BEST MILE OF MIAMI The Venetian Causeway Yes, we know it's 2.75 miles long. It also crosses eleven islands by means of twelve bridges, two of which open for boats. It's also South Florida's oldest causeway (in continuous operation since 1926) and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. As for its length, just pick the mile that best suits your needs. For those who seek to be mesmerized by glittering panoramas, there's no better place than the western side. Whether by bike, car, or on foot, this is the best place to take in the visual wonderland that is the Miami skyline. For those who seek to indulge fantasies, the eastern section allows for up-close views of luxurious yachts moored at million-dollar homes -- the perfect place to dream of what could be. In fact it was an indulgence of fantasy that created the Venetian. The islands didn't even exist when the causeway was conceived, a detail that didn't stop Miami dream merchants from selling submerged home sites; and the destination -- Miami Beach -- wasn't much more than a sandbar ringed by mangroves. To traverse the Venetian Causeway, then and now, is to blur the line between reality and imagination.

BEST NEIGHBORHOOD NEWSPAPER Biscayne Boulevard Times www.biscayneboulevard.com Development is rapidly altering the landscape of the Biscayne Boulevard corridor in ways both good and not so good. Residents in this area, roughly from downtown Miami to 79th Street, keep track of the changes not through the Miami Herald but through this small, scrappy monthly newspaper that comprehensively tackles nearly every neighborhood issue, from big-picture to the picayune. Helmed by long-time resident and sometime art gallery owner Skip Van Cel, the BBT's tiny staff (supplemented by articles and columns from activists and business owners) cranks out dozens of pieces each month, intense coverage for a fairly small area. Art exhibits, landlord-tenant disputes, new businesses, city politics, development, crime -- it's all there.

BEST NEW LAW Sidewalk bicycle ban City of Miami Beginning May 12, the elderly Hispanics who clog the sidewalks of Calle Ocho can feel a little safer walking up and down Little Havana's most famous thoroughfare. That day Miami police officers will begin enforcing a new law that bans bicycles, scooters, and skateboards from the sidewalks of SW Eighth Street between Fourth Avenue and the city's western boundary at the Palmetto Expressway. The Miami City Commission adopted the legislation last year in response to growing complaints from area business owners and residents. Unruly cyclists would tear down Calle Ocho with little regard for pedestrians, sometimes causing bone-crunching collisions, sometimes snatching a purse or two. Offending cyclists will be issued a $25 fine

BEST NEW TREND Pugs in public Most people realize they are mere servants to their dogs and follow their every canine command. What many civilians fail to acknowledge is that dogs collectively have a larger mission -- to eventually rule the entire world. Purebreds like schnauzers and Cirnecos dell'Etna harken back to the dictatorial pasts of their home countries of Germany and Italy to create a mongrelized, utopic vision for governments of the future. The plan begins with an infiltration of public places where humans are known to congregate, such as pubs and markets. (This has already been accomplished without resistance in the Netherlands and countries of the northern Renaissance.) The surest sign Miami is experiencing a Europeanizing, as well as Latinizing, influence is the emerging ubiquitousness of canine "companions" everywhere you go. Rugged Norwegian elkhounds stroll the hushed aisles of Anthropologie while beribboned, snowy Maltese peek out of Birkin bags at art galleries. Some dogs even command their own tables at Lincoln Road cafés and coffee shops. At Nordstrom in the Village of Merrick Park, Karin Albert, a saleswoman in the teen clothing department, reports seeing many Chihuahuas emulating Tinkerbell, the teacup pup who uses Paris Hilton as a public escort. "The dogs are usually really good, and the people with them seem patient and happier," observes Albert. "The dogs seem to enjoy going shopping as much as the girls." Apparently capitalism will remain a fixture in the new four-footed regime.

BEST NOT-SO-CHEAP THRILL Weightlessness Zero Gravity Corp.

Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport

1-888-NO-GRAVITY (1-888-664-7284)

www.nogravity.com If $3750 seems like a lot of money to spend on roughly one minute of weightlessness, well, that's why this gets the Not-So-Cheap award. Based at the Fort Lauderdale airport, Zero Gravity's modified Boeing 727-200 (the only such commercial aircraft certified by the FAA) takes "teams" of 27 customers on a two-hour flight that includes a couple of parabolic maneuvers that allow wannabe astronauts to experience added G-forces (ascent), mild weightlessness (crest), and complete weightlessness (descent). It's nearly a full-day affair, beginning with training, lunch (please stay down...), flight, and informal celebration once back on terra firma. The company, founded by former NASA executive Pete Diamandis, launched its maiden voyage this past September. Apparently lots of people have strong stomachs to match their disposable incomes. Three flights out of Fort Lauderdale are (tentatively) scheduled between now and the end of the year, in July, September, and November.

BEST PARKING ON SOUTH BEACH Bay Road between Thirteenth and Sixteenth streets After a couple of years of major construction, including the Waverly and Flamingo condominium projects, this stretch of road has emerged from the Dumpsters and bulldozers as blessedly unregulated. No parking meters in sight. No residential permits required. (It can't possibly remain this way forever.) The location is convenient -- only a couple of blocks from the west end of Lincoln Road. If you're clubbing on Washington Avenue, park here and cab it over. The spaces are not unlimited, so check early and frequently.

BEST PARTY OF THE YEAR MTV Video Music Awards Dear Diary: Something's up in the MIA. I don't exactly know what it is, but all week Ferraris and Lamborghinis with out-of-state plates have been zooming past me on the highway. Damn tourists with their boku bucks and flashy cars. Dear Diary: I was at a stop light today and Missy Elliot pulled up next to me. I'd do her! Dear Diary: I can't explain it, but everywhere I go I keep seeing Usher plastered on billboards and in newspapers. He's all over the place. I don't know what the hell people see in that Justin Timberlake guy. Dear Diary: Apparently MTV is having its Video Music Awards in Miami this year. That's what all the hype was about. I gotta find a way to get myself close to the action. Dear Diary: I came up with the perfect plan. I'm renting a limo and buying myself a pimpin' suit. The reason? I'm going to pretend I'm a rock star at the Ocean Drive after-party and I'm going to crash it. Dave Navarro and Carmen Electra are going to be there. Dear Diary: It's D-day. Tonight I'm going to party like it was 1999. The limo will be here shortly, the booze is on ice, and I have more plastic baggies than I can fit in my pocket. It's going to be some night. Dear Diary: Where the hell am I? I must have passed out. The last thing I remember was walking the red carpet with a shitload of celebrities like Dave Chappelle and the Beastie Boys. My celebrity whore girlfriend left me to party with Jay-Z and Beyoncé on some private yacht. I didn't care because my long hair, pimpin' shades, and rock star suit made people think I was the frontman of that shitty band Creed. Even John Surgent, one of the principals of some new club in Hollywood called Gryphon, came up and begged me to play at his grand opening. For a while there, I think I was dancing with Al Sharpton. Dear Diary: I shaved my head today.

BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE Miami Improv Streets of Mayfair

3390 Mary Street

Coconut Grove

305-441-8200

www.miamiimprov.com What do you do? Where are you from? Where were you born? Small talk can be downright tedious, no matter how good-looking that stranger sitting across the table may be. Avoid the uncomfortable silences and spend your first date at the Miami Improv comedy club, where local and national stand-up comedians will work hard to keep you laughing as you sip cocktails from a full bar and enjoy appetizers or a complete meal. (Show tickets generally cost under $20, drinks and food extra.) This really is the perfect recipe for first-date success: honest entertainment, drinks, and dinner all under one roof -- and plenty of fodder for conversation when you stumble back out into the night, buzzing from the high of a good laugh.

Readers´ Choice: Just the Funny

BEST PLACE FOR ENGAGEMENT PICTURES Downtown Miami How many times has a hyper bride dragged you to the couch and forced you to page through pictures of her and her groom, dressed in white shirts and khakis, frolicking on the beach? Or standing under an arch at Country Club Prado? How about sitting on a rock at Matheson Hammock? If you want something with character when it's your turn to be the bride, try strutting, photographer in tow, through downtown Miami. The city provides the perfect backdrop for romantic pictures. Stop to kiss in a crowd or sit at a bus stop with a Miami ad on it. Lean on a pole near the water at Bayfront Park rather than against a column at the Biltmore. If you coordinate well, you could even take the pictures during one of the festivals that decorate downtown. Climb into a fair ride or just hold hands while you watch a free concert at Bayside. The photos will be more genuine, and the fun you're having will shine through the lens.

BEST PLACE TO DONATE YOUR CLOTHES SoBe Thrifty 1435 Alton Road

Miami Beach

305-672-7251

www.careresource.org Where can you pick up dominatrix gear, metal walkers, Guillermo Alvarez Guedes LPs, and free condoms in one unassuming little store? Okay, so the donated stock does vary from week to week (except the free condoms), but this thrift store tucked away on the "wrong" side of South Beach certainly has a very intriguing clientele. All the above disappeared rather quickly. Proceeds go to Care Resource, the oldest HIV/AIDS service organization in South Florida and the folks who also throw the White Party. Did we forget to mention the fabulously large selection of gay-interest books?

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®