Florida's oldest "artificial reef," but the fish and crabs judge not. Mooring buoys provide anchorage for schooners and kayaks alike, and if ya be without sails, hire a boat and captain at nearby Islamorada ("the purple island"). Have a mug or three of mead while ya wait.

One of South Florida's natural bragging rights is the ability to see both sunrise and sunset over vast expanses of water. We cry for the people of Iowa and Kansas every time the purple and orange and yellow paint the horizon with fire. Try it: Find the precise sunrise and sunset times for any day of the year (aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.html is one source). Begin your trip from the pier in South Pointe Park at the southern tip of Miami Beach, where you'll see the sunrise over the Atlantic and perhaps meet some straggling, staggering clubbers on their way home. Then hop over to Little Havana, load up on café and pastelitos. Take the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41, or, in the city, SW Eighth Street) west. Stop at the Shark Valley Visitors' Center for a glimpse of the Everglades while strolling away the leg cramps from all that driving. The Miccosukee Indian Village is the next stop, the perfect place to grab some lunch and see how the natives survive in their Everglades. If you're ahead of schedule as you pass Everglades City, visit Tin City in Old Naples for super shopping. Stay south while heading west in Old Naples and you'll easily locate Naples's beach and its venerable pier (25 Twelfth Avenue S.). Dolphins often gather beside the pier, picking up lost bait and the fish attracted by all those anglers. Go to the end, lean on the wooden rail, and enjoy the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Ponder the notion of coming back.

One of South Florida's natural bragging rights is the ability to see both sunrise and sunset over vast expanses of water. We cry for the people of Iowa and Kansas every time the purple and orange and yellow paint the horizon with fire. Try it: Find the precise sunrise and sunset times for any day of the year (aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.html is one source). Begin your trip from the pier in South Pointe Park at the southern tip of Miami Beach, where you'll see the sunrise over the Atlantic and perhaps meet some straggling, staggering clubbers on their way home. Then hop over to Little Havana, load up on café and pastelitos. Take the Tamiami Trail (U.S. 41, or, in the city, SW Eighth Street) west. Stop at the Shark Valley Visitors' Center for a glimpse of the Everglades while strolling away the leg cramps from all that driving. The Miccosukee Indian Village is the next stop, the perfect place to grab some lunch and see how the natives survive in their Everglades. If you're ahead of schedule as you pass Everglades City, visit Tin City in Old Naples for super shopping. Stay south while heading west in Old Naples and you'll easily locate Naples's beach and its venerable pier (25 Twelfth Avenue S.). Dolphins often gather beside the pier, picking up lost bait and the fish attracted by all those anglers. Go to the end, lean on the wooden rail, and enjoy the sunset over the Gulf of Mexico. Ponder the notion of coming back.

After a costly two-year construction delay, the ice rink at the Scott Rakow Youth Center is finally open. The rink, at 125 feet by 60 feet, replaces the cramped one, which will be turned into a gymnasium as renovations continue. Most of the facility's, um, facilities are new. Because of the special times assigned to different age groups (particularly adults), be sure to call the center before visiting. Go ahead and sweat it up, then enter this comfortably cool oasis, where a bit of figure skating or hockey will keep the perspiration coming. Then go jump in the full-size swimming pool. It's not new. But it sure is wet. And refreshing.

Scott Rakow Youth Center
City of Miami Beach
After a costly two-year construction delay, the ice rink at the Scott Rakow Youth Center is finally open. The rink, at 125 feet by 60 feet, replaces the cramped one, which will be turned into a gymnasium as renovations continue. Most of the facility's, um, facilities are new. Because of the special times assigned to different age groups (particularly adults), be sure to call the center before visiting. Go ahead and sweat it up, then enter this comfortably cool oasis, where a bit of figure skating or hockey will keep the perspiration coming. Then go jump in the full-size swimming pool. It's not new. But it sure is wet. And refreshing.

Overtown is a slum and the last place you'd expect to see real estate whiz, revered art collector, and poster man for the rich and powerful Marty Margulies. But there he was one day, noticing how kids on NW Fourteenth Street were hanging and banging, preparing for a future in dope slinging or gangsta pimpin'. Some may have been plotting escape, but that's a lofty dream down here. Margulies -- a rare if not unique mix of developer-smarts and goodness-of-heart -- whipped out $2.5 million and had built the terrific 18,000-square-foot complex known as the Overtown Youth Center. About 200 children have joined the new facility, which boasts spiffy classrooms, a fine auditorium, lockers, showers, computers, and the best basketball court in town. Alonzo Mourning, who appeared at the center two months and two days after a kidney transplant to speak to the children, has used his charities to fund day-to-day expenses. Only children who are members of the center's after-school program can use the gorgeous court, but they play teams from around the county and anyone can attend. Also, the OYC is part of Gibson Park. Walk past the Chinese restaurant and the church, across the park's grassy knoll, and, at the southern end, you'll find excellent courts where anyone can play.

Overtown Youth Center
Overtown is a slum and the last place you'd expect to see real estate whiz, revered art collector, and poster man for the rich and powerful Marty Margulies. But there he was one day, noticing how kids on NW Fourteenth Street were hanging and banging, preparing for a future in dope slinging or gangsta pimpin'. Some may have been plotting escape, but that's a lofty dream down here. Margulies -- a rare if not unique mix of developer-smarts and goodness-of-heart -- whipped out $2.5 million and had built the terrific 18,000-square-foot complex known as the Overtown Youth Center. About 200 children have joined the new facility, which boasts spiffy classrooms, a fine auditorium, lockers, showers, computers, and the best basketball court in town. Alonzo Mourning, who appeared at the center two months and two days after a kidney transplant to speak to the children, has used his charities to fund day-to-day expenses. Only children who are members of the center's after-school program can use the gorgeous court, but they play teams from around the county and anyone can attend. Also, the OYC is part of Gibson Park. Walk past the Chinese restaurant and the church, across the park's grassy knoll, and, at the southern end, you'll find excellent courts where anyone can play.

Haulover took this award in 2002. Then, as today, it had competition, most of it from Key Biscayne. That island's eight-mile-long eastern shore offers the full range of amenities, from crowds and condos to seclusion and wilderness. (It has also won this honor twice.) South Beach, once a strong contender, can no longer be given serious consideration. Its fatal flaw: congestion. You can spend half the day (and a small fortune) just parking your car. Parking, however, is never a problem at Haulover, where the lots cover many acres and the price is a reasonable $4.25. But Haulover's greatest attraction is its spaciousness. South of the crowded clothing-optional area it is possible, even on holiday weekends, to claim a patch of sand without feeling like you're crashing someone else's party. Often the place seems deserted, a rare luxury these days.

Haulover Beach Park
Photo by osseous / Flickr
Haulover took this award in 2002. Then, as today, it had competition, most of it from Key Biscayne. That island's eight-mile-long eastern shore offers the full range of amenities, from crowds and condos to seclusion and wilderness. (It has also won this honor twice.) South Beach, once a strong contender, can no longer be given serious consideration. Its fatal flaw: congestion. You can spend half the day (and a small fortune) just parking your car. Parking, however, is never a problem at Haulover, where the lots cover many acres and the price is a reasonable $4.25. But Haulover's greatest attraction is its spaciousness. South of the crowded clothing-optional area it is possible, even on holiday weekends, to claim a patch of sand without feeling like you're crashing someone else's party. Often the place seems deserted, a rare luxury these days.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®