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.

Public sex is both decadent and depraved, a violation of the social contract, and sometimes as grimy as eating from garbage cans. There's really nothing sensual or romantic about outdoor lewdness. That said, bypass playing-it-safe spots like a park bench secluded by foliage, a dark corner in one of SoBe's clubs, or a golf course at night. Public sex is less about a hidden turn-on than it is about candidly getting off. So if you have the nerve, or lack of scruples, and the desire to take your private affairs public, consider the alley between busy Collins and Washington avenues. Behind the famous dive Club Deuce, just next to a city Dumpster (we're thinking in terms of sordid sights, not just smells), you and a lover, or lovers, can screw each other's "brains" out in full frontal view of passing club kids, tourists, vagrants. Don't be surprised if, after you're done, a pile of dollar bills sits on the ground next to the pants around your ankles (a reminder that the city has relegalized street performances, though the limits gauging obscenity remain unclear). Warning: police patrols? Nah. If cops start rousting people for harmless fun, like safe sex in public, then they should be prepared to explain why their time isn't being devoted to stopping murders, rapes, assaults, robberies, pot smoking. Uh, not pot smoking. Arson. Yeah, arson's what we meant. Got that, occifer?

Public sex is both decadent and depraved, a violation of the social contract, and sometimes as grimy as eating from garbage cans. There's really nothing sensual or romantic about outdoor lewdness. That said, bypass playing-it-safe spots like a park bench secluded by foliage, a dark corner in one of SoBe's clubs, or a golf course at night. Public sex is less about a hidden turn-on than it is about candidly getting off. So if you have the nerve, or lack of scruples, and the desire to take your private affairs public, consider the alley between busy Collins and Washington avenues. Behind the famous dive Club Deuce, just next to a city Dumpster (we're thinking in terms of sordid sights, not just smells), you and a lover, or lovers, can screw each other's "brains" out in full frontal view of passing club kids, tourists, vagrants. Don't be surprised if, after you're done, a pile of dollar bills sits on the ground next to the pants around your ankles (a reminder that the city has relegalized street performances, though the limits gauging obscenity remain unclear). Warning: police patrols? Nah. If cops start rousting people for harmless fun, like safe sex in public, then they should be prepared to explain why their time isn't being devoted to stopping murders, rapes, assaults, robberies, pot smoking. Uh, not pot smoking. Arson. Yeah, arson's what we meant. Got that, occifer?

Bicentennial Park
Hurry, you won't have this opportunity for long. At the eastern edge of this forlorn city park you can spread a blanket, open the picnic basket, pop a cork, and kick back to take in a spectacular view. Directly ahead lies Biscayne Bay, glittering brightly in the sunshine. As your gaze rises, Government Cut leads you straight to the sea along a perfectly symmetrical visual corridor. The effect is almost startling in its formal composition. Even when cruise ships are docked along the south side of the cut, the effect remains. In the early evening, those ships become spectacles themselves as they slowly rotate in the turning basin right in front of you. Why hurry? Because the abandoned park will in the not-too-distant future become a massive construction site. When the renovated Bicentennial Park is finally complete, the fantastic views will still be there, but today's rustic appeal will be forever gone.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®