BEST SKATE SHOP M.I.A. Skate Shop 229 Ninth Street

Miami Beach

786-621-3511

www.miaskateshop.com After less than two years, M.I.A. Skate Shop proprietors Chris Williams and professional skater Ed Selego (who also has his own shoe line with Adio) have already established their store as the place for famous skaters to meet when in town. It's also the only store in Miami that carries the Nike SB line of skater footwear. You'll find the coolest decks, clothes, and gear from Zoo York, Organika, Earth Products, and Habitat Skateboards, or you can just chill and watch DVDs (also for sale) of other skaters ripping, grinding, and getting racked. The shop also hosts autograph signings and skating demos with Control Skatepark, and Williams doesn't mind the thrasher kids hanging out in his shop after school.

BEST MATERNITY BOUTIQUE Mommy's Place 5845 SW 73rd Street

South Miami

305-663-5636

www.mommysplacematernity.com When your belly is expanding, your feet are swollen, and you're not feeling like your usual sassy self, you still want to wear stylish (but comfortable) clothing. And because you never know when the next mood swing will kick in and you'll suddenly find yourself irrationally hating plaids or polka dots, you want the clothing to be affordable. Mommy's Place has eveningwear, swimsuits, lingerie, casual, and career clothing from hot maternity designers such as Olian, Tummi, Japanese Weekend, and Belly Basics, plus sexy denim from Earl Jean. And with tops and dresses priced from $40 to $150, you can be a cool mom with some change left in your pocket.

BEST SECONDHAND STORE Bargain Shop, Inc. 17 North Flagler Avenue

Homestead

305-246-2504 What makes a good thrift shop -- the number of items it carries or the amount of good stuff you can find at affordable prices? Tucked away in Homestead's warehouse district, Bargain Shop, Inc. is a small store with aisles full of DVDs, VHS tapes, collectible dolls, glassware, books, vinyl records, rare and out-of-print CDs, clothes, et cetera, et cetera, and so on. At three dollars, the used CDs are cheap, and at one dollar, the used records are even cheaper. Unlike all the overpriced thrift shops strewn along North Krome Avenue, most of the items at Bargain Shop, Inc. are true bargains. It's a nice place to browse, as well.

BEST LAUNDROMAT Miami Coin Laundry 1569 NW Seventeenth Avenue

Miami

305-549-6670 That guy selling the limited edition Fantastic Four comic book on eBay only accepts money orders, your laundry pile is looking like the Trash Heap on Fraggle Rock, and all you really want to do is play some Galaga. The solution: A trip to Miami Coin Laundry. This place is the Wal-Mart of laundromats. There's a snack shop stocked with frosty beverages, the usual candy bar and salty chip fare, and homemade goodies packaged in Saran Wrap. Bins of dollar-store items such as plastic handcuffs, seat belts, vanity license plates, and ceramic knick-knacks line the length of the space, as do higher ticket items, like a violin (could be a viola) priced to sell at $97. Video games are in the back -- Galaga, Tekken, and a few others -- as is a miniature car the kiddies can ride. Detergent and money orders at the counter. Oh yeah, and while you're there, you might as well do your laundry.

Wolfe's Wine Shoppe
BEST WINE STORE Wolfe's Wine Shoppe 124 Miracle Mile

Coral Gables

305-445-4567

www.wolfeswines.com Wolfe's does not have the largest selection of wines in town. Most Publix supermarkets carry more labels. Wolfe's doesn't stock every big-name winery on the planet. The closest you'll get to that is Crown Wine and Spirits. You can't even buy beer or liquor or sodas or beef jerky at Wolfe's. But there is a good reason this place takes the honor once again: Sometimes less is more. Jeffrey and Christie Wolfe are specialists. Their tastes are eclectic. This business is something personal for them. They've visited the wineries and met the winemakers whose products they sell. Not huge producers but family-owned operations in Spain, France, Italy, California -- people a lot like the Wolfes themselves, for whom quality always trumps quantity. At a time when mass-produced wines are becoming more and more homogenized by global corporate conglomerates, the Wolfes offer a valuable alternative: wines with character.

BEST ADULT VIDEO STORE Caliente Adult Superstore 1820 West Eighth Avenue

Hialeah

305-885-1100 Pleasure Emporium may be large, but Caliente is hot. At the same time, Caliente is cool enough to stock not only the Pocket Rocket but also the Pocket Kamasutra. The shop -- spacious, organized, and clean enough to consider a lingerie purchase -- is located one block north of Okeechobee Road and few blocks south of the studios of Telemundo. So there's always an extremely slim chance of running into your favorite Channel 51 on-air hunk or babe in the small but sizzling Latin racks, where titles range from the innocent (Panochitas) to the sophisticated (Latinas en Europa) to the sublime (Beautiful Brazilian Whores). Other sections run the traditional gamut, including anal, oral, all-girl, all-black, and gang-bang, to name, alas, only a few. You might even find Panochitas Gorditas 11 in the new releases display. Rentals are $5.25 a pop.

USA Flea Market
BEST FLEA MARKET Flea Market USA 3015 NW 79th Street

Miami

305-836-3677 Located in the heart of Liberty City, Flea Market USA is the bargain mecca for people who earn money through the underground economy or want to look ghetto fabulous. Inside several makeshift barbershops and unisex salons men and boys sit patiently in swivel chairs as stylists weave their long, unruly Afros into intricate cornrows. Young women dressed in shorts and tube tops and donned in gold bling get their nails painted. Dozens of booths sell marked-down name-brand sneakers, clothes, car and home electronics, and jewelry. Tough-looking guys and girls line up at tattoo parlors for ink. Flea Market USA is also one of the few places in Miami-Dade where dope dealers can buy the specialty materials for making crack. Some might find this place exotic, but for us it's essential.

Recycled Blues
BEST LEATHER Recycled Blues 1507 Washington Avenue

Miami Beach

305-538-0656 This haberdashery of vintage clothing and accessories could easily double as a dressing room for Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, or Jimi Hendrix. Hundreds of worn, torn Levi's jeans hang from the walls. Hawaiian shirts, surf jams, plaid golf pants, bowling shirts, fluorescent polyester dresses and dress suits, old-school T's, and track suits complement the denim inventory. Of course nothing beats Recycled Blues' leather goods collection, a mish-mash of suede and black-leather rocker jeans, winter parkas lined with animal fur, bomber jackets, trench coats, and rad outfits only a glammed-up superstar should wear. Styling an individual look for yourself won't break the bank: Prices start at $25, with the most expensive item retailing at $150. Recycled Blues is open daily 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

BEST BABY STORE Genius Jones 1661 Michigan Avenue

Miami Beach

305-534-7622 This is a children's store all grown up. Owners Daniel Kron and his wife Geane Brito, New York fashion- and design-world refugees, opened shop in 2003 specifically because they were so disappointed with what was available when shopping for their first child in 2000. "For too long in the baby business people just accepted what they were given because there were no alternatives," Kron says. So he and his wife found interesting and beautiful alternatives, such as the cardboard snap-together rocket from Brazil, big enough for kids to crawl into; vintage guayaberas and concert T-shirts, recut and miniaturized; and their signature item, the $729 Bugaboo Stroller from Holland. They stumbled upon that pricey kid-cart before it was even available in the U.S., becoming one of the first five stores to carry it. Since then it has gone on to become the celebrity stroller, used by Gwyneth Paltrow and featured on Sex and the City. Kron says he looks for inspiration when selecting gear. "I want them to show me a great design, show me a better way, show me something aesthetically stunning," he says. "We never think in terms of what we can make a lot of money on." Their approach seems to be working: They intend to open a second location at 49 NE 39th Street in the Design District, probably by June. "A lot of our success has to do with the fact that people in Miami are having more babies than in other cities," Kron adds. "People are more into their families here, it seems."

BEST BIRD SHOP Aviary Bird Shop 22707 S. Dixie Highway

Goulds

305-258-2473

www.aviarybirdshop.com Just south of Cauley Square on South Dixie Highway -- amid tire shops, liquor stores, and various building-material supply warehouses -- stands the Aviary, a not-so-tiny oasis where wings and an affinity for sunflower seeds are the only residency requirements. Day-Glo green parrots, mohawked cockatiels, and hyperactive parakeets are all treated to garden views, plenty of shade, and all the dried fruit their beaks can handle. In addition to the usual supplies, the oldest bird shop in Miami also offers boarding (in its Tweety Motel), microchipping, and, soon, an area on-premises for special flighty occasions. Go for supplies, a new feathered friend, or an afternoon of bird watching. Think of it as a miniature Parrot Jungle without the roller-skating parrots or $25 admission fee.

Best Of Miami®

Best Of Miami®