If you always spend rush hour grumbling to yourself and fruitlessly punching the buttons on your radio, you may never have noticed that the spot of trees on the corner of South Dixie Highway and SW 80th Street opens up into a considerably large park named after Holsum Bakery founder and city leader Charles T. Fuchs. It contains the usual South Miami park amenities such as a picturesque lake (with a fountain maintained by a snorkeling park employee and a bounty of fish, including bass), fairly new tot lot, a gazebo fit for a family reunion, and, bizarrely enough, a pro beach volleyball area constructed far from any beach. This charming park also displays miniature versions of Miami-Dade's natural environments. Three years ago extensive restoration resulted in urban versions of hardwood hammocks, wetlands, and maritime woodlands. Again, the park's maintenance crew and the South Miami city commission chose wisely by planting native species during the restoration. Serenity in the middle of worldly clamor helps make Fuchs a perfect rest stop for weary travelers. Or a great gathering spot for weekend partiers.

If you always spend rush hour grumbling to yourself and fruitlessly punching the buttons on your radio, you may never have noticed that the spot of trees on the corner of South Dixie Highway and SW 80th Street opens up into a considerably large park named after Holsum Bakery founder and city leader Charles T. Fuchs. It contains the usual South Miami park amenities such as a picturesque lake (with a fountain maintained by a snorkeling park employee and a bounty of fish, including bass), fairly new tot lot, a gazebo fit for a family reunion, and, bizarrely enough, a pro beach volleyball area constructed far from any beach. This charming park also displays miniature versions of Miami-Dade's natural environments. Three years ago extensive restoration resulted in urban versions of hardwood hammocks, wetlands, and maritime woodlands. Again, the park's maintenance crew and the South Miami city commission chose wisely by planting native species during the restoration. Serenity in the middle of worldly clamor helps make Fuchs a perfect rest stop for weary travelers. Or a great gathering spot for weekend partiers.

BEST PLACE TO DITCH THE KIDS FOR A FEW HOURS

Let's Scrap!

Walk into Let's Scrap! on any given day and there they are: mesmerized kids measuring, cutting, gluing, painstakingly putting together pages of photographs, text, stickers, paper cutouts, ribbon, glitter. Filling volumes that document almost every stage or event in their still-short lives, the little ones are creating scrapbooks, a grand tradition they've now dubbed "scrapping." It's a task that requires hours of rapt attention and careful labor, hours that could occupy your children and give you that much-needed time-out. Albums, paper, scissors, glue, and all the decorative doodads can add up to real money, but scrapping is priceless: a creative, constructive hobby that keeps youngsters away from the potentially negative (as in brain-dulling) influences of TV, video games, or the Internet, and safely removed from possibly bone-breaking activities such as extreme sports. Good news for kids who aren't very crafty: Monthly classes cover chalking, stamping, and picture tinting. But the best news for weary parents at the end of their rope: Mastering the finer points of scrapping takes a really long time.

BEST PLACE TO DITCH THE KIDS FOR A FEW HOURS

Let's Scrap!

Walk into Let's Scrap! on any given day and there they are: mesmerized kids measuring, cutting, gluing, painstakingly putting together pages of photographs, text, stickers, paper cutouts, ribbon, glitter. Filling volumes that document almost every stage or event in their still-short lives, the little ones are creating scrapbooks, a grand tradition they've now dubbed "scrapping." It's a task that requires hours of rapt attention and careful labor, hours that could occupy your children and give you that much-needed time-out. Albums, paper, scissors, glue, and all the decorative doodads can add up to real money, but scrapping is priceless: a creative, constructive hobby that keeps youngsters away from the potentially negative (as in brain-dulling) influences of TV, video games, or the Internet, and safely removed from possibly bone-breaking activities such as extreme sports. Good news for kids who aren't very crafty: Monthly classes cover chalking, stamping, and picture tinting. But the best news for weary parents at the end of their rope: Mastering the finer points of scrapping takes a really long time.

Those kids you see on those fancy boards sliding across the shallows at South Beach are not skimboarding. They're just dabbling in the latest extreme sport, spending their cash on a fad that's been dressed up with designs, paint, and lots of publicity -- which is true of most extreme sports. For several decades young Miamians had gone skateboarding (via boards made by nailing skate wheels to a piece of two-by-four) down handicapped ramps at public schools; BMXing, as in riding a bike through dirty, muddy, highly unlevel terrain; and skimboarding. The real thing involved searching trash piles for a piece of plywood about three feet wide and four to six feet long. When it rained back then, Miami-Dade's terrible drainage allowed water to build up in the swales, tiding over into the street and covering the sidewalk. Bring out the board, place it at the edge of the puddle, run full speed, jump with force onto the board, and leave the rest to physics. No tricks. No judging. No wetsuit with the brands of sponsors embossed. No TV. No money. Just fun, fun, fun. Alas, these days are long past. Parents want their kids to have it better, so they buy the little ones brand-name minisurfboards and take them to the beach, forgetting that the real joy wasn't in looking cool or even in performing well. It was losing control and sliding all over without cracking your skull, then coming up soaked, muddied, bleeding, bruised, and smiling ear to scraped ear.

Those kids you see on those fancy boards sliding across the shallows at South Beach are not skimboarding. They're just dabbling in the latest extreme sport, spending their cash on a fad that's been dressed up with designs, paint, and lots of publicity -- which is true of most extreme sports. For several decades young Miamians had gone skateboarding (via boards made by nailing skate wheels to a piece of two-by-four) down handicapped ramps at public schools; BMXing, as in riding a bike through dirty, muddy, highly unlevel terrain; and skimboarding. The real thing involved searching trash piles for a piece of plywood about three feet wide and four to six feet long. When it rained back then, Miami-Dade's terrible drainage allowed water to build up in the swales, tiding over into the street and covering the sidewalk. Bring out the board, place it at the edge of the puddle, run full speed, jump with force onto the board, and leave the rest to physics. No tricks. No judging. No wetsuit with the brands of sponsors embossed. No TV. No money. Just fun, fun, fun. Alas, these days are long past. Parents want their kids to have it better, so they buy the little ones brand-name minisurfboards and take them to the beach, forgetting that the real joy wasn't in looking cool or even in performing well. It was losing control and sliding all over without cracking your skull, then coming up soaked, muddied, bleeding, bruised, and smiling ear to scraped ear.

For most people around here, a rural bike ride starts with a car trip. If you're going to load up the bike and drive, you may as well drive far enough from the city to make it worthwhile. That's where the Loop Road comes in. Almost any time of year, under almost any conditions, it's a treat. Roughly four miles along the Tamiami Trail beyond Shark Valley (Everglades National Park 25 miles west of the turnpike), the Trail angles northeast. At the bend an unmarked road intersects and runs to the south. That's the Loop Road, so designated because roughly 22 miles later it hooks up again with the Trail. Drive till the pavement ends at a National Park Service educational facility. Now you can unload the bike and head out. If it's been raining, you'll take a mud bath. Otherwise it'll be a relatively smooth ride. Along the way (and you don't have to do all 22 miles) you'll encounter some glorious swamp scenes -- deep pools, gators, fish, thick vegetation, and of course lots of cypress trees. You'll also probably come across a fisherman or two, and catch a glimpse of a rugged hunting lodge here and there. Mainly, though, you'll have the road to yourself. Bring plenty of water, insect repellent, and a pump or patch kit or both.

For most people around here, a rural bike ride starts with a car trip. If you're going to load up the bike and drive, you may as well drive far enough from the city to make it worthwhile. That's where the Loop Road comes in. Almost any time of year, under almost any conditions, it's a treat. Roughly four miles along the Tamiami Trail beyond Shark Valley (Everglades National Park 25 miles west of the turnpike), the Trail angles northeast. At the bend an unmarked road intersects and runs to the south. That's the Loop Road, so designated because roughly 22 miles later it hooks up again with the Trail. Drive till the pavement ends at a National Park Service educational facility. Now you can unload the bike and head out. If it's been raining, you'll take a mud bath. Otherwise it'll be a relatively smooth ride. Along the way (and you don't have to do all 22 miles) you'll encounter some glorious swamp scenes -- deep pools, gators, fish, thick vegetation, and of course lots of cypress trees. You'll also probably come across a fisherman or two, and catch a glimpse of a rugged hunting lodge here and there. Mainly, though, you'll have the road to yourself. Bring plenty of water, insect repellent, and a pump or patch kit or both.

Dad always beat the sun up, even on weekends when he didn't have to hustle down to the factory, the office, that mysterious place where he spent the day while you went to school or day care or maybe stayed home with Mom. Even on weekends he was up early, to fix the car or take the dog to the vet or mow the lawn. Except on certain days, a Saturday usually. Then Dad would shake you awake an hour before dawn, eggs and home fries and (for him at least) coffee already prepared: "Eat up, boy, and let's get going." Sound a bit sexist or old-fashioned? If you have young children, rest assured this experience, regardless of specifics, will live in memory for at least 40 years. A simple cane pole with six-pound-test line, a bobber, and a tiny hook, the last baited with little pieces of balled-up bread, works just fine. About five miles past Krome, on the north side of the Tamiami Trail, is a sufficient pond, marked by cement picnic tables. But go a few more miles and, on the south, you'll begin to notice pond after pond, some nearly dry but others flourishing with water plants, turtles, snakes, and plenty of fish. The ponds aren't as lively as they were four decades ago, but that's hardly the point here. Select one with plenty of water and as little foliage as possible. You'll be alone because these are not the best fishing holes in the River of Grass. But the little ones should still be able to catch a bream or tilapia: the bobber twitching, then dropping fast, pull on the rod, drag in the fish. You'll never forget these mornings. Nor should you. This is when a five-year-old begins to realize that a parent is the most important teacher in life. And you can even eat the bream.

Dad always beat the sun up, even on weekends when he didn't have to hustle down to the factory, the office, that mysterious place where he spent the day while you went to school or day care or maybe stayed home with Mom. Even on weekends he was up early, to fix the car or take the dog to the vet or mow the lawn. Except on certain days, a Saturday usually. Then Dad would shake you awake an hour before dawn, eggs and home fries and (for him at least) coffee already prepared: "Eat up, boy, and let's get going." Sound a bit sexist or old-fashioned? If you have young children, rest assured this experience, regardless of specifics, will live in memory for at least 40 years. A simple cane pole with six-pound-test line, a bobber, and a tiny hook, the last baited with little pieces of balled-up bread, works just fine. About five miles past Krome, on the north side of the Tamiami Trail, is a sufficient pond, marked by cement picnic tables. But go a few more miles and, on the south, you'll begin to notice pond after pond, some nearly dry but others flourishing with water plants, turtles, snakes, and plenty of fish. The ponds aren't as lively as they were four decades ago, but that's hardly the point here. Select one with plenty of water and as little foliage as possible. You'll be alone because these are not the best fishing holes in the River of Grass. But the little ones should still be able to catch a bream or tilapia: the bobber twitching, then dropping fast, pull on the rod, drag in the fish. You'll never forget these mornings. Nor should you. This is when a five-year-old begins to realize that a parent is the most important teacher in life. And you can even eat the bream.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®