BEST LOCAL BOY MADE GOOD Blake Ross Kids today. If they aren't stealing cars and smoking crack, they're, they're -- why, they're building the latest, greatest Internet browser in history! While it may sound inane, make no mistake: This is the biggest browser news since Janet Reno went after Microsoft for offering theirs free with Windows 95. What's so special about a browser that a million people (now more than 25 million) worldwide downloaded it the first day it was offered? Firefox is a stripped-down-to-essentials browser that runs cleaner and faster than others, especially Microsoft's stodgy, virus-friendly dinosaur Internet Explorer. But the most remarkable thing is that it began as a ninth-grader's personal open-source project. Blake Ross, Gulliver Prep graduate and former resident of Key Biscayne (sorry ladies, we've lost him to Stanford, but you can still read his blog: http://blakeross.com), spent his extra hours "playing" with the Mozilla (remember Netscape?) browser's source code before deciding he along with others should simplify it for nongeeks to use. Indeed the browser is so simple to set up and use it's catching on with folks who can barely turn their computers on, and it's giving IE a run for its money. Good show!

Readers´ Choice: Mike Lowell

BEST KIDS' THRILL Pelican Island Nature Preserve Pelican Harbor Marina

1275 NE 79th Street Causeway

Miami

305-754-9330 Although it sometimes seems the kids have become irrevocably attached to their computers and game consoles, there's still the lure of nature to snap them back to our world now and then. Pelican Island, part of the Miami-Dade County park system, is ten acres of nature preserve and bird sanctuary sitting 400 yards offshore in Biscayne Bay. It's accessible only by water, but the marina provides water-taxi service to transport boatless merrymakers. The island's facilities can be reserved, which renders it an almost private playground for a few hours (and a few bucks). What kid wouldn't put down the Nintendo to play Tom Sawyer in real life? Chickee huts, picnic tables, barbecue grills, a sand volleyball court, and trails keep the island from being totally wild, but so does the bathroom on the water taxi, if you catch our drift net.

Readers´ Choice: Miami Children´s Theater

Personal Best Nick D'Annunzio and Tara Solomon of TARA, Ink. Boutique public relations firm TARA, Ink. is the offspring of Miami Herald columnist Tara Solomon, who manages to be both journalist and, um, promoter. Solomon has long presided over Miami Beach nightlife and now, with fiancé Nick D'Annunzio, may be a little less visible in these parts as she jets among offices around the country negotiating the right kind of exposure for just the right clients.

The successful personal and professional merger of Nick and Tara makes complete, logical sense, between their complementary differences and all-important commonalities: The porcelain-skinned beauty born under the sign of Cancer is practical and reserved; the extroverted and tanned Leo is expansive and prone to dramatic gestures. Both are incredibly sweet, love animals, and are insanely devoted to their families. (Nick recently moved his mom from Las Vegas to Miami; Tara drives to Fort Myers to visit her relatives as often as she can.)

"We have been so blessed with our growth in Miami," says D'Annunzio. "We opened an office in Los Angeles and are doing major programs in New York City, Las Vegas, and other hot spots."

TARA, Ink. has five divisions: fashion, hospitality, beauty, real estate and design, and corporate.

Best place to take out-of-towners: The Forge -- it's a Miami landmark. It has the best wine and steak and, if it's a Wednesday night, the best party in town.

Best place for a first date: OLA. It's lively yet romantic, and the ceviche is an excellent aphrodisiac.

Best new fashion trend: Less about the glitz, more about the individual pieces and attitude. One great accessory can make an outfit.

Best place for cocktails: SkyBar.

Best reason to stay in Miami for the summer: Nick: The heat. It's so sexy.

Tara: More time to check out Miami museums and thrift shops.

What are the new party trends of the future? Things are getting more exclusive, but also events are moving into huge mansions. South Beach nightlife is invading all areas. Look at condominium marketing and their events. The big clubs are not as huge as they used to be. It's more about the restaurants and lounges. Lots of indoor/outdoor spaces like Pangaea, SkyBar, Sanctuary, and Sushi Samba.

Will karaoke still be around? Forever, promise or threat!

Where do you see the public relations business in the year 2025? In 2025 TARA, Ink. will have world domination. With as many offices as the Gap has stores ... just kidding. I think we will still be securing Paris Hilton to attend events, and maybe her unborn children Newark Hilton, Airport Hilton, and Baghdad Hilton. I think the world of celebrity will continue to affect PR. We see that across the board. All clients want some type of partnership with celebrities, whether it's to wear their products or attend their events.

BEST BUILDING LOBBY Miami-Dade County Courthouse 73 W. Flagler Street

Miami Most folks who stumble through the metal detectors at the Miami-Dade County Courthouse probably have a lot more on their minds than reveling in the gorgeous architecture. But ignoring such beauty is practically criminal. (Not to worry; this is the civil courthouse.) Architects August Geiger and Albert Anthony Ten Eyck Brown (true name) designed the Neoclassical edifice in 1925 after a Miami population explosion rendered the two earlier courthouses too small. Over the years, wear and tear and the addition of an enclosed air-conditioning system detracted from the spacious atrium that once welcomed the courthouse's clientele. When necessary renovations progressed slowly owing to lack of funds, the legal community, led by the Dade County Bar Association, came together and raised enough money to finish work on the lobby. Thankfully they kept the air conditioner, but the false ceiling was removed to reveal the breathtaking two-story atrium. If you stand in the center circle of the tiled floor, you not only get a great feel for it, but you also avoid the ghastly Sixties attached rooms. Delicately carved sea serpents, cupids, and nudes grace the brass elevators. Look just above them to see delightful dolphins swimming in the mosaics. Larger mosaics that depict ships circling the state seal are attached to the ceiling at the entrances. Renovations to other sections of the building should continue for about two more years. Oh! Don't forget to leave your sidearms at home.

BEST LAWYER Richard Scruggs In the corridors of the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office, some people are calling Scruggs the "Greatest Ass-Kicker of All Time." It may take a bit more time to see if Scruggs, special assistant to State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle for public corruption, is worthy of the exalted title. After all, he's been a state prosecutor since only 2003. Prior to his current gig, though, Scruggs had plenty of experience kicking ass. He served under three U.S. attorneys -- Roberto Martinez, Thomas Scott, and Guy Lewis -- in a variety of capacities, from major crimes to public corruption. In 1990 he won racketeering convictions against Miami cult leader and black supremacist Yahweh Ben Yahweh and six disciples. Scruggs led prosecutions against the wealthy African hustler Foutanga Dit Babani Sissoko and drug-dealing fight promoter Willy Martinez. He also spent several years working for U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno as a special assistant for intelligence issues. In 2000 Scruggs left the U.S. Attorney's Office to run the local branch of Kroll Associates, the international security and investigations firm. But then he confided to his old friend Trudi Novicki, a former high-ranking assistant state attorney, that he wanted to return to criminal prosecution. Novicki alerted Rundle, and it didn't take long to recruit Scruggs as her special assistant. By 2004 he was very busy as the lead prosecutor in a sprawling public-corruption case at Miami International Airport. Among the nineteen people arrested so far are several with political connections to two prominent black politicians: county Commissioner Barbara Carey-Shuler and former Miami Commissioner Arthur Teele. Scruggs recently won a felony conviction against Teele for threatening a cop, and is now preparing to take him to trial on corruption charges.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®